It’s hard to both admit and believe this but I’ve been vacationing in Paris on a regular basis for over 20 years now and needless to say I’ve learned a few things about how to save money in that most expensive of cities. With that in mind here are my five simple tips for saving money in Paris.
- Coffee: We all know that it’s smarter and cheaper to make coffee at home than it is to buy it by the cup, but when you’re on vacation that might not be an option. If you find that you really can’t go without your cup of coffee in Paris, you can save a lot by ordering and standing at the bar. Cafés charge considerably less for coffee, as well as a few other things depending on the café, if you have it standing at the bar rather than sitting at a table.
- Sightseeing: In my experience there is no more efficient subway system than the Paris Metro, but if you really want to see the city, take the bus instead. Paris is so beautiful it almost doesn’t matter which route you take so hop on and if there’s something you see that you like, hop off!
- Souvenirs: Even the smallest art galleries in Paris produce really high-quality posters to advertise their shows. The posters hang in dry cleaners, cafés, bakeries, etc. until the exhibit is over when they generally get thrown in the trash. Whenever I’m there I ask store owners if I can have the posters when the show is over and I’ve never been turned down. Sometimes they even give them to me then and there. I have dozens of them hanging in my home and they serve as daily reminders of my trips.
- Art: If you’re like me you probably spend a lot of travel time in museums and in Paris, where there seems to be a museum on every corner, the entrance fees can really add up. Luckily most museums in Paris have free days, usually the first Sunday of every month, and while the museums are often more crowded on those days, its well worth making the effort. On the same note, be sure to check out the smaller art galleries in town that don’t charge anything at all.
- Lodging: As many times as I’ve been to Paris I’ve only stayed in a hotel twice. Ever since the end of my dorm room days I’ve only stayed in apartments. Not only do I get more for my money (the one-bedroom Paris rental I usually stay in rents for 65 euro a night if you stay for a week–and that’s for two people!), but I save a shocking amount of money on food by having a kitchen. Apartments are an especially good value for families traveling together.
- Calendar: OK, I had to throw in one more. Consider Paris in the off season. The winters in Paris there are generally more mild than in the U.S. and the rates, both for airfare and lodging, really plummet about the second week of January. I love to be there then because that’s when Paris’ famous biannual sales are on and you can find some great bargains.