18 Oct General Tips for Budget Travelers in Paris – Part 2
Tips for Budget Travelers in Paris (continued…)
The ParisMuseumPass – in 2, 4, or 6 days – is a must if you plan to see the Louvre, the Orsay, the Rodin, or other museums. It allows you to bypass the ticket lines and save huge amounts of time. The pass can be purchased at most of the participating sites or the TI (Tourist Information) office. We bought our pass at the Cluny Museum because it was nearly empty, so there was no line to buy it. If we had purchased it at the Louvre, we would have had to wait about two hours in the ticket line to buy it. We probably saved two hours at the Louvre, Orsay, Pompidou, and Versailles each. We saved 30+ minutes at the Picasso Museum, St. Chappelle, Conciergerie, Napoleon’s Tomb, and Orangerie each. We figured that we broke even admission price wise; the real savings was in having the time to see more museums instead of wasting time standing in lines.
Cheapest option: Go to a neighborhood store to buy your groceries. We bought crackers, cookies, bottled water, and ingredients for sandwiches for 5 euros per person.
Next up: Bakeries and delis. We found a couple of wonderful bakeries with delectable treats for breakfast, plus we picked up bread for lunch. We also discovered meat and cheese shops to fill that bread, and we bought some fruit to go with that. Rue Cler has colorful markets with plenty of fresh food. Part of Paris sight-seeing is people watching and picnicking, so be sure to do that with your purchases.
Next up: “Take away” sandwiches (about 5 euros) and crepes (3-6 euros, depending on if you just get chocolate or have them filled with ham and cheese).
Next up: Cafes. You can sit as long as you want and order however many courses (one or three or twelve) you want. Ask for tap water. It’s free. Bottled water is about 4 euros each.
Next up: Brasseries or restaurants with Pre-Fixe menus. We found that these were more affordable than “real” restaurants. They had pre-set meals with three courses for 15-18 euros per person. We chose from about five different selections for each course. Unlimited bread! Free tap water! And the food was always delicious.
Most expensive: Restaurants. You have to book a reservation in most. You are expected to order an appetizer, drinks, a main, dessert, and coffee. The food is more expensive, too. But it tastes so good!
To prepare for this trip, we learned a few basic French phrases. This website http://www.secretsofparis.com/with-parisians/ has great communication tips. We found that if we tried to speak French first, the French treated us kindly, so we did not encounter the stereotypical “rude French” people. We noticed other Americans who spoke English only and never attempted to speak French. They weren’t exactly brushed off, but the French were not quite as helpful to them. Respect their culture when you are in their country, and you will find out how wonderful the French are.
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Next week: Reviews of Cafes