Cheap and Free Things to Do in Paris: My Favorite Activities
by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)
Here are the things I consider to be the best free (or cheap) things to do in Paris. I did all of these activities on my last trip to France. So, do what I do: save money and have fun… without being a tourist.
I love Paris but I don’t like spending a ton of money unless someone else is paying for everything. And, I’ve seen most of the high-priced tourist sights on prior trips, so here’s my list of best free things to do in Paris. Hey, some of the activities cost a couple of bucks, but they are well worth the Euros.
I’m a wanderer. I hate schedules… because I never know what I want to do until I want to do it, so all of the places on my list are things you can do year round.
The best way to see Paris is to:
- Get a little bit lost.
- Always check out the architecture and statues.
- Never pass up any church or park, no matter how small.
Remember that, wherever you go, there will always be a small sidewalk café where you can relax, get some coffee, and figure out where you are.
Montmartre and Sacre Coeur Basilica
Anyone staying in a central neighborhood, like Rue Cler or the Marais will have to take the Metro subway out to Montmartre. A Metro ticket is about $1.70 if you buy a carnet. (Hey, nothing is totally free.) However, riding the Metro is almost as much fun as anything else in Paris. Check out the people… and count the red (and other brightly colored) shoes.
Montmartre used to be outside the city. It was the cheap bohemian hilltop where artists like Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso once lived. Well, the area is still lively and crowded, with cheapie shops, street performers, shell games, and a few discreet hookers…and that’s during the daytime.
Now, climb the 200-plus steps up to the Sacre Coeur Basilica (say, "No," to all con artists) and see the cool mosaic-work on the inside walls and the interior of the dome.
If you sit in the front of the church, you will notice that Jesus’ face looks a little flat compared to the rest of the elaborate scene, but that’s because it has been made to be an optical illusion. Move further back or to the sides and you will see that Jesus seems to be looking right at you no matter where you sit. How cool is that?
As you come out of the basilica, all of Paris is laid out before you as if you were God and the city of lights is your personal gift. And, this is a good spot for pictures.
Hang Out in the Tuileries
The Tuileries Garden, near the Louvre, was created by Queen Catherine de Medicis, in 1564, to go with her new palace. I am of the opinion that Catherine, in trying to recreate some of her native Florence, is the mother of all Parisian taste and ambience. Well, the Parisians learned from her and took her ideas to the limits… and look at what they’ve built.
When I was 12, I went to Paris, and my fondest memory is of this dusty garden with its rows of manicured trees, ponds, flowers, statues, benches, and a lovely little café where I drank my first bottled water. Somehow, my mother thought that it was unsafe to drink the water in Paris… (please continue to page 2 by clicking below or by clicking here)
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