Paris is not a city to see, but a city to experience. One of the most romantic and sought after travel destinations in the world, it is also among the most expensive places to visit! However, if you’re armed with a little bit of information from those in the know and equipped with the correct means for it, your trip to Paris need not cost you a hand and a leg. Here are some top tips for hacking a trip to Paris:
Use the Metro
While this is a no brainer, add to your savings by buying a carnet (pronounced car-nay) for the Paris metro and RER instead of individual tickets. A carnet of ten tickets cost €14.10 (€7.05 for kids) while each ticket if individually bought will cost you €1.80. A ten pack will help you save a lot of time and money as well. Each ticket can be used for a complete journey, with unlimited train changes, as long as you don’t leave the station.
Free Museum Entry
If you’re in Paris on the first Sunday of the month, you’re in luck! Most museums, including the Louvre (only from October to March), will offer free entry! But beware – this is no secret so be prepared for the hordes!
Flea Market Bargains
Paris may be the place for chic boutiques but take a look at the flea markets too! Saint Ouen Flea Market, one of the largest in the world, is well known for knick knacks and antiques from all over the world. Open on weekends, make sure to reach bright and early. Beware of pickpockets in this area though.
Museum Passes for Art Lovers!
Museum entry tickets can be very steep when bought individually, from €15 for the Louvre to €11 for the Orsay. However a museum pass or a pass that permits entry to multiple attractions can help you save big. Typically, these cost about €42 for two days or €69 for six days.
Free Walking Tours
There are services as well as city citizens who conduct free walking tours for tourists and visitors. Sign up for these to explore the arrondissements or neighbourhoods. Don’t take a taxi; walk instead. You can truly get to know Paris this way. From the quaint Montmartre, the youthful Saint Germain to the upscale Marais.
Free Water and Washrooms
Ask for tap water at restaurants instead of bottled water. It is safe and free! Use the Sanisette, the grey coloured public washrooms at street corners all over the city. They are automatically cleaned and disinfected after every use, and best of all, mostly free to use! Some may have a queue though, with each clean cycle taking a couple of minutes.
Explore the city on two wheels!
Riding a bicycle is a great way to explore any city: a healthy, cheap and eco-friendly solution that doesn’t involve searching for and paying for expensive parking spaces. Vélib is a bicycle rental system available all over the city and at train stations that you can use. Buy a daily, weekly or monthly ticket depending on the duration of your stay. Pick up at any station and return at any other. First 30 minutes are free. All you need to do is find a bike station before the 30 minutes are up, park it and get another. You will be travelling all over the city all day for next to nothing.
Airport to City for Less
Use public transport to get into the city from CDG airport; this will turn out to be a lot cheaper than a taxi. And even with luggage, it won’t be as tedious as you would imagine. Take the RER B for €10 into the city, and then change trains to get to where you are staying.
Get the Timing Right
Avoid Paris during Fashion Week, unless you actually have an invitation to an event. The hotels are packed and are least likely to be offering any kind of discount. This is also true for many holidays, festivals and other events.
Pick Where You Stay
Stay towards the south of Paris, a little away from the city centre. Avoid Arrondissements 1 to 8 if you are looking to stay for less. Arrondissements 12 to 15 offer the best balance between price and quality. It will be much, much cheaper, and with metro stations not more than 500 metres from any location, you will have no trouble getting to sightseeing spots in minutes.
Make the most of your trip to the fashion capital of the world. It has much more to offer than the Eiffel and the Louvre. Don’t miss the gardens, especially the less known Promenade Plantée and the Albert-Kahn Gardens. The offbeat places might end up delighting you much more than the famous spots.