Wild, hilly and with incredible views across the city to Sacré-Cœur, the Buttes-Chaumont is the park Parisians try to keep for themselves. Landscaped from the site of an old quarry in 1867 for the Exposition Universelle, when the adjacent village of Belleville was absorbed into the capital, it’s a curious mix of styles. Don’t miss the waterfall thundering from its eastern slope (plus the secret cave beneath it) and the Roman-style Temple de la Sybille. In summer it’s a great place to picnic, while runners and qigong classes claim the flatter paths year round.
Paris’s rep for being hugely expensive doesn’t always ring true. Sure, it’s easy to splash out on champagne and oysters, or accidentally blow your budget on a shopping spree in the Marais, but there are plenty of experiences that won’t cost a penny (or euro centime).
First up, the city’s magnificent parks and gardens – swerve the Tuileries crowds and head east to get away from it all in wilder green spaces like the Buttes-Chaumont instead. Rainy days call for afternoons exploring lesser-known but fascinating free museums or cosying up at cool community spaces, perhaps Ground Control or Les Grands Voisins. Later on, there’s plenty to do after dark, including what feels like an endless array of free exhibitions, gigs and film screenings.
The only question is where you’ll go first. No matter whether you’re sightseeing on a shoestring or saving up for something special, these are our go-to wallet-friendly activities – the absolute best free things to do in Paris right now.
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