Paris, France on a Low or Tight Budget :: Overview
I volunteered myself to help a great friend of mine plan a romantic engagement trip on a tight budget to Paris, France. I like to do things on a low or tight budget myself. My philosophy is that I would rather make two or three less expensive trips to Paris (or multiple destinations) than one trip. With that in mind, here is an itinerary I came up with for him to go there with his girlfriend for a long weekend. Of course, in this case, they would be leaving from here (Atlanta), but the intinerary would be pretty much the same for any city including and East of Dallas, St. Louis and Chicago. I would add another two hours of transit time for cities further west.
Of course, Paris is a great romantic get-away even without an engagement. And a trip this short doesn't begin to do justice to the world's most beautiful and fascinating city.
If you are more than just two people, and you need a longer stay, then may I suggest my mother Claudine Thibault's beautiful and large rental home? Here is the direct link: Thibault Home, Paris, France
Paris, France on a Low or Tight Budget :: Itinerary
- Download maps of Paris before leaving.
- Download museum information before leaving.
- Download information about monuments of Paris before leaving.
- Book a hotel in Paris before leaving.
- Learn "Bonjour", "merci", "oui" and "non" and maybe 10 more words of French. Congrary to popular belief, the French do love Americans - especially when we make a little bit of an effort. Imagine a Frenchman coming over here, not knowing a word of English, and expecting to run the place. Of course, Parisians are a little bit like New Yorkers.
- Depart Atlanta or other city; Delta is good, but Air France gives you more room on the same planes code-share operated by Delta/Air France. Just make sure that you are flying on an Air France aircraft regardless of whom you buy the ticket through. I use Travelocity to get my tickets.
- Note that you can save about $25 per person each way by traveling on Monday through Thursday in either direction. I have used Wednesday to Sunday simply because those were the days my friend told me.
- Arrive in Paris, Charles de Gaulle Airport, concourse 2D
- Get cash at ATM in airport
- Take cab or RER to hotel. Buy a Paris Visite Pass if you will use the RER and/or Metro
- Buy a 3-Day Carte Musee (Museum Pass) to avoid long lines. It pays for itself after about three visits to monuments or musuems.
- Check into hotel
- Buy Visit Paris Cards in Metro or elsewhere. May be available right at airport.
- Stroll to Notre Dame Cathedral
- Climb to the top to catch the sunset
- Have a cheap but fun dinner in the St. Michel district, near Notre Dame, where there are all the cool Greek and Middle Eastern restaurants in several hundred year old buildings. Alternatively, cafeterias such as "Flunch" or "Autogrille" - wait, that's Italy, but France has the equivalent; I just can't remember the name - are terrific. And you can buy wine there too.
Map of Metro from RATP Web Site
- Breakfast in hotel (it's usually included in the $100 hotel rate)
- Start off in The Louvre in the morning
- Eat lunch at the food court of the Louvre for about $18
- Go to the Musee d'Orsay for the afternoon
- Go to the Eiffel Tower at night ;)
- Enjoy a day together in a state of bliss in the most romantic city in the world
- Walk along the banks of the Seine
- Walk up the Champs Elysee. Make sure you say "Bonjour Madame" or "Bonjour Monsieur" when you walk into a shop, especially a small one. The French treat their stores like you would your home, and don't understand why we as Americans walk in without saying hello.
- Sunset at Montmartre/Sacre Couer where you can see 20 miles in most directions
- Bateau Mouche (glass top boat) perhaps on the Seine for dinner (buy tickets in advance)
- Depart Paris in late evening
- Arrive in Atlanta or other city late evening
Proforma budget for both of you combined:
- $940 Airfare (see actual information below)
- $300 3 nights in a hotel (the IBIS would be about $75 *3 = $225, but I'm not sure if it includes breakfast)
- $60 Cab rides (save $40 by taking the RER round trip; it only takes about 10 minutes more)
- $150 Food (includes cheap restaurants, grocery stores, sandwhich shops, pastry shops and at least one nice dinner)
- $60 Visit Paris Cards (lets you avoid all lines and is good for basically most or all the museums and major attractions except Eiffel Tower)
- $30 Eiffel Tower
- $30 Metro Tickets
- $1570 Total for both of you. Could be as little as $1455 with the hotel and RER I mentioned above.
Expression on girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband's face... priceless. :) NarayanCard - a product in
search of a good tag line.
Hotels and other information in Paris
Pretty much any cafetaria in Paris is good. You can buy wine and beer, etc. and the prices aren't bad. The portions are not up to our American standards, however, though that's true for all restaurants in France. I like "Autogrille" and "Flunch". Both are fun. You can find souvenirs throughout Paris at every corner, and they're all about the same price. Just don't buy them at the airport since they are more expensive there!
Someone asked me what should be on a must see list. The short list would be: Notre Dame, St. Denis, Sacre Couer, Arc de Triomph, Musee d'Orsay, Versailles, the metro, Rodin Museum, Centre Pompidou, Place de la Concorde, Les Arenes, a bateaux mouche down the Seine, the Opera, the Eiffel Tower, Champs de Mars and les Invalides.