How to See the “City of Lights” Without Going Broke

While many of us embrace the idea of being able to go into any Parisian department store and pick out whatever we like, most of us have wallets that would groan at the effort. The truth is it costs enough to fly to the City of Lights and pay for the hotel and all of your meals; after this, many tourists are just about broke. There are ways to soothe your low-money syndrome; learn what to do in Paris that literally won’t cost you a dime.

It’s an impossible notion to visit Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. Many of us delight at the very prospect. Again, you don’t need to open your wallet to visit Paris’ most famous attraction. Stand underneath this huge structure and you will be amazed at how tiny you feel as you gaze upwards. A little bit of back history: Although it seems like the Eiffel Tower has been a French landmark for centuries, it was actually only finished in the late 1880s. Parisians were hostile to the idea of this “ugly” thing gracing their land but now recognize its importance to their city.

Although there is an admission price, if you decide not to actually enter the tower, you can still come back at night to watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle with countless lights. It’s an amazing sight and human description cannot do it justice. Just make sure you have a camera that shoots at night. It would be a shame to miss the pictures you could get of this spectacular sight.

Moving on from the Eiffel Tower, the scope of free or almost-free attractions might seem to get a bit smaller. This is not necessarily so. Another beautiful place where you don’t have to spend a dime to take in its beauty is the awe-inspiring Notre Dame Cathedral. This is quite easily one of the loveliest places in Europe and perhaps in the world. Not many gothic churches have stood the test of time as beautifully as Notre Dame (Our Lady). Take time to enjoy this medieval cathedral that was begun in the 12th century. Take note of the arches, towers and stained glass windows that have been the subject of numerous of photos and stories. It doesn’t cost a thing to look, right? Don’t forget to keep this in mind as you walk around the fantastic Notre Dame, snapping pictures and feeling the history of this dynamic place.

After your visit to Notre Dame, stop off at the Romanesque Arc de Triomphe. You may want to know the story behind its existence before you visit. The Arc de Triomphe was the brainchild of none other than France’s infamous Napoleon Bonaparte, who wanted the world to remember his wartime successes. The design is partly the work of Jean Chalgrin and was created to resemble the ancient Roman arches that can still be found in Italy. If you have the good fortune to get close, take notice of the extremely detailed work that was done to create countless artistic flourishes. Driving along at night (though perhaps not the best thing to do in Paris traffic) will provide a view of the Arc de Triomphe that will linger in your mind long after you return home.

For another eye-opening attraction that won’t make your wallet groan, stop by Paris’ Place de la Concorde. It may look harmless to the untrained eye, but if you were to step back about two hundred years, you would see some gruesome executions. It was the days of the French Revolution, and it was here that Marie Antoinette met her end. She was not the only one killed at this place, however. Many others were guillotined during those bloody times, and you may want to take a moment in silence as you stand at this now-peaceful spot, remembering those who lost their lives.

Walk around the Place de la Concorde, sit down and relax, enjoy Paris’ often rainy but pleasant atmosphere. Take some pictures of the greens and perhaps some self-portraits at this historic spot. See if you can spot a famous landmark in the distance. There are very few things in Paris that do not have a long or at least a very interesting history.

Now, for an attraction you may have never heard of, visit the Pont Alexandre III. This is a lovely bridge that spans Paris’ famous waterways. There are not many notions more romantic than standing on a Parisian bridge and looking out over the water to the City of Lights. The bridge was begun in 1896; Russia’s Nicholas II set down the block that would officially begin the work on the bridge. Nicholas’ father Alexander provided the bridge’s name. Don’t forget to take a moment to soak in your surroundings and actually register that you are overlooking Paris!

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