Paris is the home of luxurious hotels, world-famous restaurants and priceless works of art, but the city of love turns out to be fairly budget-friendly if you look in the right places. You might already be familiar with the city’s free first Sundays – if not, check out the many Parisian museum that are free on the first Sunday of every month – but there are plenty of other attractions that won’t cost you a single euro.
La Promenade Plantée
This 2.9-mile elevated green space built on top of the disused Vincennes railway opened in 1993 and has enjoyed great popularity with walkers and cyclists ever since. The first park of its kind, La Promenade Plantée inspired New York City’s High Line, which opened in 2009. At its west end, the Promenade runs over the Viaduc des Arts, a disused railway viaduct which now houses art galleries and shops in its arches. Stroll above the hustle and bustle of Paris on this tree-lined elevated walkway and enjoy a different view of the City of Light – completely free of charge.
Fashion Shows at the Galeries Lafayette
Chances are you haven’t been able to get tickets to the biannual Paris Fashion Week. But you can still view the season’s latest trends at the free half-hour fashion shows offered by the Galeries Lafayette, a sprawling ten-storey upmarket department store on Boulevard Haussmann.
Every Friday afternoon the store hosts a short, free fashion show in the Salon Opéra on the 7th floor. Though tickets are free, you must make reservations to secure your spot, either by phone, email or by visiting the store in person. Programs in English help visitors follow along by listing the themes and labels worn by the models. After the show, you just might be tempted to take a wander around this deluxe shopping mecca. At least window-shopping is free!
The Seine Banks
It might surprise you to learn that of all the cultural and historical treasures in Paris, the banks of the Seine River are the city’s only official UNESCO World Heritage site.
Like many great cities, Paris was built on a river, which played an important economic and defensive role. The Seine banks teem with activity, from street vendors to riverside picnics. Walk down the steps to get close to the water, where there are benches perfect for relaxing on a sunny day. From this unique perspective you can view the many landmarks the line the Seine, such as the Louvre, Notre Dame and Les Invalides.
Fragonard Musée du Parfum
Parfumerie Fragonard has been making fine perfume and cosmetics since 1926. In 1983, the company opened a perfume museum in a stunning Napoleon III-era townhouse on the Rue Scribe. The museum’s period-furnished rooms contain perfumery antiques, from toiletry sets to a ‘perfume organ’, with tiers of perfume ingredient bottles surrounding a set of scales used to measure quantities and mix fragrances. Located just a few steps from the sumptuous Opera Garnier, the Fragonard Musée du Parfum is an excellent way to experience Parisian luxuries absolutely free.
How to Get to Paris
From London, it’s a quick journey across the Channel by train, bus, car, or plane. Catch the Eurostar from St. Pancras International straight to Gare du Nord, a quick two-hour journey on the 186-mph train!
If you’re travelling with a lot of luggage or belongings, it’s also quite easy to get to Paris by car, via the M20 and A16. The drive is about six hours, with the Eurotunnel crossing taking about 35 minutes. Be aware that you must book ahead for your Eurotunnel crossing by car, with prices beginning at £23 per car each way.
For a low-cost option, try taking a bus from London to Paris. The journey by bus is a bit longer, eight to nine hours, as you will stop at points along the way to pick up and drop off other passengers. Eurolines offers prices as low as £19 from London Victoria Coach Station to Paris Gallieni Coach Station.
Flights from London to Paris take just over an hour, and are very reasonably priced with Air France and easyJet if you book well in advance. From Charles de Gaulle airport, you can get into the city proper by taking the RER, a rail system that connects with the Paris Metro. Alternatively, you can take the Roissybus directly from the airport to the Paris Opera in the centre of the city. If you plan to rent a car, take the A1 and then the E15 to get into Paris, about a 45-minute drive. Be prepared for Parisian traffic!
For a personalised experience, book a private or shared transfer with Shuttle Direct, which will take you directly from Charles de Gaulle airport to Paris in comfort and style. Simply book online to have your transfer waiting for you to whisk you away to the city of light!
Where to Stay
Hôtel Marignan – Located in the heart of the historic Latin quarter and only a stone’s throw from the Sorbonne, Notre Dame and Luxembourg Gardens, Hôtel Marignan offers budget accommodation in clean, comfortable rooms. With its cheery red awnings and Haussmann-era facade, the hotel is an example of classic Parisian architecture. Inside, enjoy free continental breakfast every morning before setting out to explore Paris.
Le Relais Montmartre – This picturesque hotel is located in Montmartre, a hilly district teeming with artists and famous for being the location of famous films such as Moulin Rouge and Amelie. Le Relais Montmartre offers cosy, cheery rooms painted in red, pink and yellow with floral fabric accents. Downstairs in the well-lit vaulted cellar you can enjoy a Parisian breakfast of croissants, fresh fruit, and coffee before wandering the streets of this iconic section of Paris.
Maison Souquet – For true Parisian luxury and style, the Maison Souquet is just the ticket. This plush hotel in Montmartre is located inside a Parisian townhouse and decorated in the Belle Epoque style, with intricate wallpaper, gold detailing, dark wood furnishings, and burgundy velvet furniture. Step back into the 19th century with this opulent hotel, which also offers an indoor pool and cocktail lounge.