Ah Paris, the city of lights… the city of love… the city of backpackers? This nickname might not have caught on yet, but Paris has a lot to offer the 18-25 set with a pack on their back. Keep reading for some reasons why Paris is great destination for young adults and some tips on how to keep it cheap in this expensive city.
Choosing Accommodation & Location
When looking for accommodation in any city, I think location is the most important thing. Staying farther away from the city centre usually means a smaller bill but more time on the metro and less going on in your area. Luckily, in Paris the cheaper options are still in the centre of the action.
The 20 districts, or arrondissements, of Paris’ historical centre all have their own flavour and offer a different glimpse into Parisian life. All you need to do is decide which kind of experience you want and how much you are willing to pay for it. Unfortunately, hotels, hostels and bread and breakfasts alike are more expensive in Paris. There are still good deals to be had, but you will still pay more for a room here than in other cities. To avoid extremely inflated prices, stay away from the centre and the area around the Champs-Élysées where everything from coffee to hotel rooms are overpriced. If you stick to the outer edges on the left side of the city, you’ll find cheaper coffee, rooms, and more authenticity.
Eating cheap and delicious is easy to do in Paris. Almost all restaurants, café’s and brasseries offer prix fixe or formule menus which can get you a three course meal at a reasonable price. If you’re willing to rough it and trade in a café chair for a grassy hill, have a picnic in the atmospheric setting of a Parisian park or garden. You can purchase inexpensive picnic makings from a supermarket or from separate specialty shops. One of my favorite memories of Paris is when we turned our shopping into scavenger hunt by going to a boulangerie, fromagerie, and one of the many fruit stands for our baguettes, brie and grapes. What is so wonderful about French food is how amazing the simplest food is, including the street food. When a street vendor hands you a steaming crepe wrapped in a paper cone and oozing with Nutella, you will know what I mean.
If you have a good pair of walking shoes and some extra time, it is best to get around Paris on foot. Free and scenic, walking through the cobblestone streets of Paris is a great way to get a taste of city life. I love discovering hidden gems, like romantic cafes or picturesque patisseries, along the way.
The Metro is also a great option for getting around the city. Cheap, clean and efficient Paris’s underground train is one of the best in Europe. In a city of 87.6 kilometres, even the most ambitious of walkers will probably find themselves on it at some point. You can buy a single ticket for €1.60, or another popular choice is to purchase a stack of 10 individual tickets, called a carnet, for €11.60. These tickets are a bargain because they will take you anywhere in Paris on the Metro and RER networks as well as the public buses and trams.
In Paris you can see some of the greatest works of art in the world for nothing or next to nothing. Many of the most popular museums are free or give discounted admission if you fit certain criteria and many others are free for everyone. Though it seems too good to be true, the Louvre offers free admission to teachers and those under the age of 26. Other famous museums like the Centre Pompidou and the MuséeD’Orsay have free admission on the first Sunday of every month, but be prepared for crowds.
If you know your itinerary includes a lot of museum hopping you might want to look into the Paris Museum pass. Starting at 20 euros for two days, this pass gives you unlimited admission to more than sixty museums and monuments and even lets you jump the queue.