Europe Travel

How To Have a Weekend in Paris on the Cheap

Paris is an amazing city. Amazing but expensive. I’ll never claim to be a Parisian expert, but after a handful of trips there over the past few years I’ve spent about a month collectively there. 

eiffel tower

1. Getting there: People rant and rave about the Eurostar. And it’s incredible, that’s true. Many people also get great deals on tickets. However, one person’s “great deal” on the EuroStar is still over budget for me. One day I’ll have the budget to travel to my heart’s extent, but right now I can’t spend more than £50 return for a ticket. So more often that not Sam and I take the EuroLines bus from London Victoria to Paris. Tickets on the bus average around £19 each way, and if you plan well, you can take the bus overnight, minimising the amount you spend on accommodation. Don’t rule out the budget airlines. Sometimes you get a great deal. But if you don’t live close to an airport, most of the budget flight check in times are at times when the tube has just started. So you might end up spending more getting to the airport than you spend on your flight. Just take the bus.

champs d' elysee

 

2. Accommodation: I’ve reached the age were I don’t really find hostels particularly fun anymore, especially when Sam and I are traveling as a couple. But don’t rule out the hostels because you think you’ll be piled into a huge group dorm. Most hostels offer private rooms (some ensuite, some not) for significantly cheaper rates than a hotel would. I have a hostel that’s my go-to in Paris, where we can get a double room, ensuite with breakfast included for less than £50. The room might be basic but the views are gorgeous. Besides, how much time are you actually going to be spending in your hotel room when you are exploring a new city? A hotel is probably the last thing I’d splurge on. 

central paris

3. Eating: Paris is famous for its incredible cuisine. It’s also famously difficult to eat on a budget. Someone once said that eating on a budget in Paris can leave one feeling like “a spectre at a feast” which is totally true. So here are my tips: skip eating at restaurants for the most part and visit local shops and picnic most meals. For example, for dinner one night Sam and I grabbed a bottle of champagne and some bits from the local shop; two baguettes from the local boulangerie; amazing cheese and saucisson from a fromagerie; and dessert from a patisserie. Then we took it all down to the Seine and dined at our leisure. And looking around us, loads of people were doing the same thing. Total cost of that meal? Approximately £10. And everything we ate was local and fresh, and that included the bottle of champagne. If you want to eat a hot meal at a bistro, just avoid the heavily tourist areas and you should be able to get some much better deals!

tulle skirt on lock bridge lock bridgeshakespeare and co shakespeare and co 2 browsing books
eiffel tower and stormsacre coeur from the arc di trumphe

Have you traveled to Paris before? What are your money saving recommendations? 

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  • Great tips, Amanda! I’ve also travelled to Paris on the bus and found it was a lot quicker than I thought. In terms of eating, I also managed to find some cheap lunchtime menus at restaurants, which were great deals. I also think this means you can have a lighter dinner if you fill up on lunch. Or rent an airbnb so that you can cook in and save lots!

    • Completely true! I was astounded how few people ever consider the bus to Paris from London. x

  • I’m headed to Paris at the end of July so this post couldn’t have come at a better time! We’ve booked an air bnb for our stay so that we can cook a lot. But we’ll definitely be using your picnic by the river idea. Thanks for the tips and the gorgeous photographic inspiration of things to see and do. I must make sure I get to that bookshop!
    L x

  • I haven’t done Paris since school and had always kinda not really thought about it because I figured it would be super expensive. Might see if I can convinc Gary for a weekend over the summer 😀 and I miiiight have to ask you for that hotel’s name haha xx

  • Love these tips! We always eat in the suburbs to try and avoid the tourist traps and Airbnb is always my go to for accommodation.

    Sophie Cliff

    • You’ll have to give me some AirBnB recommendations because I’m in the minority of people who have trouble with Airbnb in Paris! xx

  • Last time I went to Paris, we booked an apartment through Air b’n’b and it was amazing! Personally, I prefer staying at a different neighborhood every time, so that I can see more from Paris. Your tips about food are spot on! xx

  • We usually stay in Hostels too, always a private room though, since we travel with a child! I love these tips, and we apply most of them to our trips, in different places not just Paris and they work great!

  • When I studied abroad in Spain my friend and I took a spontaneous trip to Paris! We were definitely on a budget. We stayed in a cheap hostel on the outskirts of the city. It was really cheap, included breakfast, and was right next to the metro so it was easy to go into the city everyday. We would usually pick up some sandwiches and a few other items from grocery stores or little shops for lunch and dinner. We also did everything we could that was free and since we were students we made sure to ask for a discount for anything that wasn’t free!

  • fab post. I have always wanted to go to Paris, although my boyfriend keeps saying how expensive it is, so we keep putting it off. I will be using your tips as much as I can to organise a trip.
    xxx
    Lyndsey
    http://www.labeau.co.uk

    • Thanks Lyndsey! I hope you guys find them helpful! And on the first Sunday of every month, admission into museums in Paris is free! x

  • I’d love to go back to Paris now that I’m older. I was about 19 on my first trip and I didn’t enjoy it, mainly because I don’t think I really knew how to travel back then. One day I’ll go back!

  • We used airbnb when we went to Paris, and it was super reasonable. We also found a local baguette shop where they offered a drink + a pastry + a baguette sandwich for only 6 euro. Score!

  • Picnics are the best way to eat if the weather is good! x

  • theladylawyer

    Great tips! I’ve been to Rome but Paris is still on my list 🙂

  • Christine | A Keane Sense

    I love Paris… even though it’s crowded and super touristy, but I think that makes Paris, Paris. I wish I could do weekends in Paris, can we move it over to the States? ha PS – Where did you get that super cute skirt?

    • I think it’s because I’m used to the immense London crowds so Paris doesn’t seem unusually crowded although touristy for sure – but for a very good reason! There are so many places that I wish I could move closer to me so that I’d be able to visit more often. How can we make this happen? x

  • These are great tips! I haven’t been to Paris (although I definitely want to,) but I think your advice can apply to almost anywhere in Europe. When I went to Germany and England, we didn’t eat out much, but we still got to experience the food by buying our own and taking advantage of the hotel breakfast.

    • Definitely! And if you can fill up on hotel breakfast then it cuts down on your daily costs a lot! x

  • Super useful tips, Amanda! I once got a bus ticket to Paris for £1.50 on Megabus. The only disappointment was that I took a night time bus thinking I’d sleep on the way there, arrive at 9.00am, and head out to explore. Unfortunately I kept being woken up for passport checks, getting on & off the bus etc. and ended up getting probably 2hrs of very bad sleep. Needless to say I was exhausted & didn’t feel like doing much at all that first day! lol.

    By the way, what’s the name of your go-to hostel? It sounds good, I’d like to check it out. Thanks! x

    • Hotel Caulaincourt- it’s super basic but some of the private rooms have a phenomenal view! x

  • Love this post, Amanda! Getting excited already to go back in the autumn :)) I took a day bus trip from London on EuroLines a few years ago and it was definitely a great savings… but the sad thing was that I could’ve booked EuroStar tickets for almost the same price but I waited too long. Sometimes you can get great deals! I think I may have asked you this before, but are overnight bus trips worth it? Were you able to any sleep?
    Last time I was there I spent 2 weeks and I think ate out at ONE restaurant! Picnicing is king.

    • i think the overnight bus depends on how good you are at sleeping/going to sleep. Sam, for example, can sleep ANYWHERE so once we board the bus he’s out like a light, and when we go through passport control he woke up and then promptly go back to sleep. But since you’d be traveling in the Schengen zone, you shouldn’t even ever have to wake up for passport checks. I sleep really fitfully and lightly in my own bed, so bus sleeping is pretty much nil for me, but I can run on a few hours of sleep on Day 1 for the discount in fare. Ha, I’m not sure I really answered your question though! x

  • We looked up the baguette places that were runner ups in the national baguette competition, bought those (1 euro each – AMAZING)… then went to Monoprix and bought all kinds of goodies to have with our baguettes… and it was hands-down, the BEST MEAL WE HAD… so delicious! Bonus points if you head to the Luxembourg Gardens, Les Berges near Pont Alexandre III, or anywhere else that is beautiful…

  • If you want to splurge on a meal, go at lunch. Restaurants usually offer a great “menu” or “formule” at lunch for a fraction of the dinner price.

    Kebabs and crêpes are cheap, delicious, filling street food.

    My cheap lodging secret is Port Royal Hotel. Their prices don’t fluctuate at holidays, meaning if you’re in Paris during peak season, and you’re traveling with at least one other person, the hotel is cheaper per person than a hostel. I stayed there for NYE several years ago for a fraction of the price of the hostel dorms.

    If you live in the EU–and this includes Americans with work visas–almost all French museums are free if you’re under 26. You usually have to ask for this, though. If you don’t speak much French, just memorize the phrase “Tariff graduit pour les jeunes de moins 26.” And have your passport ready to indicate your birthday and residency.

    • And for those of us oldies out there, the first Sunday of the month most museums are free, which is an incredible discount if you can squeeze a few in! Haha, crêpes are most definitely delicious, but not even the most savoury ever fully satisfies me for a meal. #bigappetiteproblems x

  • Such great tips! Whenever I’m in Paris, I love going to a local market and grabbing food instead of sitting down in a restaurant! Everything is so fresh!

  • Great tips! I know what you mean about traveling as a couple and doing hostels, not my thing. But great tip about doing a private room to save some money! And the food, that’s what my boyfriend and I did for dinner went to the grocery store and got some local food and enjoyed a cheap and filling meal!

    • Plus you’re still eating local food and it’s at a discount! Cooking for yourself can be a great way to go when traveling! x

  • Not a place I will ever get to but those tips could be used in many places

  • I love the Shakespeare Bookshop!
    I got a good deal one Christmas when I went. I think I did one of these “secret” hotel booking where you don’t know the name of the hotel until after you’ve paid. I went by train from Germany, so it was pretty nice. I can’t stand the Eurostar – the seats have less room than a Ryanair flight.

    • I’ve totally done the secret hotel think before, and got super lucky! Shakespeare and Co is incredible, right? I could curl up there all day long! x

  • I hope you get the chance in the future! xx

  • Amy @ the tide that left

    I’d never thought about taking the coach to Paris. Mr Tide has long legs so that wouldn’t really suit him, but it could be a good thing for a girls trip. Will be sure to remember Eurolines for the future.

    • If you have a group of friends around you, then I’m sure the trip would be slightly uncomfortable but way funny! Sometimes you seem the coach prices advertised for £1.50 returns. Almost worth the long ride, right?! x

  • Great tips! And I would definitely be interested to know about that hostel you always bet on – I’ve recently started doing hostels with the Brit and exactly we stay in the places where they have a double room – so would be super interested in the Paris one! The Brit has never gone and I’m hoping to pop over there sometimes later this year. 🙂 And I’ve always done the same in Paris – grab some baguettes and some wine from the local stores to have our own cheap
    meal 🙂

    • I love staying at Hotel Caulaincourt. It’s nothing fancy, but nice private rooms at decent prices! x

  • Is the hostel you stayed in what you mentioned below to Camila? That is a great deal! I usually search hostels in cities where hotels are too expensive, but on HostelWorld you have to book by person, even if you are sharing a room and a bed, so sometimes it ends up being more expensive than a hotel.

    • It is. They the prices by season so summer is way more expensive than another time of the year, but when I went in late March once the private room was around £27. It was an absolute steal! And the nice things about it is that if you book a private room on their website you don’t have to pay per person 🙂 x