How To Travel To Paris Cheap But Chic
Traveling To Paris
Is there a way to visit the most beautiful and incredible city in the world cheap but chic? Yes, of course, there’s a way to visit Paris like this but it does take some planning.
I honestly, can’t say I’ve ever done Paris on a very tight budget although I am sure that would be preferred by my husband. However, after visiting Paris many times, I have found certain ways to save a dollar (euro) or two.
The tips I am going to share with you are things I have done myself to make Paris cheaper, but I am certainly not a professional when it comes to doing Paris on a budget.
Your airfare and lodging will be the most expensive parts of the trip so planning accordingly will help save a lot of money and still allow you to do Paris cheap but still very chic.
When To Visit
When you’re visiting Paris, it’s all about the timing and which months you plan to visit. Going during the off-season will certainly save you lots of money. This is definitely one way to do Paris cheap but still chic.
Summertime is the most expensive and honestly not the best time to visit Paris. Sure, the weather is great but so are other months of the year. Prices for hotels and airfare are incredibly more expensive during the summer when all the tourists are visiting.
There will be long lines to visit popular attractions and more people in restaurants and cafès. I know Summer is ideal for most people, especially those with kids but if you can go at another time during the year, then I would suggest that first.
Personally, my favorite times to visit are early Spring before the tourists arrive, and prices are still off-season. Sometime in the month of April is great when all the flowers are starting to bloom and the city comes alive again after the cold winter.
Late September and early October are also great times to visit when the weather starts to turn cooler and kids are back in school.
Book Airfare Months Ahead
When you determine what month you’re going then start looking for airfare asap. Booking 6-8 months out for airfare is ideal. The closer you get to the time you’re going, the more expensive your flight will be.
You can also download certain apps on your phone I know that will ping you when certain deals pop up. I have used the Hopper app before but not exclusively.
Also, try and fly on off days if you can. For instance, book your flight Tuesday through Wednesday if you can versus booking on the weekends.
Another option would be to buy a package deal where the airfare and hotel are together and that might bring the cost down.
Where To Stay
There is no shortage of hotels in Paris and at all different price points. Again, depending on the time of year you go will determine how much you pay for a room.
The off-season months will save you money on your hotels. Also, depending on which arrondissement you stay in will also matter on how much you spend. There are some arrondissements which will be less expensive than others. I have stayed in the 1st, 6th, and 7th which do cost more. I am very picky about locations and being close to certain areas of Paris.
If you stay more on the outskirts of central Paris you can find cheaper rates.
You can also think about booking a VRBO as well depending on how many people you are traveling with. When I travel with girlfriends we always stay in a hotel, as it seems much safer than staying at someone’s home.
When I travel with Nathan we always stay in a VRBO to maximize our costs. You can read more about the hotels I have stayed in Hotel Récamier and Hotel Mansart to help with your decisions.
Just be careful if you do choose a VRBO as it’s a bit out of hand at the moment in Paris. Pictures are sketchy sometimes, and the place may or may not have an air conditioner.
There are other places you can rent apartments from but they are much more costly. I won’t mention them since we are discussing Paris on a budget basically.
How To Get Around
There are numerous ways you can get around Paris but the best one is walking. And, it’s free and won’t cost you a thing. Plus, the best way to see Paris is to be what the Parisians call a “flâneur,” someone who wanders. I love to get lost on the streets of Paris, you never know what you are going to see or what you will find.
If you aren’t up for walking miles and miles then you can always take the metro. The Paris metro (subway, underground) is very easy to access and easy to take. Depending on how long you’re in Paris, it’s cheaper to buy a pack of 10 metro tickets vs. individual days. If you want more information on how to use the metro, this is a helpful article.
Another way to get around the city and actually see the city while riding is the bus line. I’ve never taken the bus, so I cannot speak from experience but have read great things about the bus line. Apparently, there’s one line Bus No. 24 which goes all around the city and is great for sightseeing. You can read more about bus line tips here.
Where To Shop
Shopping is always one of the biggest expenses for me while I am there. I would probably save a ton of money if I didn’t shop, but it’s Paris people. However, they are still ways to shop in Paris cheap but still chic.
Paris has incredible vintage and second-hand shops with all sorts of amazing items. You just have to be a patient person and someone who doesn’t mind going to these places. A few which I have been to are J’y Troque and Depot Vente Luxe. Just check before you go because they seem to open and close when they want.
Another option if you like going to flea markets is the Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves, which I found incredibly amazing. You can find vintage Chanel, YSL, and Celine. Again, you just need the patience to walk around and dig through things.
If you are going during the months of January-February or June-July you can experience “Soldes.” These are the two times a year when French shops are actually allowed to put things on sale and display sale signs in the windows. This is a French government rule, but you can get some amazing deals during these two times.
Personally, I have found items to be cheaper in Paris than actually buying from the U.S. so keep that in mind as well when determining your shopping budget.
If you spend over 100 Euros in a store you qualify for the VAT rebate, meaning you get back a certain percentage of what you paid in tax. You must have your passport on you to qualify because the store will have to fill out a form for you. They don’t always do it so make sure to ask if your purchase is over 100 Euros. You can read more about the process here. I have received back several hundreds of dollars so it’s definitely worth the process.
What To Eat
Eating in Paris is a food lover’s dream but there are still ways to do it cheap and chic. You don’t have to eat at a 5-star Michelin restaurant every night.
Most restaurants and cafès post their menu outside so you can always check the prices before you agree to eat there.
You can easily sit down at any cafè for a light meal and a good glass of wine. A few notes in regards to eating at cafès. If you drink your coffee at the bar inside, it’s cheaper than sitting outside on the terrace to drink your coffee.
You can read more about Paris dining etiquette tips in this post here.
The cheapest way to eat in Paris is of course to just eat from a boulangerie. I actually have no problem eating from a boulangerie every day. In the morning, you can have croissants, at lunchtime you can get a baguette sandwich, and at dinner, you can eat BOTH!
Visit one of the many fresh markets all around Paris and pick up some cheese, fresh fruit, jam, and meat. You can read more about the markets from La Cuisine Paris and how to navigate them here.
Another way I personally love to eat is to have a picnic at the Eiffel Tower or along the Seine. You can easily grab food from a boulangerie, a cheap bottle of wine from the wine store, or even go to Monoprix and get some food.
Then take your picnic items and go join the rest of the Parisians having a picnic. Watch the sunset and I guarantee this will be better than any overpriced meal.
Depending on how much sightseeing you want to do this could add up. There are many ways to sightsee in Paris cheap and still chic.
If you are wanting to visit all the major sites like the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and other museums you might consider the Paris Museum Pass. This can save you money depending on how many days you use the pass.
A few notes in regards to museums in Paris. Most museums and monuments are free on the first Sunday of every month. Some can be crowded but you can visit as many as you want in one day. You want to book your ticket online in advance if you can.
One way to see all the beautiful sights of Paris is a boat ride down the Seine which is very affordable.
Some free and chic sightseeing in Paris ideas would be watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night. The tower sparkles for 5 minutes every night from nightfall until 1:00 a.m.
Other free ideas are sitting and relaxing in one of Paris’s beautiful gardens like the Tuileries or Luxembourg Gardens. Take a book or bottle of wine and just enjoy the afternoon.
And, my favorite way to do free sightseeing would be just walking the city again. Soak it all up and enjoy the fact you’re in one of the most beautiful and amazing cities in the world.