Paris on a budget?


Even on a budget a selective ET can dine well.

A recent NYTimes article documents a thrifty weekend in Paris on $100US, excluding lodging (the author stayed with a friend).   As the Readership knows, Experienced Travelers are always on the lookout for cost savings.  How else would we accumulate “Found Money” for frivolous spending later on?  But we feel obliged to comment on this $100 experiment and recommend against it!

Mais non! Don't overlook the importance of wine - with or without a meal.

According to the print edition article, the author economized by foregoing a glass of wine with his duck confit.  Consuming duck confit without a robust Burgundian red is an affront to la gloire.  Under French law, this is grounds for immediate deportation.  The ETs are firmly behind the French on this.  Duck confit with a good wine is a profound experience that shouldn’t be trifled with.

Set aside your found euros to see the Louvre

Next, he chose a beer over admission to the Louvre.  Brew vs. Louvre is crazy.  The ETs recommend batting eyelashes at an affluent fellow patron so he buys the beer in exchange for pleasant conversation.  Problem solved!

Fluffy-haired Nurse salutes Louis XIV in the courtyard of the Musee Carnavalet

To the author’s credit, he did visit the free Musée Carnavalet which is a true gem.  Set in the former home of prodigious 17th c.  letter-writer Mme. de Sévigné, this museum brings the history of Paris to life, and makes a lovely day in the Marais when combined with the nearby Musee Picasso.  This reminds us that the Carnavalet re-creates Proust’s bedroom with the actual furnishings, and we must regale the Readership with a post on this at a later date.

Then he attended a free organ concert (good idea) yet he doesn’t care for organ music.  By ET standards, it is bad planning to spend precious Paris time doing something you don’t like.  But for those of you who enjoy music, many churches host free concerts in exquisite settings. Check event publications like Pariscope for schedules.

Nurse demonstrates the art of chocolat chaud at Angelinas. Photo by Associate ET Joanne Felzer

The upshot, dear Readership, is to plan carefully and take enough money.  This is not a city for self-denial – nor is it necessary.   The ETs don’t stay at the George V or shop at Harry Winston – and you don’t have to either!  No matter where you check in, the Seine is still the Seine.

Read the follow-up post here

Take in the view for free! Another fine photo by Felzer.

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12 Responses to “Paris on a budget?”

  1. Diana Says:

    I read the NYT article and thought “wow–does he even realize what he missed?” We spent almost two weeks in Paris last fall, and were on a “budget” of sorts–but left ourselves room for a few splurges. I will say our best and most memorable meals were those we ate in our tiny apartment–a wonderful baguette, cheese, and chunks of that great French butter! And it didn’t cost over 10 Euros! ( Well, maybe 20 with the wine…) One CAN thoroughly enjoy Paris without spending a fortune. We are going back this year for two weeks!

    • Julie Says:

      Diana I experienced some typing slippage back there and called you Karen. Pardon-moi. Egregious error corrected.

  2. Joanne Says:

    I LOVE my new title of Associate ET!! I might get personal cards printed!

    • Julie Says:

      Miss J, Get the cards – I will have a little nametag made for you and you can be a Blog Greeter. I will “knight” Miss Clare when I use one of her pics! Thank goodness I have friends who contribute content.

  3. Julie Says:

    DIANA (I got it right this time!) it’s good to hear from you! Clearly you are a traveller after our ET hearts. You economized in an enjoyable way and splurged when you wanted! And surely that crispy baguette and cheese contributed to your Found Money account so you can go back again this year. The ETs will hope for a trip report when you get back.

  4. The Paris Blog: Paris, France Expat Tips & Resources »Blog Archive » Frugal Foibles Says:

    […] >more […]

  5. Nicole Says:

    Beer vs Louvre? I have a tried and tested method for solving that problem- tickets to the Louvre are valid for a full day but most tourists just go for a few hours and then move on to the next thing. When I was broke and doing a drawing class in the Louvre, I used to wait in the Carrousel du Louvre, at the security control where people exited the museum. I would just ask people if they were done with their tickets and if I could use it. Some people think that its a scam and won’t do it, but it normally only took a few minutes to get a free ticket in. Now that I have the money for a ticket, I’ve offered my used ticket to other people (half of whom also suspect a scam, of course…)

  6. Julie Says:

    Nicole, what an inventive strategy that results in the next best thing to Found Money — free admission! And see how you’ve payed it forward! Other creative visitors benefit from your pass.

    The Experienced Travelers are impressed. Next time they go to the Louvre, they’re going to watch for you at the security checkpoint.

  7. Phillip Says:

    Good article (and comments!) – I’m generally with you on all of this – if you don’t >have< to be so strict with money, then it's worth it to spend a little more. But, if it comes down to someone choosing whether to go or not, because of a tight budget, showing people they can enjoy Paris on a budget is worthwhile. I've been in both sets of shoes, myself.

    However, to be fair to the NY Times writer – his budget was 74 Euros, not 74dollars – i.e. $100. And, a Louvre ticket is 10 Euros, which is much more than a basic glass of decent wine, and would have been a big chunk of his budget.

    Finally, if you ET's have good tips on getting a European credit card, I'd love to hear it. I ran into the same situation with the Velib bikes (as well as other self-service pay points) as the NYT writer.

    • Julie Says:

      Hi Phillip!
      Thanks for your comments. Mea culpa – I updated the post per your keen observation, but I still think it’s a crazy idea to attempt Paris on a draconian budget. The ETs endorse saving a bit longer to enjoy Paris, if that’s what it takes. I was once a poor student in Paris, and the heavenly fragrance of those roasting chickens in the Rue des Levis was a constant torment. How well I remember…

      Re the credit card issue. Yes, is is getting harder for US travelers to function in Europe without a smartchip credit card. This is a hot topic on the Fodors European travel forum. The prevailing opinion is that an ET needs a European residence to open an account at a European bank in order to get a smartchip card. I even inquired about a Canadian bank, or a Canadian branch of a Swiss bank, but to no avail.

      So Phillip, I suppose the sensible solution to the smartchip problem is to buy real estate in Paris.

  8. frenchstage Says:

    Great tips! I’ll have to remember them when (if) I go to Paris.

    • Julie Says:

      Frenchstage no more parentheses! Start collecting your Found Money today and plan your trip. Then you can tell us your travel tips when you get back!

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