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Budget Paris - Paris on the cheap

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the Seine at Paris

The About-France.com guide to Paris:  getting round Paris, main tourist attractions and other things to see and do.

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About-Paris section index
Paris transport  Paris airport connections A week in Paris Budget Paris Main Paris tourist attractions The quarters of Paris The Velib bike hire system

PARIS ON A LIMITED BUDGET - How to do more for less


PARIS, like any big city, can be an expensive place for visitors. The cost of living is higher in Paris than in other parts of France, and generally speaking the same is true of hotels and places to stay – though not necessarily for restuarants. Here are some tips and useful information to help you stretch your pounds, dollars or euros as far as they will go.....
     
     Before booking your trip to Paris, before booking a hotel, the first thing to do is to decide if you want to stay in the city (and as Paris is a living European city, there are plenty of residential quarters and plenty of hotels throughout Paris "intra-muros"), or in the suburbs. You may even decide that it is in your interest to stay well outside Paris, and come in on a fast train for the day.

Where to stay in Paris  


Staying in Paris: Advantages: access, time. If you are young and energetic, or even not-so-young and energetic, you can walk to and between a lot of the Paris tourist attractions. You'll save the cost of public transport, and the time and cost of commuting into the city. You'll also see a lot more of the city, as long as your eyes aren't glued to the sidewalk or pavement.
     Disadvantages: hotels near the tourist areas are generally quite expensive; cheaper hotels are often in less attractive areas of the city, far from the tourist sights and attractions, or else on the edge. And if you come to Paris by car, parking will be a major extra cost.
     For some reasonably priced hotels (for their category), see the About-France.com  selection of good value Paris hotels

Staying in the suburbs of Paris: Advantages: hotels and hostels will on the whole be cheaper, and hotel rooms may be bigger. If you choose a hotel or hostel that is near a train station, access to central Paris can be relatively easy and quick. Check out hotels in the south east and south west suburbs. There are many suburban hotels belonging to the cheap budget chains such as Formule 1, Etap or others, and these generally have parking space. Check out Paris hostels too.
     Disadvantages: check that the cheaper room cost is not offset by the extra travelling costs - though remember that it is advisable not to take your car into Paris. Also, if you stay outside Paris, you'll have less time to enjoy Paris by night.

How to travel round Paris:  

  •      Buy a book of metro/bus tickets for use in central Paris - unless you prefer to walk or  use the Velib bike hire system.
  •      Buy a Paris Visite transport pass + a Paris Museum pass for two days, which will cost  56.65 €uros (Jan 2014 price), quite a bit less than the  cost of the Paris Pass. However, the Paris Pass does include some other attractions, such as use of a sightseeing bus, and is a good buy if it is important to save time and get a lot in to a short stay in Paris.
  •      Hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus pass  for les Cars Rouges, open-top guided tour buses linking nine major sites; a two-day pass costs 31 € (Jan 2014), and can be bought on the bus. It is also included in the Paris Pass .  An alternative is Cityrama, the "Open tour" where a  2-day hop-on hop-off pass costs 36 €, and covers four different routes.
  •      The "Batobus" and travel on the Seine. The Batobus are river buses that go up and down the Seine from the Eiffel tower to the quai de Montebello (near Notre Dame).  There are 8 stops in all. A day pass at the start of 2014 costs 15 €, and a 2-day pass costs 18 € per adult.
Don't buy the Paris Visite bus and metro pass online in advance, buy it when you arrive. Apart from the official site, other sites selling this pass charge inflated prices and high delivery costs.... up to 29.90 € for delivery to North America, and even more for "rest of the world". You can buy the pass at airports, main train stations, and all Paris urban transport stations.

What to see and do in Paris:  
      If your budget is limited, visit the Paris for Free page. Even the Louvre is free, if you know when to go or - in many cases - if you are under 26 !

General Budget Paris tips:

The dos and don'ts to make your dollars or euros or pounds go a bit further......

Do.....
  • Book your hotel in advance so you have time to get a good rate. It is possible to find a two-star hotel or a one-star hotel double room for under 70 €uros a night, and hostel accommodation even cheaper.
  • Use ordinary public transport - and buy yourself  or yourselves a "carnet" of  tickets.
  • Visit the great free attractions of Paris - Notre Dame cathedral, Montmartre,  the banks of the Seine, wander along the Champs Elysées and more. There are also free museums and more, and some major museums are free on the first Sunday of each month. See the Paris tourist attractions page..
  • Eat your main meal at midday - when many restaurants offer a full meal for less than 12 €uros; Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants are particularly good value. Take something simpler in the evening.
  • Pay by credit card or in cash that you get from an ATM (check your own bank's charges for foreign transactions)
  • Check out the list of free concerts in parks and churches, specially in summer.
  • View Paris from on high by touring round the "metro aérien", the elevated metro (particularly lines 2 and 6) which circles round inner Paris, above the boulevards, at second story level. A normal ticket is all that is needed. 
  • Drink at the bar. Many Parisian cafés charge less for cutomers who stand at the bar than for those who get served at a table.
  • Use the Velib bike hire system - but take care. Use it correctly, and it will just cost 1 € a day.
Don't....
  • Don't take a coffee or a beer at a pavement café on the Champs Elysées, or any other tourist trap. 
  • Don't take breakfast in your hotel, unless they are charging less than 6 €uros. go to the nearest café; most cafés offer a light breakfast.
  • Don't eat in glitzy boulevard restaurants in the evening;
  • Don't use taxis for short trips
  • Don't try to exchange foreign cash or travellers cheques - not even in banks. But if you have to, avoid changing small sums, as the commission is often a flat rate.
  • Don't go to the top of the Eiffel tower: the views are already pretty spectacular from the second level (see Eiffel tower ticket prices)
  • Don't try to find a hotel when you arrive. Book one in advance.
  • Don't use the Velib bike hire system unless you realise how it works.

Click here for Paris tourist attractions guide : Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, Montmartre, Moulin Rouge, and much more
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