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Paris: 5 free things, from gardens to Sacre Coeur

Associated Press Modified: October 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm •  Published: October 25, 2012

PARIS (AP) — Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world — and it sure knows it. That's why the French capital — ranked among the world's priciest and most visited — can afford to charge tourists so dearly for sampling its timeless beauty and world-class cuisine. But if you are willing to give up your foie gras and champagne, there's a whole world out there for budget-conscious traveler.

Here are five things that prove that Paris — the city of romance — knows better than most the best things in life are free.

TUILERIES GARDENS: In search of a safe haven away from the stresses of the city? Paris has just the answer with the Tuileries gardens — sitting tranquilly in the heart of the capital between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde. Looking down the Champs Elysees and onto the Arc de Triomphe, the 400-year-old gardens offer not one of the best city-views in the world, but a place to relax with their ornate fountains, magical statues and fresh air. Despite their age, the old public gardens keep their eye on the younger generation, boasting a wonderful children's play area and a carnival in summer.

THE SACRE COEUR: The landmark white domes of this basilica indelibly mark the Paris skyline, located at the city's highest point on the Montmartre hill. Come here to experience a panoramic view of Paris' historic rooftops or to be entertained by numerous spectacles by Parisian street artists. But there are equal delights to be found inside the church, which features the world's largest apse mosaic, in the dome above the altar, designed by Luc-Olivier Merson.

PARIS BEACH AND ICE RINK: Paris might be 150 kilometers (93 miles) away from the sea, but that doesn't stop cash-strapped tourists in search of that beach holiday. Every year since 2002, the French capital has run "Paris Plages" or "Paris Beaches," a free summer event that transforms several spots along the Seine river into complete beaches, thanks to over 1,000 tons of sand that's trucked in. So and pull up a lounge chair, and don't forget to buy your tanning oil along with your croissant.

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