Written by our resident local, the following tips are aimed at helping you get more value from your trip to Paris!
Unlike London, there is an entry fee for most of the museums in Paris, however on the first Sunday of each month, popular museums such as the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay are completely free! If you don’t happen to be visiting on one of these Sundays however, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Musée Carnavalet are free all year round. The latter, housed within two renaissance mansions, is a must for first time visitors keen to discover more about the rich history of this magical city.
Notre Dame Cathedral is famed for its French Gothic architecture, and entry to this magnificent house of worship is free every day of the year. Another must see quintessentially Parisian landmark is the Arc de Triomphe, which remembers the lives that were lost during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. Admire this iconic monument during the evening when it becomes illuminated.
Finding cheap accommodation in Paris is no easy feat, especially if you want something central. Bed and breakfasts are a popular budget choice, and can make the experience more personal as many offer home cooked evening meals too. Backpackers and groups of friends might find hostels a good option, besides being cheap it’s a good way to meet people and many have self catering options too.
Self catering apartments have to be one of the most desired budget options, offering guests more space and independence than the former options. It is possible to find cheap apartments further out of the centre, but if you’re after something central than your best bet is to book one through Secret Hotels. As well as self catering options, the brainchild of Hotwire and lastminute.com offers four and five star luxury hotels all over the city at incredibly competitive discounts.
You can’t visit Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower, and you don’t have to pay to climb to the top to enjoy it. The Champ de Mars is a public park that overlooks this iconic landmark. Arrive early evening with a picnic and enjoy the light show with a loved one.
Once a year, Paris opens its cultural side for free on an evening known as La Nuit Blanche. Take your pick of music and dance performances, film screenings, museums, galleries and even swimming pools! Another annual free event is La Fête de la Musique, taking place on the 21st of June, and entertaining the people of Paris with various music concerts from rock to blues.
Like any capital city, it can be hard to find good cheap bars and nightclubs but there are a few gems still to be found. Le Lèche Vin is a traditional wine bar without the price tag – mingle with the locals and drink French wine till the early hours. Le Crocodile offers an extensive menu of over 300 cocktails, all with wacky names. It’s one of the cheaper cocktail destinations, particularly if you get there for happy hour between 6pm-8pm.
Many people simply come to Paris to eat! Yes French food is one of our guilty pleasures but this cuisine is also synonymous with expensive restaurants. A la Bière offers a set menu for just €14.50, including favourites such as homemade rabbit terrine and Lyonnais sausages. Another cheap French bistro is Bistrot Victoires, serving steak frites and delicious plats du jour to hungry locals and visitors after authentic fare.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stock up on supplies for a gourmet picnic then Marché d’Aligre is the place to go for crusty French baguettes, traditional cheeses and speciality meats. Don’t forget your camera to take a few snaps of the beautiful food displays!
The Père Lachaise Cemetery is the resting place for many well known Parisians from film maker Georges Méliès to artist Eugène Delacroix. Other famous faces include Oscar Wilde and rock legend Jim Morrison. Take a wander around this haunting site as you reflect on the people who knew and loved Paris.
Paris isn’t short of pretty picnic spots, or places to pause and read a book. Canal St-Martin is a buzzing waterside walkway, whilst Parc Monceau was one of Monet’s favourite painting spots. The Jardin des Tuileries has to be the crème de la crème however, with the stunning palace as the backdrop and the knowledge that once upon a time the likes of Marie Antoinette also enjoyed strolls through the gardens.
If you thought you’d never be able to watch a fashion show in Paris you’d be wrong! Galeries Lafayette holds weekly catwalks for free. You just need to remember to reserve a seat by email beforehand.