Recently I went to Paris. Obviously, it was great, but I knew it would be. What I didn’t expect was how affordable it was. Not cheap by any means, but not outrageous either. I think I spent about $700 in 5 nights and 6 days. That’s pretty good right? Here are some tips:
Frugal Tip: Travel Ok, this is a stretch that I got lucky on and it won’t happen to everyone, but if you have the opportunity, tag your vacation onto a trip that you are already taking. You can save a lot of money that way. I didn’t have to pay any travel expenses for my trip to Paris–I was heading to Congo for work and had a layover there so I decided to make it a long one. While I got really lucky here, it’s not the first time I’ve done it. My vacation in Austin was tacked onto a work trip in San Antonio and I know people who are going to Cuba for 10 days, mostly because their family is already flying them East for a visit.
Frugal Tip(s): Accommodation
1. Groupon. Kurt and I spent three nights in wonderful boutique hotels right in the heart of where we wanted to be thanks to Groupon. We paid 70-90 Euro a night for rooms that would have otherwise set us back 240-270 Euro.
2. Don’t be picky on your neighbourhood. We spent two nights in a Marriott in St. Denis, outside of the Paris core, but still only a block away from a major metro station. While we weren’t in the midst of all the excitement, it only took us about 30 minutes to get from our hotel door right to the heart of all the sights. Rooms there were about 100 Euro a night and were huge by Paris standards (aka a normal sized North American hotel room)
3. Airbnb. I did not Airbnb while I was in Paris, but a friend who was there at the same time did. She and her fiancée paid 70 Euro a night for a little apartment right in Le Marais (my favourite neighbourhood in Paris). And the bonus–it had a kitchen, so they also were able to save on preparing meals at home.
Frugal Tip(s): Feasting
1. Stay in a hotel that includes breakfast (our Groupon hotels did; the St. Denis Marriott did not). Sleep late (you’re on vacation after all). Head down 20 minutes before breakfast ends and eat way too much pastry and cheese. You should be nice and full until at least the late afternoon.
2. Whether you stay in a place with a kitchen or not, get to know your local grocer. Cheese and bread are dirt cheap and far more delicious in Paris. Also Paris calories don’t really count so….You can buy an afternoon snack that will keep you full for hours for 5 Euro at the grocery store. Pack it as a picnic and you’ve got the true Paris experience right there.
Frugal Tip(s): Sights
1. If you have to pay to go inside, don’t go inside. Or at least limit yourself to one or two. There are plenty of museums and galleries that will let you in for free and the main sights are just as perfect from outside.
2. Don’t pay full price for a tour. Seriously don’t. Those tour companies are giving those tours away, find a way to get it for free–your hotel may be able to offer it to you, flirt, coupons, etc.
3. If you’re interested in a Segway tour (and why wouldn’t you be?), these guys were the most affordable that we found: Mobil Boards
Frugal Tip(s): Nightlife
1. Drink wine. It’s cheaper that coca cola. Especially when you buy it at the grocery store and drink it in your hotel room.
2. Stay somewhere on a train line, in a neighbourhood that you feel safe walking around in at night so you can avoid taxi fares.
3. Wait until you’re in your 30’s to travel to Paris, the nightlife is way less alluring and your bed way more appealing once you’ve entered that decade. Trust me.