If you’re backpacking through or you’re on a bit of a budget, exploring the City of Lights can be a bit of a daunting task. It’s possible though to do Paris on a budget however, as there’s a number of free and affordable ways to enjoy the city from browsing street markets to visiting the capital’s resident celebrities.
Go local at Bastille Market, one of Paris’ most popular street markets packed with vendors touting their wares. From artisan cheeseries to street food to vibrant florists, a trip to Bastille Market is to experience the best of French culture in a matter of seconds and it doesn’t cost a cent to walk through it – though you could be in danger of buying a couple of nibbles here and there.
This imposing Gothic cathedral is one of Paris’ finest and is a popular destination with good reason – plus, it’s completely free to enter. While you won’t be able to scale its bell towers without paying a tourist toll, its main hall with its impressive stained glass windows, intricate details and grand altar are all open to the public. If you’re not up for the queue to get in, it’s worth going to see if only for its exteriors – see if you can spot the stone gargoyles standing sentinel over the city.
Forget the queues for the Eiffel Tower and settle down in the grassy Champs du Mars nearby with a bottle of wine, baguette and a picnic blanket. While the views from the top of the tower are some of the best in Paris, it’s sometimes not worth it at the height of tourist season. Chill out in its shadow and grab your quintessential tourist shot from below.
This all-white church is one of the most iconic Parisian sights and tops the trendy Montmartre district, which bustles with boutiques, patisseries and chic locals. While the hike up there is a little tiring, there’s also a relatively affordable funicular that’ll take you to the top in style. It’s free to enter and the scale of the place is what will really hit you first – don’t forget to look up. If you have the urge to climb its domes however, you’ll have to shell out a few Euro.
While a graveyard may seem like an unusual spot on the tourist trail, this cemetery is the final resting place of some of France’s most accomplished residents. The likes of Simone de Beauvoir, Samuel Beckett and Jean-Paul Sartre now call its grounds home amongst other literary, philosophical and musical celebrities and the tombs are frequently covered in florals and tributes.
Only in Paris for a weekend? A hop on hop off bus is always a great shout, as it’ll take you to nine of the city’s major sights which include the Eiffel Tower, Champs de Mars, Louvre, Notre Dame, Museu d’Orsay, Paris Opera House, Champs Elysee, Grand Palais and Trocadero. If you’re up for a bit of exploring, you can jump off wherever you want and then when you’ve exhausted the area just get on the next regularly scheduled bus to the next stop.
Forget the metro and take to the Seine in a Bateaux Parisiens River Cruise. If you’re short on time but want to see the city’s biggest landmarks, you’re in luck as many of them tend to be scattered along the riverbank and the Bateaux Parisiens will float right alongside several of them. Eiffel Tower? Check. Notre Dame? Check. While you won’t be able to jump on and off like the bus tour, there’s nothing that beats the unique perspective a river cruise offers.