Posts Tagged ‘New York Times Frugal Traveler’

Paris on a budget redux

March 20, 2011

Even on a budget, you can afford to grab that table and have an aperitif

Well, the Experienced Travelers’ post reviewing the NY Times Frugal Traveler’s weekend in Paris on a miniscule budget was popular with the Readership, and Paris travelers everywhere.  (If you haven’t read that post yet – click here and catch up!)

Here at Julie’s Paris, people felt that the Frugal Traveler (FT) was too parsimonious with his Paris weekend.  Our wise and wonderful Readership made their voices heard:

  • Reader Diana insists travelers can do Paris perfectly on a budget and still have special splurges.
  • Reader Nicole shows us a true Found Money way to see the Louvre by waiting at the museum exit and asking departing visitors if she can have the all-day admission ticket  that they’re about to throw away!  The ETs are going to investigate this excellent strategy!
  • Reader Phillip rightly clarifies that the FT budget was  74-euro. He also reminds us that the article does show people that they can visit Paris on a tight budget and enjoy themselves.
  • See all the comments here

Our friends at The Paris Blog included our post on their site, and comments were right in line with the Readership’s. 

Meanwhile remarks about the article on the NYTimes website followed suit – even suggesting ways the FT could have saved more (ie. save the tip! It’s strictly for exemplary service, and then just a few euros for a meal.)

The ETs "at home" in their Paris apartment rental

Many comments raised two topics of interest to the Experienced Travelers.  First, readers suggested that renting an apartment instead of staying in a hotel can be cost-saving and fun.  The ETs are apartment-rental enthusiasts and wholeheartedly endorse this approach.  

Cooking breakfast chez vous keeps euros in your pocket, and packing a picnic lunch to enjoy in a shady garden saves even more.  The real Found Money comes from a simple home-cooked meal of market-fresh food.  Reader Diana says “our best and most memorable meals were those we ate in our tiny apartment.”

Chef Nurse prepared our dinner chez nous so we could spend the Found Money later in the cafes.

Par example, the ETs feasted on Nurse’s French culinary creations, then went out for dessert or drinks to take in Paris at night.  It worked like a charm and saved us at least 35 euros every time!   Ka-ching.

Riding the rails in the Paris Metro

Reader Phillip echoed many comments when he raised our second topic of interest;  smart-chip credit cards that are common in Europe, but unavailable in the US.   Smart-chip cards use chips instead of the magnetic strips that US bank cards employ.   Thus, US travelers can’t swipe their credit cards in smart-chip systems like self-service kiosks for metro tickets, pay-at-the-pump petrol and the utterly fantastic Velibes, Paris’ community bike rental system. 

Certain ETs made unsuccessful inquiries of Canadian banks in the hope of getting a smart-chip card. Establishing residency in Europe requires a significant financial windfall, and the Swiss banks won’t return my calls. Until the US banks get smart, the only path left to the ETs is marriage to an ageing Duc in poor health.

Smart-chip cards get you a ride on the Paris Velibes bike rental system. Imagine the thrill!

So what is a US traveler to do?  For now, get in line and buy your metro tickets at the manned booth. (Always keep an extra in case the station you use doesn’t have attendants on duty.) 

Sadly, the Velibes are off-limits.  The ETs want to coast the rue St.-Jacques hill, across the Petit Pont to the Parvis Notre-Dame.  But until they have a smart-chip in their wallet, it’s just a magnificent dream they hold fast in their hearts.

The rue St.-Jacques. The ETs want to feel the wind in our hair as coast this hill on a Velibes

Paris on a budget?

March 10, 2011


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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