Free things to do in Paris 2014-2015: with a difference
We believe some of the best things in life are free (or very cheap) when it comes to travel and experiencing a new destination. If you know where to look, what to book and a few budgeting tricks, being prepared with some key tips can afford you the chance to find free things to do in Paris, and soak up local culture at extremely affordable prices.
Here are our top 10 budget friendly, sights, experiences and activities in Paris at the moment – with a twist
Who knew that the city of love could give you a warm fuzzy feeling without spending cold hard cash? Though its famous cornerstones of high fashion, plush architecture and fine dining don’t seem so frugal, Paris can be a pretty cheap date, with something unexpected at every corner.
Looking for somewhere to rest your weary head after making your way through this list? Browse through these Paris hostels, each full of their own charm and character.
Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris
An awe-inspiring attraction for every visitor, this Parisian icon festooned with gargoyles and gothic facades is a must-see. Entering the edifice is free, and though queues can sometimes be unbearable, you can take a walk along the river Seine and admire it in all its glory at a distance too.
Jardin des Plantes
Combining the appeal of a local park with a botanical haven, you can grab an ice cream and climb up the labyrinth to the belvedere here, and also appreciate the Science behind the shrubbery: from Alpine terrain, tropical greenhouses and medicinal plant displays, this is a fascinating place of discovery devoted to the eco systems of the Ile de France. You can extend the eco interest through where you spend the night in Paris: hostels like Paris – Yves Robert are prized for having a green outlook.
Free photography kicks
There are a pick of fascinating, challenging art exhibitions in the calendar for the year ahead: we love Autoportraits as part of photography month at gallery Les Douches, running until January 10th 2015 but always saturated with free art, the little Russian Tea Room in western Paris showcasing young, gritty photography, and the acclaimed documentary photographers of the Magnum agency sharing their stories free of charge until March 2015.
Museum of Romantics
Aside from Paris offering free entry into a number of museums, which you can take a look at in our free guide to Paris, Musée de la Vie Romantique is a villa located in the neighbourhood of New Athens and was built by Dutch artist Ary Scheffer in 1830. Renovated in 2013, the area teemed with artists, composers and writers, and now houses relics of the Romantic era and a pretty garden and café – the perfect secret garden to spend an afternoon.
Romance can also be found around Paris hostels: Paris – Jules Ferry is set in a typical Parisian building on the banks of the Saint-Martin canal, for a dreamy stroll.
Uncover an alternative art scene
Relatively little-known to the intrepid traveller, uncover some quiet spots for a rare dose of modern art for free and in a peaceful setting: Musée Zadkine is the former studio of a Russian cubist, renovated in 2012 into a sculpture gallery and garden; or La Galerie des Ateliers d’Artistes de Belleville, a snug one-room gallery in the heart of the Belleville neighbourhood.
Raise the bar, lower the price
If you’re searching for budget bars, Aux Folies is an 18th century style watering hole at the city’s gates, packed with the young people of Paris and offering beer at €2.50 and cocktails at an affordable €4.50; drinks to match the affordable board at Paris hostels.
Fine French food at Foyer de la Madeleine
Wend your way around the Place de la Madeleine, a frequent pilgrimage for French foodies in search of Parisian fare, and you will blanch at the hefty price tags: right in the centre, though, hidden under the wing of the Madeleine church, sits this popular foyer canteen, with a three course meal for a ridiculous €8. What’s better? Every cent goes to a church charity helping the homeless.
Picnic in Montmartre
A village within Paris’s metropolis, there is a way to make the most of this unique place without being herded along by the crowds, being coerced into having a portrait sketched, then coming away clutching a fist-full of key rings and postcards. Orientating yourself by the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur (big white church), buy a crusty French stick and a wedge of brie from a Supermarché to nibble for a couple of euros, and wander the steep and cobbled streets aimlessly.
Hidden corners of greenery
To find the lungs of Paris for some breathing space is no easy feat. The urban sprawl allows little leeway for green patches, so retreat to the Albert Kahn Musée & Jardins in Boulogne-Billancourt for ten acres of forest, Japanese, English and French gardens for a natural refrain from the hubbub. You can even stay amidst the open spaces of Paris; hostels such as Paris – Cité des Sciences are less than 1 km away from the famous La Villette park.
The crème de la crème of Paris hostels
It may be slushy, but Paris is the city of love, and we love hostels and all that can happen in them (sometimes the blooming of love). So here’s our handful of Paris hostels to make you swoon, or just give you sweet dreams.
For some more great ideas to fill out your to-do list and find free things to do in Paris, see our ‘City of Lights on a Budget‘ article from our guest blogger Gretchelle Quiambao.