Free Things to do in Paris on Your Birthday


Updated by Vanessa M in September 2023

Birthdays in Paris… but make it budget!

Most of the major public landmarks around Paris are free for public viewing. Not to mention all of the parks and plazas that are also free of charge to enjoy.

by Alexis Minchella – Unsplash

In attempt to keep things “off the beaten track” as they say, let’s look at a few alternative free activities one can enjoy in Paris on their birthday. Try remember that at the end of the day, you’re celebrating a birthday in one of the most beautiful cities in the world — that in itself is priceless.

Swim in the Bassin de la Villette in Paris

The Bassin de la Villette is the largest artificial lake in all of Paris. It was constructed and filled with water many, many years ago back in 1808.

It was only recently, however, that the City of Paris constructed actual pools within the lake so that the public could make use of safe swimming facilities within the water. There are two giant suspended concrete pools placed next to one another that are absolutely free for the public to enjoy.

Bassin de la Villette – by Lionel Allorge – Wikimedia Commons

Pack your towel and pool toys and head through to the Bassin de la Villette for a day in the sun. Of course this birthday excursions depends largely on the weather of the day — and those born in winter will unfortunately not be able to take advantage of these facilities.

Click here for top 10 Things To Do On Your Birthday in Paris

You’ll find it in the north of Paris, near the 18th arrondissement just east of Montmartre. I recommend taking the metro all the way up to the Laumière stop and climbing off here. This stop is closest to where the pools are situated on the water.

Enjoy a Free Seine Boat Cruise With Vedettes de Paris in Paris

A boat cruise down the Seine is one of the most magnificent ways to explore the city of Paris without the use of a car or your feet . Sit back, relax and watch the world quite literally float by.

The boating company Vedettes de Paris offer a generous birthday special to all patrons. On your day of birth, your boat ride with them is absolutely free.

Vedettes de Paris – by Vedettes de Paris – Uploaded by them

The tour begins at the Eiffel Tower and will make its way down through the rest of the city from here. In addition to riding for free, you will also be offered your choice of a glass of wine or champagne, or a French pancake or other sweet treat.

You can book in advance or show up on the day. Be sure to bring some sort of identification to prove you are in fact turning another year older. Anyone who would like to accompany you on the experience will need to purchase a ticket for €20.

Visit the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in Paris

11 Avenue du Président Wilson

Museum lovers who find themselves in the city of Paris over their birthdays should be able to enjoy that exact thing that they love most. Luckily the city caters to museum lovers who may not have the admission fee to spare despite their love for the arts.

The Paris Museum of Modern Art is situated on the Right Bank somewhat across from the Eiffel Tower. It actually forms part of the eastern wing of the Palais de Tokyo, however this venue is not free to enter so head straight to the museum instead.

The Museum of Modern Art is divided into permanent and temporary collections. The permanent collections are the ones that are free to visit, whether it’s your birthday or not.

Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris – by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra – Wikimedia Commons

Why I enjoy this particular permanent collection at this particular museum is because the exhibit is so extensive it takes a good two hours to properly work through. In Paris, this is somewhat unheard of for a free exhibit — they usually last just a few minutes.

The artwork is composed mostly of pieces from the 20th century and is highly enjoyable to view, even if you aren’t entirely sure what it going on. No need to worry about guided tours or information headsets in this museum.

Just take note that this museum is closed on Mondays — sorry if your birthday falls here!

Picnic in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in Paris

1 Rue Botzaris

The Buttes-Chaumont park in Paris marks the center of the 19th arrondissement of the city.  At present, most free guided walking tours make their way through the 18th, and you can easily head directly into the 19th by foot upon completion.

A birthday picnic is a cliche of its own in Paris, I know. But the Buttes-Chaumont park is so vastly different to every other picnic spot in the city that it seems most fit for a memorable birthday.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont – by Jean-Louis Vandevivère – Wikimedia Commons

I actually really dislike trying to put the beauty of the Buttes-Chaumont into words. For starters, there is a lake… with a waterfall.. and a cliffside… with an iron railway bridge… and the most beautiful trees you can imagine… and wildlife everywhere… rolling hills… a panoramic view over Paris

Let’s leave it at that. Entry into the park is free, you will only need to bring along your picnic goods to sustain you through the day. The park is open until 9 p.m. every day of the week, a sunset here is highly recommended.

Get a Free Haircut on Your Birthday in Paris

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I only recently found out about this fabulous offer in Paris. Turns out you can have your hair cut and styled absolutely free through the Franck de Roche Académie of Paris.

This hair styling college needs subjects on which to perfect the various techniques that come with cutting and styling hair. You are essentially volunteering to be one, but you’ll receive salon quality treatment.

You’ll need to call the number listed above to set your appointment date and then head over to the Franck de Roche Académie website to print out the “coupe coiffage gratuit” coupon — be sure to take it with you on the day.

Go window shopping at Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen

42 Rue des Rosiers

Window shopping is a fun way to spend your birthday by looking at objets d’art and strange curiosities that you’d never buy. The Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, a sprawling network of warehouses, booths, and lanes on Paris’s northern outskirts, is the world’s largest antiques and second-hand market and France’s fourth most visited destination.

There isn’t enough time in a day, a weekend, or perhaps a lifetime to explore every nook and cranny of its 14 unique districts or the furniture, paintings, and trinkets of its 1,700 merchants. Instead, use our useful guide to four main markets. While you may be tempted to shop, remember that window shopping is completely free!

Here is an ultimate List of the 100 Best Things to do in Paris

Go for a free film session

Every summer, the Cinéma en Plein Air festival shows free films in France’s largest open-air cinema, Parc de La Villette. The lineup includes everything from classics to Hollywood blockbusters, French comedians, and short films by emerging directors, all of which are shown after sunset.

There is also the Festival des Canotiers which is organized by local organizations in the Ménilmontant department in early June. The program comprises cinema screenings, performances, and exhibitions, the majority of which take place in the 20th arrondissement’s Place Maurice Chevalier.

DiscoA340, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Silhouette festival, which takes place every year from late August to early September in the Butte du Chapeau Rouge area in the 19th arrondissement and other locations, screens short films. Attend the Nuits en Or event to see the best international short films: Throughout three nights in June, the UGC Odeon cinema screens short films that have won honors from several international film academies.

Not to be missed! The Cinéma du Réel festival, which takes place in various Parisian cinemas every spring, includes some free screenings. The program comprises foreign documentary films, both long and short, as well as retrospectives of notable directors.

Enjoy a breathtaking view from Galeries Lafayette Haussmann

Benh LIEU SONG (Flickr), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Looking for a little-known rooftop from which to gaze out over Paris on your birthday? Head to the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann terrace for a spectacular perspective of some of the most stunning sights and places in Paris including the Opéra Garnier, the Eiffel Tower, and Montmartre. Make your way to the store’s rooftop terrace and you’ll be in seventh heaven.

Visit a Paris cabaret show

inazakira, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A legendary Paris cabaret is a once-in-a-lifetime show to cap off a memorable birthday. The Lido and The Crazy Horse are both well-known venues with elaborate productions, costumes, and choreography. But it is the mesmerizing Moulin Rouge that is famous around the world for its blend of elegance and provocative entertainment. Its Féerie spectacle, which has 80 performers, including 60 high-kicking Doriss girls and over 1,000 jewel-encrusted costumes, is a jaw-dropping celebration of joie de vivre.

Read also the top 7 Places to Dance Salsa in Paris

Take a canal cruise

Photo by Sergey Sh from Pexels

A boat ride around Paris’ canals is an interesting alternative way to spend your birthday and see the city. And now there’s a free option to take a brief canal tour. Le Millénaire, a shopping center in Aubervilliers (93), has launched a free boat service on the Canal Saint-Denis that connects the Corentin-Cariou metro station (Line 7) with the shopping center.

Attend a free cooking class

Cooking classes are currently highly popular in Paris but they are not cheap. If you want to try new dishes and flavors on your birthday but can’t afford to pay for classes don’t worry: the Fédération française de cuisine provides free courses at food markets throughout Paris and the Ile-de-France region.

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Professional chefs will teach you how to prepare dishes using fresh vegetables from market vendors. Because space is limited please register as soon as possible.

Visit Montmartre

A relaxing afternoon meandering around the charming alleys of Montmartre is ideal for a birthday outing. Take a walking tour, climb the steps to Sacre Coeur, peer through the gates of Paris’s sole vineyard, and immerse yourself in the history and culture of this evocative Parisian neighborhood known for its street artists.

Christophe Meneboeuf, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are numerous pubs and cafés where you may have snacks, drinks, and people-watch. Alternatively, you might have your portrait painted at the Place du Tertre as a lasting reminder of a significant occasion.

Take a visit to the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur for free 

This opulent white marble chapel crowns the bustling Montmartre neighborhood in the 18th arrondissement. The interior is adorned with gilded mosaics and tall stained-glass windows, and you can hear one of the world’s heaviest bells ring.

Suicasmo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There is a fee to ascend inside the dome or tour the vault, but the basilica itself is free to see. This is a beautiful site to visit on your birthday and especially at night, with floodlights illuminating the monument and couples strolling joyfully arm in arm around the neighborhood.

Attend one of Paris’ free festivals

Photo by Eden FC from Pexels

Throughout the year, Paris hosts a variety of fascinating, free festivals. Spend your birthday up all night viewing eclectic art installations in unusual locations during La Nuit Blanche (October), see pros and rising stars perform impromptu sets throughout the city for Fête de la Musique (June), or catch the grand military parade (and accompanying revelry) that kicks off Bastille Day (July).

Observe the Eiffel Tower’s light show from the Champ de Mars

A ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower will cost you money but the sights from below can be just as breathtaking and free of charge. The Champ de Mars gardens surround the Eiffel Tower, where you may experience authentic Parisian life.

Photo by Alex Azabache from Pexels

Read more on 20 Best Things to Do Near the Champs-Élysées in Paris

Take advantage of the locale to eat on the grass take pictures of the Eiffel Tower and enjoy the vista! Bring a blanket, wine, and the nicest picnic items you can find to this stretch of greenery and watch the light show at dusk light up La Tour Eiffel.

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