When people think Paris, they think expensive five-star restaurants, hotels, and boutiques. For us, this wasn’t the case.
France is very doable on a budget, and you won’t be on a college diet while visiting.
We always recommend Couchsurfing as the best option for accommodations when travelling on a budget. But Paris is a small city which will sometimes leave you with limited options on the travel website. While hostels use to be the budget friendly option, if you’re travelling in a pair or more, we recommend splitting the cost of an Airbnb. You’ll have more space, more freedom, and a chance to live like a local for the average price of a hostel in popular Parisian areas.
Though if you’re travelling solo, a hostel will be your best bet to save those extra dollars and make friends along the way!
Again, hotels are NOT budget friendly in Paris.
Best bet for solo travel: Hostel
Best bet for travelling in a group: Airbnb
We have heard a lot of horror stories of people spending a fortune on dinner and as much as €10 on a coffee. In our experience, we find Parisian food and dining prices to be quite fair. We didn’t try any Michelin star restaurants. And we weren’t dining in white tablecloth establishments. We’re budget travellers – “ain’t nobody got time for that”.
On our first day in the city of lights we decided to ‘splurge’ on lunch at a nearby local cafe. Our two-course meal with an espresso each cost us €25 together. And it was far from shitty.
The rest of the time we fed ourselves on food from local markets and spent about €20 on groceries for our four days in Paris.
We didn’t cheap out. We were able to find delicious cheeses and beautiful bottles of wine all while staying on a budget. It’s easy to find affordable, delicious food in Paris with little effort. Don’t feel like cooking? We were able to find filling, fresh fish sandwiches for €5 each from local boulangeries.
Best bet: Avoid ‘fancy’ restaurants near the Eiffel Tower and opt for ‘plat du jours’ at more local restaurants.
Also, shop around in the many local markets (not supermarkets) for affordable food to cook!
Transportation & Sightseeing
While Paris is the biggest city in France, it’s still very small in comparison to New York City or Toronto. At only over 100 square kilometres the city is very walkable. We only needed to take public transit when we were heading out of the city. Even then, the metro will cost you just over under two euros.
Speaking of walking, Paris has a lot of free walking tours which allows you to see its beauty on foot without spending a dime.
If you’re really budgeting, you can even avoid paying entry fees! The Louvre is free for those under 26 every Friday after 6 p.m. – just have some ID with you. The Louvre is also free for all every last Sunday of each month and on Bastille Day (July 14). Cathedrale Notre Dame offers free entrance but be aware of long line-ups.
Even if you don’t get inside famous Parisian buildings, the grounds of these buildings are incredibly beautiful for a daytime or evening stroll.
Best Bet: Walk It
Do yourselves a favour when travelling on a budget, don’t skip Paris. There is plenty to do, eat, and explore without reaching the top of your budget.