Paris on a Budget

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a lot of money to have a good time in Paris! There are many free or cheap things to do and see in the French capital. It’s quite possible to go shopping, eat out, stay in a hotel, play sport and soak up culture without breaking the bank. But you do need some insider knowledge and a bit of advance planning to get the most out of the city all year round when you’re on a tight budget.

There are many affordable ways to explore Paris. You can gain entry to the most unexpected places, see up-and-coming performers at below-the-radar venues, go to some great concerts, watch artists at work in their studios, visit the permanent collections of the major national museums, get a haircut, have a makeover and buy designer clothes – all of it for little or no money. Thank you Paris!

Paris for Free!

Culture without spending a cent

Look out for free shows and exceptional openings so you can enjoy your share of cultural events in the city. In Paris, you can get free entrance to cultural events, and enjoy various kinds of entertainment, without opening your wallet. What with music festivals, outdoor cinema, free shows and guided tours, there’s no chance you’ll get bored!

Major cultural events

Concerts, performing arts, heritage visits, multicultural events: whether you’re a music fan, an art lover or simply curious, there are plenty of opportunities to see different sides to Paris without spending a centime. A variety of free, high-quality events in all artistic disciplines are held in Paris every season. Many of them stand out for their popularity and highly eclectic programme – the Fête de la Musique, first and foremost, held on 21 June every year in streets, squares, and public parks and gardens. Amateur and established musicians create a festive atmosphere throughout the city until the early hours. Then, on the first Saturday in October, there’s the Nuit Blanche, a culture-focused ‘sleepless night’ showcasing installations and performance art in both renowned and offbeat venues, open all night for the occasion. The event started in Paris in 2002, and has since spread to Rome, Brussels, Madrid, Amsterdam, Lima, Toronto, etc. And each year, between late January and early February, Paris celebrates the Chinese New Year: a great opportunity to discover one of the best costumed parades in the city, with dragons, giant paper lions and dancers. On the third weekend in September (16 and 17 September 2017), historical heritage sites (public monuments and private buildings) give free admission to the public on the occasion of the European Heritage Days. This is a unique chance to visit some of the most exceptional and prestigious places in Paris. And, during events such as the Paris carnival (26 February 2017) and the Gay Pride parades (early July 2017), colourful processions and uplifting music enliven the streets of the capital.

See the full programme on http://www.parisinfo.com/going out/celebrations and festivals

Cinema

In summer in Paris, many cinema festivals are held after sundown in outdoor spaces such as parks and streets, along with concerts and other festivities. The best-known festival, in Parc de la Villette, runs every year from the last week of July to the last week of August. Spectators settle down on the lawns in front of a giant inflatable screen at nightfall (around 10pm). It is also possible to rent deckchairs and blankets. The Forum des Images organizes the Cinéma au clair de la lune festival. Around 10 outdoor film screenings are held in different districts of Paris, from the Butte Montmartre to Place des Vosges. Films that are in some way related to Paris are shown on a giant outdoor portable screen.

  • Cinéma en plein air à la Villette Parc de la Villette 211 avenue Jean-Jaurès, Paris 19th – M° Porte-de-Pantin – www.villette.com
  • Festival Cinéma au clair de lune Forum des Images 2 rue du Cinéma,
  • Forum des Halles, Paris 1st – M° Les Halles, RER Châtelet-Les Halles – www.forumdesimages.fr
  • Festival la chaise et l’écran Paris 11th; different locations every year http://www.mairie11.paris.fr
  • Festival des canotiers Ménilmontant district- lescanotiers.org/9thme-
  • Festival-des-Canotiers Festival silhouette Paris 19th – www.association-silhouette.com/festival/

Concerts

Classical, rock, jazz, electro, sacred music … the city has an eclectic music scene, at all hours of the day and at affordable prices. A godsend for music lovers! Besides the annual Fête de la Musique (21 June), lots of bars in Paris offer free entrance to encourage clients to listen to singers and bands while sipping a drink. The jazz club Le Sunside, for example, has ‘Bons Plans’ (money saver) evenings on the first Monday of the month to see a performer free of charge, and a good deal on concert tickets: you can buy two tickets for the price of one if you make your purchase online. The Truskel Microclub, a quirky pub on the Grands Boulevards, tucked in between the Rex and the Olympia, gives a DJ free rein every night to play their own choice of music. Then there are any number of cafés hosting live bands in the Bastille area, including Le Motel, Le Zéro Zero, La Mécanique Ondulatoire and Les Disquaires. Elsewhere in Paris, Le 9b (Belleville), Le Pop-Up du Label (Daumesnil), L’International (Oberkampf) and the seasonal open-air bar Plage du Glazart are worth a mention. Devoted exclusively to live music, the programme ‘La Bande Passante’ on the RFI radio station offers the public the opportunity to attend recordings and small private concerts for free at the Flèche d’Or or at La Bellevilleoise. Similarly, Radio Nova hosts the Nuits Zébrées series of concerts at the Bataclan. Another option is ‘Showcases’: private concerts organized by Fnac, the music and books chain, to promote a certain album. These concerts are a good way to discover both new talent and established names without spending a cent. For classical music, the Radio France concerts are a must. They take place at the Maison de la Radio, and occasionally at other venues. Another option is to attend free concerts by students at music conservatories and schools. Many such concerts are organized by the École normale de musique de Paris, the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris and the Conservatoire à rayonnement régional de Paris. An opportunity to listen to emerging talent for free is also provided by the association Jeunes Talents, which holds concerts in exceptional venues such as the Archives Nationales and the Petit Palais. For fans of sacred and classical music, there are concerts in churches – the Auditions au Grand Orgue church organ concerts at Notre-Dame at 8pm every Saturday, or in the week, at lunchtime, at the Eglise de la Trinité (on Thursday) or at Saint-Roch (every Tuesday). From May to September, there are free concerts at bandstands in public parks and gardens, as well as in some town halls, e.g. the Midi-Concerts at the 8th arrondissement town hall at 1pm every Thursday. These concerts span all musical genres: classical, brass band music, French chanson and electronic music. For jazz lovers, there are some great festivals to enjoy, such as the Paris Jazz Festival in June and July and the Festival Jazz à Saint-Germain des Prés in May, featuring top names. The list of classical music festivals includes the Festival Opéra Côté Cour – free open-air opera performances at Bercy Village in June – and the 36h de Saint Eustache. And Villette Sonique and Festival Chorus des Hauts de Seine are good options to explore the alternative music scene.

Cafés-bars-concert venues

  • Le Sunside 60 rue des Lombards, Paris 1st – M° Châtelet – www.sunset-sunside.com
  • Le Truskel Microclub 12 rue Feydeau, Paris 2nd – M° Bourse – www.truskel.com
  • Le Motel 8, passage Josset, Paris 11th – M° Ledru-Rollin – www.lemotel.fr
  • Le Zéro Zéro 89, rue Amelot, Paris 11th – M° Saint Sébastien – Froissart 
  • La Mécanique Ondulatoire 8, passage Thiéré, Paris 11th – M° Ledru-Rollin – www.mecaniqueondulatoire.com
  • Disquaires 4/6 rue des Taillandiers, Paris 11th – M° Ledru-Rollin – www.lesdisquaires.com
  • La plage du Glazart 7 avenue de la Porte de la Villette, Paris 19th – M° Porte de la Villette – www.glazart.com
  • La Bellevilloise 19 rue Boyer, Paris 20th – M° Gambetta – www.labellevilloise.com
  • La Flèche d’or 102 bis rue de Bagnolet, Paris 20th – M° Alexandre-Dumas, RER Nation – www.flechedor.fr

Concerts in churches

  • Église Saint-Roch 296 rue Saint-Honoré, Paris 1st – M° Pyramides – www.paroissesaintroch.fr
  • Auditions au Grand Orgue at Notre-Dame Cathedral 6 place du Parvis, Paris 4th – M° Cité, RER Saint-Michel – www.musique-sacree-notredamedeparis.fr
  • La Trinité place Estienne-d’Orves, Paris 9th – M° Trinité-d’Estienne-d’Orves, RER HaussmannSaint-Lazare – www.latriniteparis.com

Festivals

  • 36h de Saint Eustache Paroisse Saint Eustache 2, impasse de Saint-Eustache, Paris 1st – M° Les Halles – www.36h-saint-eustache.com
  • Paris Jazz Festival at Parc Floral de Paris esplanade du Château de Vincennes, route de la Pyramide, Paris 12th – M° Château-de-Vincennes – www.parisjazzfestival.fr
  • Festival Opéra Côté Cour Cour Saint Emilion, Paris 12th – M° Bercy – www.bercyvillage.com/opera-cote-cour
  • Jeunes Talents www.jeunes-talents.org
  • Festival Chorus des Hauts de Seine www.chorus.hauts-de-seine.fr
  • La Villette Sonique www.lavillette.com/evenement/villette-sonique-2016/

Various

  • Les Midi-Concerts, 8th arrondissement – www.mairie08.paris.fr
  • Radio France 116 avenue Kennedy, Paris 16th – RER Kennedy-Radio-France – www.radiofrance.fr
  • Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris 209 avenue Jean-Jaurès, Paris 19th – M° Jaurès, RER Gare-du-Nord –www.conservatoiredeparis.fr/en/voir-etentendre/lagenda/tout-lagenda/article/les-salons-du-lundi
  • Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Paris www.crr.paris.fr/CRR_de_Paris.html
  • Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris www.ecolenormalecortot.com
  • La Bande passante – www.infoconcert.com
  • Les Nuits Zébrées de Radio Nova www.lesnuitszebrees.com
  • Fnac www.fnac.com
  • Programme for music at bandstands on www.paris.fr
  • The website lylo.fr lists all free events in the section ‘Concerts gratuits’

Museums and Monuments

Besides exceptional events during which most Paris museums and monuments offer free admission to all visitors, such as the European Heritage Days in September, the Nuit Blanche in October and the European Night of Museums event in May, there are other times when all visitors can browse dozens of prestigious or little-known collections without buying a ticket. Check out the free admission times of the national (state-owned) museums – usually on the first Sunday of the month from November to March (the Musée Dapper and the Maison européene de la photographie have free opening on Wednesday all year round). This is an opportunity to admire the collections at places like the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée du Quai Branly without spending any money. Admission to the permanent collections of these museums, and to national monuments, is free all the time for teachers and for European Union nationals under the age of 26. Other museums, like the Musée de la parfumerie Fragonard and the Musée de la Police, offer free admission to all visitors at all times. For a more unusual experience, a free late-night visit is possible at the Maison européenne de la photographie (Wednesday evenings from 5pm to 8pm) and the Musées des Arts et métiers (Thursday evening from 6pm). What’s more, the permanent collections of most Paris municipal museums offer free entry to all visitors all year round. The list includes the Musée d’Art moderne, the Petit Palais, the Musée Zadkine, the Maison de Victor Hugo and the Maison de Balzac. Children under 13 can also see the temporary exhibitions for free. For lovers of religious art, volunteers from the association Art, Culture et Foi give free tours of Paris churches. In summer, the association Casa gives visitors to the city a tour of the Notre Dame Cathedral. These are available daily, for free, in seven languages (see website for times).

  • All the national museums and monuments on www.monuments-nationaux.fr
  • All Paris municipal museums on www.parismusees.paris.fr/fr/les-musees-de-la-ville-de-paris
  • More info on www.parisinfo.com
  • European Night of Museums – nuitdesmusees.culturecommunication.gouv.fr
  • Nuit Blanche – www.quefaire.paris.fr/nuitblanche
  • European Heritage Days – www.journeesdupatrimoine.culturecommunication.gouv.fr
  • Art, Culture et Foi – www.artculturefoi-paris.fr
  • Welcoming visitors to heritage sites – www.guidecasa.com

Art in public places

In Paris, culture is not confined to museums; it can also be enjoyed outdoors. Major works of classic and contemporary sculpture can be found all over the city. You’ll find works by artists from all periods dotted around Paris: the Igor Stravinksy fountain with works by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle near the Pompidou Centre, the Kiosque des noctambules by JeanMichel Othoniel and the Buren columns at the Palais-Royal, a copy of Rodin’s Balzac on Boulevard Raspail, the Three Nymphs by Maillol at the Jardin des Tuileries, etc. And, for a pleasant stroll among works of sculpture, there is the Square Tino Rossi, an open-air sculpture museum along the Seine. In northern Paris, lovers from around the world gather in Place des Abbesses to admire Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito’s ‘I Love You’ wall. You can also take the T3 tramway from Pont du Garigliano to Porte de la Chapelle: along the route, you’ll see 19 original contemporary art works, commissioned by the Paris City Council from international artists. And you can admire the original street art on the ‘Mur de l’Art’, created by Jean Faucheur in 2003. This space became a place for artistic experimentation in 2007, and displays new wall art every two weeks. Street art enthusiasts can admire mosaics by Space Invaders, Miss Tic’s poetic stencil drawings, and photo collages by JR. Some Paris monuments also put on a number of free temporary exhibitions, like the ones at the Hôtel de Ville.

  • Square Tino Rossi 8 quai Saint-Bernard, Paris 5th – M° Gare d’Austerlitz
  • Tramway T3 – www.tramway.paris.fr
  • Mur de l’Art At the corner of rue Oberkampf and rue Saint-Maur, Paris 10th
  • More info: http://en.parisinfo.com/discovering-paris/themed-guides/paris-for-free/freecultural-outings-in-paris/free-street-exhibitions-in-paris

Meet the artists

Open days are an opportunity to discover works of art, talented artists and some delightful spots in Paris. What better way to understand a piece of art than having the artist explain it to you in person? In Belleville (the district with the largest number of ateliers), Ménilmontant and Montmartre, and in several arrondissements, artists open their doors to visitors once a year over a weekend. It’s a good way to enjoy a pleasant stroll while admiring work by upcoming artists – like visiting a vast art gallery for free. And the European Artistic Craft Days are a chance to see skilled craft makers in action. Many art schools traditionally hold annual open days when visitors can admire the work of students, notably at prestigious institutions such as the Beaux-Arts and Ecole Boulle. Design enthusiasts will find plenty to see at the Designer Days. Held each year in June, this event showcases the latest in furniture design, interior architecture and decorative and useful pieces, to be admired in the course of themed itineraries in various parts of Paris. All the exhibition spaces open to the public are grouped together under a common theme, to make Paris the design capital.

  • Open days Artist workshops in the 5th and 13th arrondissements, association Lézarts de la Bièvre – Second weekend in June – www.lezarts-bievre.com
  • ‘Ateliers ouverts’ at the Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (end-June) 14 rue Bonaparte, Paris 6th – M° Pont Neuf – www.ensba.fr
  • Viaduc des Arts (in April) 1 to 129 avenue Daumesnil, Paris 12th – M° Gare de Lyon – www.leviaducdesarts.com/fr
  • Les Frigos (in May) 19 rue des Frigos, Paris 13th – M° Bibliothèque François Mitterand – www.les-frigos.com
  • Seiziem’Art (in November) 1, rue du Général Malleterre, Paris 16th – M° Pont du Garigliano – www.seiziemart.com
  • Cité Montmartre aux Artistes (in November) 189, rue Ordener, Paris 18th – M° Jules Joffrin – www.montmartre-aux-artistes.org
  • Artist workshops in Belleville (in May) 1, rue Francis Picabia, Paris 20th – M° Couronnes – www.ateliers-artistes-belleville.fr
  • Artist workshops in Ménilmontant (end-September) 26, rue de la Mare, Paris 20th – www.ateliersdemenilmontant.org
  • Les Ateliers du Père Lachaise associés (in December) 77 rue de Bagnolet, Paris 20th – M° Alexandre Dumas – www.apla.fr/blog/

The website of each Mairie (town hall) in Paris lists artist workshop open days taking place in that arrondissement.

Shows

We all know about start-ups in business; Paris also has start-ups to support talented young comedians. If you’d like to check out rising stars in French comedy for free, head to the Entrepôt, a melting pot of culture. It hosts slam sessions (first Tuesday of every month) and theatrical improvisation matches. This type of show is halfway between café theatre and the popular plays of French ‘boulevard’ theatre. At the Théâtre de Fortune, free comedy sketches are performed by amateur actors, with different performers at each show. Every Tuesday afternoon, around 20 times a year, the Théâtre du Rond-Point offers intriguing readings and performances of little-known or new literary texts. These are rehearsed and performed by students at the École supérieure d’Art dramatique de Paris.

  • Théâtre du Rond-Point 2 bis avenue Franklin-D. Roosevelt, Paris 8th – M° Franklin-D. Roosevelt – www.theatredurondpoint.fr
  • Théâtre de Fortune 22 bis rue Bobillot, Paris 13th – M° Place-d’Italie – www.vaugouin.com/fortune
  • L’Entrepôt 7-9 rue Francis-de-Pressensé, Paris 14th – M° Pernety – www.lentrepot.fr (voluntary contributions welcomed)

Guided tour of Paris

Whether it is themed walks or just strolling around, Paris is perfect for walking. ‘Paris greeters’ volunteer to take tourists around the capital, individually or in groups of up to six people, sharing their knowledge of Paris and offering tips and advice. Organizing a tour is easy via the website of the association Parisien d’un Jour. Simply go to their website and enter the dates of your stay, and a Parisian volunteer will suggest a made-to-measure trip on a theme related to your interests. The Panamées®, organized by the Comité Départemental de la Randonnée Pédestre de Paris, are city tours accompanied by ‘randopanameurs’, who recount historic details linked to places and monuments on the walk. The themes are stimulating and varied: the towers of Paris, the Parisian press, Colette, the Impressionist painters, etc. They take place on the third Thursday of each month from 7pm to 10pm. The Jardin des Tuileries and the Jardin Sauvage Saint-Vincent also offer guided tours. And for those who enjoy a peek behind the scenes, the Seine-Saint-Denis département organizes tours all year round, for a small fee, of unusual sites (the construction of the T3 tramway extension, archaeological excavation sites, etc.) If you prefer to explore at your own place, the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau publishes a series of self-guided tour maps in different arrondissements, with a variety of themes (legendary Paris, Paris is a village, unusual Paris, etc.) to choose from. Alternatively, the City of Paris has put together some cinema trails to follow in various parts of the capital. For digital tours, Ze visit has audio tourist trails that you can download, free of charge, on an MP3 player or a smartphone to set off on your own tour of Paris.

  • With a guide Parisien d’un jour – www.greeters.paris
  • Comité Départemental de la Randonnée Pédestre de Paris – www.rando-paris.org
  • ‘Les petites histoires dans l’Histoire’ tour at the Jardin des Tuileries at 3.30pm on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays (April to end-October) – Meet-up at the Arc de Triomphe of the Carrousel du Louvre, Place du Carroussel, Paris 1st – M° Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre – Free entry, no prior booking required – Tours subject to weather conditions – Info: 01 40 20 90 43.
  • Jardin Sauvage Saint-Vincent 17 rue Saint-Vincent, Paris 18th – M° Lamarck-Caulaincourt – http://equipement.paris.fr/jardin-sauvage-saint-vincent-1784
  • Visites insolites de Tourisme 93 www.tourisme93.com/visites/fr/9-chantiers-etinfrastructures

Free Wi-Fi in public parks and gardens

Stay connected in public places and get free, unlimited internet access. A Paris Wi-Fi service, provided by Paris City Council and the Paris Regional Council, offers a high-speed wireless internet connection, for free, via 400 terminals in more than 260 municipal areas: parks, town halls, libraries, etc. The service is available from 7am to 11pm, according to opening times of the places concerned.

  • List of public parks and gardens equipped with Wi-Fi points sur www.paris.fr/wifi

Have a delicious meal without opening your wallet

In some places, buying a drink will earn you a tasty dish to go with it. Eating for free may sound too good to be true, but it’s a tradition in many popular restaurants, which take advantage of a large clientele to boost their bottom line through drink sales.

Dinner on the house!

Free servings of couscous, mussels and chips, or antipasti, consumed in a good-humoured atmosphere in crowded eateries. Some bistros in the capital have made it a specialty to serve their clientele a popular dish for free — an occasion for Parisians and tourists in the know to share a moment of conviviality. Days and times vary according to each establishment. Usually it is couscous, sometimes mussels and chips or even an aperitivo buffet, as in Milan, with plenty of light snacks to go with your drink (an initiative pioneered by Culture Rapide). However, the drinks aren’t free, and in fact you may be required to buy a drink in exchange for a free meal.

  • La Cordonnerie (couscous from 9pm on Thursday and Saturday evening) 142 rue Saint-Denis, Paris 2nd – M° Étienne-Marcel or Arts et Métiers – Tel +33 (0)1 40 28 95 35
  • Le Tribal Café (couscous on Friday and Saturday evening, mussels and chips on Wednesday and Thursday evening) 3 cour des Petites-Écuries, Paris 10th – M° Château-d’Eau, RER Gare-du-Nord – Tel +33 (0)1 47 70 57 08
  • Le Grenier (couscous on Friday and Saturday evening) 152, rue Oberkampf, Paris 11th – M°Ménilmontant or Parmentier – Tel +33 (0)1 48 05 13 52
  • Les Trois Frères (couscous every Thursday evening) 14 rue Léon, Paris 18th – M° ChâteauRouge, RER Gare-du-Nord – Tel +33 (0)1 42 64 91 73
  • Le Taïs (couscous on Friday and Saturday evening) 129 bd de Ménilmontant, Paris 20th – M° Ménilmontant ou Parmentier – Tel +33 (0)6 24 47 96 63
  • Le Bouillon Belge (mussels and chips every Wednesday) 6 rue Planchat, Paris 20th – M° Buzenval – https://fr-fr.facebook.com/LeBouillonBelge/
  • Culture rapide (antipasti buffet every Friday evening) 103 rue Julien Lacroix, Paris 20th – M° Pyrénées – www.culturerapide.com

Wine tasting

Raise your glass (in moderation) to small wine producers and independent wine merchants! ‘Meet-the-winemaker’ tasting sessions, organized by wine merchants, are a good way to get yourself a cheap drink or two. Le Vin en tête and Les Petits Bouchons organize such events, as does La Grande Epicerie at the Bon Marché department store. It’s a good way to taste promising vintages and find out about up-and-coming wine estates in a convivial atmosphere.

  • Le Vin en tête, events calendar available on their Facebook page – 30 rue des Batignolles – Paris 17th – M° Rome – www.levinentete.fr
  • La Grande Epicerie du Bon Marché (wine tasting calendar available on their website) 38 rue de Sèvres, Paris 7th – M° Sèvres-Babylone – www.lagrandeepicerie.com
  • Les Petits Bouchons (tasting sessions most weekends from March) 105 rue Cambronne, Paris 15th – M° Vaugirard – Tel +33 (0)1 47 34 89 31

Outdoor activities

There’s no reason to spend a fortune taking out a subscription to an expensive gym. In Paris, there are plenty of ways to get some outdoor or indoor exercise and/or learn to play a sport for free, whether it’s canoeing, qi gong, fencing, rollerblading or ice skating. The city has many outdoor activities, by day or by night.

Sports lessons

There’s no need to pay to get in shape – save your money to spend on clothes to show off your toned figure! The City of Paris makes sports facilities available for all to use throughout the city (ping-pong tables, basketball courts, football and boules pitches, etc.), and organizes free sports lessons. These include ‘ateliers sport découverte’ (introductory sports workshops) led by Paris City Council coaches in municipal sports facilities. The sessions are entirely free of charge, and are generally held on weekdays, at lunchtime or in the evening. There are introductory courses geared specifically to 6-17-year-olds. On Sundays, children and adults alike can take part in free gym lessons or running sessions led by the Paris City Council’s state-qualified instructors in several public parks and gardens. Every year, at the Stade Charléty, Parisians can enjoy winter sports in the cold months without leaving the city. All the sessions are led by state-qualified instructors, and free of charge. In Paris, you can also enjoy a host of outdoor activities without spending a cent, in the city’s streets, parks, woods, stadiums, and water sports centres. The association DAYUN runs free qi gong sessions from 10am to 11.30am every Saturday at Parc de la Villette, and from 3.30pm to 4.30pm every Wednesday in the Buttes Chaumont (except during school holidays). At La Villette water sports centre, there are free 45-minute-long introductory courses to canoeing and kayaking every Saturday from 9am to midday and from 2pm to 5pm. You must provide two identity photos and a brevet de natation or equivalent, i.e. a swimming certificate, proving that you can swim 25 metres. In summer, Swedish gym classes take place in outdoor locations, like the lawns of the Parc Montsouris. And of course there is the Paris-Plages event, which takes place on the banks of the Seine every summer, from around 20 July to 20 August. There are many kinds of sport on the programme: aqua gym, fencing, ballroom dancing, etc. The fitness trails in the Bois de Boulogne are open all year round. Designed to promote physical fitness training, the course is dotted with pieces of fitness equipment, complete with guidance on how to use them to achieve your workout goals. Similarly, a specially equipped section of the riverside stretch known as Berges de Seine in Paris 7th has a number of options including scaled-down fitness trails and climbing walls, together with a programme of free sports workshops. The City of Paris offers residents and visitors free use of a range of sports facilities: football pitches, stadiums, etc.

  • Fitness coaching and trails on the Berges Quai d’Orsay, Paris 7th – M° Invalides, Pont de l’Alma or Musée d’Orsay – www.paris.fr/berges
  • Stade Charléty 99 Boulevard Kellermann, Paris 13th – RER Gare de Gentilly
  • Base nautique de la Villette 41bis quai de Loire, Paris 19th – M° Riquet – www.paris.fr/serviceset-infos-pratiques/sports-et-loisirs/ou-faire-du-sport/le-sport-en-plein-air-2016#les-basesnautiques_6  
  • Qiqong classes, Paris 19th http://qigong-dayun.monsite-orange.fr/page-565b177fbc76a.html
  • Paris Plages events programme on quefaire.paris.fr/parisplages
  • List of City of Paris sports facilities and workshops on www.sport.paris.fr and www.paris.fr/services-et-infos-pratiques/sports-et-loisirs/ou-faire-du-sport/le-sport-en-pleinair-2016
  • Swedish gym classes – www.gymsuedoise.com
  • Fitness trail at the Bois de Boulogne www.paris.fr/jardins#bois-de-boulogne_19
  • List of stadiums and pitches open to all users free of charge on www.paris.fr/services-etinfos-pratiques/sports-et-loisirs/ou-faire-du-sport/pratiquer-un-sport-librement-2431

Rollerblading and cycling

Wheels, large or small, make distances seem shorter and outings more enjoyable. The Seine riverbanks, which are reserved for pedestrians and cyclists on Sundays, are an ideal place to rollerblade. If you’d like to rollerblade in a group, or have a free introductory session, then take part in an outing with the Roller Squad Institut. Open to all, they take place on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The association ‘Rollers et coquillages’ organizes laid-back Sunday outings for skaters of all levels: perfect for a day out with the family or a group of friends. For more experienced skaters, the ‘rando roller’ organized by Pari Roller is a thrilling three-hour skating itinerary around the city at night, along streets free of traffic for the occasion. Groups depart every Friday from Place Raoul Dautry, at the foot of Tour Montparnasse, at 10pm (return around 1am). A similar supervised outing also exists for cyclists, organized by Paris Rando Vélo, with Red Cross staffers on hand for safety. It starts from the Hôtel de Ville (Paris City Hall) on Friday at 9.30pm, and on every third Sunday of the month at 10.30am. Both these outings last 2hr15, and cover a distance of 20-24 km.

  • www.rsi.asso.fr
  • www.rollers-coquillages.org
  • pari-roller.com www.parisrandovelo.fr

Free accommodation

Couchsurfing is popular with visitors in search of a free stay as well as an opportunity to meet and share the lives of Parisians. Epitomizing the sharing economy, couchsurfing allows travellers to connect with like-minded hosts around the world, and be offered a couch, a spare room or a spot to pitch their tent – and sometimes a meal or a coffee too.

  • www.couchsurfing.com

INEXPENSIVE PARIS

Culture at reduced prices

The difference between free and discounted tickets is sometimes just a few euros. Still, any reductions are worth having, especially if they make it possible to go out more often to museums, theatres and other cultural spots in the capital.

City Passes

The very practical Paris Museum Pass provides free, unlimited access (no queues) to more than 50 monuments and museums in Paris and the Paris region. This economical pass will save you money straight away. It is available for two days, four days and six days. The pass can be purchased at all participating sites as well as at the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, and on the website parisinfo.com. Pass holders can easily access the Louvre museum, Sainte-Chapelle, the Musée Rodin, the Sant-Denis Basilica, Château de Fontainebleau and many other attractions. And tourists can do even more sightseeing with the Paris Pass, created by the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau. This ‘passport’ is a time and money saver. It enables the holder to benefit from reductions of up to 20%. Available for one, two, three or five days, it gets you discounts on a number of services (transport, museums, cruises, excursions) – all carefully selected to make life easier for visitors during their stay.

  • List of Paris Museum Pass museums and partners on www.parisinfo.com ou www.parismuseumpass.fr
  • More info about the Paris Pass on reservation.parisinfo.com

Cut-price theatre tickets

With nearly 150 performance venues (theatres, cafés-theatres, cabarets, etc.), there are numerous performances in Paris every night. For reduced-price theatre tickets, go to the kiosques théâtre, or online. Three ticket kiosks are available in Paris, selling half-price tickets for independently-run or subsidized performances on the day of the show. Anyone can buy a ticket, regardless of their age or nationality. No advance bookings by telephone; you have to buy discounted tickets at the kiosque. For young people aged 13-30 who are living, studying or working in Paris, there are another three kiosks, known as kiosques jeunes, which offer additional advantages (e.g. invitations and reduced prices for numerous performances). The Théâtres parisiens associés, an association of independently-run theatres, offers 50% reductions on tickets for the first week (and occasionally the first two weeks) of new shows via the operation ‘Premiers aux premières’. Young people under the age of 26 can also buy tickets at a reduced flat rate for all performances, and benefit from many special offers. There are also plenty of great deals on the internet. Billetreduc offers reductions of up to 80%, and free invitations to theatres, concerts, one-man shows, etc. with online booking and payment. Ticketac, Au théâtre.com and Agenda spectacles operate a similar system, offering cut-price tickets for venues across Paris. Zepass has a free service that matches up people who have bought a ticket and can no longer use it with potential buyers. Sellers are not allowed to dispose of their tickets for a higher price than what they originally paid, and in fact the sale price is generally 20% to 50% cheaper. In several Paris bars and show venues, buying a drink entitles you to watch performances by emerging stand-up comics, or established names doing a trial run of their new show

Kiosks

  • Kiosque La Madeleine 15 place de la Madeleine, Paris 8th – M° Madeleine, RER Auber – www.kiosqueculture.com
  • Kiosque Montparnasse Place Raoul Dautry, Paris 14th – M° Montparnasse-Bienvenüe – www.kiosqueculture.com
  • Kiosque Les Ternes place des Ternes, Paris 17th – M° Ternes, RER Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile – www.kiosqueculture.com
  • Kiosque jeunes La Canopée 10 passage de la Canopée, Paris 1st – M° Les Halles – http://forumdeshalles.com/public/lekiosquejeune
  • Kiosque jeunes Goutte d’or Hall du Centre Musical Fleury Goutte d’Or-Barbara 1 rue Fleury, Paris 18th – M° Barbès-Rochechouart, RER Gare-du-Nord – http://equipement.paris.fr/kiosquejeunes-goutte-d-or-5060
  • Kiosque jeunes Champ-de-Mars 101 quai Branly, Paris 15th – M° Bir-Hakeim, RER Champ-deMars-Tour-Eiffel – Tel +33 (0)1 43 06 15 38 – http://equipement.paris.fr/kiosque-jeunes-champde-mars-3309

Listings and discounts

  • www.agendaspectacles.fr
  • www.au-theatre.com
  • www.theatresparisiensassocies.com/spectacle-paris-pas-cher
  • www.billetreduc.com
  • www.ticketac.com
  • www.zepass.com

Stand-up shows

  • Le Paname Comedy Club au Paname 14 rue de la Fontaine du Roi, Paris 11th – M° Goncourt- www.panameartcafe.com
  • Underground Comedy Club 50, rue d’Aboukir, Paris 2nd – M° Sentier – www.lesentierdeshalles.fr/home/underground-comedy-club/
  • Le Café de Paris 158 rue Oberkampf, Paris 11th – M° Ménilmontant – www.aucafedeparis.com
  • Le Bordel Club Théâtre Montmartre Galabru 4 rue de l’Armée d’Orient, Paris 18th – M° Larmarck-Caulaincourt – www.facebook.com/BordelClub/
  • Le Dimanche Marrant Brasserie Barbès, 2 bd Barbès, Paris 18th – M° Barbès – https://frfr.facebook.com/DimancheMarrant/
  • Le Café Oscar 155 rue Montmartre, Paris 2nd – M° Grands Boulevards – https://frfr.facebook.com/cafeoscarparis/

Opera and the Comédie Française for everyone

Operas, ballets, concerts, theatre performances … Paris has fine classical and contemporary repertories to suit all budgets. Paris’s two opera houses are in no way reserved just for an elite public. On some Wednesdays, ‘Les rendez-vous du mercredi’ provides great deals for two (reductions, free invitations, etc.) on a selection of shows. At the Bastille Opera House, tickets for 32 standing places (in the area situated at the bottom of the stalls) at the automatic ticket machines, an hour and a half before the performance. At the Palais Garnier Opera House, tickets for several seats in the side boxes and stalls are sold for an affordable price of €10. The Opéra de Paris and the Comédie Française have created the Pass Jeunes (passes for young people) for those under 28 years old and it is valid for one season. Pass holders can reserve reduced-price tickets for several different performances. A small office at the Comédie Française sells tickets for seats with reduced visibility of the stage every evening. To buy these cut-price tickets, visitors should go to the ticket counter under the arcades in Rue Richelieu one hour before the performance. Every first Monday of the month, these seats are free for people aged under 28.

  • Comédie française salle Richelieu, 2 rue de Richelieu, Paris 1st – M° Palais-Royal-Musée-duLouvre – www.comedie-francaise.fr
  • Opéra-Garnier place de l’Opéra, Paris 9th – M° Opéra, RER Auber
  • Opéra-Bastille place de la Bastille, Paris 12th – M° Bastille, RER Gare-de-Lyon
  • Les rendez-vous du mercredi at the l’Opéra de Paris www.operadeparis.fr/billetterie/offres-spectateurs/les-rendez-vous-du-mercredi
  • More information on www.operadeparis.fr

Explore Paris for the price of a metro ticket!

Metros, buses and trams are not just for getting around the city. They are also a way of making some great discoveries. And all for the price of a single ticket (a one-day ticket that lets you make as many journeys as you like). The city operates 60 bus lines, and the routes take in all of Paris’s architectural gems – the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, etc. The RATP also runs the Montmartrobus for visits around the Montmartre district. From the above-ground metro lines 2 and 6, there are great views of the Seine, the Eiffel Tower, the Bassin de la Villette and various gardens and parks. The ‘Paris Tourisme’ map published by the RATP marks all the must-see sites in the city and the nearest metro, bus or tram stations. The RATP has also come up with ‘Visiter Paris en métro’, a free mobile app available on Google Play and the App Store, to make visitors’ journeys easier. By Vélib’ bicycle, get a day ticket or a 7-day ticket, the first half-hour is free. An ideal way to explore Paris, especially since there are Vélib stations in locations throughout the city (nearly 1,800 stations in all, at a distance of merely 300 metres from each other) where you can pick up or drop off your bike.

  • www.ratp.fr
  • www.velib.fr

Cheap accommodation

Paris has a huge choice of accommodation at affordable prices. A night in a double room in a non-rated hotel offering simple and basic amenities costs around €40. Prices at a one-star hotel range from €50 to €60. For a two-star hotel, you can expect to pay between €70 and €100. Rooms start at €39 at F1 budget hotels in the outlying 14th and 18th arrondissements. A lot of hotels have an affordable flat rate for stays of two to three nights during off-season if you reserve well in advance. Youth hostels are another good option for a cheap sleep, and they’re not just for young people. The number of youth hostels in Paris has grown in recent times. They offer a very large number of beds in dormitories or private rooms (with or without an en-suite bathroom) at highly affordable rates, in a cosmopolitan and lively atmosphere. The latest crop of hostels is not only cheap but stylishly designed. They boast an increasing number of exclusive and trendy services and facilities, such as the magnificent rooftop terrace at Les Piaules with its sweeping view over the Paris rooftops. Student and university housing in Paris is a good option for students seeking a cheap stay in the French capital, either in summertime or all year round.

Parisinfo:

  • http://en.parisinfo.com/where-to-sleep-in-paris/Hotels/Budget-accommodation
  • http://en.parisinfo.com/where-to-sleep-in-paris/info/guides/Low-costaccommodation/Accommodation-for-young-people/Accommodation-for-young-people
  • Hôtels F1 www.hotelf1.com/fr/home

Youth hostels

  • Auberge de Jeunesse MIJE Fourcy 6 rue de Fourcy, Paris 4th – M° Pont Marie – www.mije.com
  • St Christopher’s Inns 2 branches: www.st-christophers.co.uk/paris-hostels

Eating out on a small budget

Paris offers endless choices for eating well for less: from restaurants at hotel management schools, where trainee chefs practice creating haute cuisine, to places with all-you-can-eat menus. There are so many options to enjoy delicious food without spending much.

Delicious meals at hotel schools

Be waited on like a king or queen for the price of a basic menu: that’s exactly what hotel school restaurants offer. Here, trainee chefs do their apprenticeships, creating demanding dishes worthy of Michelin-starred establishments. At €15 to €30 per person, for lunch or dinner, guests can enjoy refined cuisine from a menu of traditional or modern dishes. The setting of these establishments is elegant, the tables are beautifully laid, and the service is faultless. What’s more, the wine is sold at cost price. Booking essential!

  • Restaurants de l’école Ferrandi 28 rue de l’Abbé Grégoire, Paris 6th – M° Saint-Placide – www.ferrandi-paris.fr
  • La Table d’Albert 2 rue d’Olivet, Paris 7th – M° Vaneau –www.albertdemun.eu
  • Restaurants du Lycée hôtelier Guillaume-Tirel 237 boulevard Raspail, Paris 14th – M° Raspail – www.lyceeguillaumetirel.fr/restauration
  • Restaurants du Lycée hôtelier Jean Drouant 20 rue Médéric, Paris 17th – M° Courcelles – Tel +33 (0)1 56 21 01 02 – www.lyceejeandrouant.fr/nos-restaurants/
  • École de Paris des métiers de la table, du tourisme et de l’hôtellerie 17 rue Jacques-Ibert, Paris 17th – M° Louise-Michel, RER Pereire –www.epmtth.org/restaurant/restaurant.php
  • Restaurant Vatel 122 rue Nollet, Paris 17th – M° Brochant –www.vatelrestaurants.com
  • Restaurants d’application du Lycée professionnel – CFA Belliard 135 rue Belliard, Paris 18th – www.ac-paris.fr/serail/jcms/s2_491392/menus-et-reservations
  • CEPROC 19 rue Goubet, Paris 19th – M° Ourcq – www.ceproc.com/fr/ceproc/restaurant-dapplication/

All you can eat

Family reunions, friendly get-togethers or a big sit-down meal … here’s how to feed your entourage on a shoestring budget. At the weekend, all-you-can-eat brunches are a cheap way to enjoy a copious meal without paying a lot. Oyster dinners at Comptoirs des Mers, a country-style buffet at La Cantine des Tontons, Asian specialties at Ogimi, Hitomi and M’Sushi, moules marinières (mussels cooked in white wine) at Léon de Bruxelles: these are all excellent options for an inexpensive meal.

  • M’Sushi 108 rue Montmartre Paris 2nd – M° Sentier Comptoir des Mers 1 rue de Turenne Paris 4th – M° Saint Paul – www.comptoirdesmers.com
  • Léon de Bruxelles Branches listed on www.leon-de-bruxelles.fr
  • Hitomi 57 rue Chabrol, Paris 10th – M° Cadet – www.hitomi.fr
  • Le Batofar Face au 13 quai François Mauriac, Paris 13th – M° Bibliothèque François Mitterrand – www.batofar.org/Accueil/Restaurant.sls
  • La Cantine des Tontons 36 rue de Dantzig, Paris 15th – M° Comptoir Moderne 26 rue de la Croix Nivert, Paris 15th – www.fr-fr.facebook.com/ComptoirModerne/
  • Ogimi 38 rue Balard, Paris 15th – M° Javel André Citroën – ogimijaponais.blogspot.fr
  • Chez Luna 108 Rue de Ménilmontant, Paris 20th – M° Pelleport
  • Restaurants du Monde, Carrousel du Louvre 99 rue de Rivoli – Carrousel du Louvre, Paris 1st

Budget restaurants

Some places are very popular with students and people who like to eat well for less. A sandwich at Goutü, canteen-style places serving Asian food in Paris’s Chinatowns (3rd, 19th and 13th arrondissements), generous servings of specialties from southwest France at Gladines: these are just a few of the many good-value dining options in the city.

  • Goutü 51 rue Le Peletier, Paris 9th – M° Le Peletier – www.ilovegoutu.com
  • Bouillon Chartier 7 rue du Faubourg Montmartre, Paris 9th – M° Grands Boulevards – www.bouillon-chartier.com/fr
  • Chez Gladines 5 branches in Paris, listed on www.gladines.com/fr
  • Tricotin 15 avenue de Choisy, Paris 13th – M° Maison Blanche – https://frfr.facebook.com/TricotinParis13/
  • Café des Petits Frères 47 rue des Batignolles, Paris 17th – M° La Fourche – www.petitsfreresdespauvres.fr/nos-implantations/75017-02—le-cafe-des-petits-freres-despauvres.html
  • 3 pièces cuisine 25 rue de Cheroy, Paris 17th – M° Place de Clichy ou Rome – Tel. : 01 44 90 85 10
  • Le Vin qui Danse 69 rue Broca, Paris 13th – M° Les Gobelins – www.vqd.fr
  • Nossa 1 rue de l’Ecole Polytecchnique, Paris 5th – M° Maubert-Mutualité – www.nossaparis.com
  • Le Moulin à café 8 Impasse Sainte-Léonie, Paris 14th – M° Pernety – www.moulin-cafe.org

Plus: Les petites tables lists Paris restaurants where you can have a meal for under €10 a head – www.lespetitestables.com

Budget-friendly shopping

Paris is the fashion capital, but you have to know where to go to find stylish clothing at affordable prices. The secret of Parisian style is mixing and matching: elegance and fantasy, trendy and retro – pieces from a shortlist of favourite shops and chic finds from second-hand shops. And that applies not just to clothing but also to home decor.

Cut-price designer goods

Luxury brands can be picked up at reduced prices in numerous stock clearance stores in Paris, as well as at La Vallée Village, which groups together 120 fashion and luxury shops just 30 minutes from the city. The majority of good deals on trendy brands and haute couture are to be found in a few Parisian districts with a concentration of single-brand and multi-brand stock clearance stores. On the Left Bank, Rue d’Alésia (14th) and Rue Saint-Placide and the surrounding area (6th) are well worth a trip. On the Right Bank, the Marais (3rd and 4th), Rue Etienne Marcel and the surrounding roads (2nd), the quays of the Canal Saint-Martin (10th) and Montmartre (18th) have some of the best stock clearance shops in the city. There are also brands specializing in clearance, like L’Habilleur. At La Vallée Village, not far from Disneyland, big brands (fashion, jewellery and home decor) sell their previous collections at reduced prices, with discounts of up to 60% all year round. All the best-known designer labels are sold here. A shuttle service, the Shopping Express, operates daily from Place des Pyramides (1st) to La Vallée Village. A similar place is One Nation Paris in the west of Paris, around 20 minutes from Versailles. Opened at the end of 2013, it has 90 of the most iconic fashion and luxury brands. A shuttle service to One Nation Paris is available from Opéra and Place Charles de Gaulle Etoile. Other outlets in the Paris suburbs are also worth a trip to browse for great deals: Quai des Marques, Usines Center, etc.

Second-hand vintage and flea markets

Three lively flea markets (puces) have existed on the edges of Paris since the end of the 19th century. Veritable Aladdin’s caves, they are popular haunts: the perfect way to combine a stroll with the pleasures of bargain hunting in a unique setting. A mecca for antique and modern art, the Saint-Ouen flea market comprises 15 markets spread over seven hectares, each with their own special features. They sell a huge range of high-end antiques (furniture, trinkets, lamps), posters, clothes, designer items, etc. The more compact Vanves flea market brings together 380 stallholders who sell the treasures they have unearthed in the course of the week (furniture, watches, toys, jewels, etc.) to throngs of visitors: there is more of a garage sale atmosphere here. At the Montreuil flea market, almost all of the professional dealers have been replaced by sellers of second-hand clothing and trinkets of all kinds (tableware, bric-a-brac, comic books, etc.). Fashionistas come here to buy vintage clothing. In addition to these weekly markets, there are second-hand street markets and car boot sales on weekends in most parts of the capital. There’s also a major event which takes place twice a year – the Puces du Design flea market, exclusively selling design items from 1950s to the 2000s.

All the latest info on second-hand street markets in the L’Officiel des spectacles and Pariscope, and online on vide-greniers.org, www.brocorama.com/paris

Affordable art

Feel like a patron of the arts by hanging a copy of a work by a modern artist on your wall at home! Art Génération, Carré d’artistes, Art up Déco and many other Parisian galleries make contemporary art affordable by offering limited-edition, numbered copies of original work (paintings, drawing, photos, etc.) bearing the artist’s signature. Prices range from €60 to €3,000, based on the size of the work and the artist’s popularity. Some galleries like Wanter Paris and Lumas specialize in photography, showcasing young and emerging photographers. Treating yourself to the works of young artists is a good way to buy contemporary art at affordable prices. YellowKorner, a concept-store/gallery with several branches in Paris, also focuses on photography, displaying limited-edition artistic photos at prices to suit all budgets.

Second-hand goods

A Chanel suit, Vuitton trunk, vintage leather jacket, Issey Miyake jacket, Zara blouse, Repetto ballet shoes … different styles and eras come together in dépôts-ventes (consignment shops), where you’ll find everything from luxury items to trendy clothing at low prices. The majority of these dépôts-vente only sell clothing and items in perfect condition. Some are dedicated to prestigious designer labels, such as Réciproque, the biggest second-hand store in Paris. Items by Saint-Laurent, Versace and many other labels are on sale here. Griff’Troc is a similar shop, selling a mix of luxury ready-to-wear and haute couture items. At Didier Ludot, luxury and high-end vintage is the specialty, with brands such as Dior, Vuitton, Balmain, etc. Also very selective, Les 3 Marches de Catherine B sells magnificent vintage items exclusively by Chanel and Hermès. The more eclectic La Marelle sells some of the best contemporary labels, like Yamamoto and Gaultier. At Lorette et Jasmin, you’ll find clothing and accessories by Chanel, Balenciaga, Paule Ka and Kenzo. You can also rent a luxury handbag for an evening. Rag is renowned for its beautiful selection of select and designer vintage products; Madame for its retro and contemporary clothing (Isabelle Marant, Vanessa Bruno, etc.), tableware and varied objects; Violette et Léonie for their large choice of trendy or classic chic clothing at low prices (Zara, Zadig et Voltaire, etc.). And then there is Chercheminippes, the dépôt-vente pioneer. Their six shops are dedicated to clothing (women’s, men’s and children’s), fashion accessories and products for the home, all recent, sold here for at least half the original price. The Emmaüs Defi charity shops are the place to go to browse vintage stuff, unearth treasures and buy inexpensive furniture. Since the money from sales goes into helping the homeless, you’ll be shopping for good deals, but also for a good cause. If you are looking mainly for cutprice clothing rather than bargains on designer wear, Paris has any number of second-hand shops where you can pick up vintage treasures for next to nothing. At Kiloshop, you can even buy clothes by the kilo!

Beauty on a budget

In Paris, there are many ways to get a makeover or have your hair styled without spending much. Hairstylist training salons offer a shampoo, cut and blow-dry for €15 to €30; at some places like Frank de Roche, it’s totally free! You’ll need to book an appointment, and allow for a good half-day. For those in a hurry, low-cost salons like Tchip are perfect for a basic cut or trim. Beauty Bubble is another good option for an express dry cut or style (10-15 minutes). Make-up and beauty schools are always on the lookout for models of all ages. These sessions are free. The hairdressing, nail and beauty salons located around the Château d’Eau metro station also propose treatments at unbeatably low prices. And department stores and beauty franchises offer free make-up sessions to clients to show them new products, without any obligation to buy. To indulge yourself at bargain prices, head to the École des Spas et Instituts, where students provide an affordable massage, makeover or waxing session.

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