When I tell people I'm flirting with 30, they tell me I look like I'm in college and I have the energy of a pre-adolescent. Well, that's good because did you know there are 195 countries in this world? My goal is to travel to as many countries as my age. My current count? 14. Yikes. Better get jetsettin'! Read More

Let's Get Social!
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Travel Hacks I Love

Live in Luxury Pads for Free

Get $40 AirBnb Travel Credit

budget travel blogger to inspire and inform your inner wanderlust

Paris Budget Travel Guide: 19 Things to Do by District

October 27, 2016.happynfull.0 Likes.5 Comments

Paris Budget Travel Guide: 19 Must Do Things for Free or Cheap!

We have arrived in the City of Light and the Capital of Fashion… Paris! As a first time visitor, I wasn’t sure what to expect other than loads of coffee, artisan baked goods, and the Eiffel Tower. Turns out, there’s loads of things to do in Paris — and for free!

Paris Budget Travel Guide: 19 Things to Do For Free or Cheap

Paris Budget Travel Guide: 19 Things to Do For Free or Cheap by District

Truth be told, I had a difficult time appreciating Paris in the first half of my trip. Everything was just so grandiose, from the cathedrals to the wide streets. With over 14 million tourists each year on top of the 12 million people living in the metropolitan area, it was all a bit overwhelming for a suburban princess like me.

It wasn’t until the third day that I experienced my own magical moment that made me finally understand why everyone swoons over this city. Picture this: Chris and I walking around all over town, checking out various tourist sites, hopping in and out of the underground subway. Following Chris and not inquiring where we were going, we exit the Trocadéro subway station, turn right, and whoa. Speechless. Breathtaking. The Tour Eiffel in all it’s magical glory. I have seen photos of the Tour Eiffel, but I have never imagined it to be so large and mesmerizing. What a magnificent structure. So magnificent, it has been deemed my favorite landmark I have seen in my lifetime.

Budget Travel Guide to Paris - 18 Must Do Things

Eiffel Tower at Sunset from Trocadéro… just breathtaking.

Ok, Paris, you won over another skeptical soul.

Through the following days, I was able to get a better grasp of the city. I even watched Midnight in Paris for the first time and highly recommend watching it on your trip even if you have already seen it. Realizing that we had walked past all of the same scenes in the movie made us really appreciative of our time spent. I could understand why Owen Wilson’s character was a big proponent of living in Paris due to all of the romance it offers.

Given that there are 20 arrondissements (districts), Paris can be a lot to take in in just one weekend. That said, here is my Paris Budget Travel Guide with an ulimate list of must-do’s in order of districts! Let’s get to it!

Paris Budget Travel Guide: 19 Must Do Things for Free or Cheap (Listed in Order of Districts/Neighborhoods)

1. Sandeman’s Walking Tour

(Meets in 5th District) As always, start off your first day with a tip-based tour! Get a lay of the land. Since Paris’s museums, cathedrals, and main attractions are centrally located (primarily in the 1st and 5th districts), you will likely be able to walk by each, and can decide what to mark as points of interest to explore further in your trip. The Sandeman’s Walking Tour also gives discounted tickets to the River Cruise (12 Euros), which I have heard is romantic and a great way to spend the evening exploring. It’s recommended to go during sunset and bring wine and cheese with you! Romantic? Mm hmm.

Budget Travel Guide: Paris - 19 Things to Do For Free or Cheap

The various buildings in Paris are grand and similar in color.

2. Musée du Louvre

(1st District) If it’s raining, I would recommend the Museum du Louvre. It’s the most regarded museum in France, probably because it houses the famous Mona Lisa. While the painting is really small, and quite underwhelming with the massive crowds trying to take a selfie with her, it’s fun to walk around King Louis’s apartment and take a look at all of the other paintings. This museum is so large you won’t be able to walk all of it in one day!

They do offer some free entrance days, so check online before you buy tickets. Other tips: Go in the afternoon as it’s less busy. Wednesday and Friday are late nights, open until 9pm instead of 6:30pm. If you’re 26 and under, go on Fridays for free entrance. If you’re under 26 AND an EU citizen, go any day as it’s free! Otherwise, if you’re old like me, expect to pay 15 Euros to get in.

Budget Travel Guide: Paris - Things to Do For Free or Cheap

Bonus tip: You’ll see a lot of people taking pictures in front of the Louvre. Go on a Tuesday to snap a photo with less people, it’s closed on Tuesdays! Pro photo tip: If you’re taking a fun picture, have the person using the camera zoom in and out or move left and right instead of having you move around!

3. Jardin des Tuileries

(1st District) Right outside the Louvre, this park is really beautiful. I love that Paris encourages people to socialize and mingle in the parks. They have benches and chairs laid out everywhere so you can sunbathe and admire the Tour Eiffel. Bring your wine, cheese, and a good book!

Paris Budget Travel Guide: 19 Things to Do For Free or Cheap

Pretty day at the park. Can you spot Tour Eiffel in the distance?

4. Arc de Triomphe

(1st District) – You want to see something crazy? Come to the Arc de Triomphe. It’s a beautiful Roman structure in the middle of this multi-lane roundabout. I literally stood at one corner and watched the cars drive for 5 minutes. My driving skills would not survive this multi-lane, multi-merge, multi-stop circle, but somehow these drivers manage to do it. You can stand in the middle intersection to snap a selfie, or go underground (follow the signs) to climb to the top of the Arc. My friend told me about her coworker that didn’t realize there was an entrance underground and somehow ran across on the surface street! That’s even crazier. 

Budget Travel Guide: Paris - 19 Things to Do For Free or Cheap

Standing in the middle of the busy intersection with the Arc de Triomphe behind us.

5. Colette

(1st District) – If you’re into fashion, this is a must see. I’ve never seen a store so well curated before, and very interesting to walk around the upstairs and guess how much each clothing article costs. I pointed to a feathered jacket, and Chris asked, “$500?” Try $2,800! Also, the store puts on a very neat photography exhibition and has different photographers featured. It’s a very artsy and fashionable store selling everything from books, to journals, to sunglasses, to watches, clothes, etc. for men and women.

6. Marché des Enfants Rouges

(3rd District) This is a really trendy neighborhood! Very hipster, eclectic, lots of synergy going on and brunch spots at every corner. We enjoyed this particular neighborhood because eating out in Paris can be very pricey, but there were many restaurants that looked delicious and actually reasonably priced. Our favorite was a traditional Moroccan place, Le Traiteur Marocain, inside of this food market. Everything else looked really Instagram worthy and we wanted to walk into every shop along this street!

Budget Travel Guide: Paris - 19 Things to Do For Free or Cheap

Tajines from the Moroccan restaurant inside the market. You order at the counter and they will seat you as well as bring you your meal.

7. Notre-Dame de Paris

(4th District) It’s free to go in the Notre Dame Cathedral, and I hear it’s really beautiful around sunset. It’s an impressive structure, with beautiful glass stained windows inside. The line looks long to get in, but it is ver fast moving. If you want to go to the very top, that is a separate entrance to the left side of the building, and it costs 10 Euros.

Budget Travel Guide: Paris - 19 Things to Do For Free or Cheap

Catedral de Notre Dame - best views are from the back of it, not the front!

8. Paris Marais 

(4th District) Shopping and grubbing in this Jewish neighborhood is definitely worthy of checking out. If you go the Uniqlo in this district, they have a trendy map handout of all the other places to visit nearby, from delicious restaurants to other boutiques. While at the Uniqlo, you’ll probably notice it has a very fun, hip, trendy vibe, and it’s massive. They also have a special edition section of Parisian style pieces to add to your wardrobe. Plus, it’s more affordable than the stores on Champs-Élysées.

9. Quartier latin (Latin Quarter) 

(5th District) I wish that when we visited, we had saved room in our bellies as there are a lot of really cute alleyways filled with authentic looking restaurants. They have a very large variety of cuisines, from French, Italian, Moroccan, Turkish, etc. Bring your appetite and drool over all of the outside displays. Grab some dessert and walk around to admire all of the gothic style buildings.

10. Jardin du Luxembourg

(6th District) This garden is beautiful! It’s a lot larger than the Jardin des Tulleries (#3 on this list), so plan on taking time to walk around and admire the beautiful monuments, watch kids race boats in the big fountain, and stop and smell the flowers. I don’t believe you can lay on the grass here, but they do have plenty of chairs out, if you plan on sitting around.

Budget Travel Guide: Paris - 19 Things to Do For Free or Cheap

The Luxembourg Park is a beautiful place for a stroll.

11. Tour Eiffel & Pont Alexander Bridge

(7th District) OK it’s amazing you can see the Tour Eiffel from all over the city. You can go up the Tour Eiffel and even stand underneath it. But if you want to have a magical moment like I did, get off at the Trocadéro station (16th District) 15-minutes before sunset (budget 30 minutes if you have no sense of direction). When the sunsets, you will oooh and ahhh and feel a level of giddiness you never knew existed! Then, stay until the top of the hour. There is a butterfly dance (the whole tower lights up for 5 minutes). This happens at the top of every hour throughout the day, but it’s really amazing in the night.

The Pont Alexander Bridge is a beautiful place to view the  Eiffel Tour from as it towers behind all of the other buildings and gives you a view of the river.

12. Lavomatic 

(10th District) This was a really cool speakeasy – laundromat style. It looks like a laundromat, except there is a bouncer outside. Once he lets you in, you must find the washer or dryer that opens up into a door. Once upstairs, you will feel like you’ve been imported to a different world. The servers have excellent service. They serve mean artisan drinks. I had a brandy concoction with milk tea boba. If liquor isn’t your pace, they all serve beer and wine. It’s a cozy place, small, and from the likes of it very local. Luckily, the servers spoke English. You also get free olives to munch on!

13. Breakfast at Du Pain et Des Idees & Grain Cafe 

(10th District) This is the only meal you need to know on this trip. I literally died and went to foodie heaven. Du Pain et Des Idees sells these amazing escargot pastries (not actually escargot, just shaped like a snail!). Their site is confusing, it says items are sold out, but if you go down the brick and mortar store you will see a large variety to select from.

Because they don’t sell coffee, and there’s limited room to sit (just on an outside bench), we found a really hip cafe, Le Grain, a few blocks down that made a mean latte. They did not mind that we brought pastries from outside, and the two paired so perfectly. This was bliss!

For more food options and learning about what to order at French restaurants, check out this dining out guide.

14. Coulée verte René-Dumont

(12th District) Have you heard of NYC’s Highline? The concept was apparently adopted from Paris’s old railway converted into a park, though this one is much longer being 3 miles long. This elevated park has trees and flowers planted along the way, and lookout points where you can get city views. It’s a nice stroll to work up an appetite!

Budget Travel Guide: Paris - 19 Things to Do For Free or Cheap

15. Rue Cremieux

(12th District) If you’ve been to Notting Hill in London, you will feel as if you’ve found the one street in all of Paris that could be from London. Paris is very ivory in color as seen in all of the residential and cathedral buildings throughout the town. Theres isn’t very much splash of color but this tiny residential street is nothing but a picture from a coloring book.

Paris Budget Travel Guide: 19 Things to Do For Free or Cheap

Rue Cremieux is a colorful street that will surely brighten your day.

16. Edgar Quinet District

(14th District) We found this district to be very vibrant and beautiful, with no shortage of restaurants to select from. Walking by, we spotted a really beautiful Italian restaurant, Marco Polo, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. We were pleased with the 15 Euro pizza and calamari fritters (8 Euro). The service was excellent as well.

Budget Travel Guide: Paris - 19 Things to Do For Free or Cheap

Metros are easy to use all around the city. Just buy a card - cheaper if you buy multiple days!

17. Tour Montparnasse

(14th District) Are you wondering how people take a photo of the entire Eiffel Tour from an aerial view? Here’s your answer. There is a panoramic view of the city from the 56th Floor. It’s 15 Euros though so make sure to bring your camera and make this image last forever. Read more about the actual experience and see pictures at Wyld Family’s Montparnasse Tower post.

18. Montmartre

(18th District) Seemingly everyone’s favorite district and with good reason. This is probably the most picturesque residential neighborhood that gives you sweeping views of the city. In this district, you can walk around and see the famous Moulin Rouge, climb up stairs to see the white Basilica of the Sacré Cœur, snap photos of colorful cafes and buildings, visit the Je’T’aime Wall (Love Wall) with over 1,000 languages scrawled along a blue wall. Stop by Relais de la Butte for a wonderful place to sit and drink espresso while watching live performances across sweeping views.

Budget Travel Guide: Paris - 19 Things to Do For Free or Cheap

The I Love You Wall with 1,000 languages scrawled all over.

19. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

(19th District) While the other parks/gardens listed above are picturesque, this park is by far my favorite! This park allows you to lay out in the grass, and has an incline taking you to the top of a cliff, where you can get views of the city. There is also a really neat bridge, a waterfall, and a lake.

Budget Travel Guide: Paris - 19 Things to Do For Free or Cheap

Inside the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Travel Break - Why we Stopped Traveling

Chris and I in front of the Eiffel Tour. <3

Did I miss anything in this compiled Paris Budget Travel Guide? What do you love most about Paris?


Comments (5)

  • Starr . October 27, 2016 . Reply

    Ooooh I didn’t do a lot of these when I visited and they look super awesome! Man, Paris is such an easy city to fall in love with… <3

    • (Author) happynfull . October 28, 2016 . Reply

      I know! It’s so large but hopefully you get to go back and check everything off the list!! <3

  • riturang . November 12, 2016 . Reply

    Great post and lovely pictures! Brought back pleasant memories of my own trip to Paris too!

    • (Author) happynfull . November 13, 2016 . Reply

      Thank you for stopping by, lovely! I’m glad you have already had the opportunity to visit Paris. I need to return as there is much to still be seen in that large city!! 🙂

      • riturang . November 13, 2016 . Reply

        So true!

Add comment

All right reserved by Happynfull