My one week in Paris trip was definitely an adventure! I was hoping for a nice, relaxing week of bread-eating and gallery-hopping, but instead it was 7 days of strikes, floods and colds. But still, I had an amazing time in the City of Lights and I can’t wait to visit again (preferably when there aren’t any record-breaking natural disasters).
Before I get into how I managed to see all the big sights and what I learned along the way, I want to be upfront about how much this trip to Paris cost. It wasn’t cheap, and not just because Paris is one of the most expensive cities you can visit. The Canadian dollar has been really low for the past few years so the exchange rate hit hard.
|Accommodations for 6 nights||$1,012.00||$506.00|
|Food and entertainment||$978.12||$489.06|
Ok, now onto some useful Paris money-saving tips that I hope will help you if you decide to practice your French in belle Paris!
You Don’t Need to Tip
That’s right, it’s not required or even expected of you to tip at the end of a meal, which really helped my husband and I save when eating out.
Be Strategic When Dining
That being said, you will pay more if you choose to eat-in instead of grab something and go. Cafés also have a 3-tiered pricing system, meaning you’ll pay different prices depending on if you sit at the bar, sit at a table inside or sit at a table outside with a view.
A good rule of thumb is to grab something from a boulangerie (bakery that specializes in bread) or patisserie (bakery that specializes in pastries) for breakfast, then choose to dine at a café or restaurant for lunch or dinner. It’s cheaper to dine at lunch, so if you really want to save money, maybe grab some groceries to make dinner yourself where you’re staying (we had a little kitchenette which came in handy). You can also get delicious grab-and-go crêpes, sandwiches and gyros for fairly cheap at various spots around the city.
And lastly, if you really want to save money when dining, skip the booze. I found prices for wine and beer to be fairly steep, so instead I would ask for water or an espresso when dining, then grab a £5 bottle of wine from a nearby grocery store (e.g. Monoprix or Franprix) to enjoy later on.
Get the Museum Pass, It’s Worth Every Euro
There are so many amazing museums and art galleries in Paris, I wanted to make sure my husband and I were able to see as many as we could — for the right price. We ended up buying the 4-day Paris Museum Pass which cost us €62 each (CDN $89). It wasn’t cheap, but it was well worth it.
Not only did it gave us admittance to the Panthéon (€8.50), the Louvre (€15), Musée D’Orsay (€12), Centre Pompidou (€14), Musée Rodin (€12), Musée de l’Armée (€12) and the top of the Arc de Triomphe (€8), we got to skip the long, regular ticket-holder line. As you can see from the prices next to each attraction, we saved €19.50. And we would have saved even more if we weren’t sick during the trip and were able to do the tour de Notre Dame (€8), Musée de l’Orangerie (€9), Musée Picasso Paris (€12.50) and Château Versailles (€15) like we wanted to.
Don’t Taxi, Use Paris Transit
The Paris transit system is a bit complicated, especially if you don’t speak French, but once you get the hang of it, it’s very efficient and economical. You can either buy a packet (or carnet) of 10 tickets to use for the bus or metro, or you can by a 5-day pass like my husband and I did. The best bet is to get the Paris Visit Pass for the best savings and travel flexibility.
Spend the €20 on a SIM Card
If you have an unlocked phone, I highly recommend you bring it with you and buy a SIM card in Paris so you can have internet access during your travels. It’s fairly simple to do, you just have to go to one of the cell phone stores in town (e.g. Orange or SFR) and they’ll hook you up. It was well worth the money since my husband and I were able to navigate ourselves throughout the city, check on transit schedules and look up restaurant reviews before choosing where to eat.
You Can Do These Things in Paris for Free
Last but not least, the best thing about Paris is that there are so many beautiful places to check out for absolutely free. Obviously most of them are outside, which wasn’t great for my trip since it rained every day, but I was still able to check out a few of these awesome venues:
- Jardin du Luxembourg
- Jardin des Tuileries
- Parc Monceau
- Jardin du Palais Royal
- Parc des Buttes Chaumont
- Pont Alexandre III
- Cathédrale Notre-Dame (inside the church is free)
- Shakespeare & Co. bookstore
- Cimitière du Père Lachaise
- Basilique du Sacré Coeur
Have you been to Paris before? What’s your best money-saving travel tip?
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