Top 10 Ways To Visit Paris On A Budget

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Jun 05, 2016 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

You're headed to Paris! Want some easy ways to save money, while exploring the City of Light? We've got it - Top 10 Ways To Visit Paris On A Budget.

10 Ways to Visit Paris on a Budget

1. Transportation

Walking - yes, walking is free.

Bikes - this is a very inexpensive option. You can rent bikes from Vélib for €1.70 a day. There are 1,800 bike stations around the city. You can use your Navigo pass here! velib.paris.fr

Cars - it is inadvisable to drive in Paris. Besides the traffic, parking is very expensive. Because of my disabilities, I needed a car - and just used taxis. Much cheaper, to be honest.

Metro/RER - Get the Navigo pass (used to be the  the Carte Orange, discontinued in 2009) - a pass that is good for unlimited travel during a certain time period (whatever you pay for). Since each metro ticket costs €1.60 a journey (zones 1&2), this can save you a great deal of money. Buy either the Navigo semaine (one week pass) and Navigo mois (one month pass). The Navigo pass costs €5 to initialize, you add in the amount of time you'd like it for. Buy at ticket booths or machines. Or, buy the Paris Visite Pass - which is slightly more expensive. Includes discounts at many attractions. (ratp.fr/en/ratp/c_21894/paris-visite/)

Bus - take the Paris City Bus System - all around town! Free with the Navigo Pass.

Boat - how cool is this? There are several boat services on the Seine. Buy a day (or 3 day) ticket, you'll be able to get on or off as you need.

Batobus stops by the Champs-Elysee, Louvre, HOtel de Ville, Tour Eiffel, Musee D'Orsay, St. Germain de pres, Notre Dame, and Jardin des Plantes. batobus.com/

Or try Vogueo, the river shuttle. No tourists, just locals. If you have a Carte Orange/Navigo Pass, it is free!  vogueo.fr

2. Museums

Did you know that all city-run museums are free, in Paris? Here are some favorites:

Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (16th)
Petit Palais (8th)
Musée de la Vie Romantique (9th)
Maison de Balzac (16th)
Maison Victor Hugo (3rd)
Maison Zadkine (6th)
Musée Cernuschi (8th)
Musée Carnavalet Histoire de Paris (history of Paris) (3rd)
Maison Bourdelle (15th)
Musée Cognacq-Jay (3rd)
Mémorial du Maréchal Leclerc de Hauteclocque et de la Libération de Paris
Musée de la Vie Romantique – (9th)
Musée Zadkine (6th)
Musée national Jean-Jacques Henner (17th)

 

I am sure that you know that most major museums are free on the first Sunday of the month. But instead of fighting the crowds at the Louvre, the Picasso Museum, Pompidou, the Musée d'Orsay, etc., check out these fascinating museums on the First Free Sunday with far less crowds:

• Musée national de l'Orangerie (1st)
• Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (3rd)
• Musée national du Moyen Âge (5th)
• Musée Rodin (7th)

 

You can also buy the Paris Museum Pass (parismuseumpass.com). This gets you entrance (and the ability to skip lines) at:
Arc de Triomphe
Centre Pompidou
Musee du Quai Branly
Musee de Louvre
Tour de Notre Dame
Musee D'Orsay
Pantheon
Musee Rodin
Sainte-Chapelle
Chateau de Versailles

- over 60 museums and monuments!

And please note that if you're under 18, most national museums are free.

3. Food

You don't need to spend a fortune on food (although you can). Visit the local markets, stock up on bread, cheese, wine, and have a picnic!

Try the smaller ethnic restaurants - they are far less expensive than the traditional tourist or Michelin-starred restaurants.

Ask for "une carafe d'eau" (oon karaaf doe) for free tap water, instead of paying for bottled.

Best bet for your money? Head to The Fork (thefork.com). You'll be able to look at 5,000 restaurants in France - and get special, online-only deals when you make your reservation.  A huge bonus of this sight is the enormous amount of reviews from readers. Bravo!

4. Learn from the Locals

Try Paris Greeters - it's a volunteer organization that pairs locals with travelers.

Our objective is to show Paris differently to our visitors, which means that we will not show them the big monuments like the Eiffel Tower or l'Arc de Triomphe, which they can easily visit by themselves, but more intimate parts of Paris like the back of Montmartre, la Goutte d'or, the Faubourg Saint Antoine, the latin quarter, the Marais, the village of Passy, the grands boulevards, the new district of the grande bibliothèque,....

Paris

5. Where to Stay?

We recommend renting an apartment while in Paris. It's much cheaper - and you can shop locally and cook your own food. Worried about a $5 cup of coffee? Not so in your own kitchen. One of my favorite books about cooking in Paris is David Lebovitz's The Sweet Life in Paris. Read it before you go, and then search out your favorite shops. You can also try couchsurfing or AirBnB.

6. History

Specifically, cemeteries. I know, some people think they are creepy. BUT! It's a great way to explore history. Paris has fourteen cemeteries. The most visited is the Père-Lachaise cemetery, as it as over 1 million people buried there (and more than 2 million people visit it annually!). Last home to many luminaries in the arts.  All free.

7. Get Outside!

One of the joys of Paris is the large amount of green spaces. Gardens and parks are free - and full of people-watching, picnic opportunities, and more. Try the Tuileries (oldest and largest garden in Paris; known for the pond where you can sail small toy boats), the Luxembourg Gardens (also has 100 sculptures), the Palais-Royal Gardens (note the rows of chestnut and lime trees), and take a walk on the Promenade Plantée, which runs from the Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes.

8. Read

Visit the Bibliothèque nationale de France (French national library). Free.  (13th). Or, the The American Library in Paris (donations) for books in English, free wifi, and TONS of events (including for kids). (americanlibraryinparis.org/) (7th)

Love Hemingway? Head to Hemingway's Place de la Contrescarpe (5th).

To Buy (and be part of History) - visit Shakespeare and Co. (shakespeareandcompany.com/) for free events, lots of books and history, and more. (5th)

Explore the 20+ English bookstores in Paris!

9. Events and More info

The best site we've found is Paris (paris.fr/english)! It lists events (including free events) and excellent information on visiting Paris.

10. Explore!

Walk around the Tour Eiffel - be sure to get your Eiffel Tower tickets in advance. Watch traffic at the Arc de Triomphe, or people on the Champs Elysee. Visit small neighborhoods, hop on a bus and see where it takes you. Talk with locals, and ask where their favorite places are. Head to the flea markets (there are 3, the biggest is Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen), or the many small food and vegetable markets. You'll learn so much more than following a guidebook, or hitting the tourist traps.

 

 

 

More Paris and budget travel goodness here on Wandering Educators:

Hungry for Paris

10 Best Books on Paris

Paris for Locals: 16 Travel Tips

Foodie Finds: A Paris Weekend Getaway

The 5 Best Gastronomic Reasons to Visit Paris: Paris by Food

8 Ways to Get Around Paris

10 Free or Almost Free Things to Enjoy in Paris

Disneyland Paris Tips & Tricks

10 Ways to Save Money on Family Travel to Paris

Visiting Paris - Creme Brulee on a Shoestring

A Visit to the Sewage Museum (I lived to tell the tale)

12 Top Tips for Booking a Cheap Flight

 

and many more...

 

 

What are your top Paris Tips? Please share!

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (1)

  • Timothy Schenck

    8 years 10 months ago

    The thing I remember about visiting Paris during my college years was the cost. In fact, I spent the better part of my visit watching the opening rounds of the French Open because it seemed to be the cheapest thing to do for a novice visiting the city without proper planning.

    I've been looking forward to returning to Paris with my wife, who's never been there. I'll certainly be using this guide to make the most of the travel experience.

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