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Paris Travel Tips: The Ten Best Free Sights

Paris is not as expensive as London, but costs can still be high. Luckily there are still some beautiful sights that don't cost anything in this wonderful city!

The Cathedral of Notre Dame: This huge cavernous stone church with its famous rose windows, many statues of saints and candle-filled chapels is one of the premier sights of Paris. This is probably the greatest of Europe's Gothic cathedrals. It is best to go either early in the morning or just before closing time because it is not as crowded then.

Montmartre: The charming brightly-colored buildings, the street artists showing their wares, the Impressionist history, and most of all the wonderful but distant view of Paris all make this a 'must-see'. The film 'Amelie' in which Amelie happily explores the area recently increased its popularity even more and it is possible to follow in her footsteps here. Also worth looking at is the Gothic interior of Sacre Coeur, the famous mosque-like church at the summit.

Cathedral of Notre Dame

Chateau de Vincennes: Although this is a reasonably long journey by Metro or bus the formidable castle gives some idea of the unforgiving atmosphere of medieval Paris. Buy a delicious take-away lunch at one of the little shops in the suburb nearby and enjoy it while sitting on a park bench. Afterwards walking through the large grounds of the chateau or the wooded park is a good idea especially in the sun-lit days of summer or spring. It tends to be a bit bleak in winter.

Bois de Boulogne: In spite of the luxurious houses nearby and its fashionableness this park has a dangerous reputation especially at night. Designed by Napoleon III who admired the great parks of London this much wooded park is too large to explore entirely but it is possible to enjoy some of it. The lakes and gardens are idyllic in summer and spring and children can enjoy the zoo and amusement park.

Le Marais: Jewish Talmudic shops, kosher butchers and grocers and rabbi's walking along the streets add to the evocative atmosphere of this Jewish quarter of Paris. Walking along the narrow cobble-stoned streets gives a sense of re-living the Middle Ages and being in a different city altogether. The best sight here is the elegant green square Place des Vosges surrounded by tall, gabled, former palaces.

Galleries Lafayette

Galleries Lafayette: This famous department store is worth seeing for its spectacular colored glass ceiling alone and its winding Art Deco staircase. The shopping is not expensive and the store is full of beautiful goods, such as silk scarves and pretty dresses.

Victor Hugo's House: Situated on the Place des Vosges, this apartment is beautifully decorated because the classic writer had an interest in interior design. I liked seeing his collection of Chinese crockery and art the most. Admittance is free to the permanent collections.

Left Bank: Walking around this area is a delight because of its medieval churches, such as Saint Julien and Saint Severin, and its many interesting shops, cafes and restaurants. Walking will probably build up an appetite so afterwards enjoy a delicious meal at one of the inexpensive restaurants. Strangely many of them are Greek.

Champs d'Elysees: This lovely, wide, tree-shaded street is Paris's most famous. Most of the shops here are very expensive and unfortunately the street is almost always crowded, mostly with tourists, but no visit to Paris is complete without walking down some of it.

Pont Neuf: The oldest and most atmospheric bridge in Paris this is well-worth walking across. Lovely views of the Seine can be seen from this bridge which also has interesting carvings.

Copyright: Lisa-Anne Sanderson

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