European Travel Series
Hello everyone! As promised the next city in my European Travel Series is Paris! Planning a trip over in the next few months? This blog post covers everything from things to do and see in Paris, what I got up to on my last trip there and I have also included some travel tips. Let me know what you think and feel free to comment below and ask questions! 🙂
How did I go about booking my tour? In my last travel blog post I mentioned that I had booked a European tour through Contiki with my friend and fellow travel blogger Chandelle. We travelled to a number of European cities with a group of about 50 people and I have to say it was one of the best trips I have been on. Our first stop was London and then Paris…!
Paris is definitely one of my favourite European cities! It is also an easy place to spend money – with an array of restaurants, shops and wine bars on every corner, and the entrance fees to all those world-class museums and attractions which soon start to add up. Can you enjoy Paris if you’re trying not to spend too much? I have included some of the tips I picked up to help keep my Paris travel costs down, and this time of year is one of the best times to try them out, with the low season between November and April having the lowest prices for travel and accommodation.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Paris has so many world-famous buildings and monuments – like the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower – and going to look at them won’t cost you a penny. You can also browse the book stalls on the banks of the Seine and look around Notre Dame Cathedral for free. And if the weather’s good, there are lots of parks and gardens around the city – like the Promenade Plantée and the botanical gardens at the Jardin des Plantes.
If you’re planning on visiting a lot of museums or attractions, it’s worth investing in a discount pass. There are a couple of different types available. The Museum Pass gives free entry to 50 museums and monuments, including what I listed above, and costs €42 for two days, €56 for 4 days or €69 for six days. There is also a Paris Pass, which includes museum entry as well as lots of extras – fast-track entry, Seine cruise, hop-on hop-off bus tour, wine tasting session and unlimited travel on the metro, RER and buses. Passes cost €122 for two days, €182 for 4 days or €219 for six days.
THE EIFFEL TOWER
The last time I went up the Eiffel Tower we didn’t book tickets in advance so we ended up queuing for a while. We decided to burn off a few calories by taking the stairs – this is by far a lot more fun than taking a lift to the top. Tickets for the lifts to the top cost €17 (book in advance on their website to avoid the queues), but you can save money (and burn off a few croissants) by paying just €7 to take the stairs as far as the second floor.
ARC DE TRIOMPHE
The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile is one of the most well-known monuments in Paris, standing at the western end of the Champs-Élysées at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, formerly named Place de l’Étoile. Definitely worth seeing on a sunny day.
The Louvre or the Louvre Museum is the world’s largest museum and a historic monument in Paris. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine and it is open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. They also open until 9:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. We booked a tour and guide in advance and we really enjoyed it. The museum was a lot bigger then expected and I learnt a lot in a few short hours. Definitely a must! For more information on tickets click here.
A day trip to Disneyland Paris is something everyone should do at least once. We caught a direct train straight to the park and spent the entire day there. If you’re a child at heart then this will be the cherry on top of your trip. From giant tea cups and Minnie Mouse ears to street parades and the most magical fireworks display – this is definitely a must! For more on the parks and tickets click here.
If shows are your thing then I would highly recommend booking one (in advance). The Moulin Rouge is a popular spot but it can work out quite pricey. There are a number of shows on in Paris throughout the year so I would shop around before booking anything. A traditional French dinner and a bottle of wine followed by a show is a great idea for your last night in Paris. Click here for more information.
TOP CITY VIEWS
There are plenty of viewpoints where you can get a spectacular view of Paris, but climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower is high on the ‘to do’ list for many visitors. As I mentioned, tickets for the lifts to the top cost €17, but you can save money by only paying €7 to take the stairs as far as the second floor. Once you’re back down, buy an ice-cream and curl up on the grass – another great way to soak up the views (and take selfies with the Eiffel Tower of course).
For free views across the city, some of my favourite spots are the steps outside Sacre Cœur Basilica, the top floor of the Pompidou Centre and the Parc de Belleville.
One of the best viewpoints when it gets dark is from the Montparnasse Tower, with a great view of the Eiffel Tower when it’s lit up and sparkles on the hour. The lift up to the viewing platform on the roof costs €15. But for the price of a drink, you can take a separate lift up to the 56th floor and watch the lights from the tower’s bar attached to the Ceil de Paris restaurant.
PALACE OF VERSAILLES
If you’re into history, architecture, beautiful views and cycling then this is a must. A half day trip to the Palace, the gardens and Marie-Antoinettes-Estate was definitely one of my highlights of my last trip to Paris. For more of tickets and passes click here.
EATING AND DRINKING
The French are passionate about food, but eating out in Paris can take a big enough bite out of your budget, especially in touristy areas. For good-value meals, look out for prix fixe or formule menus in restaurants. You’ll get two or three courses – either from a fixed menu or with a couple of choices – for a set price. And if you want to splash out on a meal in a nice restaurant, it’s usually a lot cheaper to eat at lunchtime rather than in the evening. You can often get a similar meal for two-thirds of the price.
You can also save on drinks by ordering a pichet (a quarter, half or full litre jug of house wine) and a carafe of tap water – bottled water and soft drinks in restaurants can be more expensive than wine.
Paris has a simple Metro system, but it’s a really walkable city with a lot of the main sites located along the banks of the Seine. You can buy single tickets and passes, but unless you think you’ll use the Metro a lot, a carnet of 10 tickets is probably the best value. Carnets cost €14.10 and you can buy them from station ticket machines. If you’re travelling to Paris by Eurostar, you can also buy them on board to avoid the big queues at the Gare du Nord.
There you have it – all you need to know about travelling to Paris on a budget! I am working on my next European Travel Series blog post so keep an eye out if you’re considering booking a city break soon. If there is anything in particular you’d like me to blog about let me know. You can catch me on Snapchat: duffyloikes, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! 🙂
Thanks for reading!
Until next time…