Read this to enjoy Paris, sans face palm…
Paris is one of the most emotionally driven cities in the world. It’s famous for love, candle light, stuffing your face with croissant when your sad, drinking champagne until you’re merry and art which makes you take a seat in awe. As the world’s most popular travel destination, seeing the very best of the city, saving money and avoiding tourist traps is easier said than done, but with these tips you’ll be well on your way to Parisienne bliss.
Ok, to be fair this is more of the planning phase – but if you can save money before you even land that means more to spend on indulgence! Indulgence while traveling is good, especially in Paris.
The city is served not only by Charles De Gaulle (CDG) but Orly (ORY), which is actually closer in and features a few emerging airlines with particularly low fares. Be sure to search PAR to trigger both airports, or at least do a side search for ORY when making any plans to or from the city of love.
Skipping The French Primer
Bonjour, merci, au revoir and si vous plait will get you a lot further in Paris than you’d think. Wherever you go, it’s important to honor your destination by brushing up on at least a few words to help bridge the gap.
You can always use Google Translate to help in real time too. Most wait staff will insist on English anyway, but it’s a nice gesture. The more the better. Culture is good.
“What’s the soup du jour?” It’s the soup of the day. “Ok, that sounds great” I’ll have that. This famous exchange from Dumb and Dumber has actual cultural significance, no matter how much they tried not to make that happen. One of the best ways to save in Paris is to go with “du jour” or “une formula” options.
Great bistros will offer at least two courses and maybe even a glass of wine at a set price and if you’re smart, you’ll take it. Ordering a la carte is for tourists who want to pay double. Oh, and go big at lunch – it’s always cheaper.
Sticking Strictly Central
L’Opera is beautiful, but it’s not residential Paris. SoPi, or South Pigalle is an absurdly charming neighborhood, and it’s far from the only one where you’ll find actual Parisienne’s living their best life.
Canal Saint-Martin, Belleville, Montmarte and Batignolles are an absolute must for anyone seeking to figure out where they might fit into city life, if they were a local. Between boutiques, better prices and exceptionally good cafes, you’ll be glad you ventured out. With great mass transit via the Metro, it’s easier than you think too.
The Paris Pass is not for everyone. But if your days in Paris involve heavy museum, hop on hop off, famous monuments and palace tourism, it’s actually a gem. And yes, it will probably save you a fortune; and maybe even time too.
The pass is good for 2,3,4 or more days and the three day pass runs €165 but gets you into almost every museum or onto every bus for free. Don’t just blindly buy it though. Calculate the cost of admission for all the things like Versailles, Louvre, River Cruise, Orsay Museum and hop on, hop off bus and see if there’s savings to be had.
Paying For Water
Drinking the water in Paris is as safe as anywhere. Some restaurants love to unsuspectingly offer bottled still or sparkling, as if they are the only two choices.
Don’t be afraid to say “a carafe is fine, thanks”. If you love bottles of sparkling mineral water, go wild – but don’t feel like you’re stuck paying €5 per meal just to stay hydrated. You’ve got options. Just maybe don’t drink from the Seine.
Ever heard of Reims? It’s where most of the very, very best champagne comes from. It’s also a mere 46 minute train ride from Paris on the TGV. If you’re coming from far, and love wine, you’d be absolutely bonkers to overlook this handy side adventure, outside the hustle and bustle of Paris. And people do, like almost every time!
The ability to get out of town and back in a single day makes side trips to Reims or Epernay an absolute must. Bordeaux is only about a 2.5 hour train journey away as well. Just plan on needing to buy a suitcase for the stuff you can’t leave without!
Relying On Uber
The Metro is one of the more underrated transit systems on the planet. Thanks to advances like instant translation just from taking a picture, it’s easier than ever to understand too. Uber is great in Paris and actually pretty cheap too, but if you want to save money and get a feel for a real Paris commute use Google Maps to plot a good mass transit route.
It’s big, it’s beautiful and a stroll through any nearby gardens or bridges will bring incredible pictures, but don’t waste time queuing to go up. Instead, walk the Seine and take in the city and then look for elevated vantage points.
Sacr é Coeur in the trendy and tourist friendly Montmartre district offers incredible views in all directions. You’ll also never regret a Tuileries Garden walk with the amazing symmetry. You can get some great city shots with the Eiffel tower too.
Those trippy impressionist paintings didn’t come out of nowhere, did they? Few thrill seekers can abstain from trying “true” absinthe in the city that does it best and who can blame them? Know this though: it’s more potent than your wildest hallucinatory imagination.
To make sure you don’t fall into the Seine, stick to wine if you’re a lightweight. It’s not like there are many places on earth that do it better.