Paris is undoubtedly one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Seen from the high-up vantage point by the Sacre-Coeur, you can see the city down below – in true widescreen. It’s an unforgettable sight, and you can pick out landmarks such as the skyscrapers of the financial district (known locally as La Defense) as well as the Eiffel Tower – and really get a feel for this modern yet historical metropolis.
Unfortunately, Paris is also known for being expensive. Many big cities are – and I would be the first to admit that, yes, it’s full of temptation for those who want to spend some cash. However, the last time I did Paris it was on a budget – and it worked out pretty well. In fact, for those having second thoughts about this city simply because of its reputation for being heavy on the debit card, I’d definitely recommend that you look into the budget options. Because in a city this size, they are definitely there for those looking to experience all the fun without getting an ache in the wallet!
Here, then are my top 5 tips for seeing Paris without splashing out too many pennies
Location, location, location
While it would undoubtedly be fine to stay in 5-star luxury in an apartment off the Champs Elysees, there are plenty of other options that are inexpensive. Paris may be big, but with superb public transport, you can stay in places outside the Boulevard Peripherique (the city’s vast ring road) yet still be within easy underground rail distance from the buzz of activity in the center of town. Add in the fact that there are plenty of deals on offer from the various flight and accommodation websites, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at some of the bargain prices that pop up.
Saving on the journey
Okay, so this one depends on where you are traveling from, for example, regular flights from Chicago to Paris are landing at Charles de Gaulle Airport, but the principal air hub isn’t the only one in the wider area. Travelers with cheap flight tickets to France are often landing in Beauvais airport, for instance. Beauvais is around 55 miles north of Paris, so there’s the added bonus of a coach ride through some lovely French scenery before you get to your destination, as well as some money saved! Also, if you’re traveling to Paris from elsewhere there is also the option of getting the train.
Pick your season
I’ve been to Paris at various times of – trips in the middle of July are fun, for sure. But it’s peak season and the city is heaving with tourists. But when I’ve visited in January, accommodation, and travel costs have been cheaper. And at that time of year, it’s almost a different city, because (while there are still plenty of other tourists around) it’s a time when the city feels less crowded and more fun to explore.
Be aware of price differences before you go
I was once caught short without toiletries in Paris, having forgotten to bring any. So I went into a late-night chemist and bought a few essentials. I will never forget the slight shock at having to pay over 7 Euro for a humble can of underarm deodorant. The trick here is, of course, to be prepared. Bring some cold remedy with you in case you get an attack of the sniffles – that sort of thing. Apparently in China, the home remedy for cold is to boil ginger in Coca-Cola but I’d advise packing all your toiletries and medicines in advance, rather than relying on ginger! Important note – always check-up in advance for what’s permitted in hand luggage and also the luggage that goes into the hold.
Eat well without spending too much
Parisians are known the world over for their sophistication and great taste in food. Sure, you could probably blow a fair proportion of your holiday spends on gourmet food. But the Parisian love of great eating isn’t limited to the confines of Michelin starred restaurants. Supermarket food is almost universally well prepared and tasty here, as well as not being overly expensive compared to other European cities. If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation you can make the most of this, as well as the array of local bakeries and delicatessens. And if you’re eating out, shop around. One of the best Paris lunches I’ve ever eaten was in the heart of the Latin Quarter – which is also an area that has a large student population. And where students are high in number, prices tend to be low.