You know the feeling. Wanting to visit Paris – the capital of France, but you’re almost running out of money. Although a city trip might sound not too expensive, it adds up the costs real fast. It is good they know what to see for free or almost free. Also where to sleep and where to eat with good quality and even better prices. Therefore I’ll tell you how I survive Paris on a budget.
The Eiffel tower
Ok, I can’t leave the Eiffel Tower out of the list. Who is going to Paris without seeing the Eiffel tower anyway? – ok. I must admit, I’ve been 6 times in Paris now and been once on top of the Eiffel tower. The other 3 times I saw it was from a distance.
So when you think about the Eiffel tower, think about if you would like to go to the top. I mean, Paris from above is not that beautiful. There are way more beautiful cities to see from above. You can have a great view from the ‘Place de la Concorde’ on the Eiffel tower. – Same name as the metro. It is a great place for pictures too. In front of it is a big field where you can sit and enjoy the view. Or take a lot of pictures.
If you do want to go to the top, you can choose to walk up. I know it is a lot of stairs you’ll be willing to walk. But it’s definitely worth it, and you save some money. Don’t forget that there will be a waiting line, and it’ll cost you a couple of hours of your time in Paris.
L’Arc The Triomphe
Standing on top of the Arc the Triomphe will give you a great view over Paris, but it’ll cost you about €9,- as well. And why pay for a great view if there are many places in Paris where you’ll have the view for free? Some places that give you a free but great view over Paris are Basilique du Sacre Coeur and Galeries Lafayette.
Most museums in Paris are free on the first Sunday of the month. It is worth it to figure out on forehand if the museums you want to visit have this free visit as well. Some of the museums are Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Notre-Dame and Palais of Versailles. Just keep in mind that you’re probably not the only one who would like to visit the museums for free. Some museums are free every day, and when you are under 26 you can visit most of them for free anyway.
This is the best thing to do in Paris. You’ll find many free walking tours online, but my favourite is Discover Walks. They have several walking tours and you don’t need to sign up for it. If you are with a big group I would advise you to sign up before or book a paid tour. During these walks, you’ll find out another part of Paris which you haven’t seen before. They show you a lot of their favourite places and they’ll answer all your questions. It is also great for making new friends and creating lifelong friendships. At the end of the tour, you’ll give a tip. It is up to you how much you think it was worth it.
Where to stay
The closer you stay to the must-visit places in Paris, the more expensive it is. And there are hotels that are a bit further away but still have some rooms with a view of the Eiffel Tower. Also, choose if you would like to stay in a hotel, hostel, Airbnb or go Couchsurfing.
If you go Couchsurfing you’ll stay with a local, who can show you –probably- a lot of great, free, unknown but real Parisian places. It will save you a lot of money and you will make friends in the same time.
If you choose for Airbnb, you probably will have your own kitchen. Which means you can cook yourself dinner, and no need to eat out. Which is great for saving money. Although there are some restaurants that serve free food.
When you choose a hotel or a hostel it is good to have a good look at what is included. Especially breakfast is mostly not included in the price. Breakfast is expensive to get in a hostel or hotel. So if it is not included, do like the Parisian and grab your croissant and coffee at the bakery just around the corner. It is easy and a cheap way to have breakfast.
When you plan on visiting Paris it is good to think about the period you want to go. High season means higher prices. Therefore I would like to advise you to go low season. The prices for tickets are less expensive and fewer tourists in the city. If you have a good train connection it is worth it to compare prices with aeroplane tickets. Within Europe, there are also a lot of bus companies that drive from one city to another. It takes more time, but it is a good money saver.
If you visit Paris by car, you must know that you need to have an environmental sticker. You should apply for this sticker in the time since it takes at least 6 weeks to get it send home.
Within Paris, I advise you to take the train. If it is not that far, check if it is walkable. If so, just walk. You’ll probably enjoy the scene of Paris on your way.
It is also a good option to call an Uber, it is less expensive than a taxi and you will travel more comfortable.
Food can be very expensive. Therefore I would advise you to not eat in the touristic areas but just a little outside. Walk 5 minutes further and you’ll find the places where the Parisian eat. It is less expensive and tastes better. For lunch, I would advise you to go to the supermarket. You can buy a baguette and some wine. Take it to a park and enjoy your lunch.