|“We’ll Always Have Paris” Print, Prints with Feelings*|
I was recently sent this beautiful print from Prints with Feelings and as I was putting it up in my room it made me all nostalgic about my visits to Le Gay Paree. The problem is, like any capital city, the cost of visiting Paris can easily mount up. When you consider food and travel on top of the entry fees to the main attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, it is easy to see why many people think you can’t see the French capital without it costing the earth. However I have discovered a few little tricks that mean you can experience the magic of Paris without having to spend a fortune…
1) Travel smart
There are two main ways to get to Paris from the UK, via plane or on the Eurostar. For me, the Eurostar is definitely the best option! You can get tickets from as cheap as £72 return and it takes you straight into Gare du Nord station which is in the heart of the city, whereas Charles de Gaulle Airport is located approximately 25km outside, meaning you would have to pay for an additional transfer to your accommodation. To get the best rates, book as far in advance as you can and make sure that your travel dates aren’t going to change as the cheapest fares will be non exchangeable and non-refundable.
For travelling around Paris, the best way is to walk as much as you can. It’s not a massive city meaning if you plan your trip right you can walk between most of the main tourist spots. Grab a cappuccino, spread out a map and plan your own routes, or if you aren’t feeling that adventurous you could join one of Discover Walks Free Walking Tours, which take place every day and give you an insider’s guide to the best walks around the city.
If walking isn’t your thing, the next best option would be the metro. If you are going to travel on the metro frequently it will probably be worth your while investing in a Visite Pass, which gives you unlimited access to the metro lines for 1, 3 or 5 days.
2) Shop your stay
Another big cost of any city break is the accommodation. The key to finding your perfect place to stay is to first work out what the main things are that you’re looking for and then shop around. From budget to luxury there are plenty of options in Paris so take the time to work out what will fit your trip best and scour the internet to make sure you are getting the best deal. Airbnb is a great site to get your hands on some seriously good deals for one off accommodation and you can usually find some really quirky places too. If you are more the hotel type, then Booking.com is my go to site – the booking process is really straightforward and it often has the best rates available. In terms of location, areas around the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and Champs-Élysées will typically be the most expensive; however there are exceptions to the rule. The Latin Quarter or the fashionable Le Marais district will generally allow you to get more for your buck.
3) No drama discount
If it’s your first time in Paris, you are naturally going to want to visit all the main sightseeing spots and you’ll be glad to know that there are ways to do so without breaking the budget. If you are under 25 and an EU citizen you can get entry into a lot of the museums for free including the Louvre, the Centre Pompidou and the museum at the Arc De Triomphe. Under 25’s will also get reduced entry to go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. If you are feeling fit, pay to use the stairs rather than the lift to get to the top and you will save even more pennies! For the more mature traveller, you can still get free entry to all the national museums (excluding Grand Palais) if you visit on the first Sunday of every month, but be warned, you may be queuing for a while!
4) The best things are free
Although there will be loads you want to do in Paris that will eat into your spending money, there is also plenty to keep you busy that won’t make a dent in it at all. In fact some of my favourite spots in the city cost absolutely nothing to visit such as the Pont des Arts, the famous “Love Lock Bridge” where couples leave a padlock declaring their everlasting romance and Shakespeare and Company, a beautiful little independent bookshop on Paris’s Left Bank which has attracted world famous authors such as Ernest Hemmingway and James Joyce through its doors over the years. The Notre Dame and the Sacré-Cœure are also free for the public to enter as long as there isn’t a special service going on. If you’re a fashion lover you could check out the free catwalk show that takes place every Friday afternoon at Galeries Lafayette or if you are visiting Paris in the summer months, head down to Parc de la Villette to enjoy their open air cinema festival.
5) Cheap eats
It’s easy to get hustled as a tourist eating out in Paris, but there are also a few simple tips to help you get great food for your money. For breakfast or lunch why not grab a croissant or a sandwich from a local delicatessen and have a picnic in of the city’s beautiful parks? This will leave you more to spend on your evening meal and will also give you chance to explore some of the cities beautiful green spaces! For dinner, try not to eat at restaurants located close to any of the main attractions as they will immediately bump up their price for the convenience and look out for “Menu Prix Fixe” which are fixed menus of usually 3 or 4 courses that often offer great value. The Guardian has a great selection of their favourite budget restaurants and bistros in the city here.
So there’s my top tips on how to visit Paris without breaking the bank – what are you waiting for?!