Paris is the city of lights and love. However, it is also unfortunately a very expensive city. There is a lot of luxury to be had and very little of it comes cheap. However, there are some free and cheap activities to do in Paris to help save visitors from a dismal bank balance at the end of the trip. The city is such a beautiful one that it would be a shame if visitors ran out of money before they saw it all. Here are eight free and cheap ways to enjoy the splendor of Paris for the penny pincher.
Bistros for Cheap Eats
While many may think that all restaurants in Paris are just outrageously expensive, the cheapest way to eat in the city is at the little bistros littered throughout it. Don't be fooled by their no-nonsense, high quality dishes, they are the most affordable meal in town. It is such a pleasant thing that these small restaurants can offer such quality French cuisine without the massive price tag that the bigger restaurants host. The costs are cut down because the meals come in a one course menu with options to order more.
Check Out the Flea Markets
Those looking to find some souvenirs in Paris should skip the flagship stores of the luxury fashion labels and instead head to one of the equally famous districts in Paris. The city is famous for its massive sprawling flea markets. Like any flea market, shoppers never know what will turn up in them. Antiques, old books, old clothes and furniture are abound. There is nothing more entertaining than digging through some European's old junk.
Set Up for a Picnic
Another cheap eating alternative in Paris is to enjoy a picnic for lunch. The city hosts a number of cheap food markets and delis where visitors can get all the fixings for a perfect picnic lunch. Pick up a baguette, French cheese, some freshly cut meat and maybe a good bottle of wine and head out. The best picnic spots are along the Seine River and in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Visit the Louvre for Free
While many attractions in Paris are free, like the Arc de Triomphe or Notre Dame Cathedral, the world famous Louvre art museum is not. However, sometimes the museum is free to enter if certain conditions are met. If visitors happen to be under the age of 26, the Louvre has free admission after six in the evening. Entrance to the Louvre and indeed all museums in Paris are free on the 1st Sunday of every month and all day on Bastille Day (July 14th). Taking advantage of these loopholes to enter the museum for free is an excellent way to experience the artwork of some of the best artists ever born while also saving a few bucks along the way. Those who also plan visiting a lot of museums in the city can invest in a museum pass to save money if their trip doesn't fall on the first Sunday.
Getting Around on the Cheap
creativecommons.com/Fabio Sola Penna
The cheapest and fastest way to get around Paris is to take their underground subway system. Like the subways in most cities, the one in Paris is often pretty busy. However, it is cheap and fast so visitors will have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages. While the subway is faster, the public buses are more scenic and only slightly more expensive. Both make good ways to travel around the city, but the free alternative of walking has its perks.
Free Way to See the City
Some cities have free hop on, hop off bus tours or free river tours, but Paris is not so generous. In order to get a free guide around the city, guest will have to work for it. The only free tour in town is Sandeman's New Europe walking tour. Since 2004, the knowledgeable guides have walked tour groups along the banks of the Seine, through the lovely Latin Quarter and in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, giving the history of the city and making sure to hit up all of the iconic landmarks and attractions along the way. It is a long three and a half hours of walking, but an informative and beautiful time.
Enjoy Free Concerts
Paris is the ideal setting to enjoy some classical music. However, visitors don't need to pay the big bucks to view an orchestra. The many churches in Paris often offer free concerts within their walls at lunchtime or in the evenings. Visitors should check for flyers outside the churches advertising them. Listening to the church choirs and quartets is also a great excuse to check out the interior of the church. The city parks like within the Jardin des Luxembourg also offer free concerts in the summer, but they are not as well advertised as the church concerts are. They are just something to look out for.
Free Wine Tastings
French wine is regarded as some of the best wine in the world. Likely wine enthusiasts will find themselves in at least one wine shop during their visit, but it is best to hold off until the weekend. Some of the best wine shops in the city host free wine tastings during certain hours on the weekends. It is a chance for visitors to taste some fine wines that are way outside of their price range, completely free of charge.