I love to travel. Nevertheless, traveling, especially from the U.S. to Europe, can be very expensive. As a result, if I want to continue to travel to Europe, I have had to find freebies in my favorite cities. Paris is my No. 1 favorite, and I’m sharing my freebie secrets with you.
Take Advantage of Street Performers
Street performers can be found all over the center of Paris but tend to congregate in specific areas for our free entertainment pleasure. For example, all around Notre Dame — especially on the two nearby bridges — a variety of performers strut their very talented stuff.
Musicians tend to gravitate toward the Place des Vosges, not far from Notre Dame. It is a lovely square garden-like area surrounded by stately, regal buildings. It is also home to the Victor Hugo Museum, the writer of great works like Les Miserables. As a fan, I enjoyed this free treat immensely.
Directly in front of the Eiffel Tower, young athletes often take over the Jardins du Trocadero to show off their talents. During my last visit, the entire area was filled with skateboarding stunt artists.
Meet the Paris Greeters
“Come as a visitor, leave as a friend…” is their motto and I can attest from personal experience that it is true. Donations are welcome, but entirely free, the Paris Greeters organization pairs visitors with a volunteer tour guide. These aren’t organized tours however. Tourists are granted three hours with a local who guides them on a tour of their choosing. For example, as a teacher, I wanted to learn the history of the Sorbonne and the surrounding area. Luckily, my lovely guide was a retired English professor from the Sorbonne. My experience exceeded all expectations.
Note: it is polite to take the greeter out for a cup of coffee after the tour is over.
Check Out the Museum and Church Freebies
The first Sunday of the month is a smorgasbord of freebies. Enjoy museums like the Musée du Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, and Musée Rodin with no admission. Many famous churches, like the Gothic Sainte-Chapelle, built by King Louis the IX to house the Passion Relics, is also free on the first Sunday of the month from November to March.
Nevertheless, always free is even better. Enjoy free admittance to the Notre Dame, Maison de Victor Hugo, Musée Curie, Maison de Balzac, and Musée Carnavalet. When visiting the Musée Curie I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of manuscripts and scientific equipment on display.
Check each website for a full list of free days and exceptions.
The Doors Are Open on Heritage Weekend — Les Journees Europeennes du Patrimoine
French cultural heritage is celebrated one weekend in September with most museums and government buildings open and free. Taking full advantage, I visited The Cluny museum and was wowed by the famous the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries.
Sit and Enjoy the View
The sites in Paris are mesmerizing, no doubt. However, in my opinion, the most beautiful place to sit — or stroll — and enjoy beauty while in Paris is the Luxembourg garden. Flanked on one side by the French Senate Mansion, in this breathtaking 224,500 square meters of beautifully landscaped park with statues, fountains and comfortable benches, I could sit there for hours–which I have done often. Not far from the Senate building is a gazebo where there is often free entertainment, as was the case during my last visit.
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