Visit Paris: The Free and the Cheap

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    Budget Friendly Solutions for Getting the Most Out of Paris

    Paris is certainly one of the most expensive cities to visit but if you are like me you just can’t resist the temptation of seeing all that Paris has to offer. Here are some tips and tricks to enjoying all Paris has to offer on a budget.

    1) DO YOUR RESEARCH! Hotels and airlines routinely offer discounted fares during their off seasons. To get the most for your buck travel just before their tourist season starts (called the shoulder season) and you get most of the perks of the tourist season with the crowd and the expense.

    2) France is currently conducting an experiment of sorts that will last through June 30th, 2008 to test the impact of free admission to select museums on attendance. This is GREAT news for the budget conscious. Here is the breakdown of the Paris museums impacted…
    Musee de Cluny
    Musee des Arts et Metiers
    Musee National de la Renaissance d’Ecouen
    Musee Guimet
    Musee des Antiquites National de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
    Musee de l’Air et de l’Espace du Bourget

    During this time a number of the bigger name museums are also having nights where admission is free for those 18 to 26 starting at 6pm. This is a great opportunity if you fall in this age range. Even if you don’t, most of these museums have discounted admission on these days anyway. Here’s when to go.
    The Louvre: Friday Nights
    Musee d’Orsay: Thursday Nights
    Georges Pompidou Center: Wednesday Nights
    Musee du quai Branly: Saturday Nights

    Also most museums are free to all on the first Sunday of the month, but this tends to be a little overwhelming with all the people trying to get in.

    3) Take lunch or breakfast outside! Paris has some beautiful parks available for picnics and plenty of markets and bakeries where lunch and breakfast can be purchased on the cheap. Here are some of my favorites:
    Eude (14 Rue de Longchamp)
    Carette (4 pl du Trocadero)
    Rue Cler
    Marche Ave du President Wilson
    Rue Saint-Florentin
    Pain d’Epis (63 av Bosquet)
    Patisserie Secco (20 rue Jean-Nicot)

    Make sure to pack a few essentials to make your picnicking experience the best: Wet Naps, Pocket Knife for slathering cheese, Corkscrew for a nice bottle of wine, Paper Cups, Napkins and a small blanket.

    The parks you should check out are:
    Champs de Mars
    Versailles Gardens
    Jardin de Luxemborg
    Parc du Marceau
    Jardin du Palais Royal

    4) Walk! Depending on where your hotel is located walking might be the perfect plan in this incredibly walkable city. After all the more you duck underground to take mass transit is the more sights and sounds of Paris that you are missing! Take some nice long walks with your sweetie and enjoy the ambiance.

    5) Choose your restaurants wisely. Paris is overflowing with restaurants, plenty of them are good but how many are a good value? Do some research ahead of time, I recommend picking up a copy of Pudlo’s Paris. It is the definitive restaurant guide for Paris and breaks down good values, reviews and top picks for each section of the city.

    6) If you plan to visit the Palace of Versailles while in Paris pick up a Versailles Leisure Pass at one of the Ile-de-France Tourist Offices. With the pass you get discounted admission to all Versailles has to offer as well as a return ticket on the metro. You can’t beat that!

    7) Take in a concert, for free! Check out the special events happening at Paris’ museums. Often there are free concerts among other events. Notre Dame also has free concert weekly. Hit some websites and you’ll find a wealth of information.

    8) Decide what’s most important. Some of the major attractions have cheaper or free options you might have not considered. For example the Eiffel Tower is much less expensive to walk up to the second level than to take the elevator. And you’ll get a workout after all that decadent french cooking! Notre Dame is free inside the main cathedral and only charges to ascend the towers. Much the same with the Arc du Triomphe.

    9) Be your own tour guide! Frommers and Eyewitness Travel both have great walking tours detailed in their travel guides. Grab one before you go and see plenty of sights you might have missed otherwise.

    10) Check out the famous Parisian Flea markets for some great deals! A few of my favorites are:
    Marche d’Aligre
    Quai de Conti Flea Market
    Rue Montorgueil

    ENJOY YOUR TRIP!

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