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.
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!
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.
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”.
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.
Do you have a way of experiencing Paris on a budget?