What To Do With Your Free Time in France

Known as the “City of Lights,” Paris offers visitors a wide array of delicious foods, beautiful sites and awe-inspiring museums. In Cannes and Monte Carlo, let the glitz and glam guide you through your free time by star-studded yacht marinas and casinos, and stroll along the coast to see the sites in Nice.

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Cannes

Boulevard de la Croisette
Cannes is world-famous for its glamorous international film festival. Its Boulevard de la Croisette, curving along the coast, is lined with sandy beaches, upmarket boutiques and palatial hotels. This area teems with movie stars during festival time. Truly a garden city, over half of the public areas in Cannes are green spaces including the Cimetière du Grand Jas (Grand Jas Cemetery). Steeped in history, the terraced cemetery is ornately landscaped and offers stunning views of the city.
FREE
Hours: Promenade is accessible 24/7
Location: 3km along the coast, linking the beach and city.
  Le Suquet
Old town Suquet is a pleasant change from the rest of Cannes. Cannes was built on a hill to be protected against the major threats of the time. The Suquet, which means “mound” in Provençal, is located to the west of the bay. The more courageous will climb the one hundred steps of the old Saracen tower to admire the most beautiful panorama of the bay of Cannes. Visit the castle which also houses a fascinating museum displaying ancient artefacts and artwork from all over the Mediterranean, showing the different customs of the peoples who have occupied the region. In July, enjoy free classical music in the square at the ‘Nuits Musicales du Suquet’ as you take in panoramic views of the sparkling Bay of Cannes by night.
FREE
Hours: Accessible 24/7 – The chateau is lit up at night, turning the Old Town into a dazzling beacon of Cannes
Location: Easily walkable from central Cannes; enjoy a leisurely climb through the steep, winding streets or alternatively take the petit train that runs up the hill.

Monte Carlo

Casino de Monte-Carlo
Steeped in 700 years of Grimaldi royal history, Monte Carlo’s seaside location is stunning, tucked between French medieval villages and the Alps. A playground for the rich and famous both celebrity and royalty, the opulent Casino de Monte-Carlo attracts an international clientèle thanks to history, legendary décor and full range of table games and slot machines. Noted as a backdrop for many films, the casino has a reputation for attracting high-rollers. Since opening in the 1850’s, the Casino has been a major source of income for both the House of Grimaldi and the Monaco economy.
$ – $$$
Hours: 9:00 am – 1:00 pm; 2:00 pm – 4:00 am; closed during the Formula 1 Grand Prix in May
Location: Place du Casino; 98000 Monaco

 

Opéra de Monte-Carlo
With the lack of cultural diversions available in Monaco in the 1870s, Prince Charles III decided to include a concert hall as part of the casino. The main public entrance to the hall was from the casino, while Charles III’s private entrance was on the western side. It opened in 1879 and became known as the Salle Garnier, after the architect Charles Garnier who designed it.
$
Hours: 10:00 am – 5:30 pm, Tuesday – Saturday
Location: Place du Casino; 98000 Monaco

 

Palais Princier de Monaco
The official residence of the Prince of Monaco, the palace has a long and often dramatic history since it has been bombarded and besieged by many foreign powers. A blend of architectural styles; from its ancient fort origins to the Renaissance era façade, the Palace reflects the history not only of Monaco, but of the family which has celebrated over 700 years of rule from the same palace.
$
Hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; open April 2 – October 15, 2019
Location: Palace Square; a 10-minute walk from Place d’Armes up the Rampe Major.
Note: The State Apartments are not accessible to those in wheelchairs. Access only by stairs.

Nice

Palais Lascaris
This 17th century aristocratic building is now home to a musical instrument museum. Stroll through the historical building’s ornately decorated rooms while viewing the museum’s collection of over 500 instruments that date back to the 1500s.
$
Hours: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm; Closed on Tuesdays
Location: In the old town of Nice.

 

Castle Hill
Climb the stairs or take the elevator to the top of Castle Hill to enjoy a 360 degree view of Nice and the Mediterranean Sea. Once at the top you’ll find ruins of the castle, in use as a hill-top lookout between the 11th and 18th century BC but destroyed in 1706; 3 cemeteries; food markets; Bellanda Tower; and even a waterfall.
FREE
Hours: Sunrise to sunset; the elevator runs until 8:00 pm during summer months
Location: Stairs lead up from from the Promenade D’Anglais and Place de Garibaldi. An elevator will take you up from at Rue des Ponchettes.

 

Musée National Marc Chagall
This museum features the works of French-Belarussian-Russian artist Marc Chagall. His large and colorful paintings pioneered the modernism movement and are sure to linger in your memory. Chagall designed the layout of the museum himself, which enhances the experience of visiting this museum.
$
Hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; closed on Tuesdays
Location: Slightly northeast of the train station, accessible by bus: Bus n°15, ‘Marc Chagall’ stop and Nice Le Grand Tour bus, ‘Marc Chagall’ stop.

 

The Nice Observatory
The observatory, built in 1881, offers great views of the city of Nice. Learn about the history of astronomy and walk along a forest trail on a 2-hour tour to see a fantastic view of the Mediterranean.
$
Hours: Tours begin at 2:45 pm, Wednesday and Saturday
Location: On Mont Gros.
Pre-registration required

Paris

Eiffel Tower
Climb this towering edifice originally built for the World Fair of 1889, held to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the French Revolution. Named after its designer, Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower stands 1050 feet high and held the record as the world’s tallest structure until 1930. At the Eiffel Tower, the first level has a new glass floor, theater, eateries, and exhibits describing the tower’s construction. A champagne bar has opened on the very top floor. Online ticketing has gotten more convenient, with an option to download a ticket to your mobile phone – no paper ticket needed.
$ – $$
Hours: 9:30 am – 6:30 pm (stairs); 9:30 am – 11:45 am (elevator) – last entry 30 min. before closing
Location: Center of Paris – just look up!
Pre-book to reserve a time-slot

 

Avenue des Champs-Elysées
Explore some of Paris’s most famous Cafés: Café de la Paix, designed by Garnier (the décor recalls a past era), or Café de Flore claiming to have been the heart of the Existentialist Movement during the early 20th century with Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Camus and others regularly meeting here. Luxury boutiques Louis Vuitton, Mont-Blanc, Guerlain, Ferrari; flagship stores Banana Republic, Abercrombie, Sephora; and some of the top museums in Paris including the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais, the Palais de la Découverte and the Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton also line this popular avenue. Visit day or night, as there is always a buzz of people.
FREE – $
Hours: Accessible 24/7; cafe, museum and store hours will vary.
Location: Two-kilometre stretch between the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe.
Palais de la Découverte included with your Paris Museum Pass!

 

Musée Picasso
With Picasso’s advancing years, the State was given permission to acquire the bulk of Picasso’s works, which were enriched by donations from his heirs, making it was important to find a place to preserve and exhibit them. In 1974, just one year following the artist’s death, and supported by the artist’s family, Michel Guy, French Secretary of State for Culture, chose the Hôtel Salé, a private mansion, to house Picasso’s collection. Owned by the City of Paris, the building had been awarded the Historic Monument status on 29 October 1968.
FREE – $
Hours: 10:30 am – 6:00 pm, opens at 9:30 am on weekends
Location: Hôtel Salé, 5, rue de Thorigny, Paris 3e.
Admission included with your Paris Museum Pass!

 

Musée du Louvre
This enormous building, constructed around 1200 as a fortress and rebuilt in the mid-16th century for use as a royal palace, began its career as a public museum in 1793. It is now an iconic site, with its large glass pyramid rising from the ground. See the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Winged Victory. Opt for an audio tour, or wander through on your own, being amazed by the art around you.
Free – $
Hours: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, closed on Tues., open late on Wed. and Sat.
Location: Accessible via metro: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre (lines 1 and 7) and Pyramides (line 14).
Admission and metro included with your Paris Museum Pass and Paris Visite Pass!

 

Musée d’Orsay
Home to featured artists Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, van Gogh, Vuillard, and more, Musee d’Orsay is housed in the train station building, constructed by Victor Laloux for the 1900 World Fair. The Orsay is a national museum devoted to all the arts between 1848-1914. From the Orsay, you can now stroll or bike the new Left-Bank riverside promenade that stretches to Pont de l’Alma.
FREE – $
Hours: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm, closed on Mon., open until 9:45 pm on Thurs.
Location: Accessible by Metro: line 12, to Solférino
Admission and metro included with your Paris Museum Pass and Paris Visite Pass! Use Entrance C.

 

Domaine de Chantilly
A day trip to Chantilly may take you to the recently renovated horse museum – with a beautiful display of equine-related history and art. Museum entry includes a walk through the stables and a dressage demonstration daily in peak season. Horse lovers can pay extra for an equestrian show with riders in frilly outfits and horses prancing to music.
$ – $$
Hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; gardens close at 8:00 pm
Location: Accessible by train: From Gare du Nord SNCF main lines (25 minutes), get off at “Chantilly-Gouvieux.”

 

Shopping
Shopping in Paris is magical. No other city can match the experience. Discover to-die-for creations from world famous designers. Wander in the food markets and antique stores. Paris offers the finest jewelry with the most outré fashion concepts. Time Out Paris summed it all up in 100 essential boutiques that capture the sparkle of shopping in the French capital.
$
Hours: Shop times will vary
Location: Throughout Paris, exact locations will vary.