Paris on a Budget

Jet-setting to Paris for an affordable holiday need not be an oxymoronic fantasy. Discover some of the city’s best buys from the repeat visitors who swap Paris tips on the Fodors.com Forums.

  1. Stick to the shoulder

    Paris in May is lovely, but the city charms even in the dead of winter. The start of spring’s shoulder season, early March, might be your best bet for pleasant weather and reduced hotel rates.

    “We got a great deal to Paris in Feb. for my B-day one year. In Paris it’s easier to travel off season because most of what you’ll want to do, besides roaming the streets, is indoors. You don’t have to travel in the darkest of winter to get a good deal.” (more)

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  3. Check into a great deal

    You might not be flush enough to stay at the Ritz, but Paris abounds with small boutique hotels that won’t break your budget.

    Grand Hotel Jeanne d’Arc in the Marais, on rue Jarente, is reasonably priced and located near metro, shops and cafes. The staff is very friendly (and responsive to e-mails) and the rooms are clean.” (more)

  4. Carry the right card(s)

    Ride public transport like a local. With unlimited rides, a Carte Orange will allow you to make the most of Paris’s efficient bus and Metro systems. Museum-hopping? Be sure to pick up a Paris Museum Pass.

    “Will be in Paris for 3 days soon. Wondering if the Mobilis, carte orange, or a carnet of 10 tickets will be most economical to include a return trip from CDG airport via metro & RER train and perhaps a trip to Versailles?” (more)
    “Another added value for having the pass is that you if you can only visit a museum for a short time, you can return later and see more of it.”(more)

  5. Lunch with the stars

    For a four-star dining splurge, take advantage of the lower prix-fixe lunch menus found at many of the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants. For a list of Fodor’s recommended restaurants by neighborhood, see our Paris dining guide.

    “I was wondering if any of the Paris veterans might suggest some Michelin one-star restaurants (or those of equivalent quality) where we might get a meal for two at 100 euros or less and where we would be likely to get a table with a month’s advance notice.” (more)

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  7. Move into your favorite arrondissement

    For travelers who wish they were locals, the second best way to live the life of a Parisian is to rent an apartment. Many Fodorites sing the praises of the apartment listings on VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner; www.vrbo.com), Vacation in Paris (www.vacationsinparis.com), and Homelidays (www.homelidays.com), to name a few. In researching your options, let our Paris neighborhood primer steer you towards the perfect base.

    “We stayed in an apt. in the Marais for two weeks in October. As others have said, we loved the privacy, the space, and I loved having a washer and dryer so I didn’t have to cap off a long trip with a ton of laundry!” (more)

  8. Let technology be your guide

    Rent a GPS-guided system loaded with walking tours from Digi-Guide (www.digi-guide.com) and head out for a day’s worth of exploring for 15€. Have your own PDA or Smartphone? Twenty-nine tours are available for download on their website for under one euro.

    “He says that this Digi-Guide will never replace a human guide, but if you’re on a low budget and want to experience something new, it’s totally worth it. He also said that it was one of the best ways to discover the hidden places. I’ve already booked mine.” (more)

  9. Fly business class for under $1000

    Flying business class or better to Paris can easily run over $2,500 a ticket. East Coasters trying to avoid coach may wish to consider L’Avion (www.lavion.com), a new all-business class airline that started Newark-Paris flights on January 3. Promotional fares are available for as little as $999 roundtrip.

    “The French airline joins two American business-class airlines, Eos and Maxjet, already doing transatlantic flights and London-based Silverjet, which is scheduled to start London Luton-Newark service in late January 2007.” (more)

  10. Shop like a tourist

    If you are a non-EU resident, head to the customer service counters of Galaries Lafayette, Printemps, and Le Bon Marché; to pick up a 10% off discount card. For the best deals, hit the stores in January or July for double savings during the city’s unofficial winter and summer sales.

    “I’d strongly recommend Galeries Lafayette. When you walk in, go straight to the information desk, show them your passport to receive a 10% discount card good off almost everything (not the high designers). If you spend $200-225, make sure you get the VAT back.” (more)

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  12. Spend an evening at the opera (or the ballet)

    A performance at the Opera Garnier fits the bill for a special night out. Inquire at the box office about last-minute tickets (they’re often heavily discounted). For those on a shoe-string budget, get a standing-only spot on the ground floor for only 5€. The 62 spots are assigned when theatre doors open 90 minutes before the start of the performance.

    “There is a wide range of ticket prices to Opera Garnier. I believe our tickets this summer were 20 euros each. While the seats were way high up, they were in the center and the view was great. That is a fraction of the cost of something like Moulin Rouge and so much more worth it.” (more)

  13. Savor the simple joys

    For more suggestions on the best of Paris on a budget, check out this exhaustive list started in the Forums over five years ago. When you’ve returned from Paris, be sure to add your recommendations!

    “What a great thread! The wonderful posts are making me miss my favorite city. I need my annual fix soon. I haven’t read everything, so I can’t number these, and I apologize if they are repeats — but here are my favorite things to do in Paris.” (more, 100 Great Things to Do in Paris)

— Katie Hamlin

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