France for free


Keen to see the sights but strapped for cash? Travelling on a budget certainly shouldn't mean you have to miss out. With a little bit of foreward planning, you can enjoy a town to the full without having to spend a penny. Here are a just a few examples of free activities and attractions on offer across France:
Palais des Beaux-Arts
Palais des Beaux Arts, Lille by thesolitary
Lille's Palais des Beaux-Arts is one of the largest museums in France and the largest French museum outside of Paris. Officially opened in 1809, it was one of the first museums built in France and was initially houed in a reclaimed church before being relocated to the city's town hall. The museum boasts a sizeable collection of European paintings, a Prints and Drawings room, an Antiquities display, Medieval and Renaissance collections, C17th and C18th ceramics, C18th scale models and C19th French sculptures. Entrance is free on the first Sunday of each month, but be sure to get there early to avoid the queues. On all other days, a standard ticket costs 6,50€  for adults, 4€ for students and children under 12 go free! For further information head to
Parc de l'Orangerie
Whether for a relaxed stroll or a fun-filled afternoon out with the children, the beautiful Parc de l'Orangerie ticks all the boxes. The park boasts a free zoo, a mini farm, sports pitches, a billiards room and even a bowling alley, as well as a restaurant, tea salon and bar. Small boats are also available for hire if you fancy a trip around the lake. The gardens are easily accessible by tram Line E to the Droits de l'Homme stop. For more information go to 
No visit to Lyon is complete without a trip up to Fourvière. From here you can experience the spectacular view of the town and the surrounding countryside reaching as far as the Alps. Fouvière can be accessed by foot or by the world's oldest active funicular line. Whilst this should in itself be enough to convince potential visitors, the hill is in fact most famous as the site of the Catholic Basilica of Fourvière, home to the magnificent golden statue of the Virgin Mary. Fourvière has consequently become known amongst Lyonnais as 'the hill that prays', and now forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage site designated for the city of Lyon in 1998. 
Musée d'Aquitaine 
Testament to the prestige and diversity of its collections, the Musée d'Aquitaine has become a heritage standard in France today. The museum is now classed as both a 'heritage museum' which exhibits collections of general interest and as a 'museum of civilisation' which draws on historical evidence in order to answer contemporary questions. The collections are incredibly varied, ranging from insights into regional archaeology and ethnology to the history of non-European civilisations. And the best news? Entry is completely free! Visit the official website for more information:
Castle Hill
Towering above Nice's Old Town is the iconic Castle Hill, the site of the castle that once was. Although little more than a few walls and the occasional gate or half tower remain, this is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon exploring. There are several stairways up from the Old Town and a steep slope from the other side, but if you aren't feeling up to it then hop on the free elevator near the beach. You will find a couple of cafés and little shops on the top of the hill, but aside from nosing around the castle ruins and admiring the breathtaking man-made waterfall, it's ultimately the unrivalled views that make this spot an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Nice. 
Promenade du Peyrou
This famous walkway, also known as the Place Royale du Peyrou, was constructed in 1689 and covers over three hectares. The beautiful park is a haven of green housing several impressive monuments including the Chateau d'Eau and a statue of Louis XIV which stands directly in front of Montpellier's Arc de Triomphe. The raised esplanade offers a magnificent view of the town and the Saint Loup mound.  
Jardin Japonais
Escape the bustle of the city in these breathtaking Japanese-style gardens. The Jardin Japonais, which covers 1.7 hecatares and sits on the Île de Versailles, offers the perfect place to relax, reflect and recharge in the shade, especially during the warmer months. Take a stroll along the winding paths, hire a canoe or electric boat for a spin on the river, or check out one of the many pop-up exhibitions on show throughout the summer season. For more information including directions go to 
Author: Camilla Freeman

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