General Tips for Budget Travelers in Paris – Part 1

Paris - Rick Steves guidebook at Cafe Central

Paris – Rick Steves guidebook at Cafe Central. Photo by Helene Segura

Tips for Budget Travelers in Paris ~

I often say that I have caviar tastes on a tuna budget.  I don’t think there’s “cheap” in Paris, but here is what we figured out.

Planning

Get yourself a good guide book.  We really like Rick Steves’ France.  Rick Steves has researched European travel for over twenty years, so he knows what he’s talking about.  His target audience is budget travelers who have “outgrown” staying in youth hostels, but he includes some five-star places in case you want to splurge.  Travelers can also download free audio versions of Rick Steves’ self-guided tours of Historic Paris, the Louvre, the Orsay and Versailles onto an MP3 player/iPod.  His tours helped hit the highlights of the various museums, plus we did not have to rent the museums’ audio guides.

Hotels

There are not many clean, quiet, safe accommodations with private bathrooms and heating/air conditioning for under 80 euros, except for hostels.  It seems like Paris really hikes up the prices…just because it’s Paris. For example, the Ibis Hotel is a European chain. We paid 36 euros at an Ibis in a small Normandy town, but the Paris Ibis was 80 Euros for the exact same room, and it wasn’t near major sites that we wanted to visit. Use Rick Steves’ book or sites like Trip Advisor to choose hotels in the parts of town you’d like to visit. We wound up staying in the Rue Cler neighborhood near the Eiffel Tower for 130 euros per night. We chose the hotel based on having an English speaking staff who could help us if we had booking problems anywhere, as well as proximity to the Metro, cafes, food markets, and… the Eiffel Tower.

Transportation

We went a lot of places via the Metro.  It’s easy to navigate once you know the end line destination. Every hotel has a free map. A single one-way ticket cost 1.70 euro.   We bought a few carnets -10 tickets – to save 25 percent.  We never saw a Metro pass, but if there is one it might be worth it, depending on your destinations and frequency of travel.  We also walked four to eight miles per day up and down museum stairs and on uneven cobblestone sidewalks and streets, so have some good walking shoes. (The more you walk, the more you can eat!)

Last week: Getting to Paris via the Chunnel

Next time: One of the best ways to skip the lines in Paris, in Part 2 of Tips for Budget Travelers in Paris

 
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