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Top 10 Freebees in France

You don't always have to pay to have a good time when visiting France. Here are some ways you can enjoy France for free.

1. Parks


Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris
Photo by Rdevany

As one would except most parks in France are free. In Paris that means you can enjoy the Jardin du Luxembourg, Tuileries, Champs-de-Mars and so on without spending anything other than shoe leather.

2. Cemeteries


Pére Lachaise in Paris

Like parks, most cemeteries in France can be visited for free. In Paris try Cimetière du Montparnasse (graves of Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Serge Gainsbourg, Samuel Beckett, Alfred Dreyfus) and Pére Lachaise Cemetery (final resting place for La Fontaine, Oscar Wilde & Jim Morrison). For outside Paris think about visiting one of the 11 American military cemeteries.

3. Museums


Musée Niépce in Chalon-sur-Saône.

Yes, you can find museums in France that are free to visit. In Paris that includes the permanent collection of the Petit Palais, Maison de Victor Hugo and Musée de la Préfecture de police. Outside Paris try Musée Niépce (Chalon-sur-Saône), Musée des Beaux-Arts - permanent collection (Dijon) and Municipal Museums & Galleries in Nice.
See here for more free museums in Paris.

4. More Museums


Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
Photo by Benh

France has a few regular events that allows you to visit museums for free. Best is the '1st Sunday of the month' free, for the Musée d'Orsay that's every Sunday, for the Louvre it's in the off season. Best to check the web site for the museum you would like to visit. Once a year events include: La Nuit des Musées, generally the Saturday closest to May 18th and Journées européennes du Patrimoine - European Heritage Days, generally the third Saturday of September. Journées européennes du Patrimoine is a good event to know about because along with most public museums being free, many buildings normally closed to the public are also free to visit.

5. Beaches


Paris Plage in 2009.
Photo by jean-louis Zimmermann.

Like parks and cemeteries access to most beaches in France are free. That includes the D-Day landing sights and the beach overlooked by the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. Not to be forgotten is Paris Plage, when for a few weeks during the summer a stretch of the Seine in Paris is turned into a beach.

6. Churches


Church doorway in Ameugny.

You don't have to be a believer to appreciate and enjoy the cathedrals of Rouen and Chartres or the Romanesque churches of Southern Burgundy. As with parks, cemeteries and beaches most churches in France won't make you pay when you enter. So why not take in some religious architecture during your travels?

7. WWI & WWII


Destroyed village of Douaumont.

Many sites related to WWI and WWII in France have free access. This includes Oradour-sur-Glane, destroyed by Nazis near the end of WWII and the 20+ villages destroyed during WWI and never rebuilt. Also many WWI battle fields are free to visit.

8. Tour de France


Tour de France advertising caravan.

France has an almost infinite number of events that are free. The most popular is the yearly Tour de France. Okay, it's will take some mula to get to the Tour de France and follow it around but the world's third most popular sporting event offers free admission. In fact if you get to the Tour de France early enough you'll get some freebies via the advertising caravan.

9. Fåte de la musique


Jamming in the 2014 edition of Fåte de la musique.

The first day of summer is when France turns into one giant free concert - aka Fåte de la musique. Just about all cities, towns and even villages will have some type of free concert. In some locations the big events take place on the weekend so check the local schedule.

10. Village Festivals


La fête des vieux métiers in Cornier.

France is often ridiculed for its 35 hour work week, long vacations and young retirees. But what missed here is that this offers towns and villages an army of volunteers who step up and offer their labor so that an almost limitless number of free fåtes can be help throughout France. Come to France in the summer and you'll see what I mean.

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