Paris on a budget
Are you coming to Paris, but the plane or train tickets already ruined half of your budget? Don’t worry, thanks to these tips to visit Paris on a budget, you will be able to enjoy the city for the cheapest price! It’s not the amount of money you spend that determines the fun you can have. To enjoy Paris on a budget, it all comes to small tips, only known by the locals! Today I’m sharing with you the secrets to how to fully enjoy Paris on a budget!
How to stay on a budget
To find housing in Paris, you really shouldn’t underestimate the suburbs. They are not so far from the center of the city, and very well served by the RER, a Paris rail service. The apartments and hotels are less expensive there. And if you take a week pass for the Metro, it includes the RER, so it won’t cost you more! The only inconvenient is that it’s less “authentic” and “Parisian”.
Examples of those suburbs are Nanterre, Chaville, Clamart ou Levallois: take a look at the Airbnb’s there! Moreover, Airbnb’s often offer you a kitchen that you can use in order to not always have to eat outside or in restaurants. To stay in Paris, you could also check youth hostels. They are less expensive than real hotels, especially in Paris. Le Marais, a very trendy district in the center of Paris, has several youth hostels. To rent a room in a youth hostel is definitely the best way to live in the heart of the city when you don’t want to spend all your budget on the housing!
How to eat on a budget
If you want to eat French food in a restaurant, go there at lunch. Restaurants have lunch menus that are less expensive and as good as evening menus! And keep in mind that most of the Parisian boulangeries (bakeries) serve delightful homemade sandwiches or salads, and incredible French pastries for less than 10 euros. Another option to eat for less is to choose to take away or to buy your food at local supermarkets. In Paris, you can easily find a Monoprix, Franprix or Carrefour City, which are providing fresh sandwiches or salads for a cheap price! And if you find yourself close to a park, a garden, or the river banks, it will actually turn out to be the best way to enjoy a great meal in Paris!
How to drink on a budget
Whenever you eat in a restaurant, be sure to order tap water, which is free and totally safe instead of a bottle. In case you’ve run out of water, don’t buy one: just fill up your bottle in one of the 800 hundred drinkable fountains in Paris. You should also know that if you want to have a coffee, ordering a café at the bar of the restaurant is often cheaper.
How to visit museums on a budget
Every first Sunday of the month, museums are free! As it is usually a bit expensive for people over 18, you should really come on the first Sunday of the month. But here is another tip: you should wake up early to avoid lines since there are many people enjoying the first Sundays of the month to go to the museum!
There are as well other special free museums days in Paris: “La Nuit Blanche” on the 7th of October and “La Nuit des Musées” in May. During these events, most of the museums are open and free for the whole night. It is such an astonishing experience! Also keep in mind that you can visit any church for free in Paris, including the Sacré Cœur or Notre Dame.
How to travel in Paris on a budget
Paris offers lots of different public transports, both convenient and cheap. For example, taking the RER could bring you from the airport Roissy-Charles de Gaulle to anywhere in Paris for only 10 euros. The mobilis card offers, during a day, unlimited travels in central Paris for 7,30 euros with RER, Tram, Bus or Metro. Nevertheless, unless you’re planning to use more than 6 times a day public transports, prefer buying tickets in a bulk, 10 for 14,50 euros.
If you’re in a sporty mood, you could also take a Velib, a Paris renting bike service. You rent one in the numerous bike stations (the first 30 minutes are free of charges) and then you put it back in any bike station. You can do this as many time as you want during 24 hours for 1,70 euros, and for 7 days for 8 euros. You will just be temporary debited with a deposit amount of 150 euros, so you need to pay with a credit card. This is a cheap and great way to visit Paris while enjoying a sunny weather.
How to enjoy Paris with children on a budget
Interesting a child can sometimes be hard. If the museums are to make them run away, you can still propose other activities to make them discover Paris. The city has several great free parks. For example, le Parc de la Villette has a huge dragon playground where they can easily have fun. There is also the Jardin d’Acclimatation. The entrance ticket costs 3 euros, but the inside is full of surprises (including a few paying coasters)!
And it’s always the opportunity for you to relax with a great book in a lovely garden. If your children are interested in going into the castle, you can as well go outside of Paris, thanks to the RER for a couple of euros, to visit one of the several great and magnificent castles, such as the Château de Sceaux and its “jardin à la française”. And if they are looking for a great view of Paris, bring them at the rooftop of the Galeries Lafayette or the shopping mall Le Printemps. For free, you will have a breathtaking view over the Parisian roofs.
How to go out on a budget
Do you want to have fun at night, without undermining your budget? Just like most of other cities, Paris bars offer happy hour special prices on cocktails and beer pints. It depends on the bar, but it’s often between 6 to 8 pm. Two of the best streets of Paris to have a drink are la rue des Canettes and la rue Princesse, in the district of Saint-Germain, near the Latin Quarter. You will find either affordable wine bars and pubs. It is the best way to start an evening in Paris!
You can also buy a couple of beers or a bottle of wine, with a takeout dinner, then go to the river banks, around the metro station Invalides. This Parisian tradition will make you discover the sunset on the Seine, an impressive and beautiful moment! And if you’re looking for a live concert, check Le Truskel, a nice live music club, that hosted several great artists such as Metronomy or the Strokes. The entrance is free, the pints cost 6 euros and the cocktails cost 8 euros.
How to do fancy Parisian things on a budget
If you’re in the mood for a fancy drink to live a luxurious Parisian experience, the best way to do so is to go to nice hotels such as the Ritz and to go to their bars to have a drink. Of course, it is going to be a bit expensive, between 10 to 15 euros for a basic drink, but you can still enjoy an amazing decoration without paying the astonishing price of the room. You can also get cheap tickets for the Opera Garnier.
Every day, from 11.30 am, you can buy last minutes tickets for 10 euros. Even though they have a restrictive view, you get to know the inside of this amazing building and enjoy a wonderful show. Same with the prestigious national theatre, la Comédie Française: if you arrive one hour before the show, you can get 5 euros tickets with a restrictive view in the marvelous Galerie Richelieu. You might want to be able to understand French of course, but the great theatre sets and the striking actors are worthwhile!
Where to shop on a budget
Some may have told you that the easiest way to save money in Paris is to avoid any shopping street. But Parisians actually know a couple of great places to shop on a budget. Firstly, there are two main sales times in Paris. The first happens in January, and the second one in July. So if you’re a shopaholic, make sure to come to Paris during those months. In rue de Marseille, you can find the outlet shops of many great French brands such as Les Petites, Claudie Pierlot or Maje.
Those are still a bit expensive, but the discounted price you get is worth it! If you’re looking for cheaper, go to rue du Faubourg du Temple. This street truly is a shopping temple, full of low prices shops, but definitely fashionable! And don’t forget about the two fun Kilo-shops of Paris, you pay for your clothes according to their weight (one is located at 69-71 rue de la Verrerie, or the other at 125 Boulevard Saint Germain)!
Finally, you can do lots of things in Paris on a budget, but you’re still missing something: you need advice and explanations from someone who knows Paris by heart. This is why Discover Walks offers free-guided visits of the capital! It works with tips so you can tip whatever you want! The guides are very nice and they love their city. Moreover, they’re all real Parisians. So to discover Paris with Parisian born guides, check our tip-supported tours! So now that you know how to enjoy Paris on a budget, have fun, and try to stick to your budget! See you soon!