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Beating the Euro in Paris (and the rest of France)

Beating the Euro in Paris (and the rest of France)

Old Mar 18th, 2008, 09:11 AM
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Beating the Euro in Paris (and the rest of France)

<i>“My ambition is to have beautiful encounters, not to make money.” - Actress Juliette Binoche</i>

While she may be referring to her acting ambitions, I think Ms. Binoche is on to something. However, I aspire to have both beautiful encounters and &quot;not worry about money&quot; the next time I travel to France, her native country.

A few weeks ago we had a thread running full of tips for stretching the Euro in Italy. There were a ton of great tips there--some of which will be quoted in the next Fodor's Rome and the next Fodor's Florence, Tuscany, &amp; Umbria guide.

So it's France's turn---please share your best budget tips, top value recommendations, and suggestions for budget savvy trips (both short and long) outside of the country's popular capital. Editors Rachel and Caroline will be by later; a few of you might have met them at last year's GTG in New Jersey.

Hopefully this will be a valuable resource for everyone planning trips there this summer. Here's wishing you all beautiful encounters that don't break the bank.
Katie_H is offline  
Old Mar 18th, 2008, 09:33 AM
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Outside of Paris, food and lodging are cheaper. A lot of the entertainment is open-air and free: historic area walking tours, public gardens, markets, strolls in the woods, watching small-town soccer aka football games.

In September, there's the weekend of the Journees de Patrimoine when lots of interesting sites are open free or at a reduced price. Some of these places are rarely open to the public.

B&amp;Bs are cheaper than hotels and you can have great conversations at the breakfast table.

The Bib Gourmand selections from Michelin are their idea of good value. Not as cheap as a baguette and cheese, but wonderful food for less than the cost of a one-star meal.

I'lll have to give this more thought and try to be more specific.
Coquelicot is online now  
Old Mar 18th, 2008, 09:42 AM
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Rent a gite in a centrally located and interesting place. Outside of peak season, these can be remarkably inexpensive.

You can eat in (this saves a ton of money) without actually doing a lot of cooking by shopping at local markets, charcuteries etc. for prepared foods that can be eaten cold or just warmed up.

We have found that a rental car (Nova in northern Ireland is our favorite because of its great prices and good service) frequently turns out to be cheaper for two people than taking the train. If you drive, be sure to get a really good Michelin map for the area.

France has lots of fascinating areas that aren't typically on the Ameerican tourist radar. Hachette Vacances is a French guidebook series that has guidebook specifically targeted towards smaller areas of France. But some more specialized guidebooks like these, and you will find lots of ideas.
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 09:54 AM
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I agree with staying in B&amp;B's. You can often find them from 50 Euros or less in rual areas. If you're staying longer than 17 days, lease a new car, it's usually cheaper than a rental. We did 7 weeks in Europe, France included, in the spring of 2006, the off season, for around $150 a day, not including the car lease and air fare. Granted it would cost more now, but we're planning on doing it again in the spring of '09 and expect to spent around $200 a day. You can read about how we did it here in our trip report. Lots of links on the last page.

dgassa is offline  
Old Mar 18th, 2008, 09:58 AM
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Chose small French Hotels rather than Branded hotels. The prices are normally more sensible. Equally avoid hiring Gites through the big sites (eg Gites de France) as these are focused at the international market. Get to understand the Department system in France and then google for the offical Department tourist office web site which will house all the local hotels and gites.
bilboburgler is online now  
Old Mar 18th, 2008, 10:15 AM
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For a family, or friends traveling together, a week at a gite might be cheaper than a B&amp;B. But for two people, the B&amp;B is a better deal. We know a lovely 45 Euro B&amp;B, which includes breakfast. A gite would have to be less than 315 Euros to beat that, even cheaper if you have to provide your own breakfast. Last year we averaged 50 Euros per night at B&amp;Bs.

It's cheaper to buy gas at supermarket gas pumps than elsewhere.

Back roads are toll-free and more scenic than the autoroutes.
Coquelicot is online now  
Old Mar 18th, 2008, 10:37 AM
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Something as simple as carrying purchased small bottles of soda or water from the Franprix or Huit a 8 stores found in most large cities in France will save euros while you are day tripping.

Planning far enough ahead to purchase the lowest price train tickets.

Watch for new train routes opening up from Paris and plan a trip around &quot;introductory&quot; prices for the new routes. Trains can be a low cost and comfortable means of point to point travel in France.

DeborahAnn is offline  
Old Mar 18th, 2008, 10:51 AM
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If you want to take gifts back for friends, shop at the big chain stores--E. Leclerc, Super Champion, etc. Just be sure the gift isn't made in China. Chocolate bars, savon de Marseilles, books in French, canned pates, are possibilities.

A restaurant lunch is cheaper than a restaurant dinner. One day we'll eat a restaurant lunch followed by a bread-cheese-pasry dinner; the next day we'll have the bread-cheese lunch followed at dinner by salad and something to heat up from Leclerc.

This is a great thread and I'm learning from everybody who posts something here.
Coquelicot is online now  
Old Mar 18th, 2008, 01:32 PM
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Hello fellow travelers, I'm the Paris editor I'd like to thank everyone for their tips so far. I'm always looking for ways to save a few euros in Paris so that I can visit as many of the city's wonderful restaurants as possible.

It's true, restaurant lunches, rather than pricey dinners are a great way to save. And an inexpensive picnic lunch in one of Paris's many parks, or by the Seine, is also a good way to save a few euros that you can spend later.

I also try to save money by skipping hotel breakfasts, if possible, and just have my morning coffee in a cafe, rather than spending large sums on huge in-house petit dejeuner. It's not always an option though.

Caroline_T is offline  
Old Mar 18th, 2008, 02:13 PM
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This is a great thread, and thanks to the OP, and the responders!!
Gretchen is offline  
Old Mar 18th, 2008, 02:41 PM
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Tagging this one for excellent content...well done !
Marko is offline  
Old Mar 18th, 2008, 03:28 PM
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I sympathize with people who are addicted to Pepsi or Coke, but when I read about the price in restaurants, it's always a shocker. Instead of ordering soft drinks in restaurants, buy them in supermarkets, especially if you have access to a fridge where you're staying.

On the other hand, I want to make this point. Don't stint on what you really enjoy. To save money you might just want to do/eat/drink less of it. You can find somewhere to cut costs that doesn't affect your overall enjoyment.
Coquelicot is online now  
Old Mar 18th, 2008, 05:04 PM
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On a Sunday morning take the m&eacute;tro to the Place des F&ecirc;tes, pick up picnic items at the market on the square, walk down to the top of the Parc des Buttes Chaumont and join the Parisians on the grass who are also having a picnic.
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 05:29 PM
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Caoroline T wrote: &quot;I also try to save money by skipping hotel breakfasts, if possible, and just have my morning coffee in a cafe, rather than spending large sums on huge in-house petit dejeuner.&quot;

One of the worst deals in Paris (or anywhere) is the typical French breakfast in a hotel. But if you have the capacity, a full buffet breakfast can be one of the best deals. I often have a large breakfast followed by no lunch or a little snack, and get through to dinnertime. So, when booking hotels, I look out for packages that include a buffet breakfast.

And while we are discussing tips for making money go further in Paris, should we not mention tips, and the fact that they are not necessary in France? And if one suffers from an irresistible urge to tip, that one should do so at a much more modest rate than in the US? As a denizen if Euroland, I don't face the concerns that Americans do, and still I don't feel obliged to tip for normal service.

There is value in treating Paris as a destination, rather than as a place which contains a number of destinations. By that, I mean that time spent wandering in the city can be every bit as enjoyable as visiting great museums and galleries. I don't mean skip the Louvre, but don't spend all your time visiting things for which an entrance fee is charged. Why has French given us such words as boulevardier and flaneur if strolling in Paris is not a pleasure?
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Old Mar 19th, 2008, 12:05 AM
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If you are staying in self-catering accommodation in Paris, don't shop for groceries in Monoprix - it's expensive. Instead find your local Franprix or Leaderprice, or hunt down a branch of ED l'Epicier (less common in central Paris than in the outer arrondissements) for super-cheap (non-branded) foodstuffs.

Both these chains are less common outside the Ile de France region (instead you'll see Petit Casino grocery stores, which can be quite expensive). On the other hand, if you are staying in <i>province</i> you are more likely to be within reach of the large hypermarkets like Carrefour, Auchan and Leclerc.
hanl is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2008, 01:41 AM
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People will get much more for their money by staying away from the exact center of the city. It is all very well to want to see the Eiffel Tower from your hotel window or to be a 5-minute walk from the Louvre or Notre Dame, but that adds a lot of money to the travel expenses. European tourists learned this long ago, which is why the 9th and 10th arrondissements are the ones with the most tourists and the most hotels. Even more money can be saved by staying in some of the ordinary pleasant neighborhoods of the outer arrondissements, where people can discover that the very same rotisserie chicken that they thought was a bargain on rue Cler at 10&euro; or more is actually &quot;2 for 10&euro;&quot; in the 18th arrondissement.

It goes without saying that the metro and bus systems of Paris are very efficient and get anyone to the center of the city quickly -- with the added attraction for bus users of seeing all of the sights along the way.

Basically, people who stay farther from the center are not only spending much less money, but they are seeing a lot more of the city. People in &quot;outer&quot; Paris will always go into the center to see the usual tourist attractions, but a lot of the people who are already staying in the center will not necessarily venture to outer neighborhoods to see different aspects of Paris.
kerouac is online now  
Old Mar 19th, 2008, 04:45 AM
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In restaurants order &quot;robinet&quot; not &quot;d'eau&quot;. You will end up with tap water which is free.
bilboburgler is online now  
Old Mar 19th, 2008, 06:11 AM
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Une carafe d'eau, c'est de l'eau du robinet.
kerouac is online now  
Old Mar 19th, 2008, 06:22 AM
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If using a car, the cheapest fuel rates are at the supermarch&eacute;s. Usually located at the edge of town.

There are usually large billboards advertising the location.

Make sure to fill the tank on Saturday.

They usually do not have staffed fuel stops on Sunday and your credit card won't work in the automatic machines.

A croissant and a cuppa is cheaper standing at the bar than sitting at a table, especially an outside table.

If you park in a parking lot, you will take a ticket when you enter.

Pay the fee at one of the pay machines before you exit. It will stamp your ticket, which you insert at the exit gate.

If you do not do this, you will incur the wrath of everyone in line behind you.

ira is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2008, 07:36 AM
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I had a slightly different take from julies on gite vs. B&amp;B but now I've thought of a point in the gite's favor. If your gite is in the right location and you are happy there, you'll be driving less and saving on gas money. The cost of gas in France is a major shock, even now that it's $3.29 here, so any savings is not to be sneezed at.
Coquelicot is online now  

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