Anyone who likes to travel has Paris on his or her list. As one of the most expensive cities in the world, it may take a while to save up enough money to make the trip. Contrary to popular belief, you can explore Paris on a budget. Below are some tricks I’ve used to travel to my favorite destination.
As a former flight attendant, airfare is not a concern to me, but hotel prices are. Not one to “rough it,” I want to have a nice hotel without the super nice price. By earning hotel points with my credit card, I am able to book some really nice rooms without paying a thing. The trick is to make sure you pay the credit card every month, or you’ll essentially be paying a lot for your hotel rooms. I always try to book a hotel in a central location or near a train stop. That way, I don’t spend a lot on cabs. Europe has a much better public transportation system than the United States, so this is typically easy to do. My favorite spot in Paris is the Marriott Renaissance Paris La Defense Hotel. It’s downtown but right across the street from the train station. Granted, it’s not in the middle of the tourist attractions, but I can always use hotel points, and everything is just a short train ride away.
Good French food is delicious but very pricey. I prefer to stop in a small bistro and pick up some wonderful breads, cheeses, and fruits. Not only is this less expensive, but I also get to try different local favorites. I can also take my goodies and have a relaxing picnic along the Seine or under the Eiffel Tower. If you want to have a nice dinner one night, select a restaurant off the beaten path. It will be much more reasonable and probably a bit more authentically “French.” Your hotel should be able to suggest a great place to try.
Book a day tour before you leave the States. You’ll avoid the long lines and can often get a discount for booking online ahead of time. I like the hop on-hop off bus tours that allow you to stop and explore a certain area and jump back on another bus when you’re ready. This is a great way to see a lot of Paris without a large price tag. You can get a one- or two-day pass.
The museums in Paris are a must. Many offer discounts on certain days, so be sure to do a little research before heading there. I always check the website for the Louvre and others to see if there are any special events taking place. Like the tours, coupons and discounts can usually be found ahead of time online. If you plan on visiting several museums, it’s a good idea to look into a Paris Museum Pass. You can select from a two-, four-, or six-day pass and will have access to more than 60 museums around the city. Prices start at $55.
Paris is an amazing city to walk around, and that is absolutely free! After spending one day on a tour, I usually spend the rest of my time walking and exploring. Print a good map before leaving home, and determine which areas you want to visit. You can take your time and see as much of the city as you choose for free!
I can always find free or very inexpensive outdoor events while in Paris. The spring and summer are full of concerts, plays, festivals, etc. The Paris Jazz Festival usually takes place in June and July and is free to the public. It is one of my favorites! There are also open-air cinemas with free movies. You can check on these before leaving home or just ask your hotel if they know of any events.
While Paris does offer a lot of expensive attractions, you can definitely have a great time on a budget. Don’t wait till you save that fortune — grab your bag and experience Paris right now!