Jet-leg confusion can cause travelers to do some pretty silly things, but over spending shouldn't be one of them. Careful planning and some insider tips can help you save, even when traveling to the city of lights--Paris, France. For my small business, I need to adhere to a strict budget and use the same philosophy when traveling. Follow me as I share some of my favorite money saving tips.
Rent an apartment
With a little due diligence, a couple can stay in Paris on the cheap and have a kitchen to boot. Of all the tourists we interviewed, HomeAway was the most popular sites for finding great rentals. For example, we found a cute, newly remodeled ground floor apartment in the quiet, but famous Montmartre neighborhood -- five minutes from the Moulin Rouge -- is € 500 per week plus a € 50 cleaning fee.
Shop for hotel deals
For our most recent visit, we chose a small hotel in the heart of the Saint-Germain neighborhood, the sixth arrondissement, because we wanted to be within walking distance of most of the sights. To save money, we researched hotels with the help and power of the Internet. There are a number of websites where fellow travelers share their stories, like TripAdvisor and Rick Steves' Graffiti Wall. In fact, our visits to the Graffiti Wall resulted in finding and joining a travel group that meets once a month.
While visiting Paris June through August offers the very best weather, it is also the most expensive regarding flights and lodging. We have visited in May and September and received quite a discount. Those who are willing to pile on a heavy coat can save even more by traveling during the winter months.
Eat on the run
Street food in Paris is amazing! Street vendors sell a multitude of satisfying food choices, such as baguette sandwiches, paninis, crepes, and inexpensive beverages. Boulangeries, found everywhere, sell excellent sandwiches for a few euros.
Every morning I ate breakfast on the cheap with a croissant or pain de chocolate and a cup of cafe longue, which is a tall cup of coffee, for approximately three euro
Peruse the outdoor markets
Most outdoor markets in Paris don't just sell fresh fruits and veggies. Many also sell cheese and deli items. I pair these finds with a baguette and a bottle of wine -- both inexpensive in France -- and dinner is delicious and affordable.
Sit at an outdoor cafe and still save money
Sitting at an outdoor cafe is a real treat when in Paris. Besides people watching, it's just...relaxing, as Paris waiters do not rush diners.
If hankering for a meal, I choose the meal of the day. It's typically inexpensive and delicious. However, my favorite choice is a croque monsieur -- an open face ham and cheese sandwich -- and salad, which typically costs around € 8. If wine is your beverage of choice, save money by choosing a carafe or pitcher of the house wine.
Seek out free entertainment
Besides the first Sunday of the month, museums are also free numerous other times during the year. For example, cultural heritage is celebrated one weekend in September with most museums and government buildings open and free. Additionally, street entertainers can be found in many parts of the city, especially the Latin Quarter and around Notre Dame.
Travel by the metro
The Metro, the Paris subway system, is efficient and easy to navigate. It's also very inexpensive. Less than € 2 a ticket offers a traveler 90 minutes of travel.
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