When you think of France or Belgium, what comes into mind? Paris, French-fries, the Tour Eiffel, waffles, the Manneken Pis statue, Mont Saint Michel, probably. One other thing that experienced travelers think about regarding these two countries is the prices. They are not your cheapest destinations. But you might be surprised how many experiences you can have for free.
Here's our top 10:
1. A promenade on the Champs Elysee.
Paris' most famous boulevard attracts millions of visitors in past years. Situated between the Arc de Triomphe and the seat of the French President, it is one of the most posh, expensive, but also majestic urban areas in the world. Don't miss it if you're in the French Capital.
2. Photo-shoot in Brussels' Grand Place.
One of Europe's oldest town squares, the Big Square, as it is called in English, is the Belgian capital's most important tourist attraction. The square is surrounded by monumental buildings, the most important being the Town Hall and the Brussels Museum.
3. Walk on the dunes near the Atlantic.
A common sight on the seaside of both countries, Dunes are one of the most interesting landmarks that can be seen in Europe. You can experience the view towards the sea, from the top of 20-30 meter high sand hills in Bordeaux (France) and Ostend (Belgium).
4. Royal guard change in Monaco.
For years, Monaco has been home to the world's richest people. The Royal family that rules over the small kingdom puts on a show every day, at the gates of their palace - some say the guard change is even more interesting than the one at Buckingham Palace.
5. Hiking in the Ardennes.
Most people know the Ardennes as the site of a major battle in World War Two. Today it's more peaceful, the small mountains being riddled with numerous cycle and hiking paths that will allow you to experience the great outdoors, without much effort.
6. Visit to the great cities in Flanders.
Bruges and Gent have been, throughout their history, the main economical and political centers of Flanders. The two towns are basically open-air museums, riddled with monumental churches, guild houses and canals.
7. Biking tour in Alsace.
Situated in the Eastern part of France, Alsace is a Franco-German region that enjoys a rich cultural heritage. Strasbourg and Colmar are the two main towns, but the place also has lots of small villages that bring you back to the 19th century lifestyle.
8. Visit to Normandy's beaches.
Numerous people flood every year the site of the most decisive moment of World War Two, many of them curious to see the place where lots of soldiers shed their blood for freedom. Seeing the remaining fortifications and cemeteries is free of charge.
9. Tour of the Begijnhof in Belgium and Amsterdam.
In the Middle Ages, rich women came together and founded several monasteries in Western Europe, called "Begijnhof”, where they taught themselves how to read, studied, and experienced the arts. Today, the remains of these institutions in Belgium make you feel like in a Harry Potter movie.
10. Tour of the monumental churches in Paris.
Starting with the most known, Notre Dame de Paris, churches and cathedrals in the French capital are a spectacular sight to see. Most of them are exquisite examples of Gothic architecture. You will be able to see a bit of living history, free of charge.