Ah, the City of Light. Paris is somewhere that everyone should travel to at least once, in order to soak in the history, admire the priceless artwork, savour the atmosphere and spend long afternoons sipping coffee in sidewalk cafes.
However, Paris can also be a very expensive travel destination, so how can you explore this city while still on a pauper’s budget? Here are 11 tips:
1. The Metro is a quick and easy way to get around the city, so consider a Paris Visite Pass. This travel card not only allows for unlimited journeys on all public transport services in central Paris (zones 1-3) and suburbs and airports (zones 1-5) for a set fee, but also gives you discounts at attractions, restaurants, shops and museums. You can choose any number of days from 1 day – €12.00 (Zones 1-3) and 25.15 € (Zones 1-5) to 5 days – €38.20 (Zones 1-3) and 65,50 € (Zones 1-5). Another similar offer is the Carte Navigo, which costs €20.40 for a week for zones 1-2 and offers unlimited rides on the metro, bus and RER within Paris.
2. Are you a museum geek? The Paris Museum Pass offers you free entry to 60 museums and monuments in and around Paris including the Musee D’Orsay, The Louvre Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Palace of Versailles, the Rodin Museum and more. You can buy the pass online for €12 and receive it by courier at your hotel in Paris.
3. Speaking of the Louvre, you should know that it is free on Friday evenings for those under 26 as well as on the first Sunday of every month from October to March.
4. Don’t opt for a hotel room with breakfast. In many destinations hotel breakfasts are good value, but in Paris it is usually only bread and coffee which is not worth the extra €10-12 they might charge. Instead, go to a small café on the corner and get the same breakfast for cheaper.
5. Or, instead of a hotel rent an apartment through a site like Airbnb or Wimdu. Parisians rent out their extra space in their apartments to help pay their rent and you can find private double rooms for around €30 per night.
6. Don’t eat in a restaurant for every meal. You can put together a delicious picnic of bread, cheese, olives, meat, fruit and vegetables from a street market for only a few euro. Have a picnic in a scenic spot and enjoy.
7. Take the stairs up the Eiffel Tower. The elevator ride costs €12, but walking up only costs €5 (or €4 for those under 24) – and it’s a great way to burn off all of the calories from those croissants!
8. Plan your visit for between November and April. The weather will be a little cooler, but crowds will be smaller, accommodations will be cheaper and even airfare will be less expensive.
9. Alcoholic drinks are expensive in Paris, so cut down your costs by finding one of the cafes that advertise “Happy Hour”, where beer will be around €3-4 rather than twice that amount.
10. Rather than paying money for public Wifi, use paris.fr/wifi website to find free Wifi spots throughout Paris, such as libraries, gardens and town halls.
11. Extra Bonus Tip: The cheapest way to get from Charles de Gaulle airport to central Paris would be to purchase a Metro Pass for 6 Zones and take the RER train directly. It will take approximately 40 minutes to get downtown.
As Hemingway put it, Paris is a “moveable feast” that you will remember for the rest of your life. Keep these tips in mind and you can feast on Paris, even on a tiny travel budget!
These great money-saving tips were provided by Kelly Dunning, a Canadian freelance writer and digital nomad with a love of hiking, nature, art, culture, literature and adventure. She and her English boyfriend Lee run Global-Goose.com, a site packed full with travel guides, stories and inspiration for those who dream of travel.