ARTKABINETT social network of fine art collectors enjoyed FIAC -- and spent lots of time, and even more money on exciting art activities. If your wallet is depleted, here's a quick run down of a few fun things to do that are absolutely free:
Notre Dame Cathedral – That’s right, the famous cathedral (one of Paris’ top sights) is always free to enter. You’ll pay a fee to climb the tower (usually) or visit the treasury, but not to enter the church itself.
Eiffel Tower Views – Sure, taking the elevator (or climbing the stairs) to the top costs a pretty penny, but there’s no charge for enjoying a view of one of the world’s most iconic structures. Bonus points if you’re picnicking in the public green spaces around the tower – cheap eats and a great view? Priceless.
Paris Greeters Tours – The Paris Greeters are residents who you can contact (via the website) for short tours of certain parts of the city, and it’s entirely free. www.parisiendunjour.fr
Seine River – There’s no charge for a stroll along Paris’ famous river, or for perusing the legendary bookseller carts that line up along the riverside on the Left Bank.
Steps of Sacre Coeur – Many would argue that the steps in front of the Sacre Coeur church atop Montmartre (seen here) offer some of the best views in the city, and it’s a view you’ll enjoy for free.
Paris Flea Markets – Sure, doing any shopping will set you back a few euro, but walking through Paris’ many outdoor markets and enjoying the people-watching they offer won’t cost a thing.
Fragonard Perfume Museum – Not only is this great perfume museum free to visit, the guided tour is free, too.
Versailles Gardens – A visit to the Versailles palace will cost you, but the fabulous and extensive gardens are free of charge (except on Sundays, when the musical fountains are going).
Galeries Lafayette Fashion Shows – Each Friday from March-December the popular Paris department store has a free fashion show on the 7th floor.
Hôtel de Ville – You may not be able to afford a room at the up-scale Hôtel de Ville, but the hoteliers are kind enough to open the lobby to visitors. There are sometimes art exhibits on display in the lobby, and there’s a private square you can check out beyond the hotel’s front door, too.
Maison de Victor Hugo – Fans of the author will enjoy a visit to his apartment, which includes exhibits of first editions.
Musée Curie – This museum is housed in the one-time lab of Marie Curie, and displays include the Nobel prizes she won.
Maison de Balzac – Even if you’ve never read a single thing Balzac wrote, a visit to his former apartment is worth it for the view of the Eiffel Tower from the attached garden.
Musée Carnavalet – This excellent Paris history museum (shown right) is always free, and a bonus is that it’s housed in Mme. Sevigny's old Parisian mansions.
Parks and Gardens in Paris – There are too many to list here, but Paris is full of parks, gardens, squares, and public green spaces that are free to enjoy. Some of them have extras depending on the season, too, including free summer movies at the Parc de la Villette and free puppet shows at the Jardin du Luxembourg.
Cemeteries in Paris – Not only do the old Paris cemeteries like Pere Lachaise and the Montparnasse Cemetery let you get some quasi-celebrity sightings with all the famous people buried in them, they’re just creepy-cool places to wander.
Ice Skating Rinks – And when, in the winter, temporary ice skating rinks pop up in a few places around the city, they’re free, too. (Renting the skates will cost a nominal fee.)
Free Concerts in Paris – Many of the churches in Paris regularly host free concerts, whether it’s an organ recital at Notre Dame or Saint-Eustache, classical or blues concerts at the American Church in Paris, or choir rehearsal at Sacre-Coeur. The days of the week vary, but if you’re interested ask at the tourist information office to see what’s going on while you’re in town.
Musee de Prefecture de Police – Yes, it’s a bit out of the ordinary for a trip to Paris, but if you’ve got antsy kids who might want to see something a little different or you just really like police history, then Paris’ police museum might be ideal.
Velib First Half Hour -- Although, the city-wide bike kiosks (shown here) will charge your credit card you 1 Euro per day, the first 30 minutes of bike usage is absolutely free. A great incentive to pedal briskly toward your next rendez-vous. Please make sure to securely lock slide your bike into the slot, so the automated system acknowledges return.