Ahhh Paris! The Eiffel Tower! The romance! The Seine River! Notre Dame Cathedral! The Louvre! I‘m just going to keep going here until I get to 3000 words… LOL no I’m not, but in the same vein as last Monday’s post where I detailed what I would do with 48 hours but not much money in New York City, this time I’m going to turn the attention to destination: Paris! The world’s possibly most romantic city, filled with wine, cheese and baguettes!
But… Paris on a Budget?
Okay, perhaps not. Well, actually yes in the spirit of trying to save some money the best thing to do Paris to keep your costs down is to find a decent supermarche and self-cater. It’s not a cheap city, (same as New York is not a cheap city), and so we are going to want to cut costs wherever possible. In this regards, I am going to have to recommend finding a decent hostel to keep those pesky accommodation costs down.
I’ve stayed at the Ibis, a budget hotel chain many know, and they are comfortable enough, but nevertheless they still seem to ask 100 Euro or over. In Paris, presuming you want to see some of the world famous sites, you’re going to need to keep your accommodation costs right down to achieve this.
Paris is also blessed with so many of the world’s best restaurants, but again if you go and spend 50 Euro on dinner and 100 Euro on a bed for the night, you find yourself already busting your $200USD that I’m setting for these ’48 hours’ posts. FYI – 150 Euro is around $178USD.
For my experience at a somewhat expensive Paris restaurant read – Tasting Paris – Clover Grill
So Much to See! – Day One
Consider the list of attractions that rate pretty highly that you have to pay to enter – the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, to go up the Arc De Triumph, Musee D’Orsay, Notre Dame and so on, it can be daunting to consider just what this might end up costing you. However – FIRST Sunday of the month many of the museums are free and they are also free for those under 26 with an international student card – and from Europe. Does that include the UK these days? Who knows!
So finding that cheap bed for the night should be the first priority for keeping the costs down because it is potentially the biggest expense of all. The cheapest I’ve found was around $18USD, but it’s in the area of Gare de Lyon, which is not very central for the main Parisian sights. However, you are going to be using the metro system anyway, so it’s worth considering as you are only going to crash there. Closer in, I’ve found prices ranging from around $25USD to $37USD.
A two-day Metro pass for the inner zones only is around 20 Euro, for all zones that becomes 34.70 Euros, and you probably want to go with that if you’ve flying in one morning and flying out the next evening to get you to the airport. So let’s round up and call that $40USD. Average the accommodation to $30USD and we’ve spent $70 already, leaving us $130USD for food, sightseeing and souvenirs.
What are we going to see and what are we going to leave out? I am going to cause a stir here by suggesting we forget about the Louvre. The main reason for this is TIME. It’s the largest museum in Paris, and it is massive. And the experience of fighting the crowd just to get a glimpse of the freaking Mona Lisa is just not worth it, in my humblest of opinions. All in all it’s 15-17 Euro to go to the Louvre, which isn’t too expensive, but it’s such a big place, and it’s such a tight schedule that you wouldn’t have the time. Because you could easily spend a full day or more in the Louvre, if you want to really appreciate everything it has on offer.
A more manageable museum is the Museum D’Orsay, is this incredible old building that used to be a train station, which for me already has me interested. It’s smaller but only slightly cheaper at 14 Euros (let’s say $16USD) and you still need probably two to three hours there. It’s a great place to start, with so many exhibitions from different artists and periods, and it also has a brilliant collection of artwork from Vincent Van Gogh, which frankly is some of the most moving art ever painted.
You’re lunches you’re going to need to do on the go. If you buy something at the museum café you’ll pay probably 15 Euros ($17USD) for it, but at cafes and the like you won’t do any better I would suggest.
Make your way to the Place du Concord, on the Champs Elysée. You are now ready to walk the couple of kilometres along this world famous boulevard. If time allows, well, just off the Chaps Elysée is the ‘Petit Palais’, a beautiful building housing another museum. An hour and half should be enough, the price is perfect – it’s free for entry! A bit of a Parisian rarity, take it whilst you can.
At the end of the Champs Elysée is the Arc de Triumph. You can climb it, or admire it from the road and below. As I am not going to be skipping the Eiffel Tower here, save the money!
If it’s not too late and the sun’s still out, then make your way to the Centre de Pompedieu and take a few photos with the crazy artwork on display outside. It costs 18 Euros to enter, but I found there’s something special and unique just outside where it’s free.
Make your way back to your hostel, by some wine, cheese, baguettes and maybe some meat or whatever you can find for your dinner. Wine is definitely cheap in France, even today you can find a decent bottle for 5 Euro or less, so dinner shouldn’t have set you back more than 15 Euro in total. Those at your hostel well be trying to do the same – save costs – and have something similar, you might even go in together to save a couple more Euro. The End of your first day!
Day Two – Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame
Today we start bright and early, to try to get to the Tour Eiffel by 9am or so to see Paris in the morning light! A ticket to the main floor – the second floor – by lift costs 11 Euros. You can save 4 Euro if you want to climb, but this is not for everyone. For example, it’s not for me. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to head on over to the Mont Marte district. This contains the amazing Sacre Coeur Cathedral, provides another view of Paris, and is a really charming part of Paris you don’t want to miss.
Obviously it’s on a hill, with stair ways and this streets, it’s one of the most beautiful parts of Paris full stop. The Sacre Coeur cathedral is free to visit, but you can climb to the top for 5 Euros. Around this region we found a little local restaurant where we had a two course meal for around 15 Euro each, not the only one offering this sort of deal, so you might find a nice little deal in this part of town.
The Maison de Victor Hugo is a beautiful house in which the author once resided, and in a really lovely area of Paris, have a little walk around if time permits. Finally, it’s the Notre Dame Cathedral, devasted by fire but being rebuilt. One of Paris’s most well known landmarks along with the tower. Notre Dame is 8.50 Euro to enter, and 6 Euro for the crypt. Maison de Victor Hugo is presently closed until December, so I haven’t a price on it but I would think it would be 10 Euros or less. Once you’ve seen this magnificent gothic cathedral, walk along the Seine for a little while, perhaps have an ice cream, and remember where you are – Paris!
And then, it’s time to go home! Yes, you’ve done Paris in 48 hours – or in fact a bit less. Here are our costs –
Accommodation – 30 Euros
Metro Card for 2 Days – 34.70 Euro
Musee D’Orsay – 14 Euro
Lunch (1) – 15 Euro
Eiffel Tower – 11 Euro
Dinner – 15 Euro
Lunch (2) – 15 Euro
Maison de Victor Hugo – 10 Euros (estimate)
Notre Dame – 8.50 Euro
TOTAL : 153.50 Euros [$181.55USD]
So that leaves us with a whopping $18.45 for extras like ice cream, bottles of water, snacks or souvenirs. It’s only two days, but that’s not going to get you very far to be honest! Nevertheless, this would be a whirlwind couple of days in Paris, and we would have seen and done an awful lot! What do you think? What did I leave out which is a must see? What changes would you make? Let me know! Thanks for reading today, and May the Journey Never End!