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How to park in Paris for free?

You read that right! It’s true: you can park in Paris for free! There are free parking spaces near Bois de Boulogne. Granted, it may be a bit far for your meeting at Porte Maillot… How fast can you walk? There is also free parking near Bois de Vincennes. Again, making your way to your concert at Accor Arena de Bercy is just about feasible, but you’ll need a good pair of walking shoes. 

When is parking free in Paris?

If you want to park your car for free in Paris, you’ll have to forget about any hopes of finding the “perfect parking spot” that you’ve been holding on to. If you want to park for free in the French capital, you’ll need to park far away, or on a Sunday, or in August… Actually, scratch that, parking hasn’t been free in August in Paris since 2015. You can no longer count on leaving your car in the street while you jet off to Martinique unless you want to pay the price of the plane ticket.

In Paris, apart from a hundred or so free parking spaces (located in remote areas and usually mobbed), on-street parking is free at night from 8pm until 9am. 

It’s also free on Sundays during the day and on public holidays. That’s it. So, if you’re hoping to find a free parking space during the week, during the day, in the heart of the capital — think again. 

What if you decide not to pay for parking?

You could always try not paying for parking, but you should be aware that Paris City Hall has subcontracted a private company to monitor payments and, if caught, you will be fined. On a linguistic note: fines in France are no longer named after fruit. They used to be called  “amende” (a homonym of the French word “amande” meaning almond) or “prune” (meaning plum). What you will be required to pay is now called a “forfait post-stationnement” (FSP), or post-parking fee, and it will cost you €35 in the arrondissements in the centre and €17 in the arrondissements on the outskirts. That’s not cheap for parking and we already feel sorry for the friendly traffic wardens that offenders may try and charm to avoid the fine… But that’s in the past. 

Paris within the European average

It’s worth noting that Paris is a European city where parking prices fall within the European average. Compared to Paris, an hour’s parking costs twice as much in London and Stockholm. As for 24-hour parking, you’re better off parking your car in Paris than in Geneve, which is also twice as expensive.

Parking costs: underground car parks are the most affordable

Ultimately, since you’ll need to pay for parking anyway, you might as well think about cost rather than price, such as the financial cost of consuming petrol when driving around looking for a spot or the cost of a parking fine if you’ve not put enough money in the meter. Not to mention the human cost in the form of hours wasted on looking for a parking space. If you’re heading to the Champs Elysées, the Palais des Congrès, the Porte de Versailles, the Gare de Lyon, Montparnasse or Bercy, you might as well opt for the solution that is both most convenient and most affordable overall: underground car parks.