Around the world, Paris is known for being expensive! The city of love comes at a price and that price is not romance. But… If you plan correctly (and have a little insider knowledge), then there are plenty of ways you can visit Paris on a budget. Here are 10+ tips on how to save money in Paris (without compromising on seeing all of the iconic Parisian sites!).
Paris is one of the most expensive cities in Europe, if not the world. And don’t I know it. My friend once ordered a vodka and coke in the 15e arrondissement… it cost her €15. If you want to use the toilet near a certain famous museum, you’ll have to cough up €1.50. And no, unfortunately, neither of these statements is an exaggeration! But while Paris may be pricey, you can still do Paris on a budget!
Editor’s note: First things first, a little note on the Paris Pass… if you’re looking to visit all of the top Paris attractions and wish to save some money, then you might consider investing in the Paris pass.
This all-in-one ticket is a bit pricier to invest in, but the all-inclusive pass will allow you to see all of the city’s major attractions with one ticket, including skip-the-line functions.
The best way to see if the pass is right for you is to add up the individual costs of the attractions you wish to visit and work out whether or not you’ll save money! Check full details here!
- Tips for how to save money in Paris
- #1 Take advantage of all the Free Activities on Offer
- #2 Order Tap Water at restaurants
- #3 Use Public Transportation
- #4 Purchase a Carnet of Metro Tickets
- #5 Museums are Free on the First Sunday of the Month!
- #6 Consider having a picnic (or two)
- #7 Explore Offbeat districts (don’t just stay in the touristy areas)
- #8 Consider purchasing a Paris Museum Pass or a Paris Pass
- #9 Never pay for WiFi (ever ever ever!)
- #10 Purchase drinks during happy hour
- #11 Take a Free & Self-Guided Walking Tour of the City
- #12 Choose your accommodation wisely and book well in advance
- #13 Make the most of all the budget-friendly Paris restaurants
- #14 Make the most of set lunch menus
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Tips for how to save money in Paris
#1 Take advantage of all the Free Activities on Offer
One of the best ways to save money in Paris is by taking advantage of all of the free activities on offer that won’t cost you a single centime. From free entry to the Louvre every first Sunday of the Month to all of the green spaces the city has to offer, there’s no limit to the number of free activities on offer in Paris.
Some of the best free things to do in Paris include wandering around the Sacré Couer (and exploring the rest of Montmartre), look for antiques at Port St Ouen, and wandering around Père Lachaise Cemetery (final resting place of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison).
#2 Order Tap Water at restaurants
You may not be aware of this, but you can actually order tap water at restaurants; all restaurants, cafés, bars in Paris. Rather than coughing up your hard-earned cash for some bottled water, instead, order ‘une carafe d’eau’. And, if you’re thinking about ordering a coffee at the same time, here’s a quick guide to ordering coffee in Paris!
#3 Use Public Transportation
The cheapest way to cross Paris is obviously to walk! And much of the city is best explored on foot (if you’re stuck for ideas, then here’s an Old Paris Walking Tour). However, if a location you’re headed to is too far to walk, consider taking the metro or a bus, rather than a taxi.
When taking the taxi to the airport, you should know before you go that prices are fixed and so are the best option if you wish to take a cab. This is opposed to ride-sharing services like Uber which don’t have fixed prices between the airport and the city centre, meaning that at peak times you can end up paying well above the odds and much more than you otherwise would have done!
#4 Purchase a Carnet of Metro Tickets
And while we’re on the subject of the metro, make sure you save money by purchasing a carnet (pack of ten) of metro tickets. Save at least 20-30 cents per ticket by purchasing these in packs of ten at the machine, rather than paying per journey. Please note that as of 2021, carnet paper tickets are being phased out but can still be purchased on the Navigo Découverte.
Also, make sure to keep hold of your ticket during your journey: random inspections are common on both the platforms and within the metro carriages themselves, and if you’re found without a ticket, you’ll be given a hefty fine.
As of mid-2019, visitors to the city will be able to go paper-free by purchasing the Navigo Découverte, whereby you can load a carnet onto the card. For further details, here’s everything you ever wanted to know about Paris metro tickets.
#5 Museums are Free on the First Sunday of the Month!
On the first Sunday of every month, a collection of museums and monuments around the city of light, open up their doors completely free of charge. These days can get pretty busy, so make sure to arrive at least half an hour before the opening time, or risk a three-hour long queue- particularly for Paris favourites like the Louvre.
If you’re visiting the city at another time of the year and planning on visiting a fair few cultural sites, then I highly recommend purchasing the Paris Museum Pass. There are also more than a couple of free museums around the city; these include the Musée d’Art Moderne (Museum of Modern Art) and the permanent collections of La Musée de la Vie Romantique (Museum of romantic life- an oasis at the bottom of Butte Montmartre).
#6 Consider having a picnic (or two)
If you’re looking to save money in Paris, then consider heading to a green space with your friends. Paris is one of the best places in the world to enjoy a picnic, especially in the summer.
So, if you want to save some money, rather than heading to an expensive restaurant, consider purchasing some supplies (read: baguette, fruit, and wine) from a local supermarket and enjoy your dinner outside en plein air in the form of a Parisian picnic.
#7 Explore Offbeat districts (don’t just stay in the touristy areas)
As in any other city, some districts are a lot more expensive than others. In Paris, the ‘tourist’ districts are the most expensive, meaning that you can pay up to double what you’d pay for exactly the same meal, elsewhere in the city.
Head out of the touristic hotspots and into the lesser-known parts of the city. Here, you’ll get a feel for the rest of Paris, and avoid the overpriced fees of the tourist sites. The coffees can be up to €2 cheaper, there will be fewer tourists and you’ll see a side of Paris that few others get to experience!
Visiting the less touristic neighbourhoods will also cut euros off your restaurant and café bills, ensuring that you can easily stick to your budget! While cafés in some arrondissements can charge up to €6 for a glass of wine and €4 for an espresso, in other districts (like the 11e), wine can be as little as €2.50, and an espresso only €1.50.
#8 Consider purchasing a Paris Museum Pass or a Paris Pass
With many of the major museums in the city, including the Louvre, Musée Rodin, and Musée d’Orsay charging, the price of entry quickly adds up. If you’re an art lover, or simply want to visit all of the major museums simply to say you’ve been, then consider buying a Paris Museum Pass. T
The Paris Museum Pass entitles you to free entry to over 50 museums and less waiting time for entry (which in itself may well be a reason to purchase the pass). The Pass can be purchased here.
Otherwise, another pass, which includes much more than just the museums (i.e. transport and several Parisian landmarks), is the Paris Pass. Check for full details here.
#9 Never pay for WiFi (ever ever ever!)
If you’re looking to save money in Paris, then never pay for WiFi! Instead, plenty of restaurants, cafés, bars and shopping centres throughout the city offer WiFi completely free of charge.
Although many hotels will try and make you pay for it, there are plenty of parks, fast food places and other tourist sites where you’ll find a free connection. Of all the ways to save money in Paris, this is probably one of the easiest of the lot!
#10 Purchase drinks during happy hour
If you want to enjoy a drink, but don’t enjoy high prices, then make sure to head out for beers, cocktails or even non-alcoholic drinks at Happy Hour. Many bars throughout the city offer happy hour on a daily basis, with some even offering ‘all night long’ happy hours. In particular, enjoy good prices on glasses of wine, and half-price cocktails throughout Le Marais, and much of the 11e.
#11 Take a Free & Self-Guided Walking Tour of the City
There are plenty of free walking tours in the city, offering everything from where to buy the best pastries, to the rich history of the city. For these, make sure to wear comfy shoes, ask plenty of questions and bring your camera! If you want to create your own itinerary, then consider taking a self-guided walking tour and head to Montmartre.
#12 Choose your accommodation wisely and book well in advance
While Paris is a notoriously expensive city (though there are plenty of ways to save money if you’re creative), the biggest expense during your time in the city is probably going to be your hotel/ guesthouse/ hostel. As such, in order to ensure the best rate, I recommend booking well ahead of time. Check rates and availability for the best hotels in Paris here.
When planning your stay, be sure to book a visit in the centre of the city. Many people mistakenly believe that it would be better to book your accommodation outside of the city centre, but believe me when I say that that would be your first mistake. Instead, take a look at this Paris arrondissements guide to decide where in the city you would like to stay.
Many travellers, wishing to save a little bit of money will end up booking their hotels far away from the centre of Paris, perhaps near Disneyland Paris. I only recommend booking a hotel in this area if you’ll actually be visiting Disneyland Paris.
After all, if you do this, then you can end up travelling up to an hour and a half each way just to get into the city each day, wasting plenty of your precious time in the city. I use this site to check the best hotel deals that the city has to offer.
#13 Make the most of all the budget-friendly Paris restaurants
Whether you’re looking for vegan fare, a quick bite to go, or wish to sample some French cuisine, Paris has something to offer every taste (and, of course, every budget). For a quick and cheap veggie lunch, I highly recommend heading to L’As du Fallafel on rue des Rosiers in Le Marais area of the city.
Otherwise, one of the best places you can enjoy delicious French food at prices which won’t break the bank is Le Bouillon Chartier. Located in the 9th arrondissement of the city, not far from where all of the covered passages of Paris are to be found, this 19th-century restaurant is situated within a former train station concourse.
And while we’re on the subject of eating out, one of the best ways to make the most of foodie Paris is by heading out to eat at lunch rather than dinner. Typically, lunch menus are much cheaper than those of the evening and offer the chance to sample several courses for the price of just one!