Hi! When I saw that Lindsay was looking for guest posters, I quickly took the chance to email her about it. As a fellow girl on a budget, I really like her blog and am very happy to be contributing today (ed note: I LOVE YOUR BLOG TOO!)
So since my blog focuses more on travel and expat life, I thought I would do a post about travelling on a budget, and more specifically how to enjoy Paris on a few bucks. If you live in North America, it might be a bit hard to respect a tight budget for Europe travels as a 500-1000$ plane ticket usually involves a lot of savings, so I am sorry for that! However, if you are ever in Europe I recommend adding Paris to your list of places to visit.
I like to go off the beaten path but when a girlfriend from college came to France and asked me to join her in Paris, I jumped at the chance. Paris has this aura that I could spend this entire post trying to explain to you but could never achieve, but just trust an ex-non-believer when I tell you that Paris is worth it! The first time I saw the Paris skyline I was breathless. I felt like I had just entered one of my favorite movies like Paris, Je T’aime, or Midnight in Paris.
The only downside to this story was that I had just finished a degree in Scotland. It happens that international tuition fees are expensive (who knew!) and that my budget was much smaller than I expected. I was scared I wouldn’t get to experience Paris to its fullest. It ends up I was wrong. It is feasible to see a lot of what Paris has to offer on a tight budget! Here are advices and tips on how I managed a week in Paris for a few bucks…
Tips & Advices:
- Instead of going for a hotel, try to rent a flat/studio. My friend had booked a little studio flat in St-Michel. It gives autonomy and you can almost feel how it is to live in that city. The other cool thing about having a flat is that you can store food from the market and heat it up instead of eating out all the time (see next point).
- Avoid eating out too much. If you go to a foreign place it’s always fun to taste the food, so you should go out and experience that, but if you buy food in a grocery store and make lunches if will save you lots of money. My friend and I bought a few baguettes for a few cents and some cheese. Some juice, small yogurts and the occasional chocolate/candy and it made for great affordable lunches. Insider’s tip: you can buy 6 pain au chocolat at the store for the price of two of them in a café.
- Walk as much as you can. If you stay in a convenient location it is possible to get almost everywhere by walking. My legs were actually hurting by the end of the week, but we got to save money and we got to see so much more of Paris than we would have if we had taken the metro everywhere.
- Flash your student ID as much as you can (if you’re a student or if your student ID is still valid). That is of course for most things in life. Being a student gets you discounts and it’s good to take advantage of that. When I arrived at Musee D’Orsay (which I highly recommend! I believe that everyone, like me, is a fan of Monet and therefore wants to see his work…), I showed my student ID thinking that instead of 11€ they would charge me 8.50€, but no! My European student ID got me in for free! It proves that you never know what great deals you can get!
- If you want to dish out the money, I would say to choose only one museum to go visit (although this might depend on your priorities when you travel). A museum can take you up to an entire day to visit (or a whole month for the Louvre…). If you spend a week in Paris you might not want to stay two days inside. I love art but Paris has so many different things to offer! We chose Orsay and were not disappointed!
- It goes without saying but try to avoid being hassled. Be aware that some artists/performers will ask you to give money if you take a picture of them. Or they might try to convince you to buy their work. Some other people will try to sell you junk. Same goes with souvenirs! It usually is overpriced crap that someone will want to make you buy because you are (read: you look like) a tourist. Be careful.
There are also loads of things to do for free in Paris. Here are a few suggestions:
- Go check out the Pont des Arts where lovers tie locks to the bridge and throw the key away to symbolize their eternal love.
- Cimetiere Pere-Lachaise is where tons of famous people were buried including writers Gertrude Stein and Oscar Wilde and musician Jim Morrison, to only name a few. It is worth the visit and you could easily get lost in the sinuous roads of the cemetery for hours!
- Another cemetery. I swear they are not that creepy! Cimetiere du Montparnasse is the other place where famous people have been buried; it includes writers and philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir (which, for nerds like me, is a total must!).
- Go walk around the Jardin des Tuileries. It is situated between the museums and the Champs-Elysees. It is a great path to take to get from one place to the other.
- Jardin du Luxembourg is another one of those lovely places to go for a walk on a sunny afternoon. It is full of sculptures and beautiful floral arrangements.
- Go explore Montmartre. The streets around the metro are a bit sketchy but if you go up the hill a bit the landscape really transforms into quaint apartment buildings, little local shops and cute parks.
- Go walk along the Champs-Elysees. It’s the high street of Paris and is full of luxury stores. It is also apparently one of the most beautiful streets of the French capital (according to Wikipedia ;) ). It is indeed a fun walk and it leads to the Arc de Triomphe.
- Visit the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris. I didn’t have time to go visit it sadly, but it is absolutely magnificent from the outside. Entry is free however and my friend (who had time to go look around before my arrival in Paris) really recommends it!
- Go check out the Eiffel Tower. It wasn’t on our priority list but we went and enjoyed it. You don’t have to go up (it saves both time and money on that one). You can enjoy the stature of the monument by walking in the surrounding areas.
Hope this helps plan a visit to Paris on a little budget. The thing to remember is that Paris is like an open-air museum, so you could literally visit nothing and yet see so much! Enjoy!