Free Things to Do in Paris

Exploring Paris for Free

October 24, 2018By Emma HussainLiving in Paris, What's New Living in Paris
The Petit Palais in Paris, where the permanent collection is always free.
The Petit Palais in Paris, where admission to the permanent collection is always free.

Paris is known for being one of the most expensive cities in the world, with the prices of food and rent often making it difficult to envisage life without financial pressure. But if you want to enjoy the city without crippling your bank account, local businesses and government alike provide many free activities. Check out the following list of cultural, culinary and costless things to do in Paris.

 

MUSEUMS AND CULTURE

Most art galleries are free and open Tuesday to Saturday. Below are a few of the leaders. Click here for a more comprehensive list.

Galerie Daniel Templon

A top gallery exhibiting major French and international modern artists, Templon was one of the first galleries to exhibit Andy Warhol.

30, rue Beaubourg, 75003 Paris

01 42 72 14 10

www.danieltemplon.com

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

With a Paris gallery and a converted factory in Pantin, Ropac hosts large-scale exhibitions of contemporary art.

7, rue Debelleyme, 75003 Paris

69, avenue du Général Leclerc, 93500 Pantin

01 42 72 99 00/01 55 89 01 10

ropac.net

Galerie Perrotin

This townhouse in the Marais showcases the hottest contemporary artists.

76, rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris

01 42 16 79 79

www.perrotin.com

An exhibition at the Polka Galerie.

Polka Galerie

A photography gallery set up by former journalists inspired by the role photography plays in their field.

12 rue Saint Gilles, Paris 75003

08 99 23 33 72

www.polkagalerie.com

 

Museums owned by the City of Paris have free permanent collections and only charge for their temporary exhibitions. We’ve collected a few highlights here.

The beautiful Place des Vosges, home to the Maison de Victor Hugo and a number of galleries.

Maison de Victor Hugo

The renowned writer wrote a large part of Les Miserables while living in his apartment, now a museum, on the Place des Vosges.

6, place des Vosges, 75004 Paris

01 42 72 10 16

www.maisonsvictorhugo.paris.fr/en

Mémorial de la Shoah

This museum traces the history of the Jewish community in France.

17, rue Geoffroy-l’Asnier, 75004 Paris

01 42 77 44 72

www.memorialdelashoah.org

Musée Curie–Institut du Radium

A science museum showcasing the lives, work and laboratories of several Nobel Prize-winning scientists, including Marie Curie.

1, rue Pierre et Marie Curie, 75005 Paris

01 56 24 55 33

musee.curie.fr

 

Paris’s cultural scene does not end with museums and galleries – here are a couple of miscellaneous free activities.

Fashion shows at Galeries Lafayette

Fun, 30-minute fashion shows are held in this famous department store every Friday at 3pm. Reserve online to guarantee a seat.

Galeries Lafayette, 40, boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris

www.galerieslafayette.com/

Free Lectures at Collège de France

Throughout the year, the Collège holds free lectures, open to the public, by leading scholars on a wide range of topics.

Collège de France, 11, place Marcelin Berthelot, 75005 Paris

www.college-de-france.fr

 

MUSIC

You can hear some great music from street musicians by just wandering through Paris, but if you want something a little more structured, look no further than these free concerts.

Free Organ recitals

Talented organists pump the pedals in this church on Sundays at 5:30pm.

Église Saint Eustache, 146, rue Rambuteau, 75001 Paris

01 42 36 31 05

saint-eustache.org

The American Church in Paris is a great place to see talented musicians.

American Church in Paris Sunday Concert Series

Musicians of all nationalities perform for free throughout much of the year on Sundays at 5pm.

American Church in Paris, 65, quai D’Orsay, 75007 Paris

01 40 62 05 00

www.acparis.org

Les Vocations d’Euterpe

This organization offers regular concerts by musicians from France’s top conservatories. Subscribe to their mailing list for details on one of Paris’s classical music scene’s hidden gems.

vocationseuterpe.monsite-orange.fr

L’Eglise des Blancs manteaux

Each Tuesday night, free concerts are held at this church in the 4th arrondissement. The organisers are not yet online, but for a range of musical talent ,enquire at l’Eglise des Blancs manteaux, 12 Rue des blancs manteaux,  75004  Paris.

 

FOOD

Paris is renowned for its cuisine, but this reputation comes with a high price tag. Thankfully, several local businesses and charities are here to help.

Couscous-merguez at Les Trois Frères

Each Thursday from 8:30pm, purchase a drink for €2 and then enjoy a free plate of couscous in a friendly restaurant – get there early to get a seat!

Les Trois Frères, 14 rue Léon, 75018 Paris

01 42 64 91 73

Couscous at Tribal Café

As above, spend €3 on a drink and you’ll be treated to a free plate of couscous! Fridays and Saturdays, 9pm-10pm.

Tribal Café, 3 cour des Petites Ecuries, 75010 Paris

01 47 70 57 08

Mussels party! Every Wednesday from 8pm.

Mussels at Le Bouillon Belge

Buy a drink for €2.90 and get a free dish of mussels to share, Wednesdays from 8pm.

Le Bouillon Belge, 6, rue Planchat, 75020 Paris

01 43 70 41 03

www.facebook.com/LeBouillonB

Meals for people with financial problems

Balanced meals are provided by the French charity Association L’Un Est L’Autre on Saturdays and Sundays at 11:45 and on Thursday evenings (except public holidays).

Association L’Un Est L’Autre, 7-15, avenue de la Porte de la Villette, 75019 Paris

www.lunestlautre.asso.fr/

 

VIEWS OF PARIS

The French capital is arguably best seen from above, and here’s how to do so without paying for a trip to the top of the Tour Eiffel or Tour Montparnasse.

Galeries Lafayette’s rooftop terrace

Climb to the seventh floor of Galeries Lafayette for a beautiful view of Paris’s famed rooftops.

Galeries Lafayette, 40, boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris

www.galerieslafayette.com

Promenade Plantée

Lovely gardens line the walkway along this disused railway viaduct, providing a unique way to see the 12th arrondissement.

1, Coulée Verte René-Dumont, Avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris

Take a break from the busy streets of Paris and enjoy the view from the green oasis of the Parc des Buttes Chaumont.

Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Climb to the heights of this peaceful park for a view of the city.

1, rue Botzaris, 75019 Paris

en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71468/Parc-des-Buttes-Chaumont

 

SPORTS AND EXERCISE

Try a new sport or activity for free!

Qi Gong classes

Try out this hybrid Chinese martial art/meditation in the open air in one of Paris’s biggest parks, daily at 9am.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, 1, rue Botzaris, 75019 Paris

The free Wutao workshop at Centquatre in the 19th arrondissement.

Wutao classes

Alternatively, give wutao a go this weekend in the 19th arrondissement. Classes are held on Saturdays and Sundays at 11am and 12:15pm.

Centquatre, 104, rue d’Aubervilliers, 75019 Paris

01 53 35 50 00

www.104.fr

Outdoor yoga classes

Throughout the summer months, Wanderlust Paris hosts free yoga classes on a terrace overlooking the Seine.

Wanderlust, 32, quai d’Austeritz, 75013 Paris

www.rdvyoga.com

 

SEASONAL 

Here are a few one-off events to look out for in the city.

La Nuit Blanche. Once a year, art installations fill the streets, and many museums and other attractions remain open late for free, with the Métro running all night to allow Parisians and tourists alike the chance to experience popular sites in a new way.

Open Air Cinema. During the summer, La Villette hosts an open-air cinema festival in the Parc de la Villette, featuring both commercially successful and less-known films.

Free Clothes Exchanges. Paris Friendly frequently organizes free “Troc Parties” (clothing exchanges) – bring along clothes you no longer wear and exchange them for someone else’s secondhand styles! www.paris-friendly.fr/loisirs-paris/bons_plans_paris_free_troc_party.php

 

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