Explore Paris on a Budget: Affordable and Authentic Experiences

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Explore Paris on a Budget: Affordable and Authentic Experiences
As one of the world’s top travel destinations, Paris has a reputation for elegance, designer clothing, and gourmet cuisine. Yet, despite this perception, not everything in the city is costly. There are plenty of inexpensive and even free things to do in Paris – strolling around different neighborhoods, visiting street markets, and taking advantage of free museum days. You may also find reasonably priced places to stay and eat, particularly if you go outside of the popular tourist locations. The secret is to make careful plans, explore local areas, and look for authentic experiences that haven’t become tourist traps. Read on for my favorite experiences in Paris that are both affordable and authentic.  1. Museums  Paris’s free museum days offer accessible cultural experiences for all on the first Sunday of each month. This eliminates financial barriers, encouraging diverse audiences of locals and budget-conscious tourists to explore art and history. The initiative fosters inclusivity, community engagement, and a deeper appreciation for Paris’s cultural heritage. It’s a practical and enriching way to connect with the city’s treasures without worrying about admission fees. What’s more, a wide range of the city’s museums, operated by Paris Musées, offer free admission to their permanent collections.  Free museums on the first Sunday of each month: The Louvre, Musée Rodin, Musée Picasso, Musée d’Orsay, Musée Picasso, Versailles, and others.  Free museums: Le Petit Palais, Musée Carnavalet, City of Paris Museum of Modern Art, Maison de Balzac, Musée Cognacq-Jay, 59 Rivoli, Musee Bourdelle  Musée Carnavalet – Histoire de Paris. © Cyrille Weiner/ Paris Musées 2. Hire a bike – Vélib’  The majority of central Paris can be cycled across in less than 30 minutes. As a result, a day of cycling is a fantastic idea that will allow you to see all of the main attractions. With an extensive network of bike lanes, cycling allows you to cover more ground while enjoying scenic routes along the Seine and through different neighborhoods, offering an intimate connection to local life and avoiding traffic congestion. With Vélib’, Paris’s public bike hire company, a 24-hour pass is just €5, making this an inexpensive day of exploration. 

Lead photo credit : Pont Royal and Musée d'Orsay at dusk. Credit: Pierre Blaché/ Wikimedia Commons

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Inspired by the rich culture that France has to offer, Poppy Pearce moved to Paris as an au pair in August 2022. Having gained a degree in Theology and Religion with Arabic from the University of Exeter, Poppy has a passion for languages and experiencing new cultures. When she’s not working, Poppy loves to explore everything that Paris has to offer, from exhibitions and museums, to restaurants and second-hand clothing stores.


  • Pat Hallam
    2024-02-22 11:06:30
    Pat Hallam
    Very useful article for visitors, especially those who like to get away from the tourist traps. I'd just like to add a couple of things - the Passage Jouffroy which is one of my favourites & just across the road from Passage des Panoramas. Parc des Buttes Chaumont for a picnic in rolling parkland. The bouillon movement has really taken off in recent years & while Chartier is the most historic you'll get better food in other places: Bouillon Julien is still very atmospheric, while Bouillon Pigalle is a contemporary take on the genre. Lots of people rate Bouillon Pharamond near Les Halles as well, which has traditional decor.