Paris is known for its beautiful architecture, superior food, and all-around amazing culture. No wonder it is the most visited city in Europe. With that said, experiencing it comes at a price. Literally. Compared to many other places I’ve been, Paris is one of the more expensive places to see but fear not! After visiting three times I’ve come to find there are many ways to save money and still get the most out of this gorgeous city.
When Should You Go?
One thing to consider while visiting Paris is the time of year that you go. I have been twice in the summer (in June and beginning of September) and once in the winter and I can honestly say being there in the winter was probably the best time. Not only were there smaller crowds at every attraction, but prices for travel and housing were a lot cheaper than during the summer when everyone goes. Also, if you do decide to go during the summer keep in mind that the French see August as the main vacation month and usually leave the city. So all of the main attractions will still be open, but a lot of the locals will be out of town and the smaller businesses will likely be closed.
What If You’re Not Much of a Planner?
The first time I went to Paris I was doing a program with my high school and the whole tour was set up for us. Hotel reservations, museum visits, bus tours, you name it. So if you’re someone who hates planning and is willing to pay a bit extra to have it all set up for you, definitely look into EF Tours! They have trips all around the world that you can sign up for as long as you’re under 25.
Must-See Museums for Less!
The second time I went was while I was studying abroad and was completely on my own for planning and finances. While researching on ways to save money, I found a couple of ways to save at huge attractions. Most importantly, the Louvre! Every Friday from 6-9 pm everyone under 25 can get into the main exhibits for free. This is perfect for all of you young adults who appreciate art and want to see the famous pieces like the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, but don’t need to be there all day. Not only did I like not having to pay, but I thought it was a treat to see a bunch of art students taking advantage of the free entrance to sketch pieces all around the museum. Now, if you are someone who absolutely lives for art and needs to see everything this world famous museum has, the ticket is 15 euros. That’s a pretty fair price to pay to see the largest collection of art in the world, but my biggest piece of advice is to give yourself enough time to see it all. At least 5 or 6 hours, because it’s that massive.
Another thing I took advantage was my student visa. This isn’t the same as your university ID (which will still work in multiple places in Europe). Your student visa is a stamp you get in your passport when you go to Europe for more than a month of school. Again, after doing my research, I found that with a student visa I could get into Musée de l’Orangerie for free. This museum is best known for its rooms of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies which are practically 360º paintings and absolutely breathtaking. If you’re only in Europe for vacation, the regular entrance fee is 8 euros and still definitely worth it!
One adjustment that I’ve had to make every time I’ve been there was the price
of meals. The French see food as a form of art and take it very seriously. So the prices you’ll be paying in a restaurant, on average, will most likely be equivalent to $15-$30. Part of the price increase is because going to a restaurant is seen as an experience (like I said, they love their food) and the tax and tip is already incorporated in the price. However, there are food stands and bakeries everywhere that you can pick up something on the go for a lot cheaper. My favorite is the Nutella crêpe with strawberries and whipped cream!
And As Always… Airbnb
And last but not least, as I’ve always said, look into Airbnb! Even though it’s a pricey city, they have really great prices for places to stay in the city center. My friend and I stayed in a studio apartment that we had all to ourselves for $47/night. It was 5 minutes from the subway, a 15 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, and perfect for us.
What do you want to see the most in Paris? And if you’ve already been, what was your favorite part? Let me know in the comments!