Does Paris have to be expensive?

Jan 8th, 2006, 11:11 AM
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Does Paris have to be expensive?

Good friends of ours go to Paris every Christmas. Since we are considering going to Paris for our 25th anniversary in April, I was asking him about their visit. Where do they stay, what restaurants. We didn't talk a long time, but many of his comments were about how expensive everything is. $6 for bottled water, hundreds of dollars for a meal (he said he doesn't want to know most of the time, what it costs. He can't handle knowing), $500 for a hotel room. He loves the city, but is rather bummed as to how expensive everything has gotten in the last few years.

He isn't cheap, but not extravagent either. They stay in nice hotels and eat well, but not crazy. He loves the ethnic restaurants in the city; Indian food, Iranian, Greek.

Anyway, my question is, does it have to be expensive? We are not worried about how many stars, just some good food, good bistros, cafes, with a glass of wine (ok, a bottle), a loaf of bread, some cheese, some ambiance? We want to go for about five nights, and stay in a central location for walking and sight seeing and just "being" in the city. How much a day would we be talking, if you were to generalize...
Heavens is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 11:14 AM
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A very nice hotel can be had for 150€, and two people can eat sumptuously for 100€ a day (if you don't get crazy about the wine).

Carry water for hydration that you buy in a grocery store for 2.85€ a gallon; drink house wine in restaurants. Eat street food or picnic whilst exploring.

Get a transport pass and a bus map for when B is too far from A to walk conveniently.
Robespierre is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 11:16 AM
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'scuse me, but that IS extravagant to me!

We travel at least once a year to Paris, stay for 7-9 nights, and the entire trip for both of us, all costs included, is around $2900-3100 (depending on how many side trips we might take).

We do stay in a rather cheap hotel, so you could add $100/night or so and stay at the nicer, more central hotels everyone talks about in all the posts.

Decent, non-gourmet, meals can be had at cafes, bistros and brasseries for anywhere from $20-40 person, easily.

Your friend has never been to a grocery store in Paris, where water can be bought for under $1./bottle!
Travelnut is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 11:27 AM
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Either your friends truly ARE extravagant, or they are very unsavvy travelers.

I got to Paris 2-3 times a year. I stay in either a very nice 2* hotel that costs 72 euros a night for a doube or a very nice 3* hotel that costs about 95 euros a night.

Breakfast at a café (a café crème or a noisette and a tartine) is about 4 euros. Lunch - a salad and soufflé or soup and a sandwich or something equally simple and filling - is about 10 euros. Dinner - 3 courses at a nice bistro or brasserie - is usually 25-35 euros.
I can easily spend a lot less than that by getting take-out from a charcuterie or supermarket. Bottled water is about .50-.80 euros. A decent bottle of wine from a supermarket or wine store can cost less than 10 euros, even less than 5.
I can't imagine how your friend came to have this perspective. I hope he doesn't travel to London very often - now THAT's expensive!
StCirq is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 11:36 AM
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I think your friend is pulling your leg.
degas is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 11:37 AM
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I agree with StCirq 100 percent and that matches my own experience. There are times when even a very nice hotel room can be had for under 200 Euros/night and finding something halfway decent for 120 isn't a problem almost any time I've booked. Hundreds of dollars for a meal? Pull-EEEEEZE! Yes, your friend IS extravagent or just not at all tuned in to the options available.
Flyboy is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 11:40 AM
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Good heavens, Heavens! No offense, but for what your friends spend in 2 days I can stay in Paris for 2 weeks (of course, I'm budget conscious but I still manage the odd splurge & nice restaurant). But easily, Paris can be done for $200-$250/day.

Monoprix for bottled water is much cheaper (to concur with Robespierre) than buying in the café plus it's fun to see the different grocery & sundry items.
Beatchick is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 11:51 AM
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We are not Paris "experts," but have been three times in the last 5 and a half years. One thing that saves us money is having about half of our lunches as very simple picnics, especially in nice weather. There are so many delicious things at buy at charcuteries, boulangeries, pastisseries, and on the street, too.

I think we have been in one taxi. We took the Metro, busses, boats and walked. And we never felt deprived on that score; we find mastering public transport and walking to be way more fun that taxis. Also, traffic is fairly awful, so why be trapped in a taxi.

For meals, I do a lot of research to see which places will give us the best meal for the least money. We have had some really memorable meals and dishes and have never, ever spent 100 E for the two of us.

I actually consider Paris to be a less expensive European vacation. We always seem to be able to find very good air prices, and get nice hotels for less than in other European cities we have visited.

We are planning two weeks in France in 2007, and plan to end the trip with 3 days in Paris.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 11:53 AM
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Here's how we saved money on a hotel. We sneeked into the park behind the Louvre just before the gates closed and slept on the ground. The police gave a wake up call in the morning and we were on our way.
jorr is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 11:56 AM
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How you can believe them?
Please look in internet for hotels. We stayed at Monpellier near the Louvre for 100 euro per night.
Or look at Price Albert, or look for an apartment near Louvre (also 100 Euro per night).
Mineral water - of course you will buy from a grocery.
We had a very, very good lunch in one of the most beautiful restaurants in Paris - Grand Vefeur for 250 Euro for two. In other days we ate good for 20-30 euro/person.
There are many museums where there is free of charge on Sundays.

It is true that all Europe is more expensive in the last 3 - 4 years than before, but please, do not exageerate!
valtor is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 12:11 PM
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Well, let's put it this way, I suspect HE is not extravagant, but SHE is and HE is trying to please her. That would make a lot of sense to me. He is more of a practical type, and she wants to impress her friends at the firm by telling them about the name brand places that they stayed. That, I think, is why he complains a bit.

We are much more practical in our travels. I really don't need the "fancy" meal, just something tasty. We would much rather spend our time sipping and people watching at a cafe on the corner, then eating in a stuffy, famous chef named restaurant.

And I am gathering from you all that going that route is not difficult, once you figure it out. Thanks.
Heavens is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 12:17 PM
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I think your friend doesn't know what he's talking about, is lying and/or bragging or showing off, or just is very extravagant. When I say doesn't know what he's talking about, some people don't mean to lie but don't have good memories or don't intuitively understand the different in currencies sometimes. I realize that for very wealthy people, they automatically wouldn't consider dining in a place that cost less than hundreds for a meal or buying bottled water from the bar at the Ritz (or something, who knows where he is paying $6 for it, but even street vendors who mark it up charge only about 2 euro). If he is dining in cheap Indian and Greek restaurants, he is lying when he says he is spending hundreds for a meal.

You can certainly go to Paris and spend a very reasonable amount. However, I don't agree that two people can eat "sumptuously" on 100 euro a day for the two of them. I know that may be sumptuous for some people, but I may spend about 50 euro a day eating--but I don't eat a lot compared to many people (usually only two meals a day), don't snack much, usually buy prix fixe dinners (at moderate places), and don't have expensive wines for dinner, so I wouldn't call that sumptuous. Sumptuous to me is when people spend 75 euro and more per person on a single dinner or lunch and dine in Michelin starred restaurants, or buy lots of expensive snacks (ie, Laduree small macarons at one euro each).
Christina is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 12:22 PM
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"Laduree small macarons at one euro each"

I sure hope they are super good at that price, but I guess one or two are enough to say you did it.

NorthShore is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 12:25 PM
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I would agree with everyone thus far except.. I think you CAN go pretty crazy with the wine, too...for 8 euros you can get a fabulous bordeaux...
wondering is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 12:30 PM
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Macarons cost 1 euro each? Not bad.

If your friend has been to Paris several times and just now getting frustrated about spending so much money, I may have a good investment idea for him.
elba is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 12:31 PM
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Tourist destinations are always geared to make things much more expensive for visitors than for residents (although large cities like Paris are London are not exactly cheap, even for residents). Much money is made from the fact that visitors don't have the time or inclination or resources to do things in the most inexpensive ways. For example, visitors in a hotel typically must eat every meal in a restaurant or something similar, since there are no provisions for preparing meals in the hotel room (this is one reason why staying in an apartment or apartment-hotel can be cheaper, even if the room itself is more expensive).

The cost of drinks varies enormously, for example, depending on whether you buy it from a street vendor or cafe in a touristy area, in which case it might cost you six or eight euro, or whether you buy it from a low-cost supermarket, in which case it might cost fifty cent.

Unfortunately, everything works against the tourist abroad, price-wise. It's actually much cheaper to live in a city than it is to visit the same city.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 12:49 PM
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No, 75€ in a starred restaurant is "extravagant." "Sumptuous" means lots of good food for not much money. 35-40€ for dinner, 5€ for a peripatetic luncheon.

Latin lesson:

i.e. = id est (that is; in other words)
e.g. = exempli gratia (for example)

(The mnemonic is egzample.)
Robespierre is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 01:05 PM
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Heavens...and I do mean "Heavens"! These discussions are both interesting and at the same time laughable. We who are truly "travelers" should be the first to come to grips with the facts:
a.No two budgets have the exact same bottom lines.

b.No two travelers (or even tourists) have the same objectives or bank books.

Go for yourself, using any and all tips you can get on this board, enjoy, live within your budget or go slightly beyond from time to time (occasional splurging is beneficial for the heart)....and at the end of the year it won't make much of a difference in either case.

Personally, among the 50+ countries I have traveled in a fair amount of depth, we have always been able to find lodgings, food, accessories, water, wine, beer, desserts and cokes, pay-sights, etc. that didn't go very far beyond what we had planned to spend...because we simply did the research beforehand. This generous board, Barnes and Noble, and the internet in general, provides all you need to know BEFORE going. We are dong a barge trip this spring in Alsace, and then spending a few weeks in Provence, ending with three days in Paris. I have nailed down most of our lodgings, airfare, car rentals, train prices in advance..all within the pre-determined budget lovely wife and I worked out. I don't have a worry at all at this point....just going over the gigantic map and guidebook library I have accumulated over the years, to refamiliarize ourselves with Provence, Alsace and Paris. ....
Go, for Heavens, sake...stop fretting and tell your friend you're happy for his contributing to Parisienne economy. That makes your quota far less!!!

Stu T.
tower is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 01:24 PM
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Heavens, I do think your friends are just bragging (in kind of a backwards way)!

I have only been to Paris once but did not find it expensive at all. We stayed in a nice 3-star hotel in the Latin Quarter on St Mich (100e), we ate out in neighborhood restaurants, ordered pitchers of house wine, did most of our touring on foot, enjoyed time in the beautiful parks, etc.

There's no way ethnic restaurants are going to cost "hundreds of dollars for a meal" that's just crazy (unless you are buying expensive wines). And if he pays $6 for a bottle of water... well hasn't he ever heard of a grocery store?
suze is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 01:35 PM
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Heavens, I think your friends have more problems than what they spend in Paris.

As already shown above, you can easily make Paris affordable with a little knowledge and research. Plan for your Anniversary and have a wonderful time.
grantop is offline  

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