Free Things to Do in Paris

Things to Do, What's New — By renata on July 28, 2011 at 6:51 pm
Cinéma en Plein Air Parc Villette

Cinéma en Plein Air Parc Villette © P E Rastoin

A study  released last week reported that Paris has dropped from 17th to 27th place among the world’s most expensive cities. Perhaps that’s because, especially in the summer, the French capital abounds with free things to do. There are all sorts of open-air happenings and most of the programmes are already in full swing. Here are just a few suggestions – keep your eyes open for posters in the métro or invest 40 centimes (that’s less than half a euro) in the weekly Pariscop which comes out on a Wednesday and provides comprehensive listings of what’s on in the city. The words to look for are gratuit (free) and entrée libre (free and no need to reserve).

We’ve had an unusually damp and cool summer here so far, but if the weather improves remember entry to Paris-Plages – the beaches spread along the Seine – is free ( and there’s a wide range of sporting and music events throughout the season which run daily (8.00-24.00) until August 21. There are also beaches at Bassin de la Villette in northeast Paris, where for the first time this year there’s an artificial wave to surf on (68 quai de la Loire, 75019, daily 13.00-19.00).

The square outside the main town hall of Paris is co-opted as part of Paris Plages for beach-volley during the season but is worth a look since at all times of year there is something happening here, whether it’s skating in the winter or art exhibits at other times.

Movie fans should pack a picnic supper and make for Parc de la Villette for Cinéma en Plein Air, nightly except Mondays until August 21 at Prairie du triangle. Still to come are films by the likes of Aki Kaurismäki, Eric Rohmer and Wim Wenders, with Woody Allen’s Manhattan on 18 August. Every film is in VO (version originale, in the original language). Find the whole programme on, together with lots of other free stuff happening around La Villette.

Don’t forget that entry to the permanent collections at the 14 museums run by the City of Paris is free (a small charge is sometimes added for special exhbitions). Open every day except Mondays and public holidays, they include the Musée des Beaux-Arts at Le Petit Palais, the cutting-edge Musée d’Art Moderne on avenue President Wilson, Musée Carnavalet in the Marais, with its comprehensive collection encompassing the history of Paris, and the often overlooked pair of museums called Le Mémorial du Maréchal Leclerc de Hauteclocque et de la Libération de Paris – Musée Jean Moulin, which are a fascinating archive of Second World War French history and heroes. You’ll find them on top of Montparnasse railway station.

Tags: activities, budget, festival, free, museums, Nightlife, Paris, Things to Do