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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Spending 4 Days in Paris With 120 Euros: How It's Possible!

Visitors to Paris come in a variety of types, styles, shapes, ages, sizes, and nationalities. There is no such thing as a singular archetypal image of a tourist in Paris as the city can now be enjoyed by almost anyone, even those on a shoestring budget. Believe me, Paris is for cheapskates too! 

Those who veer away from heavy spending now have many practical, budget opportunities to explore the city. While the general belief is that Paris is such an opulent, expensive place to visit, a small travel budget should not deter you from having a satisfying experience of this cosmopolitan city.

I enjoyed my time in Paris while spending less (meaning: spending money wisely!) and avoiding the “tourist traps” where most travelers are often get caught up in. When I visited Paris for 3 nights, 4 days, with my Chinese friend, Wendy, I spent about 120 euros in total. Sharing most of the expenses with her cut down my over-all expenditures in half. Here’s how we managed to spend less in Paris:

We took a bus to Paris from Amsterdam.
Instead of taking the fast but expensive train to Paris, we took a Megabus from Amsterdam via Brussels which only costs 6 euros! Yes, 6 amazing euros! Megabus is a cost-effective option for those who want to travel around Europe. They have many connections to the major cities and popular destinations in the continent. As a budget traveler, I'm a fan of this bus company!

We stayed in an Airbnb accommodation.
My friend is not into Couchsurfing so we decided to get a place to stay in Paris through Airbnb and found a studio flat somewhere in Rue de l'Odéon, a centrally located street on the Left Bank, for 30 euros per night. Divide that amount by two and I ended up paying 15 euros per night. This is relatively cheap as the flat is close and within walking distance to some of Paris’ major tourist attractions, allowing us to save a good deal of money on transportation. This is also way better than staying in a crowded dormitory-type hostel.

We cooked (mostly) our own food in Paris.
Eating in restaurants in Paris is notoriously expensive. Coffee is ridiculously priced. To save money, we cooked our food at the studio flat that we were renting using some left-over stuff such as rice, pasta, cured hams, canned goods, etc. that I brought with me from my apartment in Amsterdam. Additional food were bought at the local supermarket. Although there were a couple of occasions (as seen in the photo below) when we decided to splurge a bit and eat out, we never went to a fancy restaurant. We’re wise enough to know that it would put a big hole in our pockets.

We booked our tickets in advance for Eiffel Tower.
This is perhaps one of the best decisions we’ve made as tickets can easily be fully booked for at least the next two months. We booked our tickets to the Eiffel Tower ahead of time directly from the official website for 15 euros each to get slots for the sought-after lifts to the top. There are actually cheaper tickets for 7 euros but will only give you access to the 2nd floor. Buying our tickets in advance has also prevented us from opting for websites and tour companies offering the same ticket at three times the original price.

We took advantage of the free admission to Louvre Museum.
For the unacquainted, admission to the Louvre Museum is free for a number of visitor categories written in their website. You must check if you are qualified. We saw Mona Lisa for free! Yay!

We never took a taxi.
Instead, we used the public transportation to get around the city. The Paris Metro is incredible and relatively cheap! A single Metro ticket costs 1.80 euros but we chose to get a bundle of 10 tickets, costing 14.10 euros. That’s almost 4 euros of savings!

We never booked a tour.
There are a number of tour packages in Paris, but we never bought any of these. Not even the hop-on, hop-off bus tours! They are a big ripoff! We did everything on our own, we walked a lot and took the train, at our own pace and time, and managed to visit a long list of attractions for free without hassles. These include the glorious Notre Dame Cathedral, the artsy square of Montmartre, the famous Moulin Rouge, the tranquil banks of the Seine, and the posh avenue of the Champs Elysées, to cite a few.

Rundown of my Expenses in Paris:

Bus to Paris from Amsterdam: 6 euros
Accommodation (3 nights, 4 days): 45 euros
Grocery/Food Share: 20 euros
Restaurant Meals: 18 euros
Transportation (Metro Tickets): 15.10 euros
Eiffel Tower Ticket: 15 euros
Postcards: 1 euro
Total: 120.1 euros (roughly 132 dollars)

How about you? How much did you spend when you visited Paris? Do you have any more budget tips on how to travel for less in the City of Love? Share yours!

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