With most of us concerned about the economic situation we are reconsidering whether vacations to long-time popular destinations are wise. Actually, if you have a little bit of spending money, now is the time to go.
Right now you can find some great deals on airline tickets. I have managed to get last minute round-trip airline tickets from Houston to Paris for as little as $600. Since the flights have not been full, I have been able to stretch out across seats for very comfortable Atlantic crossings.
When it comes to hotels, even with discounts you should still expect to pay around $150 per night for a decent hotel room in a good location in Paris. If you are traveling with your family, a group of friends or if you are considering spending more than a long weekend in Paris, you may want to consider renting an apartment. This may not be as easy as pulling up Expedia on your web browser but you will be rewarded with a nice apartment and huge savings. You will find that there are plenty of great apartments with excellent amenities and locations that will comfortably sleep four people or more for the price of a small hotel room. Plus, you will have a kitchen at your disposal.
Speaking of kitchens, dining can be your third biggest expense. As I have already hinted at, you can save money by preparing your own meals. You may not find the gigantic supermarkets that you may be used to in America but there are plenty of supermarkets and, even more interesting, outdoor markets so don’t worry about food.
You can also save a great deal of money by avoiding restaurants and cafes on the famous boulevards. Often, going around the corner from the touristy cafes you will find better food and better prices. It’s nice to experience the famous tourist attractions but try the restaurants on the quiet streets that the locals frequent.
If you can’t resist going to one of the cafes or restaurants on say, the Champs Elyées (and who can blame you), be smart of what and how you order. Sometimes you will see locals getting food to go and then sitting on a bench on the Champs Elyées just a few steps from the café. If you were to look at the menu you might notice that items that are to go don’t carry a surcharge (for example, you may pay two Euros less for a sandwich by getting it to go). Also, when ordering a drink, consider getting a glass of wine over a Coca-Cola or similar soft drink: there is a good chance the wine will be less expensive.
One of my favorite things for a simple meal when I am out and about is to do as some of the locals do (I am referring to plumbers, construction workers and the like): buy a baguette, some cheese and or something else to put in the baguette and a drink (you can get all of this for about 5 Euros). I then find myself a nice park to enjoy my meal at.
Paris has a lot to offer as far as entertainment and you don’t have to spend much money. You will not get into the Moulin Rouge for free but exploring the backstreets of this area (Montmartre) is free and you can make a trek up to Sacré-Coeur to get a closer look and for a panoramic view of Paris. Chances are there will be street performers here, too.
On a similar note, many people visit Notre Dame but far fewer will take the bridge behind the cathedral to explore Ile Saint-Louis. After visiting Notre Dame, I suggest you visit Ile Saint-Louis, buy some ice cream, find a spot to sit down and enjoy the street performers on the bridge connecting Ile Saint-Louis to Notre Dame’s island. After this, take a walk down Ile Saint-Louis’ main street.
You can find many inexpensive ways to enjoy Paris even when you have a limited budget. It may require a little more planning and maybe being a little more adventuresome than following the herds. In return you will be rewarded with a unique, enjoyable and memorable trip.