Saving money while in Paris

Saving money while in Paris, by Packing my Suitcase.

That Paris is an expensive city, no doubt, no surprise. But unlike Geneva, there are tricks to enjoy your stay in the city of lights without throwing money in the air. All you need is to make a little research or just keep reading this post to get a few ideas.

I have been to Paris many times, in different situations and seasons of the year. I even lived there for a short time, but make no mistake, there were occasions in which I threw money in the air for not knowing better. In order to help you not to make the same mistakes as I did, I put together some tips for saving money while in Paris without giving up comfort. They are no secret, but very helpful.

Book your hotel in advance or stay in an apartment

If you decided that you prefer staying in a hotel, try to book as early as possible or stay tuned for hotel deals. Some hotels will probably require you to pay in advance, but it is still possible to book great deals and pay during your stay.

Renting an apartment, like an Airbnb, is a great option to be considered. You are not only going to save on your daily rate, but also will be able to cook without spending a fortune eating out all the time.

Research cheap restaurants in advance

Even if you are not the kind of traveler who likes to plan, trust me, finding cheap and good restaurants around the city in advance will save you lots of Euros and stress. Give preference to places near the tourist attractions you want to visit, so you will have nearby options when you need one.

For some tips of restaurants near tourist sites check here. For other great options take a look here and here.

Saving money while in Paris, by Packing my Suitcase.

No taxi unless it’s an emergency

Taxi in Paris is a luxury, the prices are non-sense. So don’t waist your money on them unless it is an emergency, it is very easy to get around with the public transportation. But in case you want to take one, here you can check how much your fare might cost.

Take the RER from the airport to the center city

Because it is simply the cheapest option if you are arriving at the Charles de Gaulles airport. The RER are the suburban trains of Paris, it costs 9,50€ and takes around 30min to reach the center city; with this ticket you are also allowed to change to the subway and bus.

Buy the Paris Visite travel card

Available for 1, 2, 3 and 5 days, the Paris Visite not only includes the public transportation, but also gives you discounts in some tourist attractions such as the Tour Montparnasse, the Arc de Triomphe and Disneyland.

If you like museums, buy the Paris Museum Pass

If museums are your thing, Paris is a paradise for you. So if you plan to spend your days exploring them, buy the Paris Museum Pass, which gives access to over 50 museums and it’s available for 2 (42€) 4 (56€) and 6 days (69€) and also helps you skip the lines!

Saving money while in Paris, by Packing my Suitcase.

Stay tuned for free and reduced museum admissions

Did you know that every first Sunday of the month the museum admissions are for free? Well, if you didn’t now you know. Also in some museums like the Musée D’Orsay, after 4:30pm the tickets are reduced to 8,50€ (except on Thursdays when it’s only from 6pm). So if you aren’t buying the Paris Museum Pass, take a look at the museums’ websites to make sure you are not missing a bargain.

Take a free walking tour

You can enjoy the streets of Paris with a guide for the price of nothing. There are great companies offering this service, such as Discover Walks and City Free Tour, but remember that it’s always nice to tip the guide.

Fill up your water bottle

Especially during summer when drinking water is a matter of survival, you can fill up your bottle in one of the many drinkable fountains around the city. You save money and keep yourself hydrated.

Saving money while in Paris, by Packing my Suitcase.

Buy food and drinks at a grocery store

Water, wine, snacks to eat on the go, buy them at groceries stores near you. It is one of the best ways to save money in Paris, way better than to stop in every cafe in town.

Eat street food

Why not? Buying a baguette with ham and cheese to eat on the go is very French and cheap. Other options you find in the food markets around the city, check some of them here.

In a restaurant order the menu of the day (formule)

The formule is simply a set menu of the day, which might be a 2-course or 3-course menu. These formules start at 10€. Breakfast and lunch are cheaper than dinner.

You don’t always have to tip

By law, 15% of service is already included on your restaurant/cafe bill. You only need to tip if the service is attentive and helpful; in this case this tip is called pourboire, which means, “for drinking”.

Saving money while in Paris, by Packing my Suitcase.

Order a carafe d’eau instead of a bottle of water

A carafe d’eau is tap water, which is safe to drink in Paris. If you don’t mind drinking it, always ask for one at the restaurants as they are for free. Otherwise, if you say a “bottle of water” you will pay for it.

Don’t buy souvenirs at the attractions

Souvenirs are basically the same everywhere in town, so avoid buying them at the attractions’ official stores, as they are more expensive. Instead, look at the souvenir shops around the streets.

Enjoy free WiFi

There are places where you can enjoy free and almost free WiFi in Paris. Check this post for some recommendations.

Saving money while in Paris, by Packing my Suitcase.

Do you have a way of experiencing Paris on a budget?


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Saving money while in Paris, by Packing my Suitcase.

About Allane

A Brazilian living in Germany. Married to W. mommy to a baby girl and a Golden Retriever. Traveler, writer, aspiring photographer, diver, wine appreciator, Formula 1 fan, avid reader of historical and young adult fictions books. City girl, nature lover, believer of a better world, one little change at a time.

  • Gin

    I agree, Paris is ridiculously expensive, but you gave us nice tips to save some money ! When I look at the taxi prices in Leeds, I think it’s not that bad compared to other European cities. How are the taxi prices in Munich ?

    • I believe taxi is expensive in Europe 🙁 here in Munich is also expensive, the good thing is that the city isn’t so big. A ride from the airport to central Munich is around 50Euros 🙁 in Paris I remember I paid 80 from CDG to enter.

  • Really? I am so happy to know that.
    You are right, picknicking is the best way to save money with food in Paris, which is very expensive.
    Ohh I didn’t know the tickets didn’t expire, that’s awesome! I will think about buying one next time!

  • Thank you Andrew 😀

  • Thank you Vlad 😀
    Yesss, me too. I always order it… even though in comparison to Germany’s water, the water in Paris isn’t that good. But if it’s drinkable, I don’t mind.
    In Brazil we also can’t drink the tap water 🙁

  • So happy to know the post will be useful for you both!! Just in time!! And congratulations on the wedding <3
    I hope you both enjoy the city of love!!

  • Thank you for the comment Tess! Ohhh yes, London is also very expensive for Taxis, so probably in Paris isn’t that expensive in comparison. Here in Munich isn’t that cheap either 🙁

  • Thank you Marianna!! hahaha me too 😀

  • I’ve visited Paris many times and to be honest I don’t find it more expensive than London or New York! When we travelled there with my family in the 90s buying a baguette to make sandwiches was a common practice! Also when I visited 3 years ago I happened to be there during museum night and I got to Musee d’Orsay for free! And taxis are a no-no for me after a bad experience with a driver who did a looong detour to get us to the airport and charge us the equivalent of 100 euros (it was Francs back then)!

    • You are right Anna, Paris is expensive as London and NY. And taxis are also expensive here in Munich too, probably something common in big European cities.
      Ohh noo really? Sorry to hear that. I only took a taxi in Paris 2 or 3 times, to the airport only and it was very expensive!!

  • These are all EXCELLENT. UGH I remember the anxiety of getting stuck somewhere and having to shell out for the totally rip-off taxi service… I will re-blog this when I inevitably write my ‘Travel Memories’ post about living in Paris :))))

    • hahaahha yessss!! I hate how expensive they are… I only used them 2 or 3 times, but it cost a fortune!!
      Ohhh you need to write about your Paris memories 😀

  • Some great ideas here Allane. In fact most of the times I’ve been to Paris I’ve been on a tight budget (we used to go as students or when we’d just started work) and we always found we could get by on not too much. Of course we stayed in cheaper areas such as up nearer Montmartre. Always found the RER easy to use too (plus the Metro) and there are many pretty little cafes and restaurants tucked away if you know where to look. Last time we were there was 5 years ago, totally unplanned, as we got stuck in the volcanic ash problem and had to go via Paris and Eurostar to get to Switzerland from the UK. We found the cutest creperie in the Latin Quarter but I can’t remember the name. I’ve also just added a link for this week’s Monday Escape but since I’ve already commented on your other 2 posts thought I’d come here instead today! Have a lovely weekend! 🙂

    • Thank you so much Rosemary!!
      I guess the same happened to me, every time I am in Paris I am on tight budget, and yes, if you know where to look you certainly find something good and affordable.
      Ohh and I remember that problem with the volcanic ash, even though I wasn’t living in Europe yet.
      And thank you for commenting on this post, you are such a loyal reader 😀

      • You’re very welcome Allane I enjoy reading your posts very much 🙂 There is currently quite a big problem with volcanic ash clouds over Bali – it has caused considerable travel problems (many Australians go there for holidays although we’ve only been once). Hopefully the Icelandic volcano won’t erupt like that again – it caused travel havoc!

        • Ohh my really? I didn’t know about the volcano near Bali! A friend of mine is going there soon, oops!
          I hope it won’t happen again here in Europe!

  • hahaha yes, it’s possible to make it less expensive 😀 thank God!

  • Great tips! I have no idea that the museums are free on the first Sunday! I wish the Netherlands has similar thing as well – the prices of the museums here are expensive!

    • Thank you Indah! Yes they are free, so when you go try to be there on a first weekend of the month 😀 Museums there are also expensive, around 15 euros!

  • Hi Marta! Thank you, I’m happy you liked my list and that it inspired you to return to Paris 😀
    Yes you are right, self catering is awesome, you get to save a lot and as you said, even treat yourself with a nice dinner!
    I hope you return to Paris sometime soon 😀

  • Mabel Kwong

    Love all these tips! I never take taxi anywhere because it’s so expensive and with the money you can usually buy a few fancy meals! Agree with you on bringing your own water too. Sometimes it’s crazy to hear how expensive drinks costs – even smoothies, juices and milkshakes cost quite a bit. Then again, I don’t like carrying around a water bottle because it can be heavy 😀

    • Me too, I never take taxi!! It’s always so expensive, especially here in Europe :/
      While I am traveling I always have a bottle of water along, but when I am back at home I dont 😀
      You’re right, it’s heavy sometimes hahaha

      • Mabel Kwong

        Also I don’t feel that safe in taxis. You never know where the driver will drive you. It is creepy, especially when it’s at night XD Heavy water bottle is better than spending lots of money on buying a drink that you don’t like in the end 😀

        • hahaha you are right, at night it is creepy… especially if you are alone 😀

          Exactly, it’s safer to have your water bottle, even if it’s heavy 😀

  • hahaha yaaay it will be useful to you for sure 😀

  • Glad to know that! I hope you will have a wonderful trip to Paris 🙂