As travelers, when going on holiday, we always try to plan everything, even how much we intend to spend during our stay. Maybe it is just me, but I always go over my budget when traveling in Europe, especially to Paris or London. But there is also another city that makes my credit card smile and that’s New York. During my adventures, I found out that it is possible to visit Paris without heading back home broke.
- 1. Plan Ahead
While looking for trips in Paris, you need to find packages that include your hotel and ticket as this combination is quite expensive. In this area you will need to be alert to the changes in prices and vacation periods.
- 2. Avoid guide books and meet the locals!
Yes, you heard me? Avoid verified information that you can find in a guide book. Once you have booked for a place to sleep and you know how to get there, ignore all the other addresses you can find in your guide book. Get in touch with locals through couchsurfing, who always have free events which vary from picnics, concerts, drinks, walks to visit in the city or diner at someone’s place. There are also many groups of people you can find on Facebook to join you.
- 3. Choose wisely on the season
Paris is expensive in the summer, but more beautiful because you can enjoy the city through riding or by foot. But you could also try the city during the off season where you can save some cash in the winter period and even between May and September.
- 4. Buy the Paris City Passport
This pass entitles you to discounts at city, attraction sites, stores, and museums. While not every discount is a winner, you should find enough good deals to justify the cost, especially if you plan to take a boat ride on the Seine. Order the passes online and pick them up at a tourist office when you arrive in Paris. While there, do not forget to pick up your map.
- 5. Always travel by metro, Bus, Tramway or RER
The greatest thing about Paris is the means of transportation to all the sights and attractions you need to see and they are well connected. Paris still has areas with old infrastructure and getting from one place to another, one may seem impossible, but public transportation is always available to get you where you need to be. Rather than buying a ticket each time you ride the metro, buy a cornet – a packet of 10 Metro tickets, it makes your work much easier and saves you a lot of time.
- 6. Consider the Paris Museum Pass.
Planning to hit up the Louvre (€10), Musée D’Orsay (€9) and the Palace of Versailles (€18)? And that’s just in the first two days? Serious museum addicts should consider the Paris Museum Pass, which grants admission to these and more than 50 other museums and sights in and around Paris. The pass costs €39 for two days, €54 for four days and €69 for six days.
- 7. Skip the top of the Eiffel Tower.
I know the feeling of doing something just because everyone is doing it! Other than the Eiffel Tower that offers a wonderful view, there are many other rooftop cafés in Paris that have an amazing view! You can go for a drink or diner or a leisurely walk from the steps of the Sacré Cœur at the top of Montmartre — it’s free. If you still want to say you climbed the Eiffel Tower, then get a ticket from the second-floor observation deck, they are always available.
- 8. Shop, and Get your discount
Although the dollar is weak, you can shop in department stores, taking advantage of their 10% discount cards specially for tourists (bring your passport to prove it), then you can take the de-tax of 12% if you spend around 170€. While the math proves it’s still not a huge bargain, there are many items, especially clothes and household goods, unavailable elsewhere that you’ll find here which you cannot even find in the states. If you are into clothes, there is the great depot-vente‘s, or used clothes shops, around Paris and a search through Google will pull up addresses for you. Don’t mind the snotty attitudes in some of the places. Just like us, the people working there couldn’t afford to wear new clothes either! Sometimes instead of shopping in big malls or shopping centers, try the city markets. The best-known market is at Porte de Clignancourt which is held every Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Here you can pick up everything from CDs to leather goods.
- 9. Food
Don’t get ripped off in tourist restaurants. Know what is normal price to pay for everyday items, from coffee (€1-2) to a glass of wine (€4) and a decent meal (€18). Don’t pay for “flat” water in restaurants. All restaurants are legally obliged to bring a carafe of water to your table. When in a cafe, drink your coffee at the bar and pay about half what you’d be charged at a table. Know—and love—Paris’ supermarkets, they are a wonderful source for snacks, meals, and even souvenirs (Franprix, Auchan and Carrefour).
The last advice I will, give, takes me back to the beginning, be a frugal traveler, not a cheapskate. Yes, Paris is expensive, but the money is worth it. Be polite, open-minded and crazy. Take every little experience you can get and make it positive on your own and enjoy Paris. Welcome to the city and enjoy your stay!