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Paris on the Cheap

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.

Picnic by the Seine

Picnic by the Seine by malias, on Flickr

Cheap Eats

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.

Easy Riding

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.

Paris Old Metro Signboard

Paris Old Metro Signboard by pedrosimoes7, on Flickr

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.

Paris Pictures

Paris : Louvre from on high by tibchris, on Flickr

Free Museums

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.

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Hi, and thanks for this blog we just discovered throught “Why I might stop travel blogging” and we really liked this article. I comment on this article, because, to make short, we left Paris on foot, always heading east to hopefuly get back to it. Departure was 8 months ago, and we have now reached Istanbul. before going deeper to the east, we want to work on our blog. What an adventure, but what a job to keep a blog interesting, especialy when you live in nature, as we use to do… Here is the website, still some advertising… http://www.paristoparis.net

We are now planing to translate the site in english (we are french), and to add different kind of rubricks, and so on… Earning money would be nice, especially since we do not have anymore income and it would allow us to keep on traveling (even if we don’t spend much). I know it is hard, and we will see how it’s going.

Thanks for visiting our website. You have a amazing journey that you are enjoying. Keep traveling and keep sharing it with the world through blogging. And take that break occasionally to focus on the blog. It’s a difficult balance, but sometimes a break is needed to rest.

helen brown says:

LOVE it! Thanks. I have booked marked this.. My sister and I are planning a trip to Paris!

carolyn Fraser says:

An excellent site ! I was ‘terrified’
that I would land in Paris, and not
be able to ‘afford’ it….!!!

carolyn Fraser says:

I am a semi-retired lady,
stronger than most but of small stature and will find it hard to commute from airport to town if I have to take many trains/buses, with a large, and a small suitcase….

I am on limited funds.
I arrive March 3rd to Charles de Gaulle Airport. Is a taxi expensive ?
Any ideas ? Many thanks….

Lauren says:

The Louvre isn’t actually free to those under 26- it is only free for EU citizens under 26. If you’re not from the EU, you pay a discounted rate, but you still pay.

If you’re in Paris for an extended period of time, try to get a Passe Navigo for the metro. You’ll need to get your picture taken, and you’ll need a local address, but it’s worth it for the weekly/monthly/yearly all-you-can-ride rates.

Paris isn’t all that expensive, it’s true. Especially if you go there directly after Oslo which is expensive beyond comprehension. If you buy food in the supermarket, you can end up traveling quite cheaply there. However, the carnet is 12EUR according to my purchase from last weekend.

Thanks for the great tips — As a frequent visitor to Paris, I have to say that the best advice is to be prepared. Research seasonal events and options in advance so you don’t miss anything really cool during your visit. There is so much to do and so many things to see that are free, if you just research options before going!

I having been saving my money to finally make a trip to Paris for 2 weeks this summer. Thanks for all the helpful tips. Working on my French as I am writing this!

I’ve thought to have a vacation in Paris is expensive. Thanks for this article, I’ve got more information about Paris such as the place and the the things I don’t want to miss there. I will be marrying soon and I’m searching for the places where we can have our vacation. This work helps me a lot.

I would also suggest some of the areas that are just great walks like along the St Martin canal or up to Montmartre. No charge at all for these.

Lindy says:

Paris is not that expensive.

Three hotels under £20 in the centre of Paris….
Hotel Voltaire Republique, Paris (£15.23)
Hotel Armstrong, Paris (£18.32)
Hotel des Arts Montmartre, Paris (£18.36).

And there’s more … you shouldn’t pay 40 Euros for a camping site (rip off!)

There’s a new site called Anytrip.com and you should check it out.. has hostels and hotels all really cheap. And up to 5 star….

Alex says:

Thanks so much for your comment! Really helpful information. Those are some of the best deals I’ve seen and prove that you can stay in Paris for cheap!

Claire says:

As a traveler who basically only frequents the 3rd world countries due to budget reason, it is very nice to know that places like Paris can be an option!

Thanks for the tips. Next year Feb, Air Asia is flying to Paris as cheap as RM1500 return. Coupled with your tips, I could save a lot!

Alex says:

What a great deal!I hope you have an awesome trip!

Kelsi says:

wow, great post. Paris is one of my favorite places and it is so easy to let spending get the better of me there. Thanks for the tips.

ayngelinai says:

My favorite memories in Paris were getting cheese and baguettes and just strolling the streets.

@ ayngelinai … that is also some of my memories too, but with a great bottle of wine. I actually celebrated my birthday with a grocery store bought cake in a park!

Does Paris have a public bike system?

Alex says:

Thanks for introducing this! You make a great point.

Paris does have a public bike system, called Vélib’. You can subscribe for a day for 1 euro or for a week for 5. Trips a half hour or less are free but you’ll be charged 1 to 4 euros if you keep the bike for longer than that. Don’t forget your credit card!

Ana O'Reilly says:

Oh la la Paris! I love this city, I can’t get enough of it :)

Melvin says:

We’ve visited Paris just for a weekend spontaneous. So we wanted to keep the budget low. Where to stay cheaper than on a camping ground? That one already cost us €40 per night! Paris is soooo expensive!

Alex says:

Camping in Paris, what a great idea! I had never thought of that before. Sorry to hear that it was still pretty pricey, but what a cool experience. I’ll have to look into that next time I go back.

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