Five Free things to do in Paris
by Noah Patton
They say that the best things in life are free, and it can feel like you are always hand in pocket on a holiday. But here are five things you can do for absolutely free in Paris on your next trip to France!
Getting to the top of the Eiffel Tower isn’t cheap – usually it’ll run you anywhere from 10-26 euros depending on how high up you want to go, or if you want to take the stairs or the lift. If you want to skip the lines or eat at the La bulle Parisienne on the first floor, or the Jules Verne on the second floor, it will cost you even more. From the Eiffel Tower you have panoramic views of the illustrious Paris, and it’s well worth the cost, but if you don’t want to fork out the money there are alternate ways to experience the famous monument.
The Eiffel Tower is surrounded by two beautiful parks, the Trocadéro Gardens and the Champ de Mars. Each of these parks offer spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower and are the perfect places to stop for food and admire Paris.
The Trocadéro Gardens contains a free entry maritime museum, the central Warsaw fountains which offer a water display that is also illuminated at night, sculptures, and it’s the perfect spot to take photos of the breath-taking Eiffel Tower.
The Champ de Mars offers gardens and an open stretch of green parkland to picnic or play. If you’re visiting Paris on a special occasion, like New Years or Bastille Day, the Champ De Mars is the place to be. The open space can handle a far greater number of people and allows everyone to see the fireworks or the light shows from the Eiffel Tower. Like the Trocadéro gardens, the Champ De Mars claim they have the best view of the Eiffel Tower. They’re both free and a short walk from each other, so you can decide yourself.
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The Louvre free! Surely not! Yes, you are right, the Louvre is normally paid entry – but the first Saturday of each month provides free entry to all. Otherwise you usually must pay the general admission fee of 17 euros. Anyone under 18 gets free entry, and if you are under 26 you get free entry on Friday evenings. But even if you don’t meet any of these criteria and you cannot be there on the first Saturday the Louvre is well worth the money.
The Louvre is the largest art museum in the world, it is housed in the Louvre Palace, a castle built by Phillip II in then late 12th century. Since the 17th century the Louvre has been used to house sculptures, paintings. Its collection has been expanded by Napoleon, Louis XVIII and Charles X. Overall the Louvre contains approximately 460,000 pieces, displaying 35,000 of them spread across the separate curatorial departments.
The Louvre contains eight departments: Egyptian antiquities, Near-eastern antiquities, Greek (including Etruscan and Roman pieces), Islamic art, Sculptures, Decorative arts, Paintings and Prints. In these eight departments there are thousands of notable, interesting pieces of history and art, to name but a few there is Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, and the Great Sphinx of Tanis.
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The Palais-Royal is directly across from the Louvre. Created in 1633 the Palais-Royal was a former royal palace, now it is a publicly open area filled with superb architecture, sculptures, gardens and restaurants.
The area is almost entirely closed off, with 60 pavilions surrounding the garden. These pavilions are connected by galleries, and pathways flanked with colonnades. Within these galleries you can find quiet cafés, upper-class restaurants and fancy boutiques.
This area is favoured by locals, who often walk through the area, enjoying a quiet stroll past vibrant fauna and exotic statues. With its vicinity to the Louvre it is a great idea to finish a day out in Paris here with a peaceful shopping trip, a hot cup of coffee or a delicious meal.
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Notre-dame de paris, consecrated to the Virgin Mary, is the finest example of French Gothic architecture. The Cathedral is one of the most recognised symbols of Paris, made famous by the novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo and later repopularised by William Dieterle’s 1939 film and Disney’s 1996 animated film. Notre-dame has the most visitors annually of all monuments within Paris, including the Eiffel Tower.
Notre-dame has skyrocketed in relevance since the tragic fires which occurred April 15, 2019. The fires severely damaged the building, and it is currently undergoing restoration for a further estimation of four years. But this building is no stranger restoration and damage, since it was finished in 1260 the building has been desecrated and destroyed throughout the centuries, mostly during the French Revolution. Yet it has always been rebuilt exactly as it was before, preserving the spirit and style of the French Gothic origins.
Notre-dame and the immediate surrounding area will be closed for an indeterminate amount of time, but the bridges, streets and quays nearby are open. Many people still come and walk through these historical areas, contemplating the Cathedral from a distance. Despite the shroud of scaffolds and supports the building manages to retain its powerful, imposing appearance. Consider stopping by, paying your respects to the building and the immense effort being put in by the French government to preserve their history.
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Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
The Buttes-Chaumont park is completely different to many other parks and gardens within Paris. The landscape is more natural, untamed and left to grow freely. The gardens in previously mentioned areas, like the Palais-Royal and the Champ de Mars are uniform, geometric, kept perfect. The area feels wilder and offers a different kind of beauty.
There are small caves, waterfalls, a lake and ponds scattered throughout the park. Scattered tall trees offer shade in inviting, spacious grassy fields. For locals in Paris this is the ideal spot for a picnic, but there are also snack bars with entertainment and restaurants that overlook the lake. Wildlife is also rife in the area, with birds and ducks enjoying the nature side-by-side with the Parisians.
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