10 free things to do in Paris

The top 10 essential, offbeat and entertaining activities in Paris that will cost you nothing at all.

Here is our selection of totally free things to do.

1. Enjoy a stunning view

Tortuga - Vue tour Eiffel, Paris

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 the rooftop terrace of the store and you’ll find yourself in seventh heaven.

More information on places from which to admire Paris from above in our article The most beautiful views of Paris

2. Visit without moving from home

Enfants sur le balcon du Palais Garnier regardant l'avenue de l'Opéra, Paris

If you can't come to Paris, Paris invites itself into your living room. The greatest museums and monuments offer virtual tours that are more real than life. At the Palais Garnier, for example, you can go from its roof and breathtaking view to its mysterious underground lake.

More information on the virtual tours offered by Paris Region museums and monuments in our article Discover Paris on a virtual visit

3. Cultivate yourself

Musée du Louvre © Vitor Pinto

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. Every first Saturday of the month (admission from 6pm to 9pm) as well as on 14 July (unless it is a Tuesday) admission to the museum is free (online booking required).

More information on free cultural venues in Paris in our article Free museums and monuments in Paris

4. Get some fresh air

Famille au jardin du Luxembourg, Paris

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.

More information on the best running spots in Paris in our article Where to go running in Paris

5. Cruise along a canal

Canal Saint-Martin, Paris

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

Fontaine Wallace Saint-Michel © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

Feeling thirsty? You don’t need to pay to get yourself a drink of water in Paris. The capital has more than 200 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 nine locations including those of the Ranelagh Gardens (16th) and Nelson Mandela (1st).

8. Set off on a river cruise

Vedettes de Paris - Vedettes de Paris la nuit

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 (glass of champagne or glass of wine or spirits) or + Gourmand (sweet pancake or muffin + soft drink) to celebrate your special day. Give yourself a birthday treat!

9.For a free beauty makeover

Coiffure cheveux bruns, Paris © Thinkstock

Paris is synonymous with chic and elegance and in the capital you can get a makeover for zero euros.

To get a free haircut, head to the Franck de Roche Académie (but be prepared to emerge with a totally new look!). To take advantage of it, visit the Facebook page of Franck de Roche Académie to find out the next dates and make an appointment.

Next, put your best face forward with a make-up session at the Make Up Art Academy. Just call 01 45 58 04 30 to make an appointment.

10. For a free film session

Cinéma sur le toit x Sofilm - Ecran et projectionniste, Paris

In Paris and the Ile-de-France region, during the summer months, lovers of the 7th Art enjoy free open-air cinema screenings.

Every summer, generally from the end of July to the end of August, lovers of the big screen meet at nightfall in the Parc de Villette. From Wednesday to Sunday, the Cinéma en plein air de La Villette screens a film every evening. A theme is proposed for each edition.