How to Visit Paris on a Budget
Paris may be an expensive city, but keeping track of your euros need not mean scrimping on fun.
When to visit Paris
Before you even land at Charles de Gaulle or pull into Gare du Nord, it's worth considering when is the most affordable time to visit Paris. It goes without saying that hotel prices and attractions soar during the summer, with the winter months easily the cheapest – how about beating the Christmas blues with a January break in Paris? In the winter, bar the Christmas markets, Paris is also delightfully quiet. Outside of winter, one of the best times to visit Paris on a budget is late May. The spring bloom is still visible across the city, the weather is warm, and the crowds have yet to descend. If travelling on the Eurostar, it’s a good idea to book your tickets in advance and keep your eyes peeled for sales and special offers.
When it comes to saving money, finding the right place to stay in Paris is crucial. The cheaper arrondissements to stay are generally on the edges of the city, like the 12th, 19th and 20th, where you'll find remarkable homes like Le Belleville. There are plenty of affordable options within our collection of more centrally located homes too, like Rhodanthe in trendy South Pigalle.
Getting around Paris on a budget
Forget Uber – the trusty Paris public transport network is where it’s at. Using the Métro and buses is the easiest and cheapest way to get around the city besides walking (which we totally recommend doing, as much as you can). If you're happier on two wheels, there’s also the Vélib shared bike system. You can rent a Vélib bicycle for as little as a euro a day, so long as you have a valid bank card and semi-decent road sense. When you’re buying your T+ tickets (those tiny slips of card with magnetic strips), you can save by buying a carnet. This book of tickets works out at a discount price. You can use these on the Métro, buses, and trams, and can be bought from the vending machines in most Métro stations. It’s also worth looking into travel passes (Mobilis, Navigo, Visite) offered by the RATP (Paris’ public transport service), especially if you’re not planning on walking much or are staying a bit longer. Stay somewhere close to Paris' top attractions like The Piano Factory in Montmartre, where you'll be able to enjoy the ease of walking around the city too.
Eating in Paris on a Budget
As with almost anywhere - and this is where finding the perfect holiday let really pays off - cooking your own meals is the cheapest way to eat in Paris. A quick shop at the local Carrefour or Monoprix can go a long way to saving some euros. You needn't give up all of the luxuries of Paris dining, though. There are plenty of traditional brasseries and bistros offering bargain set menus (formules) for lunch at less than €15. Combine this with a set breakfast and nighttime picnic along the Seine, and you’ll be looking at less than €30 a day. Most brasseries in Paris supply unlimited baskets of freshly baked bread and jugs of water. Perhaps most crucially, avoid tourist hot spots. Many cafés hike up their prices in the vicinity of the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, but there are plenty of side streets in the same areas with great prices. The Saint Germain Nest in Saint-Germain-des-Prés is surrounded by great places to eat, drink and while away the days like a true Parisian flâneur.
Shopping on a Budget
If you're in need of some Parisian retail therapy but are still set on how to visit Paris on a budget, head to your local flea market or vintage store. Paris’ flea markets and vintage shops are havens for attracting big-name garments. It takes a lot more carboot-style scouring the racks to find the true gems than it would to buy them straight off, but who can argue with a Burberry coat for €30? Plum's favourite vintage gold mines include: Marché aux Puces de Vanves (Avenue Georges Lafenestre, 75014), Didier Ludot (24 Galerie Montpensier, Palais Royal, 75001), La Petite Robe Noire (125 Galerie Valois, Palais Royal, 75001), Ragtime (23 Rue de l'Echaudé, 75006), Chinemachine (100 Rue des Martyrs, 75018)
Places to See on a Budget
You've undoubtedly come to the French capital with a bucket-list of things to see in Paris. When it comes to how to visit Paris on a budget, the good news is you don't have to miss out on the city's prime attractions – it simply means getting a bit creative. In general, even climbing the Eiffel Tower won’t set you back as much money as it will time. There is plenty to do in and around Paris that costs nothing, or next to nothing. Paris has, for example, some of the most amazing parks and best museums in the world. If you travel to Paris on the Eurostar, your ticket generally gives you 2-for-1 entry to most of these awe-inspiring museums. Alternatively, if you really want to delve into Paris' cultural scene, invest in a museum pass – it works out cheaper if you plan to visit a large number of museums. It's worth noting that some museums and galleries are free to visit on the first Sunday of every month. You can also go inside of Sacre-Coeur, Notre Dame and watch the Eiffel Tower light show from the Trocadéro – all without spending a cent.