10 Best Things to Do in Paris 2023: Guide
When you consider a trip to Paris, one of the things usually addressed is that this is one of the most expensive cities in Europe. If you want to stay within budget, taking certain precautions or looking for alternatives that allow you to save money is essential.
Although there are many options to reduce costs, we will talk about them in the post; we anticipate that combining the most expensive visits, such as the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre, with others that are free will mean giving your pocket a break and enjoying specific whims, in the most romantic city in the world and one of the shopping meccas.
And yes, you read correctly. Believe it or not, in Paris, you can also do things for little money and even for free. Still don’t believe it? We assure you that it is accurate, and to prove it, after our numerous visits to the city of light, the last one to update this Paris guide, we leave you with a list of the ten best things for free in Paris. Let’s start!
1. Visit the National Library of France
Entering the interior of the National Library of France, located in the former palace of Cardinal Mazarin at 58 Rue de Richelieu, is one of the free things in Paris that you cannot miss.
Although photos are not allowed, and visits for tourists who do not have a library card are limited to certain areas, it is worth going in even just to see the impressive Labrouste reading room, a room characterized by its design in that great value is placed on natural light thanks to its nine glass domes supported by 16 columns, surrounded by multi-story wooden bookshelves with thousands of books and magazines on art history and archaeology.
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Visiting hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 9 am to 8 pm; Sunday and Monday from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
2. Go up to the viewpoint of the Arab World Institute.
Another of the best things to do in Paris for free is to go up to the terrace of the Arab World Institute, located on the banks of the Seine, to enjoy magnificent views of the Cité and Saint-Louis islands. To have a unique perspective of the Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the most beautiful
Places to see in Paris, you must take the elevator to the top floor of this icon of contemporary architecture built in 1987 to promote and disseminate Arab culture in all its forms and to strengthen ties between France, Europe, and the Arab world.
We were visiting hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.
3. Enter the Church of Saint Sulpice, one of the free things in Paris.
During our last route through Paris in 4 days, we knew we would spend some time visiting the Church of Saint Sulpice, one of the largest and most beautiful in the city of light.
Built in the 17th century on the foundations of a 13th-century Romanesque temple, the Saint-Sulpice church stands out for housing inside three beautiful murals by Eugène Delacroix and the statue of Jean-Baptiste Pigalle and the great organ by Cavaillé -Coll.
Although its most unique structure is the gnomon, an astronomical instrument that works similarly to a sundial and has a vital role in the famous novel “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown and in the subsequent film.
We were visiting hours: every day from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm.
4. Find graves of celebrities and illustrious people in the Pére-Lachaise Cemetery.
Although it may be a slightly macabre visit for some, we believe that the Pére-Lachaise Cemetery is another must for travelers who have extra days in Paris and are curious to see where famous people such as Oscar Wilde, Molière, Frédéric Chopin are buried. Maria Callas, Jim Morrison, or the unforgettable Edith Piaf.
In addition to being a cemetery with spectacular tombs, pantheons, and mausoleums of different architectural styles, this cemetery also acts as an English-style garden that will make the walk more pleasant.
In this link, you can find the location of the graves of famous people buried in this cemetery; However, among its more than 70,000 graves, it is challenging to find your way around, so it is advisable to go to the kiosk at the entrance and buy a map.
You can book this guided tour in Spanish if you prefer to know its history and not miss any critical tombs. To get to the cemetery, located 5 kilometers from the center, you must take lines 2 and 3 and get off at the Père-Lachaise stop or bus lines 61 and 69 that leaves you at the main entrance.
We were visiting hours: every day from 8 am to 6 pm.
5. Ask for a pitcher of tap water.
It is customary among the same Parisians to ask for garage d’eau (jug of tap water) for free when they go to any restaurant since it is considered high-quality water with good taste.
Suppose you avoid paying between 5 and 6 euros for a bottle of water from brands such as Evian or San Pellegrino in some of the most recommended restaurants in Paris. In that case, we advise you to always ask for a pitcher of water pronounced as “a garage do” accompanied by a s’il vous plait (please).
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We recommend you not to do it without feeling any embarrassment since, in addition to saving a good handful of euros, which you can invest in other experiences, you will be helping to avoid wasting resources.
6. The Museums, another of the best free things in Paris
Although most of the best museums in Paris are not free and the price of admission will take a big bite out of your budget, like the Louvre museum, other museums depending on the day of the month, are free or even, in some cases, they always have free entry.
Some of these museums are the Pompidou Center, the Musée National de l’Orangerie, the Musée d’Orsay, the Picasso, or the surprising Musée du quai Branly, which have free admission on the first Sunday of each month, while others less known such as the House of Victor Hugo, the Museum of Modern Art, the House of Balzac or the Carnavalet Museum are free every day of the year. In order not to miss any, we recommend you consult this list.
7. Sign up for a free tour of Paris.
Known for being free guided tours that allow you to learn more about the impressive history, anecdotes, or curiosities of the city, opting for one of them in Paris will let you have an excellent first contact with the city as well as begin to take its pulse and learn a little more about Parisian life. In this case, we recommend you book this free tour or this free tour of mysteries and legends with a Spanish guide, two of the best accessible terms in Paris.
Other of the best free tours in Paris, although in this case, they are more focused on more famous neighborhoods, is this one that runs through Montmartre or this through the Latin Quarter, which is also among the most recommended by travelers.
Remember that these guided tours will take you through some of the city’s most emblematic points of interest, such as the Pont Neuf, the Louvre, the Seine, or Notre Dame. Although they are free, it is almost obligatory and deserved to tip the guides (between 10 and 20 euros per person) if they have done an excellent job.
8. Enjoy the Basilica of the Sacred Heart
An incredible way to end a day in Paris is to stroll through the picturesque and touristy Montmartre district and visit the Basilica of the Sacred Heart for free before watching the sunset from the Montmartre viewpoint, located under the stairs that lead to this temple.
This temple, built between 1875 and 1914, stands out for its enormous Byzantine-style white stone façade; it is worth going inside to see the giant mosaic in the apse and its beautiful chapels. Although the entrance to the basilica is free, remember that you have to pay to visit the crypt and go up to the dome.
To get to Montmartre, located on a small hill, we recommend taking metro line 2 to Anvers or line 12 to Abbesses. Once there, you can go up the stairs or use the funicular, located very close to the Anvers metro station, and you can pay with your metro ticket.
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We were visiting hours: every day from 6 am to 10 pm.
9. Observe Paris from the Galeries Lafayette
Climbing the seven floors of Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, even if you don’t want to buy anything in its flashy shops and enjoy incredible views of the city center, is another of the best free things in Paris and one of the best viewpoints in Paris.
In addition to being able to enjoy the interior of this shopping center, which is one of the most beautiful in the world thanks to its art nouveau style and its great hall decorated with different themes depending on the time of year (its best time is at Christmas), go up to its terrace will give you unique views of Paris that we assure you, will not leave anyone indifferent.
We were visiting hours: Monday to Saturday, 9:30 am to 8:30 pm, and Sundays from 11 am to 7 pm.
10. Enter the Mazarin Library for free.
The Mazarin Library, located on the Quai de Conti on the banks of the Seine, is the oldest public library in France (1643) and another of the jewels you can enjoy in Paris for free.
The influential Archbishop Mazarin created this library, Cardinal Richelieu’s successor as Prime Minister, to house his vast collection of more than 40,000 highly valued books and manuscripts.
In addition to the outer building, it is worth going inside the imposing Mazarine Palace, now part of the French Institute, to observe the decoration that has been preserved from the 17th century, in which its wooden shelves full of books stand out.
Visiting hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm.
What should you not miss out in Paris?
Six not-to-be-missed guided tours in Paris
- Behind the scenes at the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is undoubtedly Paris’s most iconic monument! …
- The Louvre Museum. …
- The Palais Garnier Opera House. …
- The Palace of Versailles. …
- The Musée d’Orsay.
Is 3 days enough time in Paris?
Of course, if you have longer, that’s even better, but three days in Paris is certainly enough to see a lot, and works well either as a long weekend, or as part of a longer Europe trip itinerary like this.
What is the coolest thing in Paris?
Top Attractions in Paris
- Musée d’Orsay. 66,783. Art Museums. …
- Eiffel Tower. 141,677. Points of Interest & Landmarks • Observation Decks & Towers. …
- Louvre Museum. 102,084. …
- Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. 71,526. …
- Luxembourg Gardens. 35,280. …
- Sainte-Chapelle. 27,740. …
- Palais Garnier. 19,780. …
- Arc de Triomphe. 45,710.
Can I do Paris in 4 days?
For this reason, four days in Paris offers a perfect compromise. In four days you can hit many of the city’s major sights and attractions, and still have time to breathe, kick back, and enjoy some people-watching at a Parisian terrace.