Paris on a shoestring

Do you want to go Paris, but think you can afford it? Many say Paris is a very expensive city to visit. This is true, but there are ways to explore the beautiful city without burning a massive hole in your pocket. All that needs to be done is good planning, and just knowing the city’s ins and outs. A lot of the time, by saving your money you will have a much better time than if you were to spend loads on unnecessary things.

Think about the time of year you want to go to Paris. The summer is the busiest time of year, so going in the autumn and winter will give you the cheapest prices to get there by either train, ferry or aeroplane. You also won’t be bucking elbows with everyone when trying to walk down the Champs Elysee. The location of your accommodation is also important. Don’t stay in the centre of Paris! Staying in the centre is quite costly, whereas 20 minutes away by metro will save you a lot. When looking for hotels or apartments, look for places with supermarkets and a nearby metro station. This way you can always grab a bite, and it will be easier enough for you to travel into central. Staying somewhere not so close to the centre is also good because you can get to see other parts of the city, and you may see the “real” Paris where people actually live. Travel cards are really reasonable and gives unlimited access to all public transport.

When in Paris, there is mostly always a bakery around each corner. Think twice when booking a bed and breakfast, as it might work out better for you to just pick up a croissant on your way out for the day. Patisseries are so common in Paris, you can get good value for money pastries and coffee.

Secondly, remember your passport on days out. A lot of the attractions in Paris are actually free or discounted if you are under 25 and an EU citizen. This really helps in stretching your money to go that little bit further, as attractions are usually 12 euros at a time. It also makes you go to different attractions that you wouldn’t necessarily go to if you had to pay for them. Many people don’t actually know that you can climb the Arc de Triomphe. It gives a spectacular view of the Champs Elysees and especially being winter, going up the Eiffel Tower may not be ideal as you might not get a good view due to fog and cloud. So if you don’t mind not having a really high view, this is the one. But be aware, the twisty stairs can make you feel very dizzy when walking up.

The Louvre Museum is another free attraction if you are under 25. No need to line up for a ticket, just show the men at the gate your passport and you have access to the world famous Mona Lisa, and the all other French cultural pieces.

If you do want to see the Eiffel Tower and get the Eiffel Tower selfie, the best time is to go at night. During the day, the actual sculpture can look very bland. At night when it lights up, it’s as if it lights up the whole city as well and if you stay by it for a while, it will start lighting up almost similar to a Christmas tree as well.

Even though Paris isn’t known for it’s Christmas markets as such, it still gives off the traditional European Christmas market feel when walking through it. By the Notre Dam will make you want to sing Christmas carols all day, as a spectacular Christmas tree is placed outside to celebrate the season. While there, you may as well go into the cathedral itself, and gaze at the breathtaking architecture.

One place many people do not bother to go to if they don’t have tickets is by Moulin Rouge. Made famous by the movie, Moulin Rouge is quite pricey if you want to go see the show. But just travelling there and taking a picture outside, is still worthy enough to tell people: “I’ve stood outside Moulin Rouge.”

Paris is a beautiful city. Don’t feel as if you can not go because you don’t want to spend loads. As with any city you visit, there are always pricier parts, however the city of love and culture wants everyone to be able to experience it.

Pictures and video: Tshai Thompson, Benh Lieu Song 

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