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Cheap and free things to do in Paris if you are on a budget

 

free things to do in ParisIt is possible to limit your expenses while visiting the French capital without sacrificing on the fun. There are plenty of free and cheap things you can do.

Many monuments and museums offer free visits. Museum and transportation passes also are a smart way to lower your holiday costs and sightsee the city on a low budget.

This however will require that you plan your visit in advance and do a bit of research prior to your departure.

Free museum and monument visits

free museum visitsMany of Paris famous touristic places offer free visits. Taking advantage of that is just a matter of organizing your visit accordingly, since those freebies might be at certain time of the day or days of the month.

Many people are trying to take advantage of the free museum visits so it will require a bit of patience to get in but will be worth it.

Some museums like the Carnavalet museum and the museum of romantic life or modern art museum of Paris, are open to visit for free everyday and all year long.

Most free entrance apply to permanent exhibitions, there is a charge if you want to access temporary exhibitions . It is also the case for about 14 other Paris city museums. Here is the list:

Musée Carnavalet
What is it about? : Paris 16th & 17th centuries history exhibition.
16 rue des Francs-Bourgeois 75003 Paris
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Website

Musée de la vie Romantique
What is it about? : Museum dedicated to the French 19th century Romantic movement.
Hôtel Scheffer-Renan – 16 rue Chaptal 75009 Paris
Google map
Website

Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
What is it about? : 20th century art collection in Palais de Tokyo.
11 avenue du Président Wilson 75116 Paris
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Website

Musée national de la Légion d’honneur et des ordres de chevalerie
What is it about? : Museum located in a palace retracing the history of the French national orders of merit.
2 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur 75007 Paris
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Website

Musée Bible et Terre Sainte
What is it about? : 3000 objects collection from the Holy Land located in the Paris Catholic institute.
Institut Catholique de Paris – 21 rue d’Assas 75006 Paris
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Website

Musée – Librairie du Compagnonnage
What is it about? : Museum about the history of the French trade guilds.
10 rue Mabillon 75006 Paris
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Musée Curie (Radium institute)
What is it about? : Science museum located in the original Marie Curie laboratory.
1 rue Pierre et Marie Curie 75005 Paris
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Musée du Parfum-Fragonard
What is it about? : History of perfume exhibit in a Napoleon III Paris townhouse.
9 rue Scribe 75009 Paris
Google map
Website

Musée de la Préfecture de Police
What is it about? : Parisian police forces museum retracing is evolution with exhibition of investigation objects.
Hôtel de police – 4 rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève 75005 Paris
Google map
Website

Arènes de Lutèce
What is it about? : Gallo-roman theater build under the Roman empire from when Paris name was Lutèce.
49 rue Monge 75005 Paris
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Atelier Brancusi – Musée national d’art moderne – Centre Pompidou
What is it about? : Sculptor Constantin Brancusi former working studio.
Place Georges Pompidou 75004 Paris
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Website

Musée Zadkine
What is it about? : Art museum and studio sheltering Ossip Zadkine modern art sculptures.
100 bis rue d’Assas 75006 Paris
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Website
Museums that offer free visit of part of their exhibitions

Maison de Balzac Literary Museum
What is it about? : Exhibition on French novelist Balzac located in his house.
47 Rue Raynouard 75016 Paris
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Musée Bourdelle
What is it about? : Art museum and studio of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle famous Rodin apprentice.
18 rue Antoine Bourdelle 75015 Paris
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Website

Musée Cognacq-Jay World Class Art and Decorative treasures
What is it about? : Private art collection of La Samaritaine department store founder.
8 Rue Elzevir 75003 Paris
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Petit Palais, Fine Arts Museum
What is it about? : Art museum exhibiting pieces from Renaissance to WWI period.
Avenue Winston Churchill 75008 Paris
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Website

Maison de Victor Hugo
What is it about? : Famous French author apartment turned into a museum.
6 Place des Vosges 75004 Paris
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Website

Museums that have a one day a month free visit

free paris museum visit one day a monthSome of the most renown Paris museum like Musée d’Orsay or Musée du Quai Branly, have a free day of visit per month. It is usually the first Sunday of every month.

Centre Pompidou – Avant-garde multicultural complex
What is it about? : Biggest French modern art museum.
Place Georges-Pompidou 75004 Paris
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Website

Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
What is it about? : French hunting art museum.
62 Rue des Archives 75003 Paris
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Musée des arts Asiatiques Guimet
What is it about? : Largest Asian art collections in France.
6 Place d’Iéna 75116 Paris
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Musée national Eugène Delacroix
What is it about? : Delacroix museum located in his former house.
6 Rue de Furstenberg 75006 Paris
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Website

Musée national Gustave Moreau
What is it about? : Museum about symbolist painter Gustave Moreau.
14 rue de la Rochefoucauld 75009 Paris
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Musée national du Moyen-Age – Thermes de Cluny
What is it about? : Gothic architecture building sheltering Paris medieval art museum.
6 Place Paul Painlevé 75005 Paris
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Website

Musée national de l’Orangerie
What is it about? : Impressionists art work museum.
Jardin Tuileries 75001 Paris
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Website

Musée d’Orsay
What is it about? : Former railway station housing 19th-20th century European art work.
1 rue de la Légion d’Honneur 75007 Paris
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Website

Musée national Picasso
What is it about? : Collection of 5000 pieces from cubist artist Pablo Picasso.
Hôtel Salé – 5 rue de Thorigny 75003 Paris
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Website

Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine
What is it about? : French national monuments architecture museum.
1 place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre 75116 Paris
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Website

Musée du Quai Branly
What is it about? : Tribal indigenous art museum.
37 Quai Branly 75007 Paris
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Website

Musée Rodin
What is it about? : Rodin sculptures museum in 18th century mansion.
79 rue de Varenne 75007 Paris
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Website

Free visit the first Sunday of the month between October and march.

Musée du Louvre
What is it about? : largest world collection of major historical and ancient art and artifact pieces.
75001 Paris
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Website

Free visit the first Sunday of the month between November and March.

free petit palais museum evening visitArc de Triomphe
What is it about? : Monument that commemorates Napoleon Bonaparte victories.
Place Charles-de-Gaulle 75008 Paris
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Website

Conciergerie
What is it about? : Marie-Antoinette former prison cell during the French revolution.
2 boulevard du Palais 75001 Paris
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Website

Panthéon
What is it about? : Neo-classic building in honor of notable French citizens.
Place du Panthéon 75005 Paris
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Website

Sainte-Chapelle
What is it about? : 13th century gothic church.
8 Boulevard du Palais 75001 Paris
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Website

Tours de Notre-Dame
What is it about? : Gothic Paris cathedral most visited monument in the world.
6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Place Jean-Paul II 75004 Paris
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Website

Free evening visits on Wednesdays

Maison Européenne de la Photographie
What is it about? : Contemporary photography center in 18th century mansion.
Hôtel Hénault de Cantobre 5-7 rue de Fourcy 75004 Paris
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Website

Free evening visits on Thursdays

Musée des Arts et Métiers
What is it about? : Museum of the history of technological development.
60 Rue Réaumur 75003 Paris
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Website

Free guided visit

Free guided tours in parisParis Greeters is a non profit organization where Parisians will guide you through their city. They’ll do it for free because they love meeting visitors and are very passionate about Paris.

Guided visits are individual or in groups of up to 6 people. It is easy to book a guided tour via their website below. They will suggest a tour themed according to your interests.
Paris Greeters website

You might also want to attend a free guided visit of Notre-Dame Cathedral. They are offered by the cathedral and will take place 3 times a week on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at 2:00 PM.

The meeting point for these visits is below the great organ.
Notre Dame free visits

Free food

Budget restaurant in Le MaraisSome bars and restaurants in Paris offer free food with your drink. If you are on a low budget it is a nice way to eat out for just the price of a glass of wine or a beer.

Some bars in the capital have used this to attract more customers. The meals offered may vary upon the season but it is usually Italian appetizers, French fries, steamed mussels or Couscous (North African specialty).

These free meal nights in bars are a nice way to meet people in Paris.

La Cordonnerie: Couscous Thursday and Saturday evening.
142 Rue Saint-Denis 75002 Paris
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La Chope du Château Rouge: Couscous Friday and Saturday evening.
40 Rue de Clignancourt 75018 Paris
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Le Tribal Café: Couscous Friday and Saturday evening, mussels and chips Wednesday and Thursday evening.
3 Cour des Petites Écuries 75010 Paris
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Le Grenier: Couscous Friday and Saturday evening, from October to May.
152 Rue Oberkampf 75011 Paris
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Les Trois Frères: Couscous Thursday from 8.30pm.
14 Rue Léon 75018 Paris
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Le Bouillon Belge: French fries with mussels on Wednesday night
6 Rue Planchat 75020 Paris
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Le Penty: Free Kémia (North African appetizer) served with drinks every evening.
11 Rue de Cotte 75012 Paris
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Delizie Siciliane: Offers free appetizers with your drink after 6:00 PM from Tuesday to Saturday.
15 Rue Damrémont 75018 Paris
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Brasserie l’Olive: Offers French fries with all drink orders from 7:00-8:00 PM.
8 Rue l’Olive 75018 Paris
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The Lockwood restaurant: serves free appetizers until 8:00 PM.
73 Rue d’Aboukir 75002 Paris
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Museum and transportation Passes for discounted Paris visits.

paris museum discount passThere are 3 different passes that will lower the costs of your visit. The first one is the Paris museum pass.

It is a very convenient way to shortcut the waiting lines to enter museums and monuments especially if you plan to visit Paris during peak tourist season (July-August and around Christmas time and New year’s eve).

Also a smart way to save money if you are planning to visit several museums in Paris during your stay. It gives you priority unlimited access to over 60 Paris museums and monuments. Check the Paris Museum Pass here.

The second pass available is a transportation pass it will give you unlimited access to the main 4 public transportation means available in Paris: The metro lines, the tramway lines, the RER lines and the bus lines.
View the Paris Visit Pass here.

The last option is a pass that combines the two above and more if you need it during your visit. It is called the Paris City Passport. You can add options like river cruises and open-top double decker bus tours.
More info on the Paris City Passport here.

The choice is yours and it really depends on what you would like to do and how long you are planning to stay. You need to compare the sum of the regular prices of each of the activities you are planning to do with the pass prices and see what is most advantageous to you. On average passes will lower your visit costs by 20%.