Paris Attractions : Top 5 Free Things To Do In Paris
1. Trocadero Gardens
Looking for the best view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris? Look no further than the Trocadero Gardens, these gardens are nestled right in front of the famous tower, set far enough back that the entire tower can be captured in photos- and as such, it is home to many of the most famous photo spots and should be included in your Paris itinerary.
Looking for those shots of the carousel with the Eiffel Tower in the background? It’s here. Looking for the staircase that’s framed perfectly by the tower, or the beautiful marble porch perfect for photos? Yep, those are at the Trocadero Gardens, too. Festivals take place in the Trocadero Gardens year-round for example, this is where you can find a delightful Parisian Christmas and ice skating rink in the winter.
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Trocadero is also one of the best spots to watch the sun rise in Paris. And because it’s early, you can also easily hop on to the Eiffel tower and enjoy it without the massive crowd.
Where is it
The Trocadero Gardens has its own metro stop (“Trocadero”) where lines 6 and 9 of the Paris metro meet. You can reach the Trocadero Gardens from either one of these lines.
Alternatively, if you’re already at the Eiffel Tower, simply cross the Pont d’Lena bridge, and you’ll almost immediately smack into the Trocadero Gardens–they’re directly across the bridge from the Eiffel Tower!
2. Notre-Dame Cathedral
Your visit to the City of Love, will definitely not be complete without a visit to Notre-Dame de Paris – also known as the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Not only is it one of the largest churches in the world but also one of the grandest examples of Gothic architecture. Its western facade is adorned by two spectacular and ridiculously tall towers (223 feet high). Visiting these towers would require you to buy tickets, however, entry to the cathedral is otherwise free.
Other than being a deeply spiritual experience, a visit to the Notre-Dame Cathedral will be one you’ll cherish forever. Once you enter, you’ll be spellbound at its sheer enormity – it’s about 427 feet in length and has a ceiling that’s 115 feet high. You can spend hours marveling at the gorgeous stained glass and rose windows. There are also a number of beautiful sculptures and artwork that reflect the Neo-Gothic style and design.
Where is it
The Notre-Dame Cathedral is situated in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. The easiest way to get there is via the Metro to Cité, from where the Cathedral is a short walk away.
3. Luxembourg Gardens
The Luxembourg Gardens are home to Luxembourg Palace, where the French Senate sits, as well as 25 hectares of gardens, over 100 statues, a majestic forest, and an enormous decorative pond. Here you can admire the magnificent palace, take a free guided tour, enjoy free photographic exhibitions or one of the frequent concerts in the bandstand. If you are in Paris with kids, the best things to do are play at the incredible playground, ride the carousel, watch a puppet show or sail a model boat on the pond.
Take a stroll around the central gardens in front of the palace to view 20 sculptures of French queens and famous women. Or explore deeper into the gardens to discover the verdant Medici Fountain or dramatic Fountain of the Observatory. These grand yet peaceful gardens are a calming place to escape the busy Paris streets and breathe the fresh, rose-scented air.
Where is it
The Luxembourg Gardens lie on the border between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter. There are many entrances around the perimeter, but the easiest way to get there is to take the train – RER B to Luxembourg station.
4. Tuileries Gardens
My favorite afternoon in Paris was spent walking through the gardens of the Tuileries. The rectangular park spans the area between the Place de la Concorde and the former palace of the Louvre, now the world’s largest museum. It is a place where you will find tourists, but also Parisians out enjoying the sun and the French formal gardens commissioned by King Louis XIV in 1664. You will find sculptures from such masters as Maillol, Rodin or Giacometti sprinkled through the greenery. There are two ponds to relax by. The most charming part of the gardens, however, are the lawnmowers… Tied up goats work keeping the grass short in parts of the gardens.
Where is it
The Paris Metro is surprisingly easy to use, even if you don’t speak French. Maps are available or you can find signs in the tunnels of routes. The gardens are right around many tourist spots in the 1st arrondissement. The Tuileries has its own Metro station on the Paris Metro Line 1.
5. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris
It’s not hard to find Sacré-Coeur as it sits atop the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the whole city. A really great time to visit is in the evening to watch the sun set over Paris and all the lights start twinkling on in the city below. We recommend getting there early, as it can be crowded, to find your spot to sit on the steps.
Construction on the basilica started in 1875 and it took 39 years to complete it to the top of its 83m high dome. It was built as a symbol of national reconciliation and hope after France’s defeat in the 1871 Franco-Prussian War. Inside, take your time to wander as you’ll find beautiful mosaics, especially the piece above the altar, and wonderful stained-glass windows. How does Sacré-Coeur manage to stay such a beaming white color? This can be attributed to the travertine stones used to build it. When it rains, the stones react to the water and secrete calcite which acts like a bleacher. Ingenious!
Where is it
To reach the basilica take the métro to either Anvers (line 2) or Abbesses (line 12) stops. Once there follow the signs that guide you up the hill. You can walk, but we recommend hopping on the funiculaire (using your métro tickets or pass) and you’ll be whisked right to the top.
Paris offers many other interesting and unique places to see. Do you have your favorite hidden Place or something interesting to do in Paris, or have you been to one of the places we presented in this Guide? Share it with us in the comments below.