Paris is always a good idea. It’s the City of Love. The Birthplace of Modern Democracy. It’s magical, mysterious, romantic, energizing. You can feel the history and the passion for life there. For more years than I can say I had always wanted to go there. So, last year, in the final week of our 4 months in Europe, we decided to spend a week there. But, after 4 months in Europe, we knew our budget would be feeling a bit thin and that we were going to have to do everything we could to make this pricey city as budget friendly as possible. Here are a few ways we made Paris more affordable.
We went in the off season – We traveled to Paris in the winter, at the end of January. This also happened to fit into our itinerary well, although we did shift our trip by one week in order to miss Fashion Week, which saved us 50 Euros a day on our lodging, or about 30%. Was it cold? Yes, and it was also a bit dreary on a few days. But Paris was still incredibly beautiful, even in the rain.
We rented an apartment – We did research on Airbnb and VRBO, and then contacted the owner directly to arrange the rental. We paid 99 Euros/night for an apartment in the 5th Arrondisemont. You can’t find a hostel in that neighborhood for that amount. We wrote about our little Parisian apartment on the blog last year.
We purchased the tourist card – We used that to visit some of the more touristy and popular attractions in town (for less than if we’d paid separately) and took advantage of free days at museums.
We shopped in a grocery store and cooked several meals at home – We saved big bucks by cooking at home. It also gave us the opportunity to play a bit at being a local. We shopped at Monoprix, the local grocery store, and then picked up bread and pastries at the local boulangerie, alongside all of our Parisian neighbors. We not only saved money, we also got to see what the locals were buying and buy it ourselves. We ate breakfast and most of our dinners at home, and they were all spectacular due to the yummy groceries we had access to near our apartment. Plus, nothing was more romantic than an intimate dinner for two at the window of our tiny Paris apartment.
We ate in local bistros and cafes, usually for their lunch specials. – Rather than hitting up any famous touristy restaurants, we would just step into a local cafe for coffee and pastries or head over to a bistro with the rest of the businessmen for one of their lunch specials. The food and atmosphere were always fantastic. We met a lot of locals this way as well. Everyone was incredibly gracious to us, which is usually the case when you step off the beaten tourist path.
We used public transportation and walked. – Taking the metro is way cheaper and quicker than a taxi. But we also spent a great deal of time wandering along the Seine or exploring new neighborhoods on foot. There is no better way to see Paris.
And our week there? Well, it was magical too. Check back on Friday when we’ll share some of our favorite memories and photos from our wintry time in Paris. We’ll also show you how you can do Paris this year on a budget.
What things do you do to make a trip more affordable? Tell us in the comments below.