On the eve of Valentine’s Day, it is only appropriate to look at Paris – the city celebrated as the most romantic capital in the world. Paris has always had a great pull for tourists and this is perhaps the reason why in the past 10 years it has ranked in the list of the most expensive cities in the world.
Most museums and attractions are paid unlike London while food and public transport are not the most affordable ones either. For the average tourist it will take some decent savings to make a nice trip out of a visit to the City of Lights. But those on a budget must not despair. Paris has so much history, culture and entertainment to offer that it needs to be visited at least once in a lifetime regardless of your financial situation. And although it is one of the most expensive cities in the world, it can be visited and enjoyed on a budget. Here’s how I did it:
Getting to Paris:
Getting to Paris from London can be done in less than 3 hours on the EuroStar but speed and comfort can be pricey. Luckily enough for those of us on a budget and with some extra spare time, there’s Megabus (https://www.megabus.com/). If you book really early, you can get a mega deal of a £1 fare and 50p booking fee. If you are a bit more spontaneous and book closer to your trip, you can do a return trip to Paris for £ 60. The journey lasts approximately 8 hours and it takes you straight to the heart of Paris. The Eiffel Tower is 30 min walk from the coach station and Arc de Triumph is only 15 min away. The coach stops twice so it breaks up the journey and if you have a good book at hand, you won’t even notice how time has passed.
You are in a city of endless history and culture. There is so much to be seen and done that you will hardly spend any time in your room. All you need is a place to sleep and recharge your batteries. There is no point in forking out on a luxury hotel room. I myself can’t do hostels as I need my private space so I opted for Airbnb (https://www.airbnb.com/). I rented a whole 2 bedroom flat for 3 days for £195. It was not the cheapest place but I booked it really late and the flat was for 3 people so my share was £65 for 3 nights. Not bad at all considering the late booking. But there are better deals on Airbnb not to be missed. You can do much cheaper than what I did.
Walking around Paris is the best way to get to know the capital. But what do you do when nature calls? There are public toilets around the capital usually outside the main tourist attractions that are free of charge. But if you don’t fancy answering the call of nature in portable toilets, then McDonalds is your safest option. Mind you, most other cafes, restaurants and pubs charge extra for the use of toilet.
Major Tourist Attractions:
The Eiffel Tower
There are two ways to conquer the iconic symbol of Paris – walking the stairs or taking the lift. Going to the top by lift is €15. You can stop at Level 2 and then proceed to the top.
If climbing 702 steps to Level 2 sounds like your thing, then the bargain price of €5 is for you. There are glass floor areas there that can give you the same adrenaline rush that you get from taking the lift to the very top. But if you insist on going all the way up, you can buy tickets for the lift from Level 2.
Admission to the Louvre is €15. But if you plan your trip between October and March, access to the museum is free for all visitors on the first Sunday of each month. Furthermore, on Friday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., admission to the permanent collections is free for under-26s regardless of nationality.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
The Gothic cathedral is one of the must-sees in Paris. You can get inside for free but if you want to climb the steps to the top of the towers, it will cost you €8.50. Under 18s and EU nationals 18-25 go for free.
Montmartre and Sacré-Coeur Basilica
Montmartre is the most famous hill in Paris as artists like Picasso, Salvador Dali and Claude Monet among others used to work in the area in the beginning of the 20th century. The hill has a very village-like atmosphere with its little quaint cafes and artists selling their art on the streets. The landmark of the area is Sacré-Coeur Basilica. You can go in for free and listen to one of the services held there.