Ah Paris, you are the most stunning and gorgeous city. Filled with iconic buildings, delicious French cuisine, and beautiful museums, it’s no secret that Paris is on a lot of peoples bucket lists! But how can you still visit Paris and not spend all your money on museums and macarons?
Well, after visiting Paris three times (not to brag) I’ve come to realise that you can see almost all the major sites for free! You can get away with just paying for snacks (of course!) and the main form of transport – the metro.
Here are 5 of the main sites you can see in Paris for free…
#1 The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is definitely the icon of Paris. Nothing screams Paris like the Eiffel Tower and all the romantic, fun and beautiful things associated with it! So you can’t exactly go to the top for free. But you can walk under it, sit in the park, have a picnic and a drink, and of course take lots of photos!
You can take the metro pretty much straight to The Eiffel Tower using the yellow C Line getting off at ‘Champs de Mars Tour Eiffel’, pretty easily from most places in the city. However, my favourite way to see the Eiffel Tower is to walk from ‘Trocadéro’ across the Seine and to the Eiffel Tower. This is how you can get the best views of the tower without the crowds.
My favourite way to see the Eiffel Tower is to pack a picnic full of French food, bring a bottle of cheapish champagne, and sit under the tower as the sun is going down waiting for its lights to sparkle for the first time of the night.
#2 Notre Dame
The Notre Dame has to be my absolute favourite site to see in Paris. This medieval Catholic cathedral is located on the island in the middle of the city and is definitely one of my must-sees for Paris. You can go inside the Cathedral for free or you can pay to go to the top. If you’re going inside, bear in mind you will have to queue for a while because they do bag checks! Also, make sure you’re wearing appropriate clothing otherwise they won’t let you in.
The Notre Dame can be reached using either the yellow C Line, the blue B Line, or purple 4 Line. The stop is called ‘St-Michel Notre Dame’ so its pretty easy to find. These three different lines make it pretty accessible from anywhere in the city as well.
Admiring the Notre Dame from the outside courtyard is the perfect way to see its beautiful architecture and stunning design. My favourite way to see it is from the inside, where you can admire all of its gorgeous and iconic stain glass windows.
#3 The Arc de Triomphe
Another iconic site to see in Paris definitely has to be the Arc de Triomphe. Surrounding this iconic structure is one of the busiest roundabouts in the world which leads to the famous streets of the Champs Elysee’s. You can pay to go to the top which offers an amazing view, but you can walk around this beautiful and historic structure completely for free.
Just because its the busiest roundabout in the world doesn’t mean you have to drive there! You can take any of the Red A-Line, Green 6 line, Blue 2 line or Yellow 1 line and it will drop you to ‘Charles de Gaulle Etoile’. The station is literally under the Arc de Triomphe!
Once you arrive at the Arc de Triomphe DON’T try to cross the roundabout to get to it – you’ll definitely get arrested! Instead, use the passageway that goes under the road and takes you straight up to the Arc de Triomphe. Also when you’re finished exploring the Arc de Triomphe, be sure to check out the shops along the Champs Elysees. The street is straight down the huge road so you definitely won’t miss it!
The Sacré-Cœur seems to be a sight that most people completely forget to see, especially since it’s a little out of the main part of the city. But I think the Sacré-Cœur offers stunning views of the city from a completely different perspective. Commonly known as The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, this Roman Catholic Church sits at the top of a hill which overlooks the city. It’s a lot of stairs to walk up, but it definitely worth the climb.
There are two different ways that you can get to the Sacré-Cœur. Either by taking Blue Line 2 to ‘Anvers’, or the Purple Line 4 to ‘Barbès Rouchouart’. From either of these lines, you should be able to easily find your way through the steep streets and stairs to the Sacré-Cœur, make sure you check out some of the small shops along the way!
One thing to note with the Sacré-Cœur is the large number of pickpocketers, and also men that try to sell you bracelets and other cheap items. Selling bracelets may seem harmless but the trick is to unexpectedly grab your wrist and start tying the string around before you even realise what is happening – you have to pay for it if it is attached to your wrist! Also, make sure you check out the famous Moulin Rouge while you’re visiting the Sacré-Cœur…
#5 A Picnic Infront of The Louvre
While I know you do have to pay to get into the Louvre, you can still visit the gardens around it for free! Depending on the time of year, these gardens are sometimes decorated with all different types of flowers. The gardens are the perfect spot for a sunny lunchtime picnic or a stop for a snack. Complete with plenty of grass to sit on, a pond with chairs, lots of bench chairs and a mini carnival, you can spend hours here soaking up the sun!
To get to either The Louvre or its gardens you can take either the Yellow Line 1 or Pink Line 7 to ‘Palais Royal Musée du Louvre’. There’s a couple of different exits – one that takes you to the street, one to under the Louvre, or one to the entrance – so try not to get lost!
Even if you don’t want to see the museum (I definitely recommend you do see it!) you can still go under to the entrance to the museum. The entrance is complete with lots of different (expensive) shops and also where you can see the underside of the famous Louvre pyramid. You can also go into the courtyard of the Louvre to see the pyramid and the gorgeous outside of the building.