Tips and ideas for cultural activities in Paris

If you like art, poetry, painting and, especially, making new cultural discoveries, then welcome to Paris! It’s the capital of love, yes, but also the capital of culture. One city, 206 museums, 130 theatres and thousands of international artworks to explore. It’s a well-known fact that Parisians love to spend their Sundays in museums. How about following their lead? Paris knows just how to make culture accessible to all – you just need to know the best places to find it! Having explored all corners of the city, we’ve been able to put together our best cultural tips for you.

The Great Mosque

The Great Mosque is one of our favourite spots in Paris for taking in a deep breath of culture and a nice cup of mint tea. Take the metro to Place Monge and be transported to Istanbul, a riad and the most beautiful Arab monuments. This instant change of scenery at the Great Mosque of Paris is yours to explore for just EUR 3, alone or with a guide. The Great Mosque is full of secrets – from the Grand Patio and prayer room to the gardens and mosaics. At the rear, a hammam and massage area offers the ultimate relaxation experience. On your way out, stop at the tea room for a cup of mint tea and some small Middle Eastern pastries.

📍 The Great Mosque, 2bis Place du Puits de l’Ermite, 75005 Paris, France.

Free museums

Why not avoid the crowds at the Grand Palais, the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre and head instead to one of the French capital’s lesser-known cultural gems? Among its 200-plus museums, you’re sure to find many that are free to visit. Our recommendations? Start your cultural stroll at the Museum of Romantic Life, between Montmartre and Pigalle. Its façade and lush vegetation offer a haven away from the hustle and bustle of the city. On display inside are works by Georges Sand, the artist Ary Scheffer – the building’s former owner – and Ernest Renan. And don’t forget to stop by the Rose Bakery for a hot drink in the garden.

Suitably refreshed, put on your science cap and head for the Curie Museum in the 5th arrondissement. Not far from where Pierre and Marie Curie are buried in the Pantheon, this is a museum all about their discoveries regarding radioactivity and experiments with radiotherapy, and features the instruments they used in their laboratory, as well as photographs of the family, who won five Nobel Prizes between them. Inspirational stuff!

Round off your cultural ramble with a visit to MaM, the Musée d’Art Moderne of Paris, in the 16th arrondissement. In the Palais de Tokyo, you’ll find works by Giacometti, Klein and Delaunay – key figures in the abstract, realist and cubist movements. Find your favourite work from among the myriad paintings, sculptures, videos and photographs.

There are many other free museums in Paris, such as the Petit Palais (adjacent to the Grand Palais) and Victor Hugo’s House. Make no mistake, you’ll be spoilt for choice during your visit to the capital!

📍 Museum of Romantic Life, Rue Chaptal 16, 75009 Paris, France.

📍 Curie Museum, Rue Pierre et Marie Curie 1, 75005 Paris, France.

📍 MaM, Avenue du Président Wilson 11, 75116 Paris, France.

Affordable theatre from the culture kiosk

Walk as far as Place de la Madeleine in the centre of Paris. In the middle of it stands a forest-green kiosk covered in posters. Go up to the window and ask for tickets to see a play that same evening. You probably don’t know this, but the seats sold at the kiosk are often 50% cheaper than those booked in advance. With a little luck, out of the 130 theatres in Paris, you’ll find a performance that takes your fancy! Take your tickets, file into the theatre of your choice and congratulate yourself on your bargain.

📍 Kiosk, Place de la Madeleine 15, 75008 Paris, France.

Cultural events

Speaking of good tips, here’s something that will make you smile. In France, on Sundays, Heritage Days and during the Printemps du Cinéma festival, you can enjoy culture at a reduced price. Ready to dive into history?

Visit Paris on the first weekend of the month

On the first Sunday of every month, you can visit the Musée d’Orsay, our favourite, for free. Nada. Nothing. For those who prefer their art a little more modern, it’s the same deal over at the Pompidou Centre, whose doors are also open to all. What a way to start the month!

Visit Paris before you hit 26

It’s good to be young! At the Louvre, the doors are always open to those aged under 26 who are residents of the European Economic Area.

Visit Paris for Heritage Days

Parisians love Heritage Days, which generally take place over the second or third weekend of September. They offer the opportunity to visit various cultural spaces for free – some of them quite surprising in that, ordinarily, they are not open to the public. Have you ever wanted to visit the Elysée Palace or Matignon, the prime minister’s residence? To discover the inner workings of a metro control point? To be amazed by the first electric locomotive at the Gare d’Austerlitz? Then visit Paris on this unique annual weekend to discover all these secrets, and more.

If Paris seems to be a cultural gem not to be missed, that’s because it has more than one secret to reveal. Next time you visit, focus on the small neighbourhood museums and one-of-a-kind shows – those little gems that really make Paris the capital of culture! What’s more, these places can all be accessed at a low or even no cost. So you don’t have to raid your piggy-bank to finance your trip. Ready for some culture? In that case, take the train to Paris from various Swiss cities.

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