Cue music: It’s the most wonderful time of the year (in Paris). But seriously you guys, is there a place that’s more idyllic this time of year than Paris, France? I mean come on, they don’t call it the “City of Love” for nothing. And interestingly enough, it was this time a little more than a decade ago, when I initially visited Paris, on one of my first proper international trips. Needless to say, it was crazy charming. I mean for Pete’s sake, there was a crepe cart parked outside of our courtyard apartment.
So imagine my surprise, and excitement, when my credit card company, Capital One, reached out to me recently and asked me to share travel tips about one of my favorite cities, Paris, France. Continuing with that whole favorite theme, they recently teamed up with one of my favorite travel television hosts, Adam Richman (who I’ve interviewed before), to surprise four local people with international getaways to London, Rome, Hong Kong, and Paris. Best Christmas gift ever? I think so. You can view the entire Capital One Priceless Surprises with Adam below.
But now, let’s get to those Paris travel tips. See my 4-1-1 on a few of my favorite Paris budget travel tips.
9 Paris Budget Travel Tips
Book a vacation rental rather than a hotel. This isn’t just a travel tip exclusive to Paris (it works well in Rome, London or even Hong Kong) but it’s particularly relevant since Paris hotels aren’t always budget-friendly. Booking a vacation rental in Paris could potentially yield the highest savings of your trip. For example, you could find a centrally-located two-bedroom apartment for $200 per night, on HomeAway for example, with twice the amount of room and privacy as a hotel room, but half the price.
Save time and money by buying admission tickets online. This is perhaps my favorite Paris travel tip. Many of the top attractions in Paris, such as the Louvre, for example, allow you to book tickets online, and as a result, skip the waiting lines. Others, like my favorite panoramic overlook (sorry, Eiffel Tower), Montparnasse Tower, offer discounted online rates. Buy a Montparnasse Tower ticket online by January 2 to get 30% off.
Get a museum pass. After all, Paris is one of the best museum cities in the world. If you think you’ll be going to a few museums, then the Paris Museum Pass is a screaming deal. It’s 48 euros (about $50 USD) for 2 days, 62 euros for 4 days, and 74 euros for 6 days. The pass pays for itself in as little as just 3-4 museum visits, plus has the added perk of skipping the lines.
Visit museums for free on the first Sunday of the month. Furthermore, a number of Paris museums offer free museum days year-round, with others offering them during the off-season, such as the Louvre, Panthéon, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and Palace of Versailles. Be forewarned, however, that these are typically the busiest museum days.
Take the 45-minute train ride to Versailles. This is easily one of my favorite Paris day trips. For less than $10 round-trip, you can hop on the RER train to Versailles, and be on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in mere minutes. And what is the Palace of Versailles? Oh it’s just a 721,182-square-foot palace, which has housed some of Europe’s most famous royalty. You’ve perhaps also heard of it in history class because of the Treaty of Versailles, and most notably, the 1919 peace treaty that ended World War I.
Buy a metro pack. It’s no secret that opting for public transportation over taxi rides will save you money in Paris–or almost any major tourist destination (Hello, London, Rome, and Hong Kong). However, you can save additional money by buying a metro pack that’s discounted beyond the normal rates. A carnet, for example, which is 10 tickets, will save you about 20%.
Take advantage of the Paris bike-share program. Paris was doing a bike-share program long before it was cool, starting Vélib nearly a decade ago. Now it features more than 1,000 bicycle stations and 15,000 bicycles, making it one of the largest bike-share programs in the world. A one-day ticket is less than $2, with the first 30 minutes free of charge. For those short trips, think about how much cheaper that is than a cab.
Take a free walking tour. This is often my biggest travel tip for visiting any city, but especially such an amazing walking city like Paris. A number of companies, and often hotels or other types of accommodations, offer free walking tours of Paris, providing a great introduction to the city. Discover Walks, for example, does a number of different walking tours, including a Montmartre tour, Paris landmarks, Latin Quarter, and Saint-Germain and the River Seine tour. Just bring some cash with you to tip your guide at the conclusion.
Splurge on lunch. If you’re traveling on a budget in Paris, make the meal you splurge on be lunch, rather than dinner, since lunch can be so significantly cheaper (a tip that can be applied across a number of European cities, like London and Rome). Many restaurants do prix-fixe lunch specials, featuring a multi-course lunch, which can be as little as $30. Then go light at dinner by popping into a food truck, or picking up a crepe or baguette and cheese.
Big ups to Capital One Bank for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own and were not directed by Capital One. To learn more about how Capital One is redesigning the banking experience, please visit: https://www.capitalone.com/reimagine/.
What are your top Paris budget travel tips?