Here is our selection of totally free things to do.
1. Enjoy a stunning view
Looking for a little-known rooftop from which to admire Paris spread out at your feet? Head to the terrace of the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, which offers a superb view of some of the most beautiful sights and places in the French capital, including the Opéra Garnier, the Eiffel Tower and Montmartre. Make your way to the 8th floor of the store and you’ll find yourself in seventh heaven.
2. Stay zen
Need to calm yourself down? Get a laid-back start to your day with a free open-air qi gong class in the idyllic setting of the Buttes-Chaumont park. Qi gong master Thoi Tin Cau is there at 9 o’ clock every morning to initiate you into this ancient Chinese art combining fluid movements with breathing exercises.
3. Cultivate yourself
No stay in Paris is complete without a visit to the Louvre. Among the must-sees are the museum’s three grandes dames, who draw visitors from around the world: the Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Mona Lisa. If you’ve never seen them, or would like to admire them anew, you can do so for free. The museum offers free admission on the first Sunday of every month from October to March.
4. Get some fresh air
Running is the sport of choice in Paris these days. Everyone seems to be taking it up, so why not you? One of the top spots for runners is the Jardin du Luxembourg. It is an enchanting setting, and you can admire the sculptures in various parts of the gardens each time you stop for a breather. An excellent – and free – way to combine a workout and art appreciation.
5. Cruise along a canal
A ride along the canals of Paris is a good alternative way to explore the city. And now there’s a free way to experience a short trip on a canal. Le Millénaire, a shopping centre in the town of Aubervilliers (93), has started up a free boat service on the Canal Saint-Denis, running from the Corentin-Cariou metro station (Line 7) to the shopping centre. Hop on board!
6. Indulge your palate
Cookery courses are currently very popular in Paris, but cooking expertise doesn’t come cheap. If you’re keen to experiment with new recipes and original flavours but can’t afford to pay for lessons, take heart: the Fédération française de cuisine ® organizes free courses at food markets in Paris and the Ile-de-France region. Professional chefs will teach you to make dishes using fresh produce sourced from the market stalls. Places are limited, so make sure you register.
7. Quench your thirst
Feeling thirsty? You don’t need to pay to get yourself a drink of water in Paris. The capital has nearly 260 public water fountains providing safe drinking water, including the Wallace fountains, an iconic part of the Paris landscape.
And if you prefer fizzy water to plain, Paris even has public fountains dispensing carbonated water in seven locations: Berges de Seine (7th), Jardin de Reuilly (12th), La Pétillante at the Eau de Paris headquarters (13th), Parc André-Citroën (15th), Parc Martin-Luther-King (17th) and Jardin d’Eole (18th), Square Séverine (20e).
8. Set off on a river cruise
If you’ve always wanted to sail along the Seine, you can fulfil your wish for free on your birthday. Vedettes de Paris will provide you with a free cruise + Champagne or + Gourmand to celebrate your special day. Give yourself a birthday treat!
9. Reinvent your look
Parisian women are famed worldwide for their elegance. And in Paris, you can get a makeover without spending a cent.
To get a free haircut, head to the Franck de Roche Académie (but be prepared to emerge with a totally new look!). Make an appointment by calling 01 43 46 05 00, then go to the website Franck de Roche Académie and print out the ‘Coupe coiffage gratuit’ coupon.
Next, put your best face forward with a make-up session at the Make Up Art Academy. Just call 01 40 21 03 15 to make an appointment.
10. To whet your appetite
There are places in Paris where you can stop off for light refreshments for no more than the price of a drink. Some popular neighbourhood establishments give you a little free snack with every drinks order.
At Penty (12th), a kémia (assortment of appetizers) is served with every drinks order, except coffee or mint tea. Le Culture Rapide (20th) puts on a free buffet spread on Friday evenings. At the Lockwood (2nd), you can enjoy a free aperitivo until 8.30pm.
Thursdays at Les Trois Frères (18th), you canhave a free plate of merguez sausages and couscous (at the bar) for the price of a single drink. Free couscous is served on Friday and Saturday evenings both at the Tribal Café (10th) and at Grenier (11th).
Make sure you get there early, though, for any chance of getting a table!