Ten Free - or Almost Free - Things to Enjoy in Paris

by Debbie Cochener / Feb 01, 2011 / 0 comments

If Paris is your travel destination, sightseeing in Paris can definitely fit into a budget travel  itenerary. There are many things that I enjoy doing in Paris that I do not have to spend money on, or if I do it is on a cup of tea or a glass of wine. Some of my favorite activities are listed below. Just writing about them makes me anxious for my next trip! There are many things to do in Paris - take a look:

10 free - or almost free - things to do in Paris

1. Books

The bouquinistes (book sellers) along the Seine can offer a whole day’s entertainment for me as I look at old books, postcards and posters. The shady walk along the Seine, even though busy with tourists, always seems to bring me peace of mind.

Artist Market Place du Tetre Paris

Artist Market Place du Tetre Paris

2. Monmartre Artists Market

A visit to the Artists Market Sundays on Place du Tertre in Monmartre can be expensive if you buy something, but if you keep your credit card tucked away it is a fun outing for free. There are about 300 artists who are licensed to sell at this market; artists must meet strict criteria to be allowed to sell their art at Place du Tertre and there is a long waiting list to be accepted. Don’t let yourself get way-laid by one of the un-licensed so-called artists as you make your way to Sacre Coeur.

3.Rue Cler Market

Rue Cler market (open weekday mornings, all day Saturday and Sunday mornings) is, of course not the only street market in Paris, but it has always held my heart. There are also many great little shops on this short street near the Eiffel Tower. Grab a cup of tea at Café du Marché and then buy cheese, fruit and baguette and head over to the Eiffel Tower for a picnic.


Cafe du Marche, rue Cler Paris

4. Cafés

Sitting at a sidewalk café drinking tea or the beverage of your choice is a great way to people watch – something the French seem to have down to a fine art. Whether you are people watching, reading your guide book or writing postcards, it is almost mandatory that you take the time to enjoy a sidewalk café while in Paris. In addition to Café du Marché on rue Clere, my favorites are those on the Left Bank that have some literary history behind them.

5. Notre Dame

I never tire of wandering through Notre Dame Cathedral and studying the stained glass windows. I prefer to go early in the day before the crowds become too dense.


Fete du Pain (Bread Festival) in front of Notre Dame du Paris

6. Bread!

The national Fete du Pain (Bread Festival) is held annually on the square in front of Notre Dame Cathedral during the middle of May. It is clearly an event for young and old alike. It was a delight to watch the children participate in the events inside the main tent and the smell of baking bread was heavenly. Outside, we enjoyed a fresh baguette with Nutella, courtesy of one of the local bakers.

7. Walk through Lost Paris

Taking one of the walks from Walks Through Lost Paris: A Journey into the Heart of Historic Paris will really open your eys to the changes that have taken place in Paris. Paris was actually restructured during the 1800s in what is fondly (and sometimes not so fondly) call the Haussmannian era. It is fascinating to see the changes that have evolved over the past 150 years and to read about the motives behind this major urban redesign. Along the way you will discovered little side streets that were untouched by the changes.

8. Walk Hemingway's Paris

Taking a walk following Walks in Hemingway’s Paris: A guide to Paris for the Literary Traveler really stokes my passion for reading and re-reading great pieces of literature. I love this book! Wander the Left Bank of Paris with this book in hand to see the haunts of Hemmingway, Joyce, Stein, Simone de Beauvoir, Picasso, and many others. Stop for lunch or tea at one of the many sidewalk cafes that these writers and artists frequented. Some even have brass name plates of their former visitors on the tables. The walks in this book will take you down little traveled streets, peering into beautiful gardens.


Shakespeare and Company Paris

9. Shakespeare and Company (of course)

Visit Shakespeare and Company Bookstore to explore the bookstore and compare it to the photos in Hemingway’s Paris as it was when Sylvia Beach was the owner. This is not the original bookstore owned by Sylvia Beach but as you navigate the different floors of the book store it still has that feel that Beach describes in her 1956 book Shakespeare and Company. Many a writer got his start living in the upper rooms of her bookstore. The first edition of Ulysses by James Joyce was published by Beach in 1922.

10. Gardens!

Luxemburg Gardens is a 25 hectare park that is an oasis in the middle of Paris for which we can extend our thanks to Marie de Medici, 1611.  One of my favorite things to do is to watch the children floating boats in the fountain. The statuary in Luxemburg Gardens is also beautiful. Want to learn more about the gardens in Paris? Check out Hidden Gardens of Paris.



I have many other ideas for things to do in Paris that will not break your budget. Just follow the link http://www.france-travel-info.com/Paris.html  to see what else Paris has to offer.