Let’s face it, Paris isn’t cheap. There’s the apartment rental, of course, plus daily trips to the fromagerie down the street and the patisserie next door. Not too mention museums, restaurants, and shopping trips to Printemps. It all adds up! With this in mind we’d like to recommend four often-missed sights in the 5th arrondissement that are free (or nearly!)
First, there’s the Arène de Lutèce (5éme), a public park in the Quartier Latin. Built in the 1st century AD, the arena is among the most important remains from the Gallo-Roman era in Paris and was originally used to present gladiatorial combats. Second, there’s the Musée Curie (5éme), a permanent exhibition in Madame Curie’s original laboratory that traces the history of radioactivity and its medical applications. Currently under restoration until summer 2011, the museum offers free admission. Third, there’s the Jardin des Plantes (5éme), which includes a botanical garden and four galleries. Four of the gardens, including the main botanical garden, offer free access; the Jardin alpin can be accessed for 1 Euro, and Les Grandes Serres (extraordinary original green houses), can be accessed for 5 Euros (children under 4 are free). Finally, there’s the Institut du Monde Arabe, located just off Boulevard Saint-Germain (5éme). This striking building (which also houses a museum) has a 9th floor terrace offering what some consider to be the best view of Paris. Access to the terrace is free; for 13 Euros you can enjoy mint tea and baklava at the roof top café. Sublime!