How to save money in Paris
- A Guest post from Eurochange
According to a recent survey from Business Insider.com - 2016, Paris is the third most popular travel destination in the world; with over 18 million visitors…it is also one of the most expensive!
But fear not, eurochange is here with a little travel advice, a few hints and one or two travel tips to help you save money in Paris. We’re going to assume that you’ve made it there and that your flight, drive or train ride were thoroughly researched and compared online. These days there are far too many comparison sites for all your travel needs so there is simply no excuse for a bad deal or a shoddy connection. But when you’re in Paris, how do you get around?
Saving on transport costs
- €1.90 per single ticket (approx. £1.70) The Underground/Tube/whatever is one of the fastest methods of transport in any metropolitan city and in Paris, it’s also somewhat beautiful. This French underground is approximately 133 miles long (214km) and has…wait for it, 303 stations! We know, right! Wow. That includes their ‘Ghost Stations’ (the abandoned stops). It runs across 16 lines and is second only to the Moscow Metro in terms of the number of people using the service. When first built, the lines were owned by different companies and as such, the connections are sometimes a touch “messy” (affect a French accent). One of the sweet aspects of the service is that Parisian lines allow for you to travel the city on the underground with your dogs, as long as they’re small.
Costing just €8 for a week’s worth of cycling using the Paris’ Vélib’ bike share program, tourists and locals alike can traverse this vast city at their leisure and at a price that’s right. There are 1,800 Velib stations throughout the city and in 30 surrounding cities, so there’s no reason to stay solely in Paris, other than the amazing architecture, food, people, culture, shopping, nature, sights, wines… Look, if you want to see a little more of the country and are willing to cycle a little further, then for €8, you can and should.
The “Paris Visite” travel card
The “Paris Visite” travel card is an unlimited card that allows uses to travel the city, Zone 1-5 (if you so choose) for up to 5 consecutive days. Price ranges from €11.65 to €63.90 depending on zones covered (1-3 or 1-5) and duration (1 to 5 days). There is also the option of combining this travel card with another pass – The Paris Pass - This card includes the afore mentioned travel aspect, but also provides entry to a host of sights including museums, monuments, river boat cruises, fast pass entries and more. Note: the Paris Pass is in the region of €130 per person, but if you’re looking to make the most of the Parisian city, then it might be worth-your-while.
Travelling solo or as a family, accommodation is no longer a chore. Sites such as Airbnb now offer the frequent and infrequent traveller a wealth of opportunities; from single rooms to converted churches, from tents to windmills, if you want it, you can pretty much have it and for a very reasonable price too. Note: be wary of cleaning and service fees added to the bill.
Visiting a city like Paris, it can be somewhat daunting. Where to go? What to see? When to eat? Where to eat? The list goes on, but below we have put-together a few ideas to help you. If you decide to visit the Louvre and let’s be fair, you will, visit on the first Sunday of the month in low season (October – March), it’s FREE! Likewise with the Musée d’Orsay: First Sundays of the month are FREE too. Notre Dame Cathedral: Admission to the cathedral is free but the bell tower is €10 Eiffel Tower: Normal admission: €17, Save time by buying your tickets online, in advance. If you walk up to the second level, you can save €3.50 and spend it on an over-priced croissant. If you decide against the Paris Pass but still want to see a few cultural sights, the Paris Museum Pass at €42 EUR for 2 days could be just the thing for you. Tip: If even the discounted cards are too high, you can take a FREE walking tour, but expect to tip. A couple of euros each, that’s not so bad, right?
Eating and Drinking in Paris
Parisian Michelin-starred restaurant are a highlight, at least that’s what we hear. However, meals in such eateries can be on the astronomical side, but it’s OK, there’s another option; meals are far cheaper during lunchtime than dinner! They’re still not going to be cheap-cheap, but cheaper than your overdraft at least. Tip: Water and bread are free in restaurants in France. You could just order a starter to share, take a photo for your food blog and hightail it after filling-up on baguettes and tap water. If lunch at a 5 star restaurant is beyond your budget, buy your lunch at a market or bakery – it’s obviously cheaper and how can you beat bakery-fresh, no matter whatever country you’re in? Paris has more than 800 drinking water fountains located throughout the city where you can easily fill up your water bottle for free; Paris even has sparkling water dispensers too! Tip: Bring a filter bottle, if you’re a little unsure how the local water may treat you.
When travelling the world, figuring out the customs and culture of the place you’re visiting can be a bit of a minefield, and working out what you should tip in each country is one of the more awkward obstacles to navigate. Our tip? Round-up! 15-10% is an American mentality. Adopt pourboire, meaning literally, a bit of spare change to buy a drink. Eg. €6.20 - €6.50. Of course, if you think the service requires it, you can leave more.
Forget your roaming plan, free Wi-Fi is easy to find in cafes, fast food joints (all McDonald’s), parks and museums.
What the tourists miss
Visiting a BIG city can sometimes become rather tiring and that’s when you start missing the relaxed nature of a sleepy village, well look no further. Montmartre is a truly beautiful and quaint village, nestled within the heartland of Paris. Yes, there are the big sights nearby – the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur for example, but if you’re in the mood for a quaint, slow day, get yourself lost in the cobbled streets, cafes and gardens or Montmartre.
Parisian Romance and where to find it
The “Pont des Arts” or “love bridge” is the spot where all the lovers place a padlock and then throw the key into the river Seine. There’s also a stunning view of Notre Dame from the bridge. You can take an old padlock with you (there’s saving money for you) or buy one in Paris – we didn’t check, but they can’t be that expensive or hard to find.
The Sound of Paris
Major cities of the world are saturated with sights. Here, there and everywhere you look, there’s something to ‘see’, but what about something to ‘hear’? Paris has inspired artists of all kinds from all over the world and to that end; its sounds are a mixture of music that seeps into your consciousness. Not to get too poetic, but if you simply stop and listen, you’ll be pleasantly shocked at the sounds you will hear. Free park concerts are common and if you’re recovering from a night-out or simply looking for a slow morning to enjoy your coffee and croissant, sit on your rented balcony or in the communal courtyard and listen, chances are someone will be playing something.
And to round-off our top ten hints and tips, here are a few facts to inspire your trip. On average 10 film or commercial shoots happen in the streets of Paris each day – you could become famous! There are dozens of pianos in the train stations of Paris - the scheme was initiated by the SNCF and you can tickle the ivories as and when you please. The Flame of Liberty, to be found next to the Pont de l'Alma is one of 5 Statues of Liberty in Paris and is now a memorial for Princess Diana.
We hope this article has fuelled your imagination and worked your wanderlust. Remember, eurochange is available to exchange you sterling for euros prior to your jaunt and we hope you visit us soon.