Travel Budget Planner For Paris

Experience the city of Paris on a budget.

Paris, known internationally as the "City of Lights", is home to world famous artworks, landmarks, and entertainment venues. In a city where art, culture, fine food, and architectural wonders coincide, the trouble is not finding things to see or do, but rather, having enough time and money. By setting an itinerary and a budget, one can experience Paris to its fullest without putting a major dent in one's wallet.

The first thing to think about when planning a trip to Paris is when to go. Paris in the spring is beautiful, and tourism is at its peak in the summer months. Hoards of tourists are out in full force in the summer, which means that the lines to the major attractions are a lot longer, and budget accommodations tend to fill up quickly. Consider visiting Paris during the off-season months of November through April. Budget accommodations are more readily available, and airfare is a lot cheaper.

When booking a flight, consider flying midweek or catching the red-eye. Flights are cheaper during these times. Be open to flying on a different day than expected. Being flexible increases the chances of finding the best possible deal. Check with a travel agent or on the internet for special deals.

If departing from a European city, there are a couple of companies that offer inter-European flights for a low price. These flights depart and fly into select cities and airports. This option is definitely worth looking into if it means saving a significant amount of money. A flight from London to Paris could cost as little as $34.18, excluding taxes, which is cheaper than taking the train in. Again, the rates are based on the season and the day and time of the flight. Taking the train could be cheaper during other times. Definitely look into both the options of flying or railing into Paris.

There are many affordable accommodations throughout the city. If traveling alone, consider checking into a hostel. A hostel is basically a dormitory full of travelers and is the cheapest way to go. There are private and shared suites, of which sometimes there are fourteen beds to a room. The rooms are bare, usually consisting only bunk beds without no amenities such as towels, air-conditioning, or television. One night can cost as little as $22.00 per person. The caveat of staying in a hostel is the lack of privacy. If you are not comfortable with rooming with strangers or want privacy, some hostels offer private suites, which will, of course, cost more. If traveling with friends, opt for a private suite. Just be sure that the number of people in your party matches the number of beds. If the number in your party is less than the number of beds, you will have to pay for that extra bed.

Since hostels cater to young travelers who are on a budget, the ambience might be a little loud for some people. If looking for a quieter scene or something fancier, stay at a hotel or a bed and breakfast. There are many 2-star and 3-star hotels throughout the city. These hotels are not as plush as 4-star hotels, but are adequate. Since most of your time will be spent touring the city and not in your room, forgo paying extra for the amenities. Most of the cheaper hotels can be found in the Latin Quarter or Montmartre District.

Making your way around the city should be easy because Paris has an excellent public transportation system. The metro is the easiest and most efficient way to get around. Tickets can be purchased individually or in batches of 10 (uncarnet) at a much better value. Each ticket is valid for one journey with unlimited transfers.

If staying in Pairs for a couple of days, consider purchasing the Paris Visite Pass. This pass is geared for tourists. The pass may be purchased at the metro stations and airports, and allows unlimited use on the Metro, RER (express regional trains), bus, tramway, and SNCF trains. It is by far the best way to travel around Paris. The pass is sold in 1, 2, 3, or 5 consecutive days. The cost of the pass depends on the number of days you will be traveling and the zones which you will be traveling through. A one-day pass covering the central zones of Paris costs $10.80 while a five-day pass costs $34.48. For your information, Chateau Versailles, Disney Paris, and the airports are in zones 4 and 5. A one-day pass covering zones 1-5 costs $21.67. If heading outside of the central zones only once, it may be cheaper to purchase a single ticket.

For travelers who stay beyond a few days, consider purchasing the Carte Orange. Even though these passes are intended to be purchased by Parisians, tourists can buy them too. This is a better value than the Paris Visite Pass. These passes can only be bought in Paris, and a photo must be accompanied with the pass. The price of the pass depends on the zones covered. As with the Paris Visite Pass, the Carte Orange allows unlimited use on Paris' public transportation system. Study the different travel passes and determine which best will suit your needs.

With so many sights to see, look into buying a museum pass. This pass allows free admission and unlimited visits to 70 museums and monuments. Some of the attractions included in the pass are the Arc de Triomphe, Pantheon, Louvre, Notre-Dame, Musee d'Orsay, and Chateau de Versailles. Not only will this pass save you money, it will save you hours from standing in line. The pass allows direct entry into the sights. The cost for a one-day pass is $25; a three-day pass is $52, and a five-day day pass is $83. Also, the Louvre, Musee Picasso, Arc de Triomphe, Sainte-Chappelle are free on the first Sunday of the month. The Louvre offers reduced admission after 3PM, and Musee d' Orsay offers a reduced rate on Sundays.

Sightseeing is always free. Check out Paris by day and night. Get on the metro and head out to all the major sights. View the architecture of Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Sacre-Coeur, and Arc de Triomphe from the exterior. At night, view Illuminations when all the major monuments are lighted. It is such a spectacular sight.

Being on a budget does not mean you cannot have a nice meal. When in Paris, at least try eating at one nice restaurant. After all, Paris is known for their food. Experience fine French cuisine during lunch when a cheaper menu is offered. When dining out, order the prix-fixe menu or the dish of the day. Both are affordable and within means of a budget.

Cheap but good eats can be found at cafes or vendors that line the streets. Have a sandwich or a crepe, or go to the local grocery store and pack a picnic. For something romantic, pack a dinner and have a picnic at Champ de Mars. Eat, drink, and gaze at the Eiffel Tower as it twinkles throughout the night.

One last key bit of advice when planning a trip to Paris is to check the exchange rate. If your country's monetary value is lower than the Euro, it may be advantageous to book your hotel and passes at home rather than in Paris.

Even on a budget, one can experience Paris and take in all the City of Lights has to offer. Bon Voyage!

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