Paris Travel Tips
A dozen great tips to make your holiday in Paris a lot more enjoyable and a lot less expensive!
Tip #1. Choose the right season to travel: Travel during the winter, if you can, or go for a shoulder-season trip during fall or spring, if the Parisian winter is too cold for you, as both airfare and lodging will be less expensive then than during the summer holiday. At the same time, try to avoid public holidays and festivals, even during the winter, as this is when hotel rates are at their highest and the city's top attractions are crammed with tourists.
Tip #2. Compare hotel rates online to get the best possible rates for your accommodation. Hotels in Paris are quite expensive, but with a bit of market research you can fetch some really good deals. Take a look at our hotel comparison tool, where you can instantly compare the world's 30 leading hotel-booking agencies and find some excellent rates.
Another good tip on the same topic: Look for hotels that are just slightly out of the city centre (but next to a Metro station) and you can save some serious money.
Here are some highly-recommended budget hotels in central locations within Paris city-centre: 1. Hotel Georgette (Just a minute's walk from the Métro (Rambuteau) and also not far from Pont Neuf and Palais Royal). 2. Not far from there, Hotel Ecole Centrale is also located right next to a Métro station (Arts-et-Métiers). 3. Hotel de la Herse d'Or is located at the heart of the Marais district and just a short walk from the Bastille. 4. Welcome Hotel enjoys a fantastic location right next to Boulevard Saint-Germain, and a short walk from the Seine, Musée d'Orsay, Musée Rodin and the Luxembourg Gardens. 5. The Plug Inn Boutique Hostel, in the midst of Montmartre, is very popular and charming, and although it is a hostel, there are also double rooms. 6. BLC Design Hotel is on Rue Richard Lenoir, between the Bastille and the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery. 7. Last but not least, Hotel Regyn's Montmartre is a small, romantic and characterful hotel right in the vivid heart of Montmartre.
Tip #3. Use Credit and ATM Cards whenever you can: In most cases, you are likely to get a much better exchange rate when you buy foreign currency with either ATM cards or credit cards, than when exchanging cash or traveler's checks at the bureau / airport / bank… Moreover, if you happen to use one of the credit cards that do not charge a foreign transaction fee, then you might really save a handsome amount of money. Here is a list of credit cards with no foreign transaction fee.
Tip #4. Make sure to be in Paris on the first Sunday of the month, as that is when you can enjoy free admission to most the city's national museums, including the Louvre, Musée d'Orsay and the Centre Pompidou. Click here for the full list of Parisian museums that offer free entry on the first Sunday of every month.
Tip #5. Another great way to save money in Paris is with the Paris Pass: This card can save you and your family an average of up to 50% - 70% on sightseeing, attractions and transportation. It offers free entry to over 60 of Paris' major tourist attractions, as well as a wide range of special offers and discounts and unlimited use of Paris public transport within zones 1-3, all for one affordable price. And if that is not enough, you also get to enjoy a free 1-day Hop-on Hop-off Bus tour. Click here for the details.
Tip #6. Visit the flea markets: Paris' marché aux puces (flea markets) provides a unique shopping experience and are well worth visiting, especially Clignancourt, which is the oldest and best-known of Paris' flea markets, and one of the best shopping resources in the world. Read all about in this mini-guide (and also here).
Tip #7. Don't take breakfast at your hotel: Go to the café on the corner instead and enjoy your breakfast with the "locals"… It is likely to be both cheaper and nicer than at your hotel.
Tip #8. How to splurge in swanky restaurants without breaking the bank? Most of Paris' dining establishments offer great deals on fixed price menus for lunch (and some even for dinner). From corner cafe's to swanky restaurants... A nice three course meal (appetizer, entree and dessert) at an average restaurant can be less than 15€ (tax and tip included) and if you want to splurge, you can enjoy your lunch at a Michelin starred restaurant for one third of the price of an a-la-carte dinner.
Here are some "mini-guides" well worth reading about great restaurant in Paris that offer fantastic lunch deals:
- Top 10 budget restaurants and bistros in Paris
- Top 10 Paris bistrots on a budget
- Recommended restaurants in Paris with reasonable prices
- 3 Michelin starred restaurants in Paris with the best lunch deals
Did you know? Parisian restaurants have to display their menu outside, so you can do some "window shopping" before deciding which restaurant you want to go to.
Tip #9 Don't waste your precious holiday time on standing in long queues: Some of Paris' top attractions like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre are notorious for the long queues, and since your holiday time is both limited and precious, do yourself a big favor and buy one of these "Skip the Line" tickets. Here are some of the options:
- Skip the Line Audio-guided Louvre Museum Tour
- Skip the Line - Grand Louvre Museum Walking Tour
- Skip the Line - Eiffel Tower (Reserved Entry Ticket Only)
- Skip the Line - Eiffel Tower Guided Tour & Tickets
- Skip the Line - Sunset Eiffel Tower Tour
Tip #10 Enjoy your wine or coffee. Paris is one of the best places on earth to enjoy wine and coffee. A glass of simple, nice wine, in a Parisian bar or café, costs less than a soda or fruit juice (same goes with coffee). Take a seat outside, and enjoy people watching, just like the locals do… (You can seat there for hours on a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine… No one will hassle you to order more).
Tip #11 Visit the Pere Lachaise Cemetery: While including a cemetery in your itinerary sounds like a somewhat kinky idea, Paris' famous Cimetière du Père-Lachaise is definitely an exception… This characterful and even romantic cemetery is the last resting place of some of the world's greatest artists, poets and writers, including Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Honore de Balzac, Chopin, Molière, Yves Montand, Rossini and Marcel Proust, just to name a few, and the tombstones are just as artistic as the people who lie beneath them…
Here is a mini guide to Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Tip #12 Take a 'hop on - hop off' bus tour: Whether it is your first time in Paris, or whether you have been here before, exploring the city of lights from the open top of a double-decker bus is quite an experience, especially if you are limited in time, or if you are here with the family (kids just love these buses).
Take a look at our Paris hop-on hop-off Guide, as it boasts plenty of good information about these bus tours (including information about all the attractions and places-of-interest you can visit).
BTW: If you purchase the Paris Pass, you will also enjoy a free 1-day Hop-on Hop-off Bus tour, so make sure you don't buy them both…
Tip #13 get yourself a couple of good guidebooks and a descent map: After forking out so much money on your flight tickets and accommodation (not to mention the money you are going to spend on shopping and dining), it would be an awful mistake not to invest a few more bucks into a couple of good guidebooks. The guidebooks below where all written by travel experts who know Paris like the palm of their hand and the advice and tips you'll find in them are priceless! Fetching free info from the web is great as a complimentary, but it can never replace a good guidebook (just as much a free map can't replace a professional city-map)...