Paris may be an expensive international city, but there are plenty of ways to save money when you travel to the City of Lights. After all, millions of people live in Paris and not all of them are worth rich and famous. We found that the best way to travel to Paris on a budget is to live like a local.

Paris-housetrip-3

Living Local in Paris

We’ve been working with HouseTrip the past few months as their HouseTrip Diplomats showing off cities and their apartments all over Europe. We’ve found all sorts of ways to make the most out of your vacation and to get that local experience. Apartment rentals are certainly the way to go if you want that local flare as you have all the comforts of home while staying in a residential area as opposed to a busy touristy location.

The latest foray to Gay Paris was our fourth visit. This was the first time we stayed in an apartment and we loved it. We had the chance to do all the romantic things that we’ve dreamed of doing in the past like making a meal at home, buying fine wine at the grocery store for a fraction of the price of a restaurant and for the first time we weren’t staying in a shoebox. We had two stories all to ourselves at an apartment in Montmartre. We ate where the locals ate because we were away from all the touristy stuff, we shopped like a local at the supermarket and we even went to the laundromat to dry our down jackets in their heavy duty driers after washing them in our apartment. Living as a local made our stay in Paris feel like a movie, the only thing that was missing was a Vespa. We even had our own patisserie around the corner to have our morning coffee and sweets. Yes, we truly felt Parisian.

Budget Tips for Paris

We’ve written in the past about how to save money in Paris and we’ve done a round up of all the free things to do in Paris, but really, nobody can ever get enough money saving tips, so this time, we thought we’d put it all together. Paris is surprisingly very affordable and there are many amazing things that you can do on a budget. I highly doubt that the regular population is breaking their bank accounts when they go out and neither should you. Here is a list of all the free things to do in Paris and all the budget tips we can think of in Paris.

Paris on a Budget

You can Enter Notre Dame for Free

Paris for Free

  • If you are under 25 years of age and an EU Citizen, you get into all museums for free! 
  • The first Sunday of each month offers up many free entries to museums and attractions. 
  • Visit Churches – You can enter Notre Dame and the Basillica Sacre Coeur for free. 
  • The best free view of Paris is on the steps of Sacre Coeur. You can go here, have some wine and overlook the beautiful city. I love seeing the locals drink beer and wine while just hanging out on these steps. 
  • Got to the Gardens – the Jardin du Luxombourg and the gardens of the Louvre are completely free to visit and filled with fountains, sculptures and statues. Both of these places are a great place for a picnic and the locals do it all the time.
  • The Cemeteries are a work of art and many famous souls are laid to rest here. Cimetiere Pere La Chaise is the most famous with residents like Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde and the Montmartre Cemetery houses Alexander Dumas and Edgar Degas.
  • Listen to classical music at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse. They offersover 300 student concerts a year, most of which are free. Radio France  also offers 180 free concerts year, mostly orchestral and chamber music, in the Museum of Fine Arts, where tickets are handed out 30 minutes beforehand.
  • Go to a McCafé and use their free Wifi to check your email and take advantage of the free toilets
  • Speaking of toilets, Paris has great public toilets that are free. Just stand outside and wait for a person to come out. The door will close behind them and while it is closed the bathroom will have a complete hose down, sanitizing it for the next person to enter. When the light is green, you’re good to go.
  • Free City Tours - Different Companies offer Free City tours meeting in Montmartre and the Latin Quarter. These are an excellent way to get oriented and to meet new people and make new friends!
  • Go on a pub crawl – In Montmartre you can join a free pub crawl of the bars in the area.  A great way to go where the locals g
  • Go to the Pompidou Modern Art Gallery and take the escalators to the rooftop bar without paying for admission to see Paris

Take in the Splendour of the city and walk along the Seine or the quiet canals and witness all the magnificent monuments like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc du Triomphe. You can get up close and personal to their outer grounds. We’ve been to the top of both and are just as impressed with seeing them from below as we were from above.

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Paris on a Budget

Use the Metro. Paris has an extensive Metro system and it is very reasonable, day passes begin at €6.40. You can ride from attraction to attraction all day long.

Paris-Metro-700x525

  • Get a Paris Pass. We’ve never used one of these before, but a three day Paris Pass is awesome. We got to skip the line for places like Louvre and Going up the Arc du Triomphe. This package allows you to have all your transportation (including Metro and red bus) and museum and attraction entries all in one easy to follow package. We were fans and it was fun to hop on the red bus for a bit to see the city from a different perspective. Get Your Guide Gave us one to try, and we received no money from them to endorse this, but we really recommend it. We used a City Pass in NYC too and think they are great additions to your city planning when traveling.
  • Creative Eating – Paris is a picnic city. Head to the Carrefour (local supermarket) and buy some meats, cheese with fresh baguette with a bottle of wine for a picnic on the banks of the Seine, at the Canals, in one of the many gardens or on the steps of anywhere. We see people eating outside all the time.
  • Go to the supermarket for super prepared meals. In Paris they have some ready to eat meals to die for.
  • Or when you do eat out, choose to eat outside at a boulangerie or patisserie.  Make sure to sit outside as you can be charged extra to sit inside.  We ate excellent lunches for 6.50 Euros.
  • For a dinner out, take advantage of the Menu Formule. These tourist menus offer three course meals with a glass of wine for under €20
  • Look for discounted days and evenings at museums. After 4:15 pm on Thursdays, the Musee D’orsay slashes it’s prices.

And finally, take your time. There is no need to see everything. Part of the charm of visiting Paris is sitting in cafés sipping coffee or wine and watching the people. Strolling through the streets, ducking into open doorways, discovering hidden alleys, that is the magic of Paris. It’s funny, Parisians always say that Paris is small, but we find it to be massive. We could walk for days and always discover something new.

And that is how you truly feel like a local, walk through the streets and

For more on Paris check out

For more apartment rentals in Paris and around the world visit HouseTrip.com

To see the Apartments that we stayed at and experienced in Paris check out

To see our other posts about living local with HouseTrip visit:

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18 Comments

  1. Antoinette | love.antoinette

    Paris is truly one of those cities everyone falls in love with. I’ve been there before, but my absolute dream is to go back, rent an apartment, and do exactly what you guys did. I may not be able to see everything, but just sitting somewhere, having a picnic, and people watching in such a city is more than enough for me. One day…

    1. debndave Post author

      That is so wonderful to hear. Paris was one of the first places we ever visited outside our home country of Canada and we dreamed of going back for years. It’s a wonderful place to return to and yes, staying in an apartment really felt like we were living local. we’d go to the market and pretend we were Parisian. I even wore my barret and scarf the entire trip (it was cold so I could get away with it) Until we opened our mouths, nobody knew we were tourists. It felt amazing to pretend to be Parisian for a week. You’ll get back one day. It was a decade before we returned.

  2. Salika Jay

    Living like a local got to be the budget friendly way to spend a holiday. I like staying in apartments as they provide everything you need for a cost lower than of hotels. Great photo with the Eiffel Tower :)

    1. debndave Post author

      You are so right Salika. When we look at prices on the Internet, we are amazed with how much more affordable apartments are. For families especially. you don’t have to book two hotel rooms, you can book one apartment. Glad you like the Eiffel Tower shot. Dave takes some amazing photos.

  3. Jeremy Branham

    Love Paris! It’s actually my number one city for staying there in an apartment. Love the photo of you two kissing as well. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Paris but I need to go back. Reading this post reminded me of the one I wrote a few years ago (one of the top 5 posts on my site): Paris on a budget – 10 ways to save money. In reading your tips, great minds think alike :)

    1. debndave Post author

      You do need to go back! It’s always our favourite place to visit. We never tire of Paris. there really are so many ways to save money in Paris. Everyone always thinks that it is an expensive place, but it is one of the few world cities where you can have an amazing time on a small budget.

  4. robin

    Very good post. I recently did a post about vacation rentals and mentioned my great experience using one in Paris (it’s on Housetrip too!). It’s really the way to go, you save so much and really feel like a local!

    1. debndave Post author

      Hey awesome to hear. So glad you enjoyed your time with HouseTrip. Food and drink are always our number one expense (outside of treks and adventures which can be pricey) if we can save on food, we can save our money for awesome adventures and sightseeing.

  5. Smantha Jones

    Indeed it is, Paris is the most suitable destination to spent your vacations. Throughout the years, Paris has remained consistent in her virtues of being a cosmopolitan city steadfast to its culture. A proper budgeted vacation is always joyful, the purpose of your budget is not to live in hardship and deprivation while you travel. Rather you should try to maintain a proper budgetary attitude, develop some willpower and spend your money wisely. Staying in apartment rentals in Paris for rent, will experiences you the magical vibes of this beautiful place and its a great idea to get in touch with locals too.

    1. debndave Post author

      Great advice Smantha. We agree, being on a budget doesn’t mean you are supposed to experience less. It’s by saving on food and drinks and choosing accommodation wisely that allows you to have a full experience. We have never felt that we have missed out when we travel on a budget. We just pick and choose where and when we are going to spend our money. We traveled once with people who were on such a tight budget they couldn’t enjoy anything. we said to ourselves “why don’t they just travel for a shorter period of time and enjoy the time that they are traveling rather than extend their trip so long and live on such a tight budget each day. If they loosened their belt straps a bit and cut a couple of weeks off their year long trip, they would have been much happier.

  6. Charli | Wanderlusters

    Ahh you guys! Such a sweet image of the two of you underneath the Eiffel Tower. Living like a local is such a fabulous way to experience destinations. Great selection of Paris tips!

    1. debndave Post author

      Thanks! We enjoyed taking that photo. We had a bit of a crowd forming while we took it. I think a lot of people were thinking, hmm, I’m going to have to get that shot when they’re done. Glad you appreciate the tips there are so many ways to visit like a local and on a budget.

  7. Karen

    What truly great advice! My husband and I are big fans of a more “local” experience than the big touristy spots so this was right up our alley. We haven’t made it to France in our travels, but Paris is definitely a dream destination. We’ll be keeping your tips in mind the next time we are traveling!

    1. debndave Post author

      You are going to love Paris Karen. One can’t help but visit all the iconic stops when you are in the city, they’re just too beautiful to skip, but it’s going to the quieter parts of the city that truly have their charm. Sitting in a local cafe or listening to music is some of our best memories of the city. Glad our tips could help you a bit with planning.

  8. Ron Katz

    Paris is a lovely place to enjoy your vacations. I have a lovely experience in Paris, I used to live in vacation rentals there for a long time and enjoy visiting Eiffel tower, museums and many places there. Thanks for sharing this post!!

    1. debndave Post author

      Wow, sounds like you had a great life in Paris. Lucky you getting to live there for an extended period. It’s always a fantasy of ours to live in Paris for a year, study French and learn about art.

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