It's Possible to Visit Paris for Less
Timing is Everything
Paris has always been a desirable destination, but if you want to save money, consider going during the offseason. Known for its parks, museums, exhibits, excellent public transportation and churches, more than half of the attractions are located indoors. Bearing this in mind, if you feel up to it, visitors traveling to Paris in January will be given fantastic discounts - up to 50% off of Accommodations and Airfare.
For those not so brave, the other months of the year also offer great discounts. The tourist season in Paris stretches from April to October. Those traveling to the City of Lights may save as much as 30% by choosing three star hotels and early reservations for travel in November and late February - March. Bundle up and let's go!
Forewarned and Forearmed - some exhibits are repaired and renovated during the off-season. It is a smart idea to find out in advance if your favorite site will be open in the winter. The good news - not everything is renovated every year!
Focusing on Airfare
If you are one who makes spontaneous decisions, then keep an eye on your newspaper in the travel section. It's essential to know what the normal cost is for airfare to Paris normally costs, so that when the airfare prices "DO" drop, be ready to book your flight immediately!
American Express gives a $100 cash discount for airfares booked through their website. But compare with others providers first. It's a heck of an easy way to make $100, but be sure that their site price is the most competitive one.
Using frequent flyer miles is also a great way to keep airfare costs down.
Je t'aime Paris
Focus on Accommodations
You need to ask yourself - where to the students and young artists stay? Those without money know where the bargains are, and let their example be your guide. The student housing neighborhoods will often be the most economical places to rent a room for a few days while you are in town.
Since hostels are in and hotels are out, look on AirBnB and other Sofa Diving websites to see if you can find accommodations in a good part of town for less than a fancy place. Hopefully, you will be sightseeing the majority of the time.
The Eiffel Tower
Again, playing follow the leader or Simon Says works wonders here. The students (who are generally hungry, in a growing phase and have too many calories to burn) will be good indicators of the less expensive restaurants, pizzerias or mom and pop types of establishments. Opt for those with entrees costing 7-12 Euros (about $10-$15). Drinking water from the faucet instead of bottled water is another way to keep the restaurant bill down.
Bringing along food to your room and storing it in the fridge (or not) is also a good idea. Paris is famous for its bakeries, offering fresh breads and world-famous croissants. Gardens and parks are wonderful places to enjoy an informal lunch.
Don't forget open air markets or the grocery store for a good source of meal options. Here you will feel the heart of the city, where the buyers and sellers haggle. Try to find a better deal at the center of the open air market - those on the periphery tend to be the most expensive.
Easy Rider - Take the Metro
Buy a Metro Pass to get your sightseeing in for cheap. The Metro is a bit jammed, noisy and sometimes unpleasant, but it is remarkably efficient, taking you to all the places you would like to see.
A modified version of the Metro pass are travel passes, sold in books of ten each, costing 12 euros per book. Except for transportation to Versailles and the Airport, some friends of ours ended using up four books. With each book costing around $10 each, they were able to get by spending only $40 for the week.
A fancier version of the standard Metro Pass is the Paris Pass, which gives you admission to 60 museums PLUS the metro pass. Depending on the length of your visit and the desired sights, it can be worth your money (or not). Prices vary from 90 to 120 Euros for 2 - 4 days. The basics are all in there - Cathedral of Notre Dame, Versailles, the Louvre, museums and exhibitions.
The Louvre Museum, #1 in the world
Champs de Elysses and Arc de Triomph
Among the most visited sites in Paris, many do not cost an arm and a leg. For example, to strolling through the famous shopping center Champs-Elysees is free to visit, observing the French women's impeccable style and grace. Historical sites, including the Napoleanic Arc de Triomph are also centrally located. Perhaps the most popular of all is to take a scenic boat tour of the Seine River, which offers a unique views of the city, either day or night. This can be costly, but most probably worth it, if you are cutting corners on meals, transportation and sightseeing.
Visiting the Latin Quarter, which is home to Sorbonne University and located on the trendy left bank of the Seine is the cost of a cup of caffe au lait. There you will find Musee du Cluny, home of the Galo-Roman baths.
Standing In Line
Avoid the busiest times in order to get to where you want to go without wasting a lot of time standing in line. The best times to visit museums (like the Louvre) and churches (like Notre Dame) or on weekday mornings or early evenings, before the after-work crowd arrives. Saving time is like saving money. This is another good reason for coming in the off season.
Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris
The Substitution Game
When traveling, remember it is your vacation, not the neighbors' or your co-workers. Do what makes sense to you.
To save money (and time) substitue the Coeur de. ... for the Eiffel Tower. Not only is it free, you can get a photo of the best view of Paris with the Eiffel Tower in it! With the metro pass the whole excursion is free.
The Musee C... is a great substitute for the Louvre. It consists of two Renaissance mansions with artistic galleries and some special exhibits, which will cost a little something. It is spectacular too - but free and less crowded.