How to Save Money while Visiting Paris

Known internationally as the City of Light, Paris is one of the most coveted spots to visit in the world. Home of the Louvre, the Mona Lisa, the Eifel Tower and high fashion, the Romantic City is also one of the most expensive places in the world to visit. With strong determination to save money, setting an itinerary and a budget to travel on, one can experience gay Paris to the fullest without putting a strain on their pocketbook. Here are some simple ways to save a bundle of cash:

Yes, Paris is loveliest in the spring, but if you want to save the most money on your dream trip, go between the months of November and April. Avoid the late spring and summer months. Not only are attractions less crowded, travel accommodations are discounted during the off-season

Avoid the added expense of a rental car and taxis if at all possible. Paris and even the smaller cities in France have great public transit systems. You can contact the tourism office to get specifics on the transportation system routes and destinations. Details of the Paris Visite and Carte Orange transportation passes are given below.

If staying for a couple of days or more, consider purchasing the PARIS VISITE PASS, geared for tourists. It may be purchased at the metro stations and airports, and allows unlimited use on the Metro, RER (express regional trains), bus, tramway, and SNCF trains. It is the best and most economical way to travel around Paris. The pass is sold in 1, 2, 3, or 5 consecutive days. The cost of the pass depends on the number of days you will be traveling and the zones which you will be traveling through. A one-day pass covering the central zones of Paris costs $10.80 while a five-day pass costs $34.48.

If planning a long-term stay (more than a week) consider purchasing the CARTE ORANGE. Even though these passes are intended to be purchased by Parisians, tourists can buy them too, and they are a better value than the Visite Pass. These passes can only be bought in Paris, and a photo must be accompanied with the pass. The price depends on the zones covered. As with the Paris Visite Pass, it allows unlimited use on Paris’ public transportation system.

Consider staying in a smaller suburb of Paris, where overnight lodging is sure to be much less expensive. It will most likely be well-served by the Metro or the RER (the suburban train lines). Nearby towns like Chartres are only short train ride away. This alone could save hundreds of dollars.

Instead of hotels, consider staying in hostels, vacation rentals or do a home exchange (if you live in a city that is a popular vacation destination to Europeans). You will sacrifice a lot of privacy in hostels, but you’ll save a lot of money. Vacation rentals are far less money than hotels, and you can do your own laundry and cook your own food in them. A home exchange would be absolutely free. A French couple would stay in your home or apartment in the states while you stay in theirs. Again, you’d be able to do laundry and cook most of your own meals there.

Go to a grocery store and purchase snack foods, fresh fruits and groceries you can eat on the go. Limit dining to one meal a day. Plan a romantic picnic at Champ de Mars one evening, while the lights of the Eifel tower twinkle in the distance. Paris is known for their fine food, so do plan on having at least one fine meal in a nice restaurant. Try eating other meals at cafes or from a street vendor. French cuisine will be cheapest during the lunch hour, and the prix-fixe menu or the dish of the days are both affordable options.
With so many magnificent sights to see, look into buying a museum pass. This pass allows free admission and unlimited visits to 70 museums and monuments, including the Louvre and Pantheon. Not only will this pass save you money, it will save you hours of line-standing, since direct entry is given to pass holders. The cost for a one-day pass is $25; a three-day pass is $52, and a five-day day pass is $83. Also, the Louvre, Musee Picasso, Arc de Triomphe, Sainte-Chappelle are all free on the first Sunday of the month. The Parisian cathedral of Notre Dame’s admission is free. The magnificent church is one of the greatest achievements of Gothic Architecture. You can receive a free guided tour of Notre Dame in English at noon on Wednesdays and Thursdays or on Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. The Louvre offers reduced admission after 3PM, and Musee d’ Orsay offers a reduced rate on Sundays. If you opt not to purchase the museum pass, at least visit attractions during discounted hours and days.

Last, but certainly not least, check the exchange rate. If our country’s monetary value is lower than the Euro when planning your trip, it may be to your advantage to book your hotel and passes at home rather than in Paris.

Is seeing Paris on your “bucket list”? Make your dream a reality by keeping your eye out for flight bargains, booking early and following the simple guidelines above. Bon Voyage!