“Cheap as a Parisian restaurant”, said no one, ever! Paris, the “City of Lights” is famous for many things: the Basilica of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, the iconic Mona Lisa in the Louvre art museum
, the swanky and upmarket shopping street Les Champs-Élysées
...but budget holidays is not one of them! Don’t panic though, with our Paris travel tips
you can unlock the best of the city without burning a hole in your pocket.
If you have booked tickets to Paris but you’re worried about making your Euros stretch far enough, we have got you covered! From cheap eats to transport, here are all the city hacks that will guarantee to see you through. Penny pinching Paris can be just as awesome if you follow these tricks below!
The first golden rule for travelers in Paris on a budget: no taxis! Paris has a well-connected and efficient public transport system. The flat rate for a single journey is €1.90. The trick is to buy the right ticket: don’t be losing euros with each ride!
Tip #1 - Ticket Combos
Paris Carnet: Buy a “carnet” for 10 journeys. This costs €14.90, saving you €4.10 on buying metro tickets each time. Valid on all Paris metros, RER trains and buses in Zone 1 (apart from the Orlybus and Roissybus).
Mobilis Pass: If you are making more than 11 journeys in one day, then grab yourself a Mobilis Pass. This one-day ticket costs €17.80 for unlimited trips on all public transport in Zones 1 to 5.
Tip #2 - 1 Week Navigo Pass
One week of unlimited travel for €27.80. What a bargain! To get this great deal though you will need to buy a Navigo Discovery smart card (€5). Bring a passport photo! Warning: the Navigo Pass works from Monday to Sunday (not seven days from when you buy it) so probably not worth it if you arrive late in the week! You save money if you make 16 journeys on the pass.
Tip #3 - Airport Transport
Paris has two main airports: Charles de Gaulle (about 14 miles from the center) and Orly (about 9 miles from the center). There are buses and trains available from both airports to the center. There is also a the Beauvais–Tillé Airport near the city of Beauvais in the commune of Tillé which has a terminal for Ryanair flights.
Bus: From Charles de Gaulle Airport, get a bus into Paris city center for €6! Hop on bus 350 or 351 which depart every 15 to 30 minutes. They run every day from 5.35 am to 9.30 pm.
Landing into Orly Airport? Take the Orlybus to Place Denfert-Rochereau. Tickets cost €9 and they leave every 15 to 30 minutes, from 5 am to 12.30 am.
Train: The RER train departs every 5 to 15 minutes from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Gare du Nord and other stations. It costs €10.30 and takes half an hour. You will need to jump on a free airport shuttle bus to the RER station of Roissypole or Terminal 2.
From Orly Airport you need to take two trains. First the Orlyval Train to Antony RER station (10 minutes) then another train to one of the Paris central stations (25 minutes). Both trains leave approximately every 10 minutes between 12 am to 6 am. Total cost? €12.
Tip #4 - Paris Museum Pass
The Paris Museum Pass costs €48 for two days, €62 for four days and €74 for six days. It gives you free access to over 60 places! This includes the museums: the Pompidou Center, Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay, but also other attractions such as the Palace of Versailles and the Arc de Triomphe.
Big Bus 2-Day Pass with Louvre and Seine Cruise Ticket
Worth it? Definitely. If you plan on doing lots of sightseeing in Paris, entry to the attractions are usually around €10. Grab a Paris Museum Pass and see them all!
Tip #5 - Book tickets online
Planning a romantic getaway in the City of Love? Or fancy heading off the beaten path and checking out some of the unique activities in Paris? We have tons of ideas for you. Check out the articles below for additional Paris Travel tips, handy maps and bucket lists!
Tip #6 - Disneyland
If you are visiting Paris with kids then it is time to visit Disneyland
! Two words: book ahead
. Disneyland prices can be as large as their queues, so buying a pass in advance will save you money and time at the rides.
DisneyLand® Paris: 2 Parks in 1 Day with Transportation
Tip #7 - Enjoy the freebies in Paris.
Paris is so much more than expensive tourist attractions! Enjoy the best of Paris without spending a penny. Meander through Montmartre, or picnic in one of Paris’ parks. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Père Lachaise Cemetery: morbid but highly recommendable. Visit this famed Paris cemetery to see the resting ground of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Édith Piaf.
- Pont Alexandre III
: wander over this beautifully ornate bridge and enjoy views of the Eiffel Tower
- Free museums First Sunday of the Month: save money and see Monet for free! Over 50 museums participate, and you can enjoy free access to see the French impressionists in the Musée d'Orsay or Picasso in the Pompidou. Paris travel tips for museums: the Louvre is free on the first Saturday evening of the month, however, if you want to beat the crowds, it’s best to book your tickets ahead and visit on a quiet day.
-Panoramic Paris: save your euros for a glass of French wine and enjoy the free views from the roof of the Galeries Lafayette department store. Or for just €5, you can get the lift up to the top of the Pompidou Center and watch the sunset over the Paris skyline.
Tip #8 - Seek out cheap eats!
Paris has more Michelin stars than any other city in Europe, and second in the world. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend big to eat well though! Here are some great Paris travel tips to fill your belly without emptying your wallet.
Menu du Jour: Pig out at lunchtime with a set menu or “prix fixe”. This will include two or three courses, plus a glass of wine! (Generous restaurants may even plonk down a half a bottle on the table). Prices range between €10-20.
Picnic: Pain, Vin and Boursin! French food makes the best picnic: baguettes, soft cheeses and champagne! Grab some cheap supermarket ingredients and head to some of Paris’ lush parks to munch the afternoon away.
Tap water is free: In restaurants, avoid expensive bottled water. Order “l’eau du robinet” for the table.
Markets: Stock up on fresh French food at one of the many markets or “marchés” around the city. One of the best ones is Marché des Enfants Rouges in the Marais district of Paris.
Additional Helpful Paris Travel Tips
Tip #9 - Accommodation
Cheap hotels aren’t easy to find in Paris. Here are some tips to help you save big bucks on your accommodation:
Stay outside the city center: A general rule of thumb is that the further you are from top tourist sites like the Eiffel Tower, the better value of the hotels! Choose your neighborhood wisely:
Marais is known for its quaint streets and thriving nightlife, Montmartre is the jazz quarter with views over Paris, while the Latin Quarter is popular with students and great for affordable hotels.
City Camping for €27: Yes you read that right! There is a leafy campsite on the banks of the River Seine in the middle of Paris. The Bois du Boulogne campsite is located near the metro station Porte de Maillot. You can pitch your own tent for as little as €27. Or you can hire tents, gypsy caravans or small cottages.
Hostels over hotels: You don’t need to travel with a backpack or share a room with strangers to stay in a hostel in Paris. Many of the city hostels offer private rooms for as little as €30 a night. Perfect for all you travelers visiting Paris on a budget!
Tip #10 - Go Digital
Nothing screams “I’m a Tourist” more than a phrasebook and a city map! If you want to blend in with the locals (and be invisible to the pickpockets), leave the guidebook and fanny-pack at home and download some useful apps on your smartphone instead. Have all the Paris travel tips in your pocket!
The Navmii app is free and turns your phone into a satnav using GPS. Perfect for finding your way around the city without using up your data or having to look for Paris free WIFI! The Google Translate app will help you navigate those French menus like a local, and the RATP app is the guide to Paris public transport.