Saturday, June 1, 2013

authenticity on a Budget. Free things to do in Paris


Here are our local tips and secrets on how to cut corners (and lines), avoid expensive tourist traps and overall save your precious Paris pennies with some smart, practical city advice.

TIP: sometimes a glass of red is more worthwhile than a coffee. 3-4euro per cup/glass.

a. Museum Madness
·       Free entrance to museums: On the first Sunday of each month for all major museums run by the City of Paris Includes: The Louvre; Musee moyen Age; Musee d’Orsay; Musee National Picasso; Musee Rodin; Musee Quai Branly and Centre Pompidou.

·       Museums Free in the evenings: Maison Europeanne de la Photographie (Wednesdays) and Musee des art et Metiers (Thursdays)

·       TIP: If you go to the Louvre avoid the hr-long queue! There is an entry from the ‘Louvre-Rivoli’ underground metro with virtually no line taking 10-20 minutes to enter.

·       TIP: Get a 2/3 day Museum Pass: Don't wait in lines, pick up your Pass at the Visitor’s Center (or at the FNAC bookstore), or buy it online before you go. The pass allows access to many major museums. TIP: Museums close days are Mon and Tues.

b. Transport Savings
·      Metro Saving: Buy a booklet of 10 metro tickets (approx 13.30euro) rather than individual tickets (1.80 euro). Weekly, monthly or 3-5 day passes are also available. A weekly ticket is15.40euro approx from Monday to Sunday. Be careful, certain counter employees receive commission and will try to persuade you to buy a 5-day tourist card claiming the orange (weekly) card is only for Parisians or working people. Not true.

·       Save getting into Paris: For 13euro the RER Intercity train gets you from Airport to Paris central stations, swap to underground metro lines to catch the metro to your B&B using the same ticket - no need to buy another. Times and maps at

c. Budget Nightlife
·       Pocket sized ‘What’s On’ guides out every Wednesday (L'officiel des Spectables OR Pariscope) are sold in news kiosk for o.40euro listing FREE shows and events around town – as well as timetables for museums, cinemas, church recitals, exhibitions etc.

d.    FREE Music Venues:
·       Glimpse the local jazz scene every Monday night at 7 Lézards, a basement jazz club in the Marais where the house band performs without a cover charge.

·       Open for 60 years, the Latin Quarter jazz club Caveau de la Huchette 5 rue de la Huchette, turns into a free dance floor Thursday through Saturday nights.

The Gothic Notre Dame cathedral gives free organ recitals Sundays at 4:30 p.m. in a storybook setting.

·       Radio France gives 180 free concerts a year (mostly on Saturdays) by national and philharmonic orchestras and choirs. Free tickets are handed out 30 minutes beforehand.

·       Hundreds of musicians take to the streets, bars, and cafés for La Fête de la Musique each June 21 at sundown for a free-for-all music fest - jazz, rock, hip-hop, electronica.

e.    FREE Attractions:
·       Notre Dame Cathedral: No fee on the first Sunday each month (October to March) to climb the 387 step North Tower to glimpse the flying buttresses that support this gothic architectural structure and famous gargoyles. 6 Parvis Notre Dame, Place Jean-Paul II

·       Visit the awe-inspiring Gothic Sainte-Chapelle's 15 exquisite stained glass panels walls and rose window. No FEE first Sunday of the month Nov to Mar. Free recitals too.

·       Near the Sacré-Coeur, where Picasso lived, Montmartre's Place du Tertre square is a lively spectacle of aspiring artists selling souvenir artwork and drawing  portraits.

·       Criss-cross the Seine River on nearly 40 wooden, metal, and stone bridges, from the 400-year-old Pont Neuf to the eye-shaped steel Simone-de-Beauvoir.

f.     Budget Shopping:
·      Patrol the myriad open-air food, flower, and flea markets scattered throughout Paris, and don't miss one of the city's most impressive flea markets, the Marché aux Puces – the first antique bric-a-brac market in Paris. Port de Clignancourt 75018

·       Window shop—or as the French say, lèche-vitrines (literally "window-lick") on Ave Montaigne and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, one of the city's priciest streets, for a glimpse of the Paris featured in many movies.

·       Slowly stroll the riverbank; for quirky souvenirs and browse the book stalls that line the Left Bank on street-level for cheap 2,3 and 4euro classics.

Flower Market: Everyday (Sundays is also a bird market). Ile de la Cite–Place Louis-lepine 75004

g.    Escape from Paris
·       Versailles: The cheapest way to go to Versailles Castle, is via  bus 171. Departures Pont de Sevres subway (last station on line 9). ONLY 2euro (one-way) for the 30 minute ride.

i. FREE Walks:
·       See the city from the Promenade Plantée, an elevated railway - one of the few such linear parks in the world. Parks, arcades, public art, people playing sports, gardens etc.

·Relish the peaceful vantage point of the Eiffel Tower from the garden at Maison de Balzac, the home of 19th-century writer Honoré de Balzac.

·       Plot your path through the Père-Lachaise Cemetery with the online virtual tour of the graveyard's celebrity residents, from Oscar Wilde's grave to Jim Morrison's modest plot.

·       Grab a free copy of the bicycling map, "Carte Vélo à Paris," at any tourism office and bike rental agencies. Navigate the city's maze of bike lanes and scenic routes.

·       The sprawling Jardin du Luxembourg is a landscaped garden in the Latin Quarter, featuring an 18thC Medicis fountain, several 19thC statues, and locals relaxing.

·       In the Marais, Place des Vosges, the city's oldest square, is surrounded by brick and stone houses and offers respite from the busy streets.

For Paris City Guide tips, information contact Regina Ferreira at Petite
For Paris B&B Accommodations visit Bookings:

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