Traveling to Paris can be expensive, but there are small ways to save a little extra money along the way to make your trip more affordable. You can still have a great time without breaking the bank! Below are 10 tips to save money on your next trip to Paris. If you have any tips to share with readers, feel free to comment below.
P.S. I highly recommend purchasing a Paris Pass. Skip the lines, save time and money. If you are planning to visit a few museums or Versailles this pays for itself. You will fast-track to the front of the line at major monuments and museums across Paris.
My favorite app for scoring flight deals is Hopper and you can also set a Google flight alert. You can set alerts on your phone for dates you are looking at traveling. It will send you a notification when there is a good fare. I always book directly with the airline vs going through third-party selling websites. Keeping an eye on flight deals will really help save costs, this is a great way to score a deal on airline ticket prices.
The summer months are a popular time to travel in Paris and hotels and airfare are a lot more expensive. The high season runs from spring through summer. If you have the opportunity to travel at a different time of the year such as in January/February or late October/November you will have much better deals on flights and hotels. January is cold but I really love visiting when the city is quiet. I have gotten tickets from Chicago for $500 for January and the hotels have been extremely reasonable. You are much more likely to get upgraded at hotels during this time too due to low occupancy.
The RER B goes directly from the Charles de Gaulle airport to Gare du Nord which is located in the city center. This is the cheapest way to the center of the city. Make sure you have a few euros before you land in Paris just in case the machine doesn’t accept your credit card. I have had trouble with this machine in the past and it is much easier to pay cash. There are ticket booths to buy your RER tickets with a person in English. Depending on how many people you are traveling with and the amount of luggage, this is a great option. If you are traveling solo, this is the best way. For group travel, it may be a better deal to split a taxi or Uber.
Beware of pickpockets on this train. But as long as you watch your belongings you should be ok. For more safety tips you can see this post. Once you are at Gare du Nord you can either take a quick taxi/uber to your destination or hop on the metro. Make sure to keep your ticket with you to exit and enter the RER and metro.
Weather permitting, create a picnic lunch or dinner in the park. I love Place des Vosges or Jardin du Luxembourg for this. You can stop by a local market or grocery store and grab picnic supplies or try grabbing a baguette sandwich at a local boulangerie. It’s a great place to people-watch and enjoy the beautiful parks of Paris. If you are traveling solo, bring a book and spend an afternoon in the garden.
The price of a coffee at the bar is half the price of sitting down, around 2.50 euros to 9 euros. It all depends if you are looking for a long sit to read or people watch or a quick coffee. The price is listed at the bar so you won’t be surprised when you get your bill. I personally love standing at the bar early in the morning, it is usually a bunch of men and me but the people-watching is great! Some of the coffee bars have stools if you want to sit for a minute. Typically, the French will stand take a quick coffee pay with euros and leave.
When you order a coffee at a café, the table is yours for as long as you like. This is a good option if you are planning out your next activity or waiting out the rain. Once you order your drink, the waiter may leave you a ticket when he brings your drink but you don’t have to pay and leave quickly. It may take a bit of time to flag down your waiter to pay the bill, this is typical French culture. If you are in a hurry, you can pay as soon as the waiter delivers your bill.
Modern coffee spots are a bit different where the price is the same to enjoy it in the shop or for takeaway.
Depending on how you booked your hotel room, you make get a free breakfast included in the rate. If you have to pay an additional fee for breakfast, it’s a good idea to skip it. A croissant at a boulangerie (bakery) will cost you around a euro. This is easy to pick up at any bakery in Paris that you walk by, of course, there are some that are better than others, you can see some of my favorites here.
A typical Parisian breakfast at a local café is a croissant and coffee (or tea). There are some variations that include a tartine which is a baguette with butter and jam and a hot drink, they may offer fresh squeezed orange juice.
Prix fixe menus can save you a lot of money on food, this includes a starter and a main course or a main course and dessert for a reduced price. Daily specials will be written on a chalkboard menu or a specific menu to order off of for the prix fixe. They may offer a similar meal at dinner but this will be a better deal in terms of value and cheaper. Lunch in Paris is the main meal of the day and the French typically go lighter for dinner.
Pro tip: The tap water in Paris is perfectly safe to drink. Instead of ordering a bottle of water for a meal which can be over 5 euros, ask your waiter for une carafe d’eau. Save that 5 euros for a glass of wine instead 😉
You can purchase bottled water at the grocery which is much cheaper than buying it out. There are several different brands, just look at the price per bottle when purchasing. Max cost should be around one euro. They do charge extra for chilled water so unless you really need it, just head to the back of the store to grab water.
Public transportation is a great way to get around the city of Paris. There are metro stations at all major tourist attractions around the city. You can buy a pack of 10 metro tickets at a reduced price and can purchase these at the machine in English or in person at a ticket booth.
Make sure to hold onto your ticket until you exit, I have been stopped a few times to show my ticket and the fine is 50 per person. They don’t really make exceptions for tourists that don’t speak French.
P.S. For don’t miss my post on Budget Friendly Hotels in Paris. All are under $200.