Visiting Paris on a Budget was an eye-opening experience and only can be described as surreal and overwhelming at first, but once I found my bearings and shook off the jet lag, I found a city that fully embraced life and offered everything a traveler and a solo backpacker could need.
Paris is excellent for backpacking because the Parisians live among the streets. Walking the streets, avenues, and boulevards you see produce markets, grocery stores, street merchants, bakeries, bars, pharmacies, and cafes.
Paris is notoriously expensive and it’s a good idea to plan ahead and book accommodation before you arrive if possible. Paris has plenty of rooms and hostel beds, but if you need one at a moment’s notice, you might pay a little more than you were hoping for.
If you’re more of a hands-on traveler you could always try couch surfing or Craiglist if you’re really brave. Paris on a budget is quite attainable with a little research and preparation.
Budget Hotels In Paris
The price of accommodation in Paris isn’t outrageous in most instances as long as you’re comfortable with hostels instead of your own hotel room. Single rooms can be found for 45 Euros and up, you have to book these rooms months in advance and you’ll be sharing a bathroom with your neighbor.
Budget hotels in Paris are available if you’re planning ahead but if you’re traveling around Europe and haven’t booked your lodging in advance you’re probably going to find your best deals at this point from shared rooms or hostels. Hostels can be found starting around 24 Euros a night and are great because of their price and you get a chance to meet other travelers and share stories and maybe even a beer or bottle of wine.
Free Things To Do – Paris On A Budget
Paris is a backpacker’s dream! The metro is cheap and efficient and there are countless free and affordable activities and sites to see. If you’re really trying to conquer Paris on a budget, you can walk just about everywhere.
With countless miles of streets, avenues, and boulevards you can walk for literally days seeing what hundreds of years of Parisian life have cultivated.
A free idea for a backpacker in Paris on a budget is Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Many greats are laid to rest here like Chopin, Oscar Wilde, and legendary rock band frontman Jim Morrison. It cost’s nothing to poke around here and with a little exploration you can have an interesting couple of hours among one of the most visited cemeteries in the world.
Another free experience I recommend to my first time Paris friends is a trip to one of the many glorious gardens and parks.
Jardin des Plantes is a premier stop on the list of free outdoor activities available. Located on the left bank of the river Seine, this park offers a botanic garden with medicinal plants from all over the world.
This Paris on a budget activity offers plenty of shaded walkways where you can walk past miles of flower beds until you’re ready to make your way back to the river Seine with a cheap bottle of wine and a baguette to watch the evening come about.
Some museums offer free admission to those that are backpacking through Paris. This will give them the opportunity and experience to see the city and the history that Paris on a budget has to offer. The Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay have been known to have free admission days. The first Sunday of the month is free for all visitors.
The museums are a perfect place to come in from the outdoor elements and check out all of the artwork. If you are into drawing you can even sketch some of the famous paintings found in these museums while you explore the many paintings, statues, and exhibits.
To see Paris without having to spend money and to get a feel for the culture you can check out Shakespeare and Company. This is located on the left bank of Paris. This is a small bookshop that has books of classic works from the floor to the ceiling that the guests are allowed to read.
The scenery of this bookshop has a rich culture too. It is near the Seine river and the bookshop is in the shadows on Notre Dome.
Paris On A Budget
Paris does not have to be expensive and you can see most of the same wonderful sites that other tourists can experience without having to spend a lot of money.
You can take your backpack with you and explore some of the best sites and attractions that Paris has to offer. If you’re Paris on a budget trip is an extreme budget trip just enjoy the paid sites/attractions from the outside and soak up the wonderful Parisian street life as you stroll the city.
Seeing the Eiffel Tower
When you are in Paris the Eiffel Tower is one of the must-see attractions. This tower is world-famous and is what the city of Paris is known for. The price to enter this tower and take it to the top is not exactly budget-friendly and the price has been considered “too much” or “quite high” by some.
If your dream is to ascend Eiffel then do it! Don’t let me or your wallet stop you. Most people don’t get to travel to Paris on a budget and you wouldn’t want to miss your only chance. Would you?
Picnic Below the Tower
It is time to go back to the Eiffel Tower. Since this is the main attraction in the city you should embrace it and make the most out of it. You can have one of the best picnics of your life in this area.
You can get your own food and set up in the urban picnic area that is below the Eiffel Tower. You will be joined by plenty of other people that are looking to experience the beauty of the Eiffel Tower without spending a lot of money. You do not have to climb the tower to appreciate it and the beauty that has. This is the ultimate Paris On A Budget activity!
You can purchase wine and other souvenirs below the tower from freelance immigrant sellers stationed around Eiffel. You can try haggling but I’ve found that the sellers drive a hard bargain and can be quite pushy in some instances. Be aware.
If you’re traveling Paris on a budget you will surely run into these sellers on the street near most major attractions selling one souvenir or another. They are not hard to miss.
Below the city are the Catacombs. They may be a little creepy to some but they are nothing short of impressive. There is a lot of history here and you can get on a tour for pretty cheap. You can explore all of the old tombs that are located directly under the city and you will learn a lot about the way that Paris was once.
This is something that you should check out. It is not recommended that you go down there alone. You do not want to get lost in all of the winding tunnels and end up lost under the city. Although it is one of the most Awesome Paris On A Budget tips I can give, I don’t recommend exploring the catacombs without a local who knows their way around.
This is slightly out of the way and will get you out of the main parts of the city. This is a good trip if you had enough of the crowd for a day and you want to get away and experience something different. You can go on a nice walk and learn more about the city. You are not going to spend money doing this and this is something that will allow you to see a different side and a different experience in Paris.
There are many different covered passages in Paris so if you Google “covered passages of Paris” you’ll be presented a list to choose from. I just pick the nearest to where I’m staying that trip and either catch the metro or start trekking. These passages are a throwback to a different time in Paris and are so worth seeing.
If you want to see all that the city has to offer and are willing to experience Paris over a few days you can get the Paris Pass. This is a pass that will allow you to save money on all of the main attractions and it even acts as a skip the line pass for some of those attractions. You can see some of the most popular sights and you can do so at a discounted price.
This is a Paris on a budget hot tip! This is the cheapest way that you can experience all that Paris has to offer. You can get this pass online and within a few days, you will be granted access to all of the activities. If you are looking to see everything in Paris this pass will save you a lot of money. It is much less expensive than having to pay for each activity on its own.
While in this city you are going to have to do the chocolate crawl. This is another Paris on a budget activity that does not cost a lot and is much less expensive than going on a pub crawl. You will be able to take a tour and go to several shops. At each of these candy shops, you will be given some fresh chocolate to sample.
Le Petite Ceinture
This is one of the new sections that has been open to tourist and it is off the beaten path. The public can access this at the 60 rue Damesme. This is the largest green space in the city. Part of this area even goes under the train station. This is a perfect Paris on a budget activity because you can stay here and relax and energize while soaking up a truly unique Parisian experience.
You can enter at any point that you want and you will not have to worry about your safety as this is another area that is for tourists but it does not charge a fee. You can check out some of the graffiti that was done by the local artists. The work is nice and it is not vulgar. It is the part that is below the city. You can also find a hidden entrance to allow you to enter the catacombs.
Climb the Montparnasse Tower
This may not be the Eiffel Tower but it is still a great thing to do and will not be expensive. You will get a view of the city and you will be able to see the city from above it. This is one of the best things to do at night. When you get to the top of the tower you can look down and you will be able to see the entire city lite up.
For 18 Euro this Paris on a budget activity is quite unique and a low budget alternative to Eiffel.
Try the Wine
Paris is known for some of the best-tasting wine in the world and some of the most expensive wine. Not everyone in this city can afford the expensive wine so that has made for some tasty cheaper alternatives.
When you go to a market shop you can find some great tasting wine and it does not cost a lot of money at all. Then find a nice shady place on the Seine River and sit down and enjoy your bottle of wine.
Do not be surprised if you meet some new people along the way. Other backpackers or even some of the local people may come to sit with you and enjoy their own wine. You can learn stories from all of the different people and the experiences while swapping stories over a bottle of wine or two.
You will have the chance to make some new friends and learn some new things. If you really want to be fancy you can purchase some cheese to go with your wine. You will certainly make some new friends doing this.
Some of my fondest memories of Paris are of the regular everyday people I’ve met on the street or just sitting on a random park bench.
Buy Metro in Bulk
If you are going to ride the metro and you should take at least one ride on it while you are in Paris. You do not want to purchase these tickets one at a time if you’ll be riding more than once.
Before you go to the city go online and purchase the metro tickets. This will save you a lot of money. You should purchase 10 tickets at a time. This Paris on a budget tip will allow you to see even more savings.
If you are not going to use all of these tickets you may be able to sell them to others or trade them for something interesting. The metro does get busy and it will be crowded. On a nice day walking is the best way to get around. You can experience the city and can see some of the local culture.
Cook for Yourself
While you are traveling Paris on a budget you may be tempted to eat out a time or two and that’s ok. You may not have a choice sometimes to allow others to prepare your food if you do not have a place to cook. Eating out all the time definitely gets expensive.
Paris does have some of the best restaurants in the world but they are not cheap. You are going to want to eat out at times. When you are looking for a meal check out the local shops and the markets. They often have some of the best foods at some of the cheapest prices. You can also make your own meals when possible. It does not take much money or effort to make a sandwich.
If the hostel you are staying at has a small kitchen or even a hotplate you can make your own meal. This may not sound ideal when you are backpacking but it will allow you to go further and spend less money.
Walking around the city will make you thirsty and like any tourist area, the drinks are not going to be cheap. If you pack a refillable water bottle you will be able to fill it up at the fountains and this will not cost you money. You will be able to save your money and enjoy a good drink at night instead.
Neighborhoods with Culture
In Paris, many neighborhoods offer the local culture and you can find things to do while you are visiting Paris on a budget. They have free activities, inexpensive foods, cheap places to stay, and are welcome to backpackers that are coming through for a visit.
- Oberkampf– this neighborhood has a lot of nightlife and some places are free to enter. If you want a drink you are going to have to pay but this is not required. There are many ethnic places and you can meet people from all over the world including West Africa and even Pakistan.
- Haut Marais– this is one of the up and coming neighborhoods in Paris. Since it is still developing the prices are much cheaper than in other areas. This part of town has buildings that date back centuries and will allow you to see some of the cultures. Their area has the oldest covered market in all of Paris. The Marche des Enfants Rouges has some fresh baked goods and some fresh produce and the prices are still low.
- Batignolles– this is another part of town that is rich in culture and it is not too big on emptying your wallet. There are some great places to eat and drink. You can find some freshly made food that is not going to cost a lot and the local cafes have outdoor seating so you can take in the sights of Paris. There are outdoor markets where you can also make purchases. You can take your food or drink and head over to one of the town squares. There is a park with a stream that goes through it making it an ideal outdoor location to hang out. You can see a lot from there without having to spend money.
- Montmartre– My favorite neighborhood when in Paris on a budget. An old bohemian neighborhood that sits on top of the hill near Basilique de Sacre Coeur and offers a laid back approach to Paris. This legendary haunt of Paris has shops, markets, deli’s, hostels all situated along cobblestone paths. Although quite touristy this neighborhood holds on to its charm and old city beauty.
Paris On A Budget
You don’t have to have mountains of money to enjoy Paris. Planning ahead and a little frugal-ness, once you’re there, will get you far in the City Of Lights. Paris on a budget is the only way I’ve ever had the chance to experience this great city and I want you to know you will enjoy it too.
After backpacking Paris on a budget a couple of different times now, I don’t think I would do it any other way.
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