Paris could be incredibly expensive most especially during the holidays. So what the hell were we thinking right? Well, my broke ass has come to prove that it’s possible to visit on the cheap. We wanted to spend the New Year’s eve right where the action was. We expected full-on countdown and fireworks at the Arc de Triomphe but Paris decided to tone it down a tad in wake of the terror attacks. It was a bit disappointing but we didn’t let that burst our bubble. Our budget was also very tight but still we had a helluva time in the city of lurve without it costing us an arm and a leg.
First things first: Buy plane tickets ahead of time. That’s become quite a cliché already but it’s real talk. We booked our plane tickets 3 months in advance. Google now has a Flights tab where you can conveniently search for the cheapest flights for your preferred dates or destinations. For 60€, we flew from Berlin to Paris as part of our Xmas-NY getaway.
Second: Take advantage of Paris’ efficient public transport. One single ticket (called Ticket t+) costs 1,80€ but you can buy 10 tickets at once and save around 5€. This allows you to take almost all trains, trams, buses and the metro in Paris except for airport transfers. Check this site for more info.
Almost all attractions are reachable within minutes by metro. Yes, it still uses clunky and outdated subway cars but it does the job.
Third: Rent a flat/room on Airbnb. Lower your expectations on finding a cheap hostel or Bnb to rent because Paris could really get expensive so try booking early to have more options. There were 5 of us so renting a whole flat was a great idea, budget-wise and privacy-wise. We got this hip, cozy and well-situated flat for 31€ a night per person. It’s difficult to find a cheap flat close to the attractions so the trick is to find one close to a metro station.
FOURTH: Go window-shopping at Champs-Elysées. Even for cash-strapped tourists like us, this is certainly a must-see. Take in the lively Parisian atmosphere as you look at all the shit you can’t afford.
FIFTH: Admire two of the most iconic landmarks in Paris at night because they’re stunning as hell and also happens to be free.
SIXTH: Eat out only for lunch or the afternoon snack. Have breakfast and dinner at home (for those who rented AirBnbs). The kitchen is usually accessible when renting a whole flat. We’re lucky Anne, our Airbnb host, left us some stuff for breakfast like bread, coffee and tea, and Speculoos. We even made to-go sandwiches because we’re THAT cheap.
SEVENTH: Check if you qualify for reduced or free ticket to Louvre and other must-visit museums. Regular ticket price is 15€ but since we were below 25 years old and residents of EU, we got to enter for free. Downside: we couldn’t reserve in advance and had to wait in line for at least one and a half hours.
Before going, it’s recommended to keep in mind how enormous this place is. Everyone who’s visited says the same exact thing: you can’t see everything in a day. To make the most out of your visit, have a sort of a battle plan of which artworks and which sections you cannot afford to miss. And yes, bring a snack because you’re most likely to spend your whole day inside and to avoid overpriced museum cafeteria food.
This is just Part 1 of How I Did Paris on the Cheap aka how I travel, like, always because budget travel is the best and frankly, the only option for me. Watch out for Part 2 for more tips on how to make the most out of your Paris trip on a shoestring budget.