Want to visit Paris on a shoestring? Here are Marco Polo’s top tips:
Free museum admission
Hard to believe, but true: many museums in Paris do not charge admission. At www.paris.fr/musees you’ll find information on museums offering free admission, among which are the Musée Carnavalet, the Maison de Victor Hugo, the perfume museum Fragonard, the Musée de la Vie Romantique and the Musée d’Art Moderne.
One of the most highly recommended is the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. The museum reopened several years ago after extensive renovations. Among the exhibits of modern art (including Pablo Picasso) you can admire Raoul Dufy’s Fée Electricité (the largest painting in the world) and La Danse by Henri Matisse, as well as a host of other masterpieces.
Stunning view from the terrace of the museum restaurant (the salads are highly recommended) over the Seine to the Eiffel Tower nearby. Opening times: Tue–Sun 10am–6pm (Thu 10pm) | Free admission (temporary exhibitions €5–11) | 11, av. du Président Wilson | 16th arr. | M 9: Iéna | www.mam.paris.fr
Food & Drink
Free couscous! The Tribal Café (as well as a dozen or so other restaurants) provide a free meal on weekends. A small tip for a beverage is expected, however. The atmosphere is cosy, as though you were visiting friends. Fri/Sat couscous, Wed/Thu moules frites (mussels with chips), from 9pm. 3, cour des Petites Ecuries | 10th arr. | Tel. 01 47 70 57 08 | M 4: Château-d’Eau
Vegetarian dishes are available at the Indian restaurant Krishna Bhavan – delicious currys from €4.50 and soups for €3. Daily | 24, rue Cail | 10th arr. | Tel. 01 42 05 78 43 | M 2: La Chapelle
Very inexpensive specialities from southwest France and the Basque region at the modest restaurant Chez Glandines in the nightlife district, Butte-aux-Cailles. Daily | 30, rue des Cinq Diamants | 13th arr. | Tel. 01 45 80 70 10 | M 6: Corvisart, M 9: Léna
Belleville is the largest, cheapest and most exotic market in Paris – located in the colourful and multicultural district east of the city. Tue and Fri 7am–2.30pm | 20th arr. | M 2, 11: Melleville, M 2: Menilmontant
Second hand: designer clothing – including Kenzo, Chanel, Agnès B. – in excellent condition but requiring a bit of rummaging – can be found at Chercheminippes. 102, 109, 110, 111, rue Cherche Midi | 6th arr. | M 10: Vaneau | www.chercheminippes.com (French website – use Google translate if needed.)
Cheap hotel in central Paris? You got it!
One of the cheapest hotels in the centre of Paris is the Hôtel Tiquetonne. Quiet location (pedestrian precinct) in the lively quarter around Les Halles. Great value for money. 48 rooms | 6, rue Tiquetonne | 2nd arr. | Tel. 01 42 36 94 58 | M 4: Etienne Marcel | www.hoteltiquetonne.fr
Atmospheric organ concerts
A number of churches regularly offer free concerts. The rich sound of organ music resonating through the arches of Notre-Dame Cathedral is more than just a formidable experience – both visually and acoustically. The free organ concert is held in Notre-Dame every Sunday at 4.30pm. www.cathedraledeparis.com
Free attractions with a view
For the best view of the city without paying an admission fee for the Eiffel Tower or the Tour Montparnasse, make the effort to climb the stairs of Sacré-Coeur.
The dazzling white basilica rising high above the city on Montmartre seems almost surreal, and cynics claim the domes look as if a confectioner has been having fun. The interior has a stunning giant golden Byzantine-style mosaic. The building was created as a national monument after France’s defeat by Germany in the war of 1870–71. In 1919 the pilgrimage church was dedicated to the ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’. Today, thousands make the pilgrimage up the many steps and enjoy the impressive view over Paris from the church’s forecourt. Daily 6am–11pm | 35, rue du Chevalier de la Barre | 8th arr. | M 2: Anvers | www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/
Paris on inline skates
Every Friday evening, nearly 20 miles of the city are closed off for avid Rollerbladers. Inline skating through Paris is one of the most enjoyable ways of getting to know Paris – if only a small part. The fun begins at 10pm between Montparnasse station and the Montparnasse tower. Gare Montparnasse | 6th arr. | M 4, 6, 12, 13: Montparnasse-Bienvenue | www.pari-roller.com (French website – use Google translate if necessary.)
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