Paris on a Budget

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With my girlfriend eager to get out and do some exploring in the February Chinese New Year break (and it goes without saying that I am) we’ve narrowed our destination list down to either the warmth of sunny Australia or the frigid beauty of Europe in the winter.

When I was sent a guest post about doing Paris on a budget I was pretty excited, but my interest soon went beyond formatting the post. So, I put on a little Barry White, ran a bubble bath, and this article and my own twisted mind did the bad thing.

What you see below is an ungodly amalgamation of the original post and my own research. May God have mercy on us all.

Paris on a Budget: How to Get the Most out of Your Paris Vacation

Eiffel Tower
Who doesn’t someday dream of taking in the beauty of the Eiffel Tower up close?

Europe has always been an extremely popular tourist destination, but there are some locations in Europe that are more popular than others. France – along with Greece, Italy, and England – has become synonymous with European vacations, and the beautiful city of Paris is often the reason why.

Paris is well-known as the number one tourist destination in the entire world – no small feat when you’re up against the history of Greece or Italy; the natural beauty of Australia; the drawing power of the Disneys; and the wild majesty of Africa. Over 30 million tourists visit the capital of France every single year, and this number continues to grow as more people start to discover all of the wonderful things that Paris has to offer.

Taking a vacation to Paris is not exactly cheap, but there are several ways to plan a vacation to Paris without breaking the bank or scrimping and saving for years. This guide will help anyone plan a great fun filled Paris vacation without spending a small fortune making it happen.

Determine Your Budget

Before you even start thinking about taking a vacation to the great city of Paris, you better know what your budget is. Be realistic! There is no point planning a $10,000 trip to gay Paris if you’re working a checkout. It may not be the vacation you’ve always dreamed about, but it’s entirely possible to have a fantastic time anywhere you go without bankrupting yourself. Trust me – it’s the only way I travel.

When constructing your budget, it should include: spending money, airfare, food, hotels, travel insurance, and the all important shopping money. Or, if you’re a guy, that will probably be booze money. But they’re similar amounts of money. If they’re not – you’re doing it wrong.

You may also need to factor in the cost of transportation throughout the city. Whether it’s public transport, taxis (are you insane), or cycling, you’re definitely going to occasionally need to splash out a bit to get around. Planning your budget is much like shopping for anything else. You know what you can or can’t afford to spend on your vacation. Once you come up with a number, it will be much easier to determine if you can afford the trip.

Preparation is the Key to Staying on Your Budget

Even the most thorough planning won’t prepare anyone for unexpected expenses, but you can save a significant amount of money by making reservations far in advance. This will also help you stay within your budget. Many of the places to stay in France will offer steep discounts for booking far in advance. This can be one of the best ways to save some money on your vacation.

Where Do You Plan on Staying?

There are plenty of places to stay while you are touring the city. Deciding which place to stay in will usually depend on your budget. It’s true that it is an expensive city, but there are still plenty of affordable hotels in Paris. It really comes down to how much you want to spend. There are five star hotels that will treat you like royalty, and there are plenty of places where lodging is relatively inexpensive. Your lodging expenses will most likely make up the bulk of your vacation budget.

Don’t forget that hostels aren’t just for stinky backpackers on their gap year anymore, although families should probably avoid them, as hostels are generally geared towards the under 30 crowd. In that case, home-stay sites like AirBnB offer a remarkably pleasant and affordable alternative to hotels.

drunk backpackers
Not exactly family friendly…

Shopping in Style

No vacation to the capital of France would be complete without taking advantage of some great shopping. The only problem is this: the great shopping in Paris can quickly take a huge bite out of your budget. The whole idea is to enjoy everything that the beautiful city has to offer without maxing out your credit card. Luckily, there is an easy way to shop in style and still stay within your budget.

shopping in Paris

Many tourists don’t know about the discount shopping tours within the city. Tourists can access all of the greatest shopping secrets that are only known by the locals. These tours are not difficult to find either. Most of the popular hotels in Paris will be able to arrange these money saving shopping tours. Take advantage of these great opportunities so that the city does not take you and your budget into a darkened alley and beggar you.

NB: Perverts, that says ‘beggar’, not ‘bugger’.

Enjoying Fine French Cuisine

Ask somebody to tell you what they’d like to do in Paris and a few things probably pop up. The Eiffel Tower and the Louvre might be principle among them, but dining on French food won’t be far behind. Who hasn’t grown up thinking about sipping fine French champagne while eating extravagant French cuisine?

Yeah… I don’t see the appeal in French cuisine…

No vacation to this great city is complete without sampling some of the wonderful foods. There are plenty of places in and around the city where tourists can eat without blowing their budget. Information about these excellent places to eat is available online relatively easily. It also doesn’t hurt to ask some of the locals. Hit up sites like Couchsurfing or Arribaa to get in touch with locals willing (and often eager) to show you their side of the city.

Finding Cheaper Options

We can’t all take the horse drawn carriages and dine at the fanciest restaurants. The idea of standing in line for five or six hours to get into the Louvre or ascend the Eiffel Tower doesn’t exactly ring with appeal either.

It may not be the dream vacation you’ve always used to get you through calls with nagging customers or classes full of screaming brats, but don’t try and shoehorn unaffordable things into your holiday. You can have just as much fun by taking a few detours and finding cheaper (and often more fun) alternatives.

Attend a free classical music performance at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Paris, relax in the quiet beauty of Plas de Vosges, explore the many architecturally beautiful churches in the city, visit the catacombs (and the cathedral) that inspired the Hunchback of Notre Dame, hook up with a local to try some food away from the tourist traps, hit up a museum or a gallery on the first Sunday of each month for free admission, or find a quiet cafe and do a bit of people watching.

Place des vosges
Relaxing in the Place des Vosges is free

Determined to hit the Louvre? Admission is half price on Tuesdays and Fridays between 6pm and 9.45pm. With crowds substantially reduced, you can find some quiet time to spend with some of humanity’s most prized artworks. Want that stunning view of Paris without the queues at the Eiffel Tower? Grab a bite to eat in the Montparnasse Tower and soak it all in without a thousand tourists jostling you for position.

Don’t forget to do your research. There are plenty of affordable day trips from Paris available.

Vacationing in this great city should be about having a good time that will create memories that last a lifetime. Memories are free and Paris is expensive. The above tips should help you find a nice middle-ground so you can keep the memories and your house.

 About the Original Author

Jasmine Swanson is a contributing author who fell in love with the city of Paris at a very young age. She is an American citizen, but she travels to France at least once a year.

About the Man Who Bastardized It

I am Chris. I am awesome. Rwar!

Your Say

Ever been to Paris? What are your tips for doing it without being smothered in a crowd or leaving with only an empty wallet for company?

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