Paris has a reputation for being expensive, but it doesn't have to be. You can still have a great time in Paris, even on a budget!
My husband and I had 4 nights in Paris in September 2021 and spent just €375 / £320 - that included accommodation, a 3 day Paris transport pass and all our food and drink for two people. Of course, you could spend even less than that if you wanted to, it just depends on what kind of experience you want to have.
There's so many great things to see and do in Paris. Luckily there's also a lot that you can see in Paris for free! Below I've shared my 9 top tips to make your money go further so that you can visit Paris on a budget and have the best time!
9 Top tips on how to visit Paris on a budget
1. Look for 'Plat du Jour' options when eating out
We agreed that we would only ‘eat out’ during the evening, to cut down on spending during the day, which massively helped us to budget. When eating out, look out for the 'plat du jour' options at restaurants and cafes - we managed to get two 3 course meals and 2 drinks for €38! All the restaurants have large menus outside which you can view and check out the prices or any offers they have on, before you go inside.
2. Save your budget and have a packed breakfast and lunch
As I mentioned above, we chose to only eat out at restaurants or cafes in the evening. For breakfast, we bought fruit and cereal bars or pastries to have each morning then for lunch, we had a picnic in the park. We were quite lucky when we visited that it was gorgeous and sunny, so we bought ourselves lunch either from a supermarket or a kiosk and enjoyed it in one of the parks.
Having a 'packed lunch' when travelling is one of the best ways to save some money, as such a large portion of the budget usually is spent on food and drink. There are some great takeaway choices in Paris too for fresh baguettes!
Snacks with a view of the Eiffel Tower!
3. Enjoy a Sunset Picnic on the River Seine
As we were wandering along the river on the first night, we noticed that the local Parisians were all bringing food and drink to enjoy at the riverside as the sun set. So, we decided to copy them! Not only is this a great way to save money, but it was also one of my favourite things to do in Paris. The River Seine is one of the best spots in Paris to watch the sunset, so take a bottle of wine and some snacks and join the locals lining the river edge. It's such a great atmosphere in the evening and the sunset is beautiful, especially if you find a spot with the Eiffel Tower in view!
Sunset on the River Seine - Picnics never looked so good!
4. Take advantage of Paris' water fountains
Paris has free drinking water all over the city, so pack your reusable water bottle and top up as you go. Not only does it save you money, but it also reduces your plastic waste.
5. My top tip for getting around Paris? Buy a Paris Visitor Pass!
Paris has a great public transport network and it is so easy to use. The visitor pass is the most cost-effective way to get around, particularly if you are spending 2 or 3 days in the city. The pass will allow you to use all the public transport networks, including the buses, metro, RER (overground city trains) and main train networks. You can buy the pass to cover either zones 1-3 or zones 1-5 for 1,2,3, or 5 consecutive days. We bought a 3-day pass to cover zones 1-3 and the cost for two adults was €53 /£45, which is just £7.5 per person, per day for unlimited travel!
6. Relax in one of the parks
City breaks can involve a lot of walking (we ended up walking 30km on the first day we were in Paris! - I know, we are mad!), and sometimes you just need to sit down for a break. But if you’re on a budget, you don't want to sit in a cafe and spend money on a coffee.
Paris is spoilt for choice when it comes to green spaces, with several beautiful parks and gardens, where you can rest your feet and soak up the atmosphere. Some of the prettiest gardens in Paris include the Jardin de Tulleries, by the Louvre and the Jardin du Trocadero with a view of the Eiffel Tower. My favourite garden and one of Paris' must-see places is the Jardin du Luxembourg.
The Jardin du Tuileries, Paris
7. Look out for free exhibitions or events in Paris
As with all major cities, there’s often so many different events taking place at venues across Paris, so it’s worth taking a look beforehand to see if anything is on. We managed to watch the 3x3 basketball Euro Cup for free and it was a great night!
8. The ultimate budget-friendly activity in Paris - Do your own walking tour
Paris is blessed with so many beautiful sights, attractions and neighbourhoods which you can wander around, completely free of charge! For me, walking around a new place is the best way to soak up the culture and atmosphere and you see so much more this way. Plus, this is the most budget-friendly way of experiencing a new place. Apart from food + drink, accommodation and the transport pass, we didn't spend anything else and we were busy the whole time we were in Paris!
There's so much to see for free in Paris...
9. Stay a little further out to save money
It goes without saying that the further away from a city centre or attraction you stay, the cheaper the accommodation is. We stayed in Saint-Denis which is on the edge of zone 2 and 3. It was only one stop (9 minutes) on the RER to Gare du Nord and only two more stops to Notre Dame Cathedral. Also, if you are planning on buying a Paris Visitor Pass for the public transport networks, then it makes sense to stay further out, as you can’t buy a pass for zone 1 only or zone 1 and 2 only. You have to buy a pass for either zones 1 -3 or zones 1-5. So I would recommend staying in zones 2 or 3 and save money on cheaper accommodation.
Our hotel was basic but clean, it was less than 5 minutes walk to the train station and we had a private room with shared bathroom facilities and it was only £39.50 per night for two adults. You really don't need to stay in the city centre to get the ‘feel’ of being in Paris.
I hope that you found these tips helpful. How much you choose to spend really does depend on your own budget and also what you want to see whilst in Paris. For example, we did not pay to see inside The Louvre or to go up the Eiffel Tower. However, I don't feel that we missed out by doing this, we still got to see everything we wanted to see and had a great time!
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