Cheap things to do in Paris

Paris on the cheap seems like a contradiction in terms, but it is possible, and there are, in fact, even free things to do in Paris.

Assuming your flights and accommodation are already sorted, the first thing to sort out when you’re visiting Paris is travelling around the city.  A mixture of walking and Metro is probably the least expensive way to do it, with the emphasis on the first of these!  A carnet ,or book of 10 tickets, for the Metro allows travel all over the city.  An alternative which can include a trip on the Seine  but is a bit more expensive is  a ‘Paris a la Carte’ pass.  This allows access to the Batobus as well as open tour buses, and offers a ‘hop on, hop off’ service.   While not exactly cheap, (currently €43 for a two day pass) it does allow give the opportunity to see most of the iconic Parisien sights.

notre dam paris

Some of the French food chains are excellent – Leon de Bruxelles for example does great modules frites, and is not expensive.  Steer clear of the restaurants and cafes in the tourist areas – they can be eyewateringly expensive.  For lunch it is a good idea to visit a boulangerie for some bread or a baguette, and fill it up with cold cuts from a charcuterie, and some authentic French cheese.  A little something from a patisserie to finish off, head to one of the glorious parks, such as the Jardin du Luxumbourg, and it’s a lunch fit for anyone.  Have your coffee standing up at the counter, and forgo the milk for more authenticity and less cash.


There are lots of walking tours, some of which are ostensibly free (if you can bring yourself to ignore the tip!), but none are horribly expensive.  Alternatively, do a little research, use the tourist offices and a good map, and do your own walking tour.


The Eiffel Tower is a must see, but only you can decide if it is a must go up.  If you do, you can climb it rather than take the lift to cut costs.  An alternative view of Paris can be had by climbing the spiral staircase in Notre Dame cathedral, or climbing up to the Basilica du Sacre Coeur, both of which are free and offer breathtaking views.


Some museums, such as the museum of modern art, are free, and on the first Sunday of the month, all are free, including the Louvre, but be warned, they are very, very busy.


If you are into sights with a difference, try the Paris Sewer Tour or the Catacombs Tour.  The sewer tour is a fascinating, if smelly, insight into how the city deals with its human waste.  The Catacombs house what seems like millions of skeletons, bones from the many cemeteries .  The price for these is less than €10, and, I would suggest worth every penny for such a unique take on the fabled city of Paris.