If you want the cheapest weekend in Paris possible, I’ve been there, done that, and have a pile of change in euros on my bedside table to show for it.
I was in Paris for 24 hours, saw loads and spent just €63.60 on food, drink and activities, and I don’t feel like I missed out at all.
How expensive is Paris?
- €1.65 banana and water
- €3:95 sushi
- €17 dinner (oops)
- €2 bus
- €1.80 beer
- €0.50 Eiffel Tower toilets
- €2 bus x 2 = €4
- €1.90 metro x 2 = €3.80
- €6 falafel lunch
- €4.20 macarons
- €5 coffee
- €12 breakfast (they tricked me)
- €1.70 city bike
How to see Paris as cheaply as possible
Cheap food in Paris
You’ll notice from my Paris price breakdown above that most of the money went on food and drink, there’s not really any getting away from that. And of course, one of the best ways to discover and explore a city, is through its food.
I don’t think free food and drink exists in Paris, and nor should it. I had some tip offs on edible freebies from my readers but sadly none of them came true. I did however, get a free croissant from my hotel on arrival, which was nice.
There are so many opportunities for cheap food in Paris though. Crepes, croissants, french sticks with a picnic and the markets for starters.
Supermarkets in Paris
Monoprix is your friend. If you’re going in the summer you have all the opportunity for picnics you could ever desire. Bring a picnic rug and you won’t ever have to eat at restaurant prices.
Don’t go to the Monoprix near the Gare du Nord though, it was about four times the price of the other ones in the city.
L’As du Falafel
My falafel from L’As de Falafel, although touted as the best falafel I was ever going to have, and not quite living up to it, was definitely the most packed falafel pita I’ve ever had. And at just €6, it was a cheap and tasty lunch, even if I did end up dropping the sauce all down myself.
The Latin Quarter
Head to Rue de la Harpe in the Latin Quarter for more cheapo food, to eat in. There were so many places offering three course menus for €10. I honestly can’t believe the value I got from my €10 set dinner at ‘La Petite Hostelliere’ (see pics above!).
- Mussels (so good)
- Steak with pepper sauce and frites
- Cheese board with two chunks
- Bread side
The wine was €7, three quarters of the price of the meal, which seems crazy, but I’d already seem the price on the menu so I can’t claim they tricked me. And it was really good, and came in a carafe, and left me feeling all warm and happy in the dull rain. So it was fine.
I can definitely recommend La Petite Hostelliere, and the surrounding places in the Latin Quarter looked good too.
I can’t imagine that I will ever go to Paris without scoffing a few of these. My friend Kellie and I devoured these last time I was there, in the bar out the back, but to save a few euros buy to take out and enjoy sat on a bench outside. A true taste of Paris and just €2.10 each. Make like Marie Antoinette and eat them all.
Cheap drink in Paris
Pheweeee drinks in bars and cafes are expensive in Paris. You’re looking at around €6 as standard for 500ml. Which depending on the exchange rate (€1 to €1 when I was there!) could do you in. I kept trying to scout for cheaper but no luck. I only bought one drink in a bar while I was there, that €7, 250ml carafe I told you about.
I also bought a beer in a random shop for €1.80 to enjoy while admiring the Eiffel Tower. You can drink in public spaces in Paris, within reason.
Promises of €2 coffees and iced lattes enticed me into a coffee bar near the Sacre Coeur, until I realised my latte was actually €5 and small. You need to watch the prices in Paris, or you can end up spending a fortune. Most expensive coffee I’ve ever bought per ml I think, even more than that weasel poo coffee I tried in Vietnam, meant to be the most expensive in the world. I realised that if you leave out the milk, you can save a lot.
If you want to do Paris on the cheap, you’re going to have to get used to drinking in parks, or, even worse, not drinking at all.
There are free water points all over Paris, although admittedly I never used one. Apparently some even offer sparkling water. I’ll leave you to find out where those beauts are.
How to find cheap Paris accommodation
I loved my hotel. Loved it. I somehow managed to get an awesome deal on booking.com (nothing to do with my #travelbloggerlife) and got this usually £200ish hotel for £40, the Hotel Brittany. So when they misled me with the breakfast for €12 I couldn’t really complain. The way the guy told me about it I thought it was in the price, but I should’ve known. I mean, if a coffee is €5, they’re not going to give me a breakfast like that, are they?
You can get hostels for around £20, so if there are two of you a cheap hotel definitely works out the best deal. Booking.com is my favourite website for finding hotel deals…
Getting to Paris
I booked my train with GoEuro.com – and wrote them a guide to using the Eurostar while I was there. When they’ve put it live, I’ll link to it here.
To keep it short. I love the Eurostar. It’s so weird that you can sit on a train for 2-3 hours, from the centre of London, and then be in the centre of Paris. So easy!
You can sometimes get deals for around £60 return, you just need to keep an eye on them. Sign up to the newsletter, that’s how you get to find out about the cheapos – or you could even get a bus for £10, from London Victoria. Crazy.
Oh my god, I did SO much in Paris. When I got back on the Eurostar at the end I was exhausted. I was all over that city. You could definitely extend what I did in 24 hours into 48 – giving you more time to people watch and chill – and all of the activities were free.
Check out what I got up to here >>
Getting around Paris
The best way to get around Paris on a budget is undoubtedly the city bike scheme. The Velib bikes, as they’re called, are €1.70 for 24-hour access. With this you get half an hour for free, as many times as you like. Each additional half an hour is charged at €1. This means you can travel Paris for FREE for 24 hours, if you keep docking it back in after 30 minutes.
The only downfall is that when it rains, like it did for at least half of my 24 hours, biking round Paris seems totally unappealing.
Step up, the buses!
I took four buses in Paris. I prefer being overground if I’m in a new city – it helps me to fit the city together and is a much more interesting view point when you’re too tired to walk. The buses in Paris are easy to navigate, alongside Google Maps of course, and a quick check with the bus driver to ensure you’re headed the right way.
My favourite bus route, took me around the Eiffel Tower up to my Hotel Brittany. I passed the Palais Royal, the big wheel and the tourist area near the Louvre without having to do any walking at all. Any route is €2 and you can just pay your driver when you get on. You need to validate your ticket when he gives it to you, in the little machine, or you’ve essentially jumped the buses for free. Not good.
The Metro is easy to use too. It’s €1.90 and works the same as most metro services with the lines clearly coloured and written, and the stations lighting up on the tube map as you pass through.
Paris on the cheap
Paris really doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might think. Of course you could spend a fortune – my friend Monica from thetravelhack.com and I once spent £2.7k in a day on a project with the National Lottery – but the city is so beautiful you can also walk around and just pay for food and drink as you go.
If you have any money saving tips for Paris, let us know b