Oh, Paris! The city of love, romance… and high prices. This European capital has enough beautiful museums, monuments, and churches to keep visitors busy for weeks. The problem is that for most people even spending a few days here can blow your travel budget. The city is definitely not cheap but remember, plenty of locals live here and get by just fine. With the right planning and some money saving tips, you can safely add the city of Paris to your travel bucket list.
Save on the Metro
Many of the most popular highlights in Paris are within walking distance of each other. However, if you only have a few days in the city and want to see everything, you should definitely consider using the metro. Paris’ metro system is great, with frequent trains throughout the day and into the night. And while taking the metro is far cheaper than taxis, metro tickets can quickly add up.
Save money during your trip by buying a multiday pass, a weekly Navigo card, or a carnet de 10 ticket book. Multiday passes offer unlimited rides on the metro for 1, 2, 3, or 5 days. They are great if you will be taking multiple trips per day, which is normal if you plan to really explore Paris in depth. The weekly Navigo card is more designed for locals and is a bit harder to get but completely worth the extra effort if you will be in the city a full week. Finally, if you aren’t sure you will be using the metro enough to justify a pass, be sure you at least buy your metro tickets in a pack of 10, called a carnet de 10, which gives you a discount for buying your tickets all at once.
Save on Museums and Sites
Coming to Paris and not going in at least one museum is almost unheard of. The city has some of the best art and history museums in the world. Add to that the historic churches, famous monuments, and nearby Châteaux and you have a seemly endless number of choices on what to see and where to go. The only problem? Most of these sites come with steep entrance fees.
If you really plan on seeing as many Paris highlights as possible, the Paris Museum Pass might be a great option. Besides getting you into nearly all of the city’s museums, the pass also allows free access to Arc de Triomphe, the Panthéon, and even the Palace of Versailles, just outside of Paris. At most sites pass holders can also skip to the front of the line and get in faster, giving you time to see even more great sites.
Another option, if you time your trip right, is to visit the most popular museums and sites in Paris for absolutely nothing. Free days are held the first Sunday of every month, with most museums in the city offering free entrance all day long. Be aware though that free days are popular not only with tourists but also locals and even school groups, meaning the museums can get very crowded.
Save on Food
Part of coming to Paris is enjoying the classic French cuisine. With excellent restaurants found around the city, many earning multiple Michelin Stars, it is easy to think that you can’t find an affordable meal in Paris. This could not be further from the truth. From cheap snacks in the local grocery stores to some of the best “fast food” you have ever tasted, Paris is filled with hidden food bargains.
A good method to save, especially if you plan on eating out most of your trip, is to make lunch, rather than dinner, your main meal of the day. Most restaurants in the city offer daily lunch menus, with a fixed price deal on a multicourse meal. You will get an appetizer and main dish or main dish and dessert for a set price, usually around €20. In some places they even give you all three – appetizer, main dish, and dessert – making it a great deal. An extra tip is to ask for a pitcher of water (carafe d’eau) rather than just water to avoid paying for expensive bottled water.
If you are in a hurry and just need a quick meal before you hit another museum, don’t be afraid to try Paris’ great “fast food” options. We aren’t talking McDonalds here but rather real, homemade food that you can find throughout the city in small shops or street-side food stands. Grab a ham and cheese stuffed crepe to fill you up or many one of the great looking baguette sandwiches you see in countless boulangeries windows around the city.