How to Visit Paris on a Budget – 20 Tips to Make the Most of Your Stay

So how does a person travel Paris on a Budget? We flew directly from India where we budgeted for $7 guest houses and $3 meals daily. 

Visit Paris on a Budget

budget paris

How to visit Paris on a Budget

Paris has many places that you can go to for cheap and reasonable prices.  Many of Paris' top sites are even free.

You don’t have to break the budget traveling to this grand world city. 

You can enjoy Paris on a budget by following our easy tips!

Transportation

We took public transport a over Paris to save money.

The metro system of Paris is excellent and will get you everywhere you need to go.

You can buy a metro pass for 1-5 days starting at €14.

paris on a budget take the Metro

Take the Metro

Transportation zones in Paris

  • Zones 1 to 3 : travels in Paris and the close suburbs
  • If you want to travel further, you can get a pass for zones 1 to 5 : travels in Paris, the close suburbs & until Orly/CDG airports, Disneyland and Versailles
  • Depending on which zones you select, Paris Transport allows you to travel on: metro lines, RER lines (RATP and SNCF),  Ile-de-France bus lines (RATP and OPTILE), except those circulating on Jetbus, Allobus Roissy CDG, tourist excursion and Air France networks, Tramway lines and the Montmartre funicular

Buy Metro Tickets in Bulk

take the metro for Paris on a Budget

Take the Metro for Budget Travel in Paris

Buy a 10 pack metro ticket for 14.50 Euro.  If the three day pass is too expensive at $30 Euros, you can mix walking and taking the metro or bus and only use 3 tickets in one day if you plan your route wisely.

Selective Paris City Tours

Get Your Guide - Is a great site for Paris day tours and Paris discounts
Shared Minivan Transfers from Roissy CDG and Orly
- It's the affordable airport transfer to and from the city
Hop on Hop off Tour bus - -Starting at only $35 USD you can book the Hop on Hop Off Tour to all the major Paris attractions. It gets you around Paris quickly and easily.
Paris City Pass - If you want to combine a metro pass with attractions, museums and front of the line, get a Paris City Pass for $105. It saves time and offers valuable discounts.
Eiffel Tower and Seine Cruises combo - allowing you to skip the line and go right up to the second platform of the tower before heading on a 1-hour river cruise
Paris 1,2, or 3-Day Hop on Hop us Bus Pass - If you are in Paris for more than one day, this is a great option for getting around to all the sites. Plus you get a book of discounts.

Food - Budget Eating in Paris

budget paris shopping for food

Stay standing when eating in Paris

Don’t sit down for coffee at a restaurant

Drink it at the bar you will save quite a bit of money. Real estate is expensive in Paris and tables take up space.

Sitting down to eat will cost you a surcharge. If you are watching your budget, stand at the bar to enjoy your beer or coffee.

Besides, you will meet more people that way and experience Paris the way true Parisians experience Paris.


Professional Traveller's tip: Always pack a cork screw and keep it handy. 


Don’t eat at bistros or restaurants

We often packed a picnic and at in a park or along the canal and we often ate outside on terraces or coffee shops.

With fine meats, cheese and breads, we'd stock up on quick eats and purchase a good bottle of wine for just a couple of Euros.

Budget Paris - have a picnic

Shop for food and make a picnic

Paris has amazing restaurants, but many are expensive and will charge you more to sit down. Instead 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.

They included a large baguette sandwich, delicious dessert of our choice and a drink. Either alcoholic or no alcoholic.

Paris restaurants always supply free water in a bottle, so don't be sucked into ordering an expensive Perrier.


Choose an attraction and dinner together by booking the early evening dinner cruise along the Seine. 

paris on a budget, cook in your apartment

Cook in your apartments

Shop at the many supermarkets around town and pack your lunch

Paris has many places to picnic and you can buy wonderful cheeses, meats, breads and fruit for a very reasonable price. 

We never spend more than 10 Euro on lunch for the two of us and that included wine! 

For a low budget, we ate like the rich enjoying good French wine with incredible scenery. The parks of Paris are beautiful.


Note: Keep your wine hidden and discreet. Like anywhere drinking in public areas is frowned upon even though everyone does it.

Budget Paris Menu Formule

Eat at a restaurant with Menu Formule

When you do eat out for dinner, take advantage of the Menu Formule.

It is a fixed price menu for tourists in the Latin Quarter. This is a great way to save money and keep the budget down. 

It includes an appetizer, main dish, dessert and one drink.  These meals range from 9 Euro to 15 Euro. 

The Latin Quarter near Notre Dame,  Montemartre near Sacre Couer and La Rue Cler near the Eiffel Tower all have very reasonable fixed price meals.

Good Paris Travel Resources

Lonely Planet Paris - Lonely Planet is our go to guide book for all destinations and locations. You can download ebooks, apps or city guides, whatever you need.

Rick Steve's Paris - Nobody knows Europe like Rick Steve's and he gives great tips for Paris travel

Packing Tips for Europe - We give tips to help you pack smart for European travel for Paris and beyond.

Paris Museum Pass - Paris is known for its museums. Get the museum pass for front of the line entrance to 60 museums.

Paris Tourism Office - We always like to visit the official tourism website for any destination. Paris tourism is full of useful city information.

Paris Museum and Attraction Closures - Museums, attractions and shows are closed on certain days of the week or month. Be sure to check them out before you travel.

Budget Accommodation in Paris

Stay at a hostel in an affordable district

Choosing the right arrondissement (District) in Paris will make a big difference on the cost of accommodation.

The Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Champs-Élysées are obviously more expensive areas, but places like Montemartre, Montparnasse, Latin Quarter and Le Marais are more affordable. We tend to often stay in Montmartre.

paris on a budget hostels

Choose a hostel in Montmartre

For a true Paris on a budget overnight stay, we stayed in the Perfect Hotel and hostel in this charming neighbourhood accessible by metro and bus for 35 Euro per person.

We had a private bath, but you can get a cheaper room for 28 Euro if you share a bath.  The shared bath is quite also clean.

The price of a hostel in Paris doesn't break the bank at all and leaves plenty of money to spare to enjoy the city of lights sites.

Book a hostel that has breakfast included

paris on a budget

Breakfast included

Our Hostel, The Perfect Hotel/Hostel included a breakfast of coffee, juice, bread and chocolate croissant. 

We didn’t have to spend any money until lunch. Food can be expensive in Paris, so the more you have included with your accommodations the better.

We found the Montmartre area of Paris to be the most reasonable and the most colourful district.


For a list of hotels in the Montmartre area check out Booking.com

Or do an Apartment Stay

budget paris accommodation in apartments

Apartments are good options over hotels

We love staying in Apartments in Paris because we can cook our own breakfasts, pack a bagged lunch and often enjoy a gourmet meal at home.

Apartments are also a really great deal for families and sharing. Plus, you usually stay in residential neighbourhoods so you get a taste for Paris living.

Recommended Budget Hotels in Paris

budget-paris-hotels

Perfect Hotel

Our first budget stay in Paris was the Perfect Hotel in Montemarte- location was great, breakfast included, great rooms.

Check out Availability & Prices

Trip Advisor / Booking.com

paris on a budget accommodation

Hotel de l'Avre

Our first budget stay in Paris was the Perfect Hotel in Montemarte- location was great, breakfast included, great rooms.

Check out Availability & Prices

Trip Advisor / Booking.com

Museums and Attractions - How to see them on a budget in Paris

Visit After Hours

budget paris museum tips

Visit Museums after hours

After 4:15 pm on Thursdays, the Musee D’orsay slashes its prices to 5.50 Euro. We knew that all we were really interested in was the Impressionists exhibit, so 2 hours was more than enough time to take it in. 

We even saw most of the other exhibits in that time as well.

The Louvre slashes its prices after 6:00pm on Wednesdays and Fridays to 11 Euro

budget paris louvre on sundays

Certain days are discounted in museums

If all you want to see is the Mona Lisa and a few of its other famous pieces, this might be the time for you to go and save some cash.


If you're going to the Louvre on regular hours, book in advance at skip the line for a reasonable self guided tour.

If you want to visit unlimited museums at anytime, the Paris Museum Pass is an excellent deal for 2,4, or 6 days starting at $77 USD.

It gets you into 60 museums and monuments including Louvre Museum, Orsay Museum, and Centre Pompidou, Arc de Triomphe

Paris on a Budget tips visit cemeteries

Visit the free cemeteries


 Check out all the free things you can do in Paris at our post free sites and tours

Free Walking Tours

paris on a budget free walking tours

Take advantage of free walking tours

For a true budget Paris experience, take advantage of all the free things to do

Different Companies offer Free City tours meeting in Montmartre and the Latin Quarter. Local Greeters is a well known free walking tour.

Plus, every day at St. Michel in the Latin Quarter and in Montmartre you can join a free walking tour of Paris. We've taken a couple and always learn a lot from the guides.

It's up to you if you want to tip at the end. There's even a free pub crawl in the Latin Quarter and Montmartre area.

If you tip your guide and buy a drink, you've got a free tour to the hottest spots in town,

paris budget tips

Get to Paris from the Airport with a shuttle

Take the Air France shuttle from the airport instead of a taxi.

It takes you to Montparnasse for 16.50 Euros. We heard that the train is even cheaper, but you will have  to lug your luggage through the metro.

One thing we noticed in Paris is that there are a lot of stairs and tunnels in the metro, so be prepared if you are carrying luggage. If you don't mind doing that, take the train, it will save a lot of money.

Other options for airport transportation is to share a minivan transfer. Private shuttles can cost a lot, but pre-booking a shared transfer to/from either airport starts at only $27 Canadian.

 All McDonalds have free wifi and good cheap coffee.

paris on a budget put McDonalds to use

McDonald's has good coffee, free WiFi & Toilets

Don't want to splurge on an expensive dinner cruise? You can do a 1-Hour Paris Illuminations tour for just $21 with Get Your Guide and you skip the line!

You don’t necessarily have pay to go in to every site to enjoy them.

Paris on a Budget - enjoy the free sites like Arc du Triomphe

Many amazing free sites to see

The Eiffel Tower is impressive enough to just view it from the many different vantage points in the city.

The Arc Du Triomphe is free unless you go upstairs to view the city. 

If you don’t want to pay to go up these structures, head to Sacre Coeur for a great overhead view of Paris. 

The Champs Elysees is an interesting site in its own right, walking down the street people watching and window-shopping is an event.

The Louvre has beautiful gardens with works of art scattered throughout and so does the Jardin du Luxombourg.

Catacombs

Paris on a Budget the Catacombs

Catacombs of Paris

Looking for something unique to do in Paris, visit the Catacombs. They're only 8€ to enter, but it's 45 minutes of one fascinating and eerie tour.

This is one tour I don't recommend booking in advance or with an online booking agent. It's cheep to enter and it can be seen on your own. Headsets are offered. The only reason I would book in advance is to
skip the line, but the skip the line ticket $39 CAD ($29 USD) so it depends on how much time you have if you want to pay the extra fee.

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 go.
  • Go to the Pompidou Modern Art Gallery and take the escalators to the rooftop bar without paying for admission to see Paris

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