Everyone wants a piece of Paris. So much so, that there are 38 cities called Paris across the globe.
Paris (the French one) is the 7th most expensive city in the World, but that doesn't mean you have to live like a character from Les Miserables. If you're clever, you can live like a king on a student's budget.
Read on for Spotahome's list of some of the most expensive things to do in Paris, and find out how to do them for (almost) free.
1. Cruise the Seine
Just like most important cities, Paris is divided by a great river. It's 777 kilometers long, but we don't expect you to travel the whole thing.
Spend everything: Fancy spending a whole month's rent in just 90 minutes?
Some Parisian boat tours can really cost les yeux de la tete. Some can cost up to €740 per person. But we've got you covered with these 2 options:
Spend nothing: Try the Vedettes Tour for the attractive alternative of €14 (plus optional sandwich). If you go on your birthday, you’ll get a free trip and a free glass of champagne!
Spend a little: If you're feeling hungry and have some euros left, enjoy brunch, lunch or dinner on a Bateaux Mouches tour (price starts from €50).
2. Swim outside
Rather be in the river than on it? We wouldn't recommend it. It's actually illegal to swim in the Seine. Here are your next best options:
Spend everything: You may have heard of Piscine Molitor. With its cruise-ship-style layout and Art Deco interior, it was the place to be in the 1930’s (too bad they didn’t have Instagram then). It’s also where the modern bikini had its début in 1946. Today, the pool is owned by Hotel Accor and will cost you €180 for a day pass.
Spend nothing: Dive into La Baignade, a swimming pool at Les Bassins de La Villette. Opened in July 2017, these 3 pools are filled with cleaned canal water - it's the closest you'll get to swimming in the river.
3. Look great for less
"Whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant." - Honoré de Balzac.
Paris is renowned for fashion. So if that's your thing, you probably want to know how to get the best deals.
Spend everything: Avenue Montaigne is one of Paris's most prestigious shopping streets. Walk along it and gawp at the price tags.
Spend a little: What happens to all the designer clothes that don’t get bought? They make their way to La Vallée Village, of course. It’s a shopping outlet situated near Disneyland Paris (more on that later). There, you can buy discounted clothes that are 'too last season’ to be sold at Avenue Montaigne.
Spend nothing: Head to the free fashion show on the 7th floor of Galeries Lafayette (book in advance). We don’t know how much other fashion shows are, but they can’t be cheaper than free.
Hairstylists need to practice - why not help them out? Get your hair cut for free at the Franck de Roche Académie. Print the ‘Coupe coiffage gratuit’ coupon and get ready for a change.
If you’re going out for the evening, why not get a free makeover at the Make Up Art Academy beforehand?
4. Embrace your inner child
Everyone knows Disneyland Paris. That’s why you should avoid it at all costs. Especially in summer.
Spend nothing: If you’re strapped for cash or scared of giant cartoon characters, head to the Jardin d’Acclimatation for an understated alternative. It’s the oldest theme park in France, and it’s is due to be renovated in Spring 2018. It's one of the best things to do in Paris on a budget.
5. Say Bon Appétit !
People fly to Paris just to have lunch. But that’s a little too much.
Restaurants here can be a little pricey, so why not learn how to cook your favourite dishes and make them at home?
Spend nothing: If you want to learn how to cook like a French chef, you should attend a free cooking class with the Fédération Française de Cuisine. Check out the calendar to find out what, where and when.
6. Watch the city from above
Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. With an abundance of famous monuments, its skyline is instantly recognisable.
Spend nothing: Watching Paris from the Eiffel Tower is must-do, but you can’t actually see the magnificent structure whilst you’re on it.
Instead, head to the bar on floor 56 of the Montparnasse Tower. It’s a free alternative to the observation deck (which is also totally worth it), and you’ll be eye-to-eye with the Iron Lady.
Spend a little: Walk up to the top of the Eiffel Tower for a small fee. Instead of taking the lift, you'll get a true sense of the struggle that the workers went through when they were building it.
Top tip: maybe avoid going in summer. The tower grows by 6 inches so there’s a little more to climb.
7. Be a tourist
There are some free museums in Paris, but you’ll want to visit the big ones at least once.
Spend nothing (on Sundays): The Louvre costs €15 for over 25’s. But if you are in Paris at the right time, all museums are free on the first Sunday of each month.
Musée d’Orsay tickets are reduced most days of the week after 16:30.
Want to avoid the queues? Use the Porte des Lions entrance. Opening times can be a little unpredictable, but purchase your ticket in advance at FNAC for less time in the line.
Do you know of any free alternatives to expensive activities in Paris?
If you enjoyed this post, check out more of our France-related articles:
- 10 Things I Learned While Living in Paris as an Erasmus Student
- Housing in Paris: Best Places to Live in Paris for Expats
- 7 fancy things to do in Paris on a student’s budget
- Paris Tips from a Local: Secret Places, Top Spots and More
- 7 Books to Read Before Moving to France
- Which is Better, Paris or Lyon?