Free things to do and see in Paris

  • The Musée d’Art Moderne, not far from the Eiffel Tower, is free to visit.
  • Notre Dame Cathedral, and any church (other than Sainte Chapelle) is free to enter. Many of the lovely old churches offer free musical recitals, like the Eglise Saint-Merri next to the Pompidou Center. Pick up the weekly Pariscope listings magazine for more info on free concerts in the city, but you can normally find something free most nights.
  • The Aréne de Lutéce, the city’s old Roman amphitheater, is in the Latin Quarter and a great place  for a picnic.
  • You can also walk through the inner courtyards and outer halls of the Hotel des Invalides (the military museum) and check out the canons and one of the first tanks.
  • Museums free every day include: Maison de Balzac, Maison de Victor Hugo, Musée de la Vie Romantique, Musée Curie, and the Musée du Parfum-Fragonard.
  • If you’re planning your trip with free museums in sight, you should plan to be in Paris on the first Sunday of the month when all national museums are open for free. Of course, visiting the Louvre on a “free Sunday” (from October to March only) will mean that it is very busy.
  • On July 14, Bastille Day, national museums are all free.
  • The Marais was once the home of the rich and famous. Many mansions dating back to the Renaissance are still here, including the Hotel de Soubise and the Hotel de Sully. Many of these are public buildings that are free to explore inside. Look out for large doors with cute courtyards that might be open to the public, like the Hotel de Marle that houses the Swedish Institute and their little café.
  • If you are interested in taxidermy, the Deyrolle shop in Saint Germain-des-Prés is a great for a huge collection of stuffed animals that died of natural causes.
  • Keep watch on the Hotel de Ville (City Hall) website, which regularly hosts free exhibits throughout the year. The shows could be about anything from movies and fashion to history and art. Lines can get long during the weekends, so try to go during the week if possible. 

Free for visitors under 26 years old

  • All permanent collections of national museums and monuments are free for EU card holders under 26 years of age.
  • Many Americans and Canadians may think this law passes them up, but if you are a study abroad students, an au pairs, or an English assistants who have legal residency in France, you are included. So, if you’re under 26, head to the Musée d’Orsay or the Natural History Museum, wave your passport or carte de séjour and you’ll get a free ticket.
  • On Friday evenings the Louvre offers free admission to everyone under 26 regardless of nationality. Just show any type of ID to prove your age.
  • Children often get free admission, but ages vary with different sites, so ask at the ticket window.

More discounts and savings

  • Purchasing a Paris Museum Pass (available for 2, 4 or 6 days) will provide entrance to most national museums and monuments, including the Palace at Versailles and Louvre. If you are a history and art buff, the pass will easily pay for itself.
  • If a museum’s entrance is not free, you can often find various discounts, so ask if the price seems high. Youth and “under 18” visitors can usually get reductions even if you don’t have EU paperwork, so visitors can still benefit from reductions.
  • Museums often work in tandem to offer discounts. For example, if you present your ticket to the Musée d’Orsay when you visit the Palais Garnier, you’ll receive a discount. Check out the offers posted at the ticket booth.
  • The Hotel des Invalides offers discounts after 5 p.m. in summer/4 p.m. in winter when tickets are reduced by a couple of euros.

First Sundays of the month

On the famous first Sunday of the month admission to Paris’s largest and most famous museums are free. That’s quite a deal, although it can be very busy in museums like the Louvre or Orsay. Instead, take advantage of the free admission to head to one of the less famous museums like the Musée des Arts et Métiers or the Musée National Eugène Delacroix. You’ll get in for free and probably won’t have to wait in line.