Visit: Paris (on the cheap)

The Eiffel Tower, Paris

Last week I visited Paris for the first time, and had a really fantastic few days!

While D and I didn’t have the cheapest trip, we certainly aimed to save money as much as possible – without being uncomfortable because of it

So I thought I’d share a few tips…

Travel

We took a train to London, and then went on to the Eurostar to Paris

This return journey was much cheaper because we booked in advance and benefitted from grabbing the best priced tickets

Another help here was our age – we both have Young Persons Railcards which means around a third off many UK trips – it’s SO worth the initial cost – and the Eurostar also has a discount for people aged 25 and under

In Paris, despite FREEZING weather, we avoided taking taxis – instead we walked as much as possible, and otherwise caught the bus or metro

What really helped with cutting travel costs (and maximising on time for everything else) was planning our days out so we moved round the city in a logical way!

And travelling on foot means you get to really see the city – and happen across cute little shops and amazing buildings you wouldn’t have seen otherwise

Accommodation

Smarties in the 'hotel'

This is often the most expensive part of a trip – and quite a few options

We decided to try something new (to us!) and booked a room through AirBnB.com  – the website lists apartments and rooms around the world which are available to stay in for various lengths of stay and to all budgets

You can see photos of the rooms and read reviews from people who have previously stayed there – so you get a good idea of what to expect

Our hosts, Tatiana and Rodolphe couldn’t have been more welcoming – they had a beautiful flat in a great location which was warm and extremely comfortable – and at an extremely reasonable price

Food and Drink

French breakfast

Before I went to Paris everyone warned me how expensive food and drink is – but there are ways to reduce costs

Our accommodation included breakfast – a lovely hamper of croissants, bread, jams, yoghurt, coffee and orange juice! – which is amazing when just round the corner cafes were charging 12 euros for less grub

Lunch on the first day was bought from a mini supermarche – half a baguette each with ham and cheese, a banana and a drink – which totalled around 3 euros each (just a small ham baguette started at 5 euros at many cafes)

Lunch on the second day for me was a small cheesy baguette from a boulangerie – which was 1.50 euro, compared to the 4.50 for cheese slices inside the baguette

(Lunch on the third day was a huge crepe covered in caramel, nuts and ice-cream… not so cheap!)

The benefit of staying in someone’s home means that they may allow you to use their kitchen… so you could easily cook a cheap meal

Or, just take a step away from some of the ultra-touristy areas and the prices go down considerably

One night we used Tripadvisor to find a cheapish pizzeria with decent reviews – but once we got there the small place over the road seemed so popular with the locals that we took a chance – and both had HUGE pizzas for a good price!

It really is worth paying a trip to the supermarches throughout your stay – 2 litres of water at the local Carrefour was 22 cents, just 750ml of water at the Gare du Nord? That’ll be 2,80 euros please

We also stocked up on apple juice cartons, fruit and crisps for snacking

Seeing the sights!

The view from the Eiffel Tower, Paris

Here’s some amazing information if you’re a) European and b) between the ages of 18 and 25… you can get into many of the museums free!

We free-ly strolled round the Pompodo Centre, the Louvre, the Musee d’Orcay, Saint Chapelle and the Notre Dame

The Eiffel Tower didn’t have the same deal, but I don’t think it’s too expensive for the amazing views (otherwise head up to the Sacre Couer for a different, but still excellent view over the city)

And, as I said before, there’s plenty of amazing views to be seen on foot – the Champs Elysees by night being one!

Vintage French tins

On Saturday morning we took the bus to the St-Ouen Flea Market – which is really a sprawling collection of smaller markets which range in price, style and presentation – from old shoes spread out on blankets, to amazing 60s lighting

If it wasn’t so cold, I could’ve happily spent a whole day there exploring every nook and cranny – as it was, we just about endured 90 minutes before we returned to the warm bus!

However the great thing about the market was that I really didn’t feel the need to spend any money – it was just great fun turning every corner to find another absolutely bonkers piece of furniture, rummaging through piles of old French signs and pointing out what we’d buy for our imaginary house (if money was no object!)

If the weather was a little warmer, I’m sure we would have spent time walking through some of the city’s many parks… but there’s only so much cold I can stand

Do you have any tips for travelling on the cheap? What did I miss in Paris? Been on any budget holidays recently? We’d love to hear your suggestions!

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9 thoughts on “Visit: Paris (on the cheap)

  1. Great advice. Shame I didn’t know about these under 25 deals four years ago :-(

  2. As a regular traveler to Paris and lover of traveling on a budget I’d like to congratulate you on your achievements and discoveries on this trip – as first time visitors you’ve got it down pat! I hope you bought a carnet of metro tickets (10 tickets that you can both use) as that is much cheaper than buying individual tickets.

    You did 2 key things that I always recommend to save money – you looked at possible cheaper options for your train tickets and planned ahead and also you ignored the tourist guides and followed the locals to the best restaurant.

    I hope you had a great time and that you have joined that rather special group of people for whom Paris is a second home.

    Thanks for such a great post!

  3. bakearama says:

    Great tips! We are in Paris in May so will be referring back to this :-)

  4. For me the Musee d’Orsay is a must visit…..I loved it there…also le marais is a lovely area.
    I really must go back….

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