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The City of Lights: The Top Tips for Visiting Paris On a Budget

Booking.com
First published: June 28, 2019

 If Paris is known for one thing, it has to be luxury. It’s considered one of the world’s top cities for cuisine, fashion, art, architecture and so much more. With this is in mind, Paris sounds like a rather expensive place to visit, doesn’t it? But believe or not, the City of Lights is easily accessible for those traveling on a major budget. 

Tour Eiffel

If Paris is on your bucket list, but you’re a little strapped for cash, here’s how to explore Paris on a budget... 

9 Handy Tips For Exploring Paris on a Budget 

Nobody enjoys feeling like a pauper when visiting an ultra-glamourous city, most especially one as iconic as Paris. But discovering this city is far more affordable than many people realize. There’s no need to dig into your life savings or take out pension loans in order to visit Paris, you just need a little insider know-how on how to save your cash!

1. Plan Your Travels During Low or Shoulder Season

Sure, Paris is a dream in the spring and summertime- the weather is beautiful and the city is truly alive with activity. But in saying this, it can also be extremely busy and overwhelming as this is considered the high season. In order to visit the city with a limited budget, plan your trip during the off-season in winter or shoulder season during autumn. This way you can experience Paris without a mad crush of tourists and take advantage of lower air, transport, and accommodation fees.

2. Take Full Advantage of Public Transport

There really is no need to hail a taxi every time you need to get somewhere in the city. Taxi fares can be ludicrously expensive and quickly eat into your budget. The public transport system in Paris is one of the best in Europe - it’s efficient, fast, and affordable. Simply purchase a Metro travel pass or buy your tickets in bulk in order to travel the city on a budget. You can also make use of the Hop On-Hope Off bus system which visits all of the city’s major tourist attractions.  It’s quick, easy, affordable, and informative at the same time!

3. Drink Your Coffee at the Bar

Feeling like a little afternoon pick-me-up? Whether it’s coffee, beer, or wine, you will be charged extra to sit down and enjoy your drink at an outdoor table in most cafes throughout Paris. This is because real estate in Paris is very expensive and outdoor tables tend to take up space! Instead, enjoy your beverage at the bar and get to know some of the locals at the same time.

4. Enjoy Your Lunch / Dinner Outdoors

The same goes for eating in a restaurant in Paris. You will generally be surcharged for choosing to sit down and enjoy a meal in most restaurants. If the weather is decent, pack yourself a lunch and enjoy it one of the city’s many public parks or along the canal. Paris is renowned for its selection of bread, cheese, and charcuterie- so you’ll be spoiled for picnic choices. However, you can enjoy a light lunch or dinner on an outside terrace at a boulangerie or patisserie. Simply look for these words to ensure you will not be surcharged to sit down and enjoy your purchases. Generally, sitting outside should be free-of-charge, however sitting inside can incur a charge. If in doubt, simply ask!

5. Get Your Money’s Worth a Menu Formule Option

A menu formule is akin to a set menu which offers great value. It generally includes a main dish, dessert, and one drink in the price, which is usually around 9-15 Euro.

You can find these set menu options in areas such as the Latin Quarter, Montmartre or La Rue Cler near the Eiffel Tour. This is a great way to keep tabs on your budget and enjoy a traditional Parisian dinner. 

6. Pick an Affordable District For Accommodation

The city of Paris is divided into districts known as arrondissements. The closer the arrondissement is to the center of Paris, the more expensive accommodation is. Choosing the right arrondissement on the outskirts of the center of the city can save your budget in a big way! Areas such as Montmartre, Montparnasse, the Latin Quarter, and Le Marais are ideal for affordable accommodation options. Don’t turn your nose up at hostel accommodation either. Paris is home to a number of top quality hostels which don’t differ all that much from traditional hotels. You can usually find a decent hostel for 35 Euro per person, per night, which includes a private bathroom!

7. Always Choose Breakfast-Included Option

This is a great way to keep your budget in check by eating breakfast at your hostel/ hotel and only having to spend money on two meals a day. Usually, most hostels and hotels offer a continental type breakfast, comprised of cereal, bread, pastries, coffee, and tea.

8. Visit Major Tourist Attractions After Hours

A great tip to keep tabs on your budget is to visit major tourist attractions in the city after rush hour. After a certain time and on certain days, entry fee prices are also slashed. For example, the Musee d’Orsay drops its ticket prices to just 5.50 Euro after 16.15pm on a Thursday. This still leaves enough time to explore the museum thereafter. The same goes for the Louvre, which drops its entry fee prices to just 11 Euro after 18.00pm on a Friday. Just do a little research beforehand or feel free to ask at ticketing offices on prices by the hour before you plan your visit.

9. You Don’t Always Have To Pay to See Popular Sites

Finally, much of the entry fees to Paris’s top attractions are a money trap. Why? Because you don’t actually have to pay to see them. Unless traveling up the Eiffel Tower is on your bucket list, there are many different vantage points in the city to enjoy this site completely free-of-charge. Likewise, with the Arc Du Triomphe- it’s 100% free to see and photograph this landmark. You only pay if you choose to climb its stairs and view the city. Instead, you can simply head to Sacre Coeur and enjoy vast, unhindered views of Paris for no charge at all. Even the Louvre can be enjoyed for free- its impressive gardens are scattered with works of art throughout as well as the Jardin du Luxembourg.

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