Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, so it can be difficult to enjoy the city without paying tourist prices. With some inside knowledge, however, you can see the sights, eat well, and have a good time without breaking the bank.
Staying there cheaply.
Take the very chic St Christopher’s Paris Hostel, for example, boasting most of the facilities you’d find in a hotel, including free continental breakfast and Wi-Fi, as well as a bar and nightclub. It might be located a little outside the city centre but with a hire car that shouldn’t be a problem, and you’ll save further on public transport costs. If you’d prefer something more central, try Le Village Hostel in historic Montmartre is a good option.
Eat well for less
Eating out cheaply in Paris is more problematic, but not impossible. Stick to chain restaurants and set menus, and you can eat perfectly acceptable French food without blowing your budget. Chez Clément is a good example of a chain that does classy French food at reasonable prices. Frères Blanc is another you should come across on your travels round town.
Eating your main meal at lunchtime is a wise way to get more for your euro. Lunch menus are often cheaper and little different from what’s on offer in the evening. Always ask for a carafe de l’eau, if you don’t want to end up paying for overpriced mineral water. Some of the most memorable meals in Paris involve little more than some fresh French bread with your favourite cheese, a few slices of cured meat, and a glass of wine in the Champ de Mars under the Eiffel Tower.
When it comes to shopping, forget designer boutiques and head for one the many flea markets you’ll find around Paris. The outdoor market (puce)at Clingancourt is a favourite spot with bargain hunters. Vide-greniers are a type of garage sale where you can find second-hand or nearly new clothes very cheaply. Vintage stores offer value too. One of the most popular is Chine Machine, behind the Abbesses metro station in Montmartre. Free’P’Star has three outlets in the city, all offering well-priced jeans and shoes.
Paris by night
Although admission to many museums and galleries, such as Musée Carnavalet, the Modern Art Museum and the Guimet Museum of Asian Art is free, going out and enjoying Parisian nightlife will mean spending something. Rue Oberkampf is where a lot of the nightlife is based. Your best options here are Les Pirates for cheap rum and tequila cocktails or Au P’tit Garage on rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, with its edgy underground feel and cheap beer. La Fourmi in the Latin quarter is popular with locals, and tourists in the know, for informal food and drinks while deciding where to go next.
Inevitably, that might mean the 20th arrondissement. Here, Le Gambetta has free live music Wednesday to Saturday, and drinks are cheap early in the evening. Check out La Cantine de Belleville too, a quaint little cellar bar with live music and affordable drinks.
If your budget simply won’t stretch to a glass of rouge, check listings to find out when the free wine tastings are on at Caves Augés.