Paris is more than just a city; it is a confluence of experiences and emotions. The city features on the bucket list of most travelers and is visited by more than 50 million visitors each year. Paris, unfortunately, is also one of the most expensive cities in the world, and with a multitude of experiences to participate in, a Paris trip can be exorbitant.
Here is a guide to explore Paris on a budget and make the best of every Euro you spend! From making the best of public transport to choosing the right accommodation, this guide will cover everything for a fantastic budget Paris trip!
Use a City Pass
A Paris City Pass is undoubtedly the best way to explore the city on a budget. The pass offers many benefits including free entry to attractions, savings of up to 50% on entrance tickets and the convenience of free transport. You can choose from two city passes in Paris – The Paris Pass and the Paris Museum Pass.
The Paris Museum Pass is ideal for museum buffs and will get you access to over 50 museums, including Louvre and Orsay. Every Paris trip advisor forum mentions this pass as a great value for money option. The Paris Pass is an all encompassing pass and even includes the Paris Museum Pass. With the Paris Pass you get a host of exciting tours, as well as hop on hop off bus tour and free transportation across the city.
Both the cards are convenient to redeem and extremely easy to use at all the attractions.
Use Public Transportation
Paris is a sprawling metropolis and is spread across more than 105 sq. km. A major chunk of travel expenses is often transportation, and the best way to enjoy a budget Paris holiday is to use the fantastic public transportation system.
- Metro: The Metro system in Paris is extensive and covers 16 lines with over 300 metro stations. The metro trains run every day with high frequency and is the cheapest way to travel in Paris. The Paris Metro runs from 5:30 AM - 12:40 AM from Monday-Thursday, and 5:30 AM - 1:40 AM over the weekend.
- RER: The RER is the Suburban Railway network and connects Paris city to the extended Paris region. You can use this on your day trips outside Paris.
- Tram: The tram system is hyper local and offers transport in the perimeter of the city. In case your accommodation is outside the city, you can take a tram to a metro station.
- Bus: The bus offers last mile connectivity in tandem with the metro network. While it is cheap to use this, you can get stuck in traffic for long durations, so use it only when necessary.
- Night Bus Service: This bus service runs from 12:30 AM to 5:30 AM and is suitable for transport after a night out on the town.
Hop On Hop Off
One of the most common Paris tips and tricks that veteran travelers will vouch for are the Hop on Hop off tours. A hop on hop off tour, as the name suggests, allows you to explore multiple stops on a tour vehicle with a single ticket. The tours have many benefits like free audio guides on board, maps, predetermined routes that cover all major attractions, and some of them even have live commentary and free Wi-Fi.
You can choose from two exciting HOHO tours in Paris – L’Open Hop on Hop off Bus Tour and the Batobus Hop on Hop off River tour. The L’Open Tour runs on three routes and covers all the famous tourist attractions in Paris. The Batobus takes the scenic route on the Seine and covers major stops like the Eiffel Tower, Musee D’Orsay, Notre Dame, and Champs-Elysees.
Visit Free Attractions
A cheap Paris holiday might be unheard of, given that Paris is one of the most expensive cities in the world. But, many beautiful and amazing places are entirely free of cost, and will allow you to experience Paris is all its glory.
Go on a stroll or spend the day with a picnic lunch at the many gorgeous free parks and gardens in Paris. Some of the best ones are Jardin d'Acclimatation, Jardin des Tuileries, Parc Monceau, and Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.
Explore the art and history of Paris at its free museums like the Paris Modern Art Museum and Musée Carnavalet. And don’t miss out on free entry to the famous Louvre and Musée d'Orsay on the first Sunday of every month.
Admire the stunning churches & cathedrals of Paris including the world-famous Notre Dame and Saint Eustache. Paris is a picturesque city, and you are bound to find joy and beauty in every corner!
Plan Your Trip Right
Summer is the best time to visit Paris on a budget, the weather is perfect, and spirits are high! Many summer festivals are conducted across the city, which are free and ideal to experience the culture of the city. The Fete de la Musique (June 21st) is a celebration of music, and all of Paris rings out with free concerts and performances. The Paris Plages are a unique concept where sand beaches come up on the Seine front and are free to visitors through summer. Bastille Day (July 14th) marks the French revolution and is abound with fireworks and lively festivities.
Some other ways to explore Paris on the cheap are to visit during the first week of the month when many attractions are free. For example, in winter, the Louvre, Musée D’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, Arc De Triomphe, Panthéon, and Sainte-Chapelle are all free on the first Sunday of every month from 1st November to 31st March. Many attractions in Paris are also free for EU citizens under the age of 25, as well as for teachers.
Eat at Boulangeries and Patisseries
Paris is a gourmet’s dream destination, and it is a travesty if you cannot sample the best of French cuisine on your Parisian holiday. The Michelin star restaurants can be tempting, and travelers should definitely visit at least one during their vacation. But eating out at fine dining restaurants can be expensive and also time-consuming, especially if you are on a cheap Paris trip.
The best option to save on food expenses is to visit boulangeries or bakeries, patisseries, cafes, and street food stalls for cheap yet authentic food. Some of the best boulangeries in Paris are Le Grenier à Pain, Maison Castro, Le Coquelicot, Cosi, and Mmmozza. You can sample great crepes at Breizh Cafe and La Crêperie Josselin. A fixed set lunch and dinner is also a great way to save on some money without compromising on variety.
Travel During Non-Peak Seasons
Paris is glorious during the summer but if you are keen on budget travel to Paris then you might want to consider traveling in the off-peak season, which is in winter. Off-peak season comes with a lot of advantages — low prices on accommodation, lower airfares, cheap fares in public transport, and most importantly, fewer crowds at the attractions.
In fact, if you can brave the cold, then Paris is magical in the winters, especially during Christmas time. The entire city is lit up beautifully, and the city, which is known for its churches and cathedrals, gets a spectacular makeover. Fantastic Christmas markets spring all over the city, and it’s a great time to indulge in year-end shopping sales.
Find a Cheap Place to Stay When in Paris
The idea of waking up to the view of Eiffel Tower from your hotel balcony can be romantic but it can set you back financially on your trip to Paris on a budget. There are many ways you can spend lesser on your stay in Paris. You can try to stay in a hostel or a bed & breakfast instead of a hotel. They can give you better cultural experiences as you can meet people from all over the world.
Certain neighborhoods, or arrondissements as they are called, are cheaper than others. Accommodation options in Montmartre, Latin Quarter, St. Germain, and Belleville are less expensive than those in the center of Paris. Moreover, the entire city is well-connected by public transport, so there is no need to spend a premium for options near the airport or attractions.