The smell of freshly baked baguettes and the twinkling of the Eiffel Tower at dusk draws people from all over the world to one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It’s called lovers and friends to walk it’s streets and bask in the glow of light reflecting off the Seine, but it’s also been known to cause a strain on the wallets of those who visit.
When I came to Paris for the first time, the city instantly stole my heart, but I knew if I wasn’t careful the macarons and meringues would have me way over budget very quickly. And while I’m definitely a girl who loves to shop and sip a cappuccino after every meal, I discovered a few tips and tricks while I was there to keep my costs down, while still enjoying all the charms of Paris.
Create your own tour
Instead of focusing on all the big things to see, come up with a tour of Parisian places that have significance other than historical, like famous film locations. I love to read, so when I visited, I wanted to see some of the major literary stops — Oscar Wilde’s grave at Père Lachaise Cemetery and the Shakespeare and Company bookstore were high on my list.
And on the plus side, both were free! By doing this, I got to explore parts of Paris I may otherwise have missed, and I had plenty of time to see all the places that had a personal significance to me.
Explore less touristy neighborhoods
The 7th Arrondissement with it’s Eiffel Tower views and the 1st Arrondissement with the Tuileries and Pont des Art are perfect for sightseeing, that’s all you should be doing in those areas. While in Paris, I discovered that prices for everything from souvenirs to a simple lunch can be much higher in these areas.
Exploring some lesser-known neighborhoods, especially those that don’t attract too many tourists, can not only save you some money, but also give you a local’s view of Paris.
Window shop the big attractions
There are some places in Paris you’ll want to see, especially if it’s your first trip, like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Louvre. Actually going inside of all these places can not only cost a lot of money, but standing in the often long lines for entry steals time you could spend doing other things, like sipping wine on the Seine and discovering the best cappuccino in town.
Consider saving money by purchasing a ticket for one of the many bus tours offered in the city. I did this, and I was still able to see every main attraction on my bucket list, but I saved money by sticking to the outside and not purchasing a ticket to go in.
Use a local SIM card to keep in touch
Even though I’m constantly traveling, keeping in touch with my family and friends is very important to me. But doing so while abroad can be tricky and expensive. I’ve tried relying on wi-fi access and praying for clear, ungarbled phone calls, but it didn’t really work well for me, so I decided instead to hop on a local carrier’s service with a new SIM card.
All I had to do was unlock my phone and buy a local SIM card from a drug store, and I was set! No more sky-high roaming charges for calls to home. I was able to keep in touch with my mum and send pictures to my friends without worrying about incurring hundreds of dollars in global fees.
Shop the markets, not the designer stores
While the Rue Saint-Honoré and the Marais make for great shopping and dining if you want to have a chic Parisian experience, but they aren’t always budget-friendly— particularly if designer goods make you weak at the knees. I avoided the designer and souvenir shops entirely and opted instead to visit a few of Paris’ many markets.
There’s a market in Paris for anything you could possibly want — books, antiques, food, collectables and more. I was able to find more unique and thoughtful gifts for my family and friends, with the added bonus of being able to haggle on the price of nearly everything I purchased. The only thing you have to be careful of by shopping at the markets is getting more items than you can fit in your suitcase!
Paris may be an expensive city to visit, but there are many ways to make it affordable for women on any budget. Whether you’re visiting alone, with family or a group of girlfriends, you’re sure to have the time of your life in the City of Light! And coming home with extra cash makes the whole experience that much better.
Thanks to Featured Writer Claire Lovesti for this article