The Louvre

Paris for Free

How to enjoy Paris on a tight budget 

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There are major monuments and museums in Paris that are free for everyone every day; there are others that are free for students every day, and there are others that are free for everyone one Sunday a month. In addition, there are plenty of other ways, besides visiting museums and monuments, of enjoying Paris, its ambiance and its life, without spending more than is needed for a cup of coffee or a beer on a café terrace.

Page guide:  Free Paris museums Free monuments
Free to wander Free Paris travel

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See also  Paris on a budget

There are plenty of things to see and do in Paris, without spending a single centime. These include;

Free museums and collections:

Free for all - The permanent collections of museums owned and run by the City of Paris tend to be free. This may require obtaining a free ticket from the "Accueil" or ticket office before you can get in. The best free Paris museums are :
  • View of the Seine by Monet
    View of the Seine, by Monet, in the Petit Palais 
    Petit Palais, City of Paris museum of fine arts; a large collection of great master paintings including Rembrandt, Monet Sisley and many more, plus a fine collection of artefacts. Located just off the Champs Elysées. An excellent general collection museum and art gallery.
  • City of Paris Museum of Modern Art, at the Palais de Tokyo, near the Trocadéro. A large collection of late 19th and 20th century art, including works by Picasso, Bonnard, Bracque, Dérain, Dufy, Modigliani, Rouault, Utrillo and many more
  • Maison de Balzac, devoted to France's great 19th century novelist.   
  • Musée Carnavalet - the museum of the history of Paris
  • Musée Cognacq-Jay - A fine Paris 16th century private residence with a collection of 18th century art, sculpture and crafts. Located in the 9th Arondissement.
Paris City PassExclusive to About-France.com.  5% discount off what is already the best value Paris visitor pass  Use code "aboutfrance" when prompted.
Don't waste your precious time in Paris.....
Unless you want to spend hours standing in a queue to get into the top Paris monuments, a skip-the-line pass is vital, and  The Paris City Pass from Turbopass is the cheapest option. Museums, attractions, travel and Seine cruise from just 99.90€  for a two day adult pass and 19.90€ for a two-day child pass. Buy well in advance, for delivery worldwide.
Free only on the first Sunday of each month:
The Louvre,  Musée Rodin, Musée Picasso, Musée d'Orsay and others.

Free for students and anyone under 26
  • Always free: National museums (such as the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, etc.) are free for all persons under 26 from the European Union : proof of identity is required (passport or EU identity card).
  • Occasionally free: The Louvre is free for all under-26s, from any country in the world, on Friday evening from 6pm to 9.45 pm.
Apart from this, you'll have to pay to get in to the main monuments and attractions. And unless you want to waste hours of time standing in queues, a skip-the-line visitor pass, including museums, sights and public transport, is essential.  
  About-France.com recommends the Paris City Pass, which offers better value than any other pass.  And get 5% off with the exclusive Aboutfrance voucher code

Free monuments and other places;

  • Notre Dame cathedral, the Sacré Coeur de Montmartre, and other Paris churches.
    The churches themselves are free to visit - though some parts of them, such as towers or crypts, tend to have an entry charge. You may still need to queue to enter Notre Dame, as there is security at the entrance.
  • Maison de Victor Hugo 6 place des Vosges in the 4th arondissement.  Visit the city apartment of France's greatest 19th century poet: 
  • Père-Lachaise cemetry, located in the 20th Arondissement. One of the most famous cemetries in the world. Visit the tombs of the great and famous, including Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Balzac, Jim Morrison (of the Doors),  Isadora Duncan, Yves Montand, Alfred de Musset, and hundreds more... - 
  • Jardin des Plantes botanical gardens (opposite Gare d'Austerlitz). One of the world's oldest and largest botanical gardens, open to the public since 1640! There is paid entry for the "menagerie" section, specialised in the preservation of endangered species. However the small pandas can be clearly observed for free from the botanical gardens.
  • Arènes de Lutèce.  49 rue Monge, paris 5. (Latin Quarter). The Remains of a Roman arena in the heart of Paris. Sit on the terraces where Romans once watched games and spectacles

Free to wander - Paris on foot

As long as the weather is OK, Paris is a great city for wandering through: and what better way to soak in the atmosphere of a city than to walk through its old streets, and through its famous sites.  And if you're into running, take a look at Runparis.fr, which offers free guided running tours of the French capital

Five places to walk in Paris
Stop to admire, enjoy the atmosphere, stop off for a coffee or a drink, visit the free monuments on your route - from the outside or the inside - and each of these four Paris walks can take a full morning or a full afternoon.
Paris flower market
The Paris flower market, on the Ile de la Cité 
1. The Paris flower Market
Following the visit to Paris in 2014 by the Queen of Britain, the Paris Flower Market has been renamed "Marché au fleurs reine Elizabeth II". Located on the Ile de la Cité, near the Pont Neuf, Paris's famous flower market is a small haven of flowers and plants, where Parisians have for centuries come to find plants and flowers to decorate their apartments. With its orchids, exotic flowers, and many more flowers and more ordinary potted plants, it is a delightful place to stop off at, in the heart of the city. Continue this visit with the next walk....

Bouquiniste on the quais
One of the many Paris "bouquinistes" beside the Seine 
2. The banks of the Seine.
River banks are popular places for a stroll, and les "quais",  the banks of the Seine in Paris, are among the world's most famous riverside embankments. Starting from Notre Dame, wander along the banks of the river either upstream, to the Ile Saint Louis, or downstream to the pedestrian Pont des Arts bridge, and beyond. Up at road level, the banks of the Seine are home to hundreds of "bouquinistes"  or second-hand bookstalls. Many still do sell old books; others sell old prints or modern copies of old prints, even old maps and historic newspapers, others sell postcards and souvenirs. The bouquinistes are a historic Parisian tradition. On the right bank of the Ile de la Cité, enjoy the sights and smells of the historic Paris flower market.
   Down near water level, the lower quais, once used as towpaths, are among the great romantic spots in Paris.

3. The Latin quarter
The narrow streets off the left bank of the Seine - that is the left bank in relation to the flow of the river - are full of small shops, from classic tourist shops to clothes shops, as well as cafés and restaurants. There are also arts and craft shops, including antiquarian booksellers, specialist bookshops, and small art galleries. Walk through the old streets, enjoy the sights, the curiosities and mouthwatering smells from the many small restaurants in the little streets between the Boulevard Saint Germain and the Seine; or look at books and go window shopping in the stores of the Boulevard Saint Michel.

4. Montmartre
Place du Tertre Montmartre
Artists at work in the Place du Tertre, on Montmartre
Although it is very touristy, Montmartre still has plenty of charm and atmosphere, and by far the best way to see it is on foot. From Anvers metro station on line 2, walk straight up towards the basilica. There is a funicular railway up the hill for those who don't like the idea of climbing the 222 steps to the entrance of the basilica. But the steps are not hard, and wind up through a garden, with great views over the rooftops of Paris. At the top, the Sacré Coeur basilica has the largest mosaic in France. Beside the Sacré Coeur, the old "village" of Montmartre, with its narrow streets and square, throngs with artists studios, street artists, cafés and restaurants. Though some of the artists will do you a decent portrait, there are also many scam artists; if you want to have your portrait done, prefer the more sedentary artists on the square, la Place du Tertre, who will sit you down on a chair, to the mobile artists who accost people in the street. But portrait or no portrait, Montmartre is worth a visit for the atmosphere. It's not what it used to be in the olden days, when Montmartre really was one of the haunts of Parisian artists like Utrillo or Toulouse-Lautrec, but it still has plenty of atmosphere and charm.

5.  Louvre - Champs Elysées - Arc de Triomphe
Arc de triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe, at l'Etoile -  Charles de Gaulle  
Enjoy the experience of the Louvre from the outside. Wander through the main courtyard of the Louvre and view the glass pyramid close up. It is more impressive from the outside than from inside. Then cross the place du Carroussel, past the Arc de Trimphe du Carroussel, and into the Tuileries gardens. The Carroussel arch is topped by a nineteenth-century replica of the Quadriga, or Horses of Saint Marks, the finest Roman equestian bronze statues, which used to adorn St. Mark's cathedral in Venice, until they were removed to a museum to protect them from atmospheric pollution.
  The Tuileries gardens are a popular park for Parisians and tourists alike. At the far end from the Louvre, they give onto the Place de la Concorde, in the middle of which stands the oldest monument in Paris, the 75 ft. Luxor obelisk dating from the thirteenth century BC.
   From the Place de la Concorde, then wander up the Champs Elysées, the most famous street in the world. This magnificent tree-lined boulevard runs 1900 metres (just over a mile) from the Place de la Concorde to the Place charles de Gaulle, or Place de l'Etoile, in the middle of which stands the great Arc de Triomphe, or Triumphal Arch, erected in the 19th century to commemorate the victories of Napoleon.
   Walk up the Champs Elysées on the right side if you want to see the most popular shops, including many flagship outlets for international brands. Wander up on the left of the Champs Elysées if you prefer less crowds and less shops - though of course there are shops and restaurants on both sides of the avenue.
Other places to wander: Enjoy the Champ de Mars, and admire the Eiffel Tower from below; or wander in the Jardins du Luxembourg, a very popular park in the Latin quarter

Free travel:

Walking is free ! But if you have a Paris City Pass or a  travel pass, then you also have free unlimited travel on public transport within central Paris.

Free tourist attractions in other parts of France

Links to main Paris tourist attractions:

The Eiffel Tower,    Notre Dame cathedral,     La Sainte Chapelle,     the Champs Elysées, The Arc de Triomphe,     The Louvre,     The Orsay Museum,     The Latin Quarter, Montmartre,    The Moulin Rouge,    Seine river boats,    The Pompidou Center,

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No need to spend a fortune to enjoy a few days in Paris; as well as the big paid-entry museums and monuments, Paris has half a dozen great museums that are free, plus interesting monuments and plenty of sites that can be enjoyed to the full without spending a single Euro.

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In an emergency
in Paris:

24 hr chemist / pharmacies:
a) 84, av des Champs-Elysées 75008, tel
0145 62 02 41
b) 6, place Clichy 75009, tel
0148 74 65 18 .

English-speaking pharmacies:
British Pharmacy
62, Avenue des Champs-Elysées
75008 Paris
0143 59 22 52

British-American pharmacy,
1 rue Auber, 75009
0142 65 88 29

English-language crisis line;
Daily 3 pm - 11pm
01 46 21 46 46

Call/phone: 15

Hertford British Hospital: 3, rue Barbès, 92300 Levallois-Perret
Tel 0146 39 22 22

American Hospital of Paris
63, Bd Victor Hugo
92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine
0146 41 25 25

Eiffel tower at sunset
  The Eiffel Tower - no free visits, of course, but the Paris's emblematic landmark defines the view from many parts of Paris

Paris travel tips
Travelling round the city ? Here are a few tips about getting the best deals with public transport.
Paris travel maps
View or print out a plan of the metro system in the central area of Paris..

Train travel within France or to France
Information in English for train travel in or to France. Tickets can be bought online in advance, but how to buy them depends on where you are.

Disneyland Paris... just click

Notre Dame de Paris - detail from tympanum
Medieval sculptures on the entrance to Notre Dame Cathedral

The Louvre, Paris
The Louvre museum, and its glass pyramid.

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