Uncorking a bottle of delicious French wine on a sunny afternoon sitting at a cute little outlet on a random street in Paris, glass of wine in one hand, brie spread on baguette in the other, gazing out towards the skyline of Paris.
*long, satisfied sigh*
Day-dreaming already? Read on…
Well, Paris is a city that melts the heart of anybody that visits.
But Paris is also a city that melts the contents of your bank account. Your money will ooze out of your bank account as quickly as chocolate from their delectable Éclairs – if you aren’t smart with your money.
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way, and you will not have to sacrifice eating those delicious Éclairs or the like just so you could afford a bed at night. How to get cheap accommodation in this expensive city? I’ll get to that soon, hold your horses.
Use any of these nifty tips (use them all bro) to visit the City of Light on a budget:
No taxis — Are you a fan of overspending on useless taxi rides that could get you stuck in traffic and throw your budget plans out the window?
Why not just use the extensive subway system they have so graciously built for the public?
Vélib’ is a useful bike program — It is almost as if they came up with the bike-sharing program to help travelers stay inside their budget. Cheap rent-a-bikes to take you all over the city!? Yes please!
Get any of the 20,000 bikes from 1,800 stations throughout the city. This is where it gets interesting. Daily costs. You spend just €5 for a day with a bicycle or you can pay €15 to hire it for a week!
You’ll need a pin-and-chip card to use the machines. If you don’t have that type of credit card, you can buy a ticket online and use your access code at the stations.
Don’t use hotels, use hostels instead — Hotels in Paris are so expensive and on the contrary, hostels offer budget accommodations at a steal for those on a budget. Here are some great hostels in Paris.
Drink in hostels — Even if you have taken the decision of not staying at a hostel ( it is highly recommended) you should still consider drinking at their bars. Hostel bars offer some amazing deals during happy hours, with beers as little as €2. This makes them a great place to start off your drunk adventures or maybe even a place to have a drunk adventure in … who knows? Here are some great hostels in Paris that I personally know will give you great deals.
Couchsurf — What is better than a cheap place to stay? A FREE place to stay! Thats right! A free stay is what you are in for if you are lucky with couchsurfing. While not most people are open to the idea, couchsurfing is a great way to save some money and meet new people in the process!!
So many free sights to see — Paris has a lot of free attractions, most of them being museums. If you are a fan of what they have to offer, you could just take your bike and head to any one of them! Here is a list for you!
Free walking tours — Free walking tours are available from many of the guides in Paris. Some of them are modeled after the New York City tours and you could get on some of them but just make sure you tip your guides a little something! I have found a list to help you.
Get the set lunch menu — If you eat out, do so at lunch and get the prix fixe menu (yeah the french make everything sound so fancy – turns out it is just a SET MENU. Check out some cool restaurants here). Restaurants throughout town offer this set menu during lunch, and with prices between €10 and €20, it’s a way better deal than the regular dinner menu!
Pick up lunch at outdoor markets — At any of the umpteen traditional food markets of Paris, you can pick up some cheese, wine, bread, meats, or anything else, and head to the park for a picnic. The locals are doing the same thing! What can I say…. ahhh its the best way to get a taste of Paris!
Hit the grocery stores — Get some local groceries and cook your own meal! Unless you are a fan of having food served to you on a platter not knowing how it has been made. Just make your own food so that you know how much effort the french put into making some of the delicate looking delicacies!
Enjoy free summer festivals — French people love their summer fests. You can find any numbers of people going to these fests because they cost nothing and you can have a ball of a time!
Carry a refillable water bottle — Well well well here we are, asking you for the sake of the environment. STOP USING PLASTIC! HOW HARD IS IT!? (imagine someone literally screaming this in your face).
Apart from being a sustainable change for the environment, using a water bottle that you can refill at any of the 800 Fountain d’eau (water fountains) this gorgeous city has to offer located throughout the city.
All that shopping — Unless you have an unlimited amount of cash to back you – in which case you should just go and buy half of Paris – avoid shopping in Paris. High taxes and labour costs make everything more expensive than it should be. Remember, you are here for a good time, not to drink ultra purified French water that costs more than a meal and tastes weird.
There’s nothing in Paris you couldn’t find a similar version of in your home country at a much cheaper price(well apart from the Eiffel Tower of course). Save your money and use it for experiences, not stuff.
Stay away from the tourist centres – There’s like an invisible line tourists never seem to cross. If you want to have experiences that others do not, go do something that others are not.
The local tourism office — The local tourist office is full of people to help show you how to spend a night on a budget in this expensive city of love. Show them some love by giving them a tip and they will shower you with tips to find cheap stuff!
Paris is an expensive city, and visiting there on a budget has become harder in the last couple of years. But, like any major city, there are plenty of budget options if you know where to look. By making a few small adjustments, you can find big savings that will make any trip to Paris fun, affordable, and memorable. And you will have money left over to satisfy your gastronomical urges (don’t forget about the delectable Eclairs! :p)