The Frugal Month family has just returned from Paris, and I wanted to share a few money saving tips with you while they’re fresh in my mind. We had a fantastic time but it can be a very expensive city, so if you’re planning a trip, read on!
We arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport and had planned on taking the RER train to Paris centre, however, due to an unattended package we were unable to access the train station, forcing us to get the 350 RATP bus to Gare du l’Est. This ended up being a money saving win as it cost just €6 for the adults and was free for our 6-year-old (I’m not sure it was meant to be but the driver just waved him on). This was a saving of €15 and took around 75 minutes (as opposed to the 50 minutes that the train takes) – our son had a little nap on the bus so it wasn’t too painful. I would recommend looking into this option if you are not in a rush.
In terms of getting around, we bought the carnets of 10 Metro tickets for €14.50 which saved 45 cents per journey and walked as much as we could, planning our tourist attraction visits to get the most out of our walks.
Our accommodation was a lovely little Air BnB (use this link and we’ll both receive a little travel credit!) in the 4th arrondissement, we always try and stay centrally to reduce travel costs but shop around as you may be happier with somewhere further out if the accommodation saving outweighs the travel costs. Self-catering will allow you to save a lot of money as you’re not being forced to always eat out. Our host provided us with a coffee machine and coffee pods, and previous hosts have left bread, milk and even wine for us, which really does make you feel welcome. If you do want to eat out then many restaurants offer a fixed price menu which ranges from around €12 to €20 for a two-course lunch, depending of course on where you go. We found a three-course lunch in Montmartre for €14 and a two course near the Eiffel Tower for €13.50 – the offerings are generally limited but worthwhile if you have a little extra cash. We balanced this with dinners of baguettes, cheese and tomatoes (and of course cheap French wine!) from supermarkets such as Franprix and Carrefour.
The main attraction in Paris is obviously the Eiffel Tower. You can visit the structure for free if you don’t want to climb it, however, if you do want to it is far cheaper to use the stairs than the lift. If you want to save money on seeing stunning views of Paris, you can visit the Galeries Lafayette and use their escalators to the top for free, or if the weather is good then the views from Rue du Cardinal Dubois or Rue Saint-Eleuthere at the base of the Sacré-Couer are hard to beat. We also got a great view from the top of the Pompidou Centre and managed to bag free entry to the escalators and exhibitions by visiting on the first Sunday of the month, when many museums are free (although the queues can be ridiculous!). Have a look here for other free museums and monuments and here for other free things to do.
There are loads more money saving tips on the MoneySavingExpert.com website so if you are planning a trip to the City of Love, head over there too. Bonnes Vacances!