There’s no arguing that the city of romance is beautiful. Paris is a cultural hub, offering gems like the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Palace of Versailles, and Notre Dame, among many others. But like so many great European cities, Paris is also pretty expensive. Fortunately, it’s possible to visit on a budget. Save your hard-earned cash and have a great trip at the same time with these thrifty tips for Paris.
Book a hotel outside the city’s center.
Paris can be one expensive place to sleep! The average hotel room in the city center will run between €200 and €300 per night, although cheaper places can be found for €150 or so. Toward the edge of the city, however, prices drop dramatically. A hotel near Nord Station, on the city’s northeastern border, will typically cost between €80 and €140 a night. If you absolutely must stay in the city center but you’re on a budget, consider staying in a hostel. There are hostels for every taste, whether you want a quiet place to sleep or a party house, so check reviews before you book.
Visit in the shoulder season.
Paris is most popular in the summer, so try to visit in the shoulder seasons—the seasons between the peak and low seasons. In Paris, the spring or fall are both shoulder seasons, when it’s still fairly warm but not terribly crowded. This is the season when airfare and hotel rates will be lowest. Avoid holiday and festivals, which will jack up the prices of everything.
Check Groupon and other discount sites.
Why pay full price? France has its own Groupon website (groupon.fr) and and you can save big on everything from wine tastings to live performances to spa sessions. There’s no English language version of the French site, so you’ll have to rely on your own French skills or the help of a translator app to figure out what you’re looking at. If you find a good deal, make sure to pay with a PayPal account rather than a credit card; because there’s no country option when giving billing information, all credit card payments will be rejected.
Get a Paris Pass or a Paris Museums Pass.
The Paris Pass offers 2-day, 4-day, and 6-day passes to some of the city’s most popular attractions. The Paris Pass allows you to skip the ticket lines for most major attractions, and can be a great saver of time and money for those who want to cram everything into their trip. Those who just want to visit a few attractions will probably not find the Paris Pass to be a great deal. The pass includes admission to the Opera House, the Bateaux River Cruise, the Montparnasse Tower, and a wine tasting experience; it does not include admission to the Eiffel Tower or the Catacombs.
The Paris Pass includes the Museums Pass, although many choose to purchase the Paris Museums Pass separately. The Paris Museums Pass includes admission to the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, the Palace of Versailles, and more.
Adult Paris Passes cost €117.00, €173.00, or €210.00 for a 2-day, 4-day, or 6-day pass respectively. The Museums Pass is included in the Paris Pass, or can be purchased separately for €42, €56, or €69 for a 2-day, 4-day, or 6-day pass respectively. Teens and children get discounted tickets.
Visit the museums on free days.
Since 2000, many of Paris’s museums have opened their doors for free on the first Sunday of each month. The list of museums that participate in this free monthly event includes the ever-popular Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée National de la Renaissance, and the Musée National Rodin. It also includes lesser-known museums like the Musée des Années, the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, and the Musée de l’Assistance Publique. The museums can be crowded on these Sundays, but can be worth the visit if you’re on a budget and in town at the right time.