Paris on a Budget | The city of romance is an expensive place for sure. Let’s talk about how to save money. Here are seven smart ideas for enjoying the French capital for less …
Free boat trip by the river Seine
As a couple, plan to visit Paris on your or your partner’s birthday. This can save you €15.00 for one ticket for a boat cruise by the Seine river. The agency Vedettes de Paris offers 1-hour-sightseeing + a glass of champagne for free if you can prove your birthday thru ID or passport. Go to the registration desk before the cruise -> Vedettes de Paris
Paris on a Budget = Louvre for free
Paris on a Budget start with the Louvre. Visit the site on the first Sunday of a month, and it will be for free. But you better line up there early, because other tourists will have that same idea. Not just the Louvre, may of the popular museums in entire France let you in for free of either on the first Sunday or sometimes on the first Saturday of a month. That also includes the Orsay Museum, the Picasso Museum and Centre Pompidou.
Louvre for less
Bad luck. Your trip to Paris does not include that crucial first Sunday of a month. What to do? You can still save some bucks by using the Paris Museum Pass. Although you’ll have to pay to get in to the main monuments, the Paris Pass will lower the entrance fee by roughly 20%. It will also help you skipping the line. Usually, Parisian museums and attractions come with long queues. Let’s do some math supporting the 48 hours Paris Museum Pass. How much does it cost to work off the following to-do-list within two days, but without a pass:
Arc de Triomphe: €12.00
Boat cruise on the river Seine: €15.00
with Paris Museum Pass = €48.00
You saved €11.00 and four queues for buy tickets.
Other Paris museums for free
Besides that first-sunday-for-free-thing, you can access some museums and exhibitions any given day without paying a dime. In some cases this may require obtaining a free ticket from the “Accueil” or ticket office before you can get in. Still it will not cost you any money. Free Paris museums are:
City of Paris Museum of Modern Art, at the Palais de Tokyo near Trocadéro. It’s a quite large collection of master paintings including Rembrandt, Monet Sisley, Picasso, Bonnard, Bracque, Dérain, Dufy, Modigliani, Rouault, Utrillo. Location: just off Champs Elysées.
Maison de Balzac. The writer’s house, his former residence. Location: 16th Arrondissement, 47 rue Raynouard. It is open daily except Mondays and public holidays. Although admission is free, fees might be charged every once in a while for temporary exhibitions.
Musée Carnavalet = the museum of the history of Paris. The museum occupies two buildings: Carnavalet and the former Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau. It was opened to the public in 1880.
Musée Cognacq-Jay – a fine 16th century private residence with a collection of art, sculptures and crafts. Located in the 9th Arrondissement.
Eat for free
That sounds a bit unreal. But we found his place called ‘Roberta’ – an Italian restaurant at 5 bis rue la Vieuville. That’s kind of near Gare du Nord. Friday to Sunday between 5 pm and 7pm, ask for a cocktail and receive a plate of antipasti for free.
Looking for local food? ‘Le Bouillon Belge’ organizes Moule’s parties every Wednesday at 8pm. You pay €2.90 for a beer. They give you free mussels for free.
Another one: ‘Tribal Cafe’ at 3 cour des Petites Ecuries gives you a free plate of couscous if you buy a drink every Friday and Saturday from 9pm. There are more such offers available. You just need to do some digging.
Enjoy the view of Paris rooftops
Arc de Triomphe, Tour Eiffel, Montparnasse, Pompidou all offer nice rooftop views over Paris. But they all cost money. Why don’t you just make your way to the highest floor of Galerie Lafayette? This otherwise mega-expensive mall gives you a free rooftop view with no strings attached. On level 6 – next to a restaurant – you will find a terrasse with a reasonable view of the city 100% free. There are more rooftop options – not for free but if you fork out some Euros for a cocktail you’ll get a cocktail with view ;) Examples: Le 43 Cocktail Bar on the roof of Holiday Inn Paris Notre-Dame and Khayma Rooftop Bar on the top floor of the Generator Hostel.
Public Transportation in Paris
Make sure your vacation property is located near a Metro Station. For that matter we did write about two affordable hotels here -> Where to stay in Paris. Buy a so-called Passe Découverte. It is comparable to London’s Oyster Card and New York’s Metro Card. You’ll pay €23.85 for a full week of metro and bus transport inside Zones 1 and 2. Traveling beyond those two zones – e.g. to airports or to Versailles – will cost a few extra Euros. But still the price beats any competitor (such as the Tourist Pass). Once the card is purchased you can continue to use the Passe Découverte over and over again – just make sure you print an ID photo at home to paste onto it. You will get fined for having a Passe Découverte without photo.
The Metro closes a little after midnight on weekdays and around 01:00am on weekends – depending a bit on the line. Let’s imagine you missed the last train back to your hotel: Paris’ taxi drivers will love you for that.
Credit cards very often don’t work at ticket machines for Paris’ Metro. You better bring cash and queue up at the ticket booth.
Paris on a budget | by Chili and Chirp. Hugging horizons since 2004. Check out another article about the ‘City of Romance’ -> Erotic Things to do in Paris or explore more travel destinations on a budget: Florence or New York or Quebec or check out our Top 7 Dollar friendly Destinations.