Things to do in Paris

City of love, fashion capital, literary paradise… Paris has many different guises. And while museum entry can be steep and fine dining comes at a premium, the French capital can also be a cheap date.

Whether you go weak at the knees for soaring church spires or want to rub elbows at an authentic French market, let yourself be seduced by our top 20 free must-sees.

 

1. Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris

Festooned with gargoyles and Gothic touches, this imposing icon of Paris is essential for every visitor. Entering this grand medieval edifice is free (although it costs to climb its twin towers) as is a stroll along the neighbouring Seine for an alternate view of the cathedral’s spiky apse and naturalist sculptures.

 

2. Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen

Window-shopping (or lécher les vitrines to the locals) is a great way to take an indulgent peek at objets d’art and wild curiosities you’d never actually buy. The St-Ouen flea market and antiques fair is the perfect place to let your imagination run riot. Marvel at bearskin rugs, antique tapestries and brass diving bells in this decadently eccentric marketplace. (But try to keep your eyebrow-raising in check when you look at the price tags.) Hop off the metro at Porte de Clignancourt (line 4) and continue under the bridge until the souvenir stalls give way to side streets crammed with beautiful buys.

 

3. Parc du Champ de Mars

A lift to the peak of the Eiffel Tower can squeeze the budget but views below can be equally stunning, albeit from a different angle. Parc du Champ de Mars has lawns and flowerbeds manicured with military precision (as you’d expect from a former army marching ground). Bring a blanket, wine and the best brie you can find to this expanse of greenery and wait for the light show at dusk to set La Tour Eiffel a-twinkle.