Paris: the city that needs no introduction
No description of Paris has done the city justice. The heart and soul of France, no other city in the world more clearly defines a country as a whole. Serving as the political, economic, and cultural capital of the nation, Paris is THE city of France. Attracting thinkers, and intellectuals from all around the world, few cities share the same free spirited and creative edge that Paris holds onto dearly to this day. While falling in love with this city may not be so hard to do, sticking to a budget can be.
After stepping off the bus from Bordeaux, My first feelings of Paris were similar your first time to New York City, just older, and with much lower buildings. This comparison wasn’t far off considering that the Big Apple serves many of the same purposes that Paris does for France. As with many big metropolises in developed countries, price tags can be quite a shocker. Prices for museums, food, and accommodation can throw a wrench or two into one’s budget plans. But with a little preparation, one of the most expensive cities in the world can actually be quite affordable and still very much enjoyable.
Saving on Accommodation
When planning a backpacking trip to Paris, assume that you will be spending the majority of your budget on accommodation. To avoid the worst prices, consider traveling to Paris in the off season. Prices in many hostels can be cut in half and will
allow you to budget more money for other activities in the city. In October, we ended up paying $24 per bed in a hostel (the normal rate was over $40). Also, avoid staying in the center of the city as prices are extremely high. Paris has an excellent transportation system and as long as you are a short walk away from a metro station, no place of interest will be more than 30 minutes away.
Choose where you want to spend the rest of your money
As for the rest of your remaining budget, spend wisely. While there are an endless number of museums and attractions you can go to while in Paris, you don’t have to go to all of them. Choose the ones that you feel are unique and are worth it to you. Obviously first timers have to hit up the Louvre and the Catacombs are quite the oddity. Paris is also FULL of sights that can explored for free. Iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Arc de Triumph can all be enjoyed without spending a penny. While going up the Eiffel Tower would be cool, it can easily be skipped as Claire and I had no problems just taking in the view from below. If you keep ticketed sights to a minimum and take advantage of the plethora of free activities Paris has to offer, you can save a lot of cash.
Saving money on food
The other big money vacuum in Paris is food. To get a decent meal for two in the city requires one to shell out at least 40 euros and that’s before you order any drinks. Due to this, for budget travelers, it is extremely important to choose which meals you eat out wisely. Choose a day that you want to spoil yourself and stick to it. If you do eat out, lunch is your best choice as it tends to be cheaper than dinner prices. While you are out exploring and are looking for cheap eats, there are plenty of sandwich shops where you can pick up a meal for a few euros. As for other meals it is best to cook them yourself.
How much did we spend in Paris?
Following these rules will help you to explore the city at an affordable rate. As Claire and I are on the road for over a year, it was essential that we did this. For four days in Paris, the two of us combined and averaged for $115 USD per day, or $57.50 per person.
What did we spend our money on?
As for museums, we choose to do the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles. Both of these were high on our lists and were must sees. We wanted to do the Catacombs as well, but we ran out of time so it will have to wait until our next travels to Paris. Everything else we did throughout the day was free and occupied us for a full four days. Here is a rough sketch of our Itinerary below:
Louvre, Notre Dame, random exploring
Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triumph, random exploring
Palace of Versailles
Walk around until it was time to get on the bus to leave in the evening =(
None of our days felt empty and we felt very happy with our stay in Paris. We just couldn’t get enough of this city. There is simply too much history, culture, and beauty to take in on just one trip. Come with the mindset that you will be coming back and you won’t feel stressed trying to see every sight the city has to offer (there are hundreds). Before we even left, Claire and I knew we would be back to one of the greatest cities in the world. There is a reason Paris is one of the most sought after tourist destinations and it will remain like that for time to come.