Paris, France is an expensive place for tourists. There are the obvious tourist traps like the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum where you’ll spend beaucoup Euros on admission, but there are also other interesting things to see and do that are free. Here are a few free Paris sights that will leave you enough Euros so you can afford dinner.
The Canavalet Museum (Musee Carnavalet): Located in Le Marais this museum is housed in a small mansion full of information about the French Revolution. Learn all about Louis XV and his famous quote: “Apres moi, le deluge.” This museum is sized right so you only need a couple hours to see everything. It’s also recommended after your visit to get a baguette sandwich and eat in the nice park next to the museum.
Hours are Tues – Sun 10 am – 6 pm.
Special exhibits are charged admission.
Gardens and Park of the Chateau de Versailles: Admission to the Palace of Versailles can be expensive and crowded. Although it’s an interesting building you’ll actually learn more about French history at the Canavalet Museum. Skip the palace and just roam around the expansive gardens for free. You can easily spend half a day strolling around all the wonderful manicured bushes, trees and fountains.
Open every day from 8 am – 8:30 pm.
The palace does however offer free admission every Sunday from November to March.
Montmartre: Paris is mostly flat, but the hill and area of Montmartre is topped with the white Basilica of the Sacre Coeur and towers over the city. This is a free site; you’ll have to walk up the stairs but at the top are gorgeous views, and you will see the Eiffel Tower from here. It’s also nice to stroll through the artsy neighborhood behind the church, many famous artists lived in this area.
Velib bicycles: These are bike-share bikes that aren’t free but you can ride for cheap. Paris has a good grid of bike lanes and most people in the city from pedestrians to vehicles are used to bikes so it’s a good place to ride around in. It’s easy to use your credit card to get a Velib, just make sure it’s either American Express or has a EMV-chip, otherwise it won’t work. First you have to take out a subscription of 1 Euro for 1 day, 5 Euros/week, or 29 Euros/year. After you get a subscription you’ll only get charged if the bike gets used for longer than 30 minutes. An easy way to get around this is to return the bike to a station and get another one if your trip is longer than 30 minutes. Just make sure that when you return the bike to a station it gets locked back in properly.