Four Free Sites in Paris

It Won't Cost a Euro to See

Author: The Traveling Professor/Friday, August 28, 2015/Categories: Paris

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Bibliothèque Mazarine
Métro: Pont Neuf.  Bus: 24, 27, 58, 70, 69, 72.
Museum Pass:  Not needed – free admission.  Closed:  Weekends and holidays.
The reading room of this national library is a sight to see, even for a quick look.  Creaky parquet floors, high bookshelves and carved desks match the stately collection of historic volumes, including a copy of the Gutenberg Bible.  The library is a little difficult to find.  It’s on the left bank at the end of the pedestrian Pont des Arts.  Walking towards the dome of the Institute de France, bear left and walk left through the archway.  The entrance is on the left.  Website:  www.bibliotheque-mazarine.fr.

Musée Carnavalet
Métro: St-Paul or Chemin Vert.  Bus: 29, 69, 76, 96. 
Museum Pass:  Not needed – no admission charge. Closed:  Monday.
A worthwhile stop while meandering through the Marais, it is the museum of the history of Paris.  The collection here is quite varied.  For instance, there are dioramas of the long-gone Bastille, paintings of the construction of the Statue of Liberty, and personal effects of Marie Antoinette. I enjoy viewing the uniquely crafted Parisian shopkeeper signs.   1-1 ½ hours.  Website:  www.carnavalet.paris.fr.

Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris (Notre Dame Cathedral)
Métro:  Cité or St-Michel Notre Dame.  Bus: 21, 24, 27, 38, 47, 85, 96.  RER:  B and C lines.
Museum Pass: Only needed for towers.
The cathedral is a classic example of 12th century Gothic architecture.  It stands on Île de la Cité and is close to Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie.  To climb to the top of the cathedral, arrive early, before 9 a.m.  There is no admission fee to get into the cathedral itself.  The Museum Pass doesn’t permit skipping the line to climb the towers.  Bring binoculars to view the stained glass and other objects.  Visit the “Treasury” inside the cathedral for a small admission charge.  On display are holy relics such as crucifixes and gifts by Popes. The Crown of Thorns, worn by Jesus, is put on view every Friday during Lent and on the 1st Friday of each month.  Île Saint-Louis is directly across the bridge from Notre Dame.   This is where I always start my trip in Paris.  In the center of the “Parvis” (yes, the spelling is correct) or the plaza in front of the cathedral, notice the bronze marker from which all distances in France are measured.  Be vigilant of pick-pockets and scammers.  1-2 hours.  Website:  www.notredamedeparis.fr.

Père Lachaise Cemetery (Cimetière du Père-Lachaise)
Métro:  Père Lachaise or Philippe Auguste.   Bus: 69, 76, 96.
Museum Pass:  No Admission Fee.
This famous cemetery is a “Who’s Who” of legendary French and foreign writers, musicians, authors, politicians, and artists.  Jim Morrison, Max Ernst, Maria Callas, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Colette, Gertrude Stein, and many other recognized names are memorialized here.  Don’t overlook the poignant holocaust monuments.  Buy the map at the entrance close to the “Père Lachaise” métro station. There are restrooms near the visitor center.  Bear in mind that the cemetery is large and may take some time to cover.  Wear comfortable shoes, the walkways are cobblestone and the terrain can be hilly.  The website is excellent, describing the location of the graves: www.pere-lachaise.com.

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