By Maria Khazova
Whether you are Paris obsessed like me or find it a bit lack luster, one thing everyone can agree on is it is expensive. ESPECIALLY to those already traveling on a budget. While it is an iconic place to stop on your first European adventure, many people don’t go back because they discover cheaper countries that will stretch their dollar way further. I recently went to Paris for my third time and was the absolute poorest I have been while traveling. Lucky enough I was with my best friend who was also scraping by.
This is how we stayed 6 nights in the City of Lights and probably spent less money than in any other European city:
Flying to Paris was Extremely Cheap
We were traveling Portugal when we decided on our impromptu Paris trip. Not only did we find extremely cheap flights from there but we waited to pull the trigger on purchasing it until about a week before the trip and the price only went up a few euros (24 to be exact.)
DISCLAIMER: One thing you need to remember when booking such an inexpensive flight is to read the fine print about baggage. While a flight might cost you 15 euros, airlines might charge you upwards of 50 euros per bag. DON’T MAKE THIS MISTAKE.
AIR BNB is the Way to Go
Another huge expense in Paris is accommodation. Hostel starting prices are some of the most expensive in Europe and do not match up with the quality you are getting.
However, one thing I found that was pretty reasonable across the board was Airbnb prices. While this is still on the expensive end for a lot of travellers, we found private rooms in apartments for around 11 euros a night. So if you’re traveling alone or are able to give up some amenities you’ll make out even better.
* Airbnb also gives you credit if you refer someone to their service. You get upwards of 30-80 euros and so does the friend you refer depending on the country you’re signed up under. While this isn’t a huge amount, but any free money is worth taking advantage of. Use my link here for Airbnb for a referral so both of us can get free stay!
Skip the Ubers, buses and metro and just walk EVERYWHERE. This might seem like a lot but once you make the commitment it is so much easier. Paris is huge but it is also so beautiful. There is so much to see and not only will walking everywhere save you money but it will also make sure you don’t miss a thing.
If you think of time in the matter of hours you spend on Netflix or doing other irrelevant things it’s really easy to motivate yourself to not be lazy. Keep track of your steps on your IPhone or Fitbit throughout the day and turn it into a race against yourself.
*Download the “CityMapper” app before your trip or Save an. This will give you walking directions everywhere, and work offline as long as you start it before you leave Wi-Fi.
Skip the Tours
One valuable thing I learned while traveling Europe in general is how much a waste of money most tours are. While some are really informative, the most popular ones are the hop on hop off buses. They cost about 25 euros and in my opinion take away the authenticity of exploring a new city.
If you really want to do a tour, most European cities have free walking tours that run everyday. Just tip your tour guide a few euros at the end and it becomes a more cultural and cheaper alternative.
Be a Bargain Hunter
Some things in Paris are worth spending money on but do your research first.
One of those things is the Louvre. Even if you are not an art person, everyone can admit seeing the Mona Lisa is almost a right of passage when in Paris (even if it is extremely underwhelming.)
The Louvre is free every Friday evening from 6pm to 9:45 pm for anyone under 26.
If you’re visiting from October to March, admission is also free on the first Sunday of every month. And if you happen to be a student or teacher of the arts, your admission is always free. Look up discounts to places you plan to go and don’t be afraid to ask!
Don’t Go On Top of Anything
While it is tempting to want to go to the top of the Eiffel tower or the Arc de Triomphe, if you are trying to budget don’t do it. Not only will it cost you a hefty sum but it is also not really worth it.
Instead skip all the long lines and expensive tickets and go to the Sacre Coouer in Montmartre. The breathtaking Basilica sits on the highest hill of Paris and the views will not disappoint.
Don’t Eat Out
This is why having an Airbnb was really important to us. Eating in Paris is EXPENSIVE. While it sounds sinful to go to Paris and not try the cuisine, save it for a time when you have money. Go to the grocery store and cook your meals. Our biggest grocery trip cost us around 30 euros. This included bottles of wine, sweets and food for 4-5 days
Don’t Go Out For Drinks
While going to a bar or two when you’re in Paris is essential, if you are actually trying to get a buzz just stick to buying wine at the super market. You can find a bottle as cheap as 2 euros that will last you the night.
If you think the high prices will tempt you, skip the bars all together and opt for drinking wine and eating cheese in front of the Eiffel tower light show. It doesn’t get more Parisian than that and still one of my favorite things to do in Paris.
For the single girls out there, get Tinder. For the most part, French men are very aristocratic and will ask you out to drinks or dinner instead of the usual “Netflix and Chill” you might be used to. If you’re traveling with a friend, ask them to bring one too. This breaks up the awkwardness and allows you to turn it into a friendly hang out if you’re not feelin’ the romantic vibes.
Living by these rules, my friend and I were able to have an extremely fulfilling trip without emptying our bank accounts. We truly got all the best out of the best city in the world and could afford our plane ticket to the next place.