There are plenty of things to do in Paris which don’t cost very much. We bought the Secret Paris
guide book, which is well worth it as most of the quirky things it suggests are free. Several things on this list came from the book.
1. Visit the Promenade Plantée (free)
One of our favourite spots in Paris for a walk. The Promenade Plantee is a disused railway which has been turned into a public park. It stretches from the city centre right out to the ring road, so it’s probably best not to try to walk the whole route. My favourite part is the old viaduct, a raised garden on top with quirky artisanal shops tucked under the arches. Official website. Wikipedia.
2. Walk under the Eiffel Tower (free)
It really is much more impressive close up – and looking is, of course, free. Between the Eiffel tower and the Ecole Militaire there’s a long park which is great for runners, dog walkers and small children (there’s a kid’s playground here, too).
3. Go up the Tour Montparnasse (€7 per person)
At 56 floors, this is the tallest sky scraper in central Paris and gives you amazing views of everything else. When we went (mid-February) there was no queue and the weather was clear and bright. There’s a restaurant at the top (shut for rennovation on our visit) which might be a nice place to eat, although I suspect that would not be cheap. Official website.
4. Have a traditional Breton crêpe (€5-10 per person)
The Tour Montparnasse is right next to the Gare Montparnasse, which is where the trains from Brittany arrive. Walk out of the station into the back streets and you’ll find plenty of crêperies. You can have pretty much anything you like on a crêpe here, from ice cream to spinach to alcohol.
We ate at the Crêperie Josselin (56 rue du Montparnasse) where the food was very good, prices were reasonable and the interior was all wood and traditional bits and pieces.
If you prefer a quiet place to eat a picnic, the Gare Montparnasse has a roof-top garden which is rather lovely.
5. Walk up to Sacre Coeur (free)
Another high point, this beautiful white church is on a hill so getting up there can be a struggle. However, the views are lovely and the crowds attract lots of street performers including musicians and fire-dancers. Another lovely place for a picnic.
6. Check out fabulous Metro stations (€1.70 per person)
Several metro stations have been decorated to reflect the area they serve and are worth visiting in their own right. Trains run frequently and you can travel as convoluted a route as you like on one €1.70 ticket, so if you’re not in a rush, hop off and have a look. We liked Arts et Metiers (all brass and copper, like a steam-punk version of itself), Louvre-Rivoli (models of some of the art from the museum) and Concorde (covered in words – apparently it’s the text of the Declaration of the Rights of Man). More detailed metro station list, with photos.