How to Save Money in Paris (A Budget Paris France Guide and budget Paris France Itinerary)
August 5, 2017
Just your friendly, neighborhood, Budget Paris France Guide or budget Paris France Itinerary (doesn’t matter what you call it as long as you figure out how to save money in Paris)
I know it is so cliched but Audrey Hepburn really embodied how I feel about Paris when she said, “Paris is always a good idea” (oddly enough she never mentioned how to save money in Paris. I guess money problems and a budget Paris France itinerary are trivial to movie stars) . Now, while I may feel that way at my core, my budget and bank balance may have other ideas. I mean sure, I come from New York City and am totally used to everything being insanely expensive, but I always love to stretch my budget and travel more with less (hence this budget Paris France guide). Plus, I hate the idea of travel opportunities being based solely on socio economic status. In my mind, travel should be a right and not a privilege of the elite. And while I know my budget Paris France guide won’t help or be used by most of the world’s population, I always feel like more economical travel options can open up the possibility of travel to people who previously thought it was impossible. Because people always say that economic insecurity gets in the way of their travel plans. Those same people also wonder how I can afford to travel so frequently. Well, I am not gonna lie, great flight deals from New York City don’t hurt, but developing budget city guides, like this budget Paris France guide, also help too. With such guides, not only do I get to travel more but I also get to avoid the wicked awful anxiety that comes from spending too much. You know, the fear that envelopes you when you totally blow your travel budget? I know this type of financial insecurity has hit me when I refuse to check my bank balance (Maybe if I don’t look it won’t be so bad. Or maybe the money fairy will just put all the money I spent back in my account). Well, with this budget Paris France guide (Can’t get enough of Europe? Then check out this Traveling Europe on a Budget Guide), hopefully you won’t have to quiver under the weight of your financial anxiety. Below are twenty free places that you can check out the next time you visit the romance capital of the world. And don’t worry, there isn’t anything lame on this list like breath or open your eyes. We all kind of have to do those things. This is also not a list of things that are free because they suck and you wouldn’t want to see them anyway (Like the world’s largest ball of yarn. I’ll take a hard pass on that. No offense to the avid knitters out there). This budget Paris France guide is chock full of sites you know and some you don’t, but all of which will lower your credit card bill while actually enhancing the awesomeness of your next Parisian adventure. So rock out with a post that will make all the financial advisors in your life happy and all the creditors in your life burst into tears (And if you have a food allergy, not to fear! Find out how to eat gluten free in Paris).
***Short on time but still want to experience all that Paris has to offer? Then check out this stellar guide to Paris in 24 hours.
Paris’s highest hill is a must stop destination n your budget Paris France itinerary. Montmartre has an almost quaint, village charm about it that is largely absent from the rest of this expansive city. Here, musicians strum away at their harps, an endless parade of tourists march uphill, admiring the intoxicating views of the city, and a carousel whirls giggly children around in a frenzy of delight. Charming no? It really is, even though you’ll work up a sweat and will need to catch your breath after hiking up all those steps (Iron lung for one please). Perhaps this small town feel stems from Montmartre’s origins as an artists’ quarter: none other than the ultimate artist baller himself, Pablo Picasso, invented cubism at the Bateau Lavoir on place Emile-Godeau, while Suzanne Valadon and her son Maurice Utrillo lived at the entrance to the Musée de Montmartre on rue Cortot. However, because of the panoramic views and the nearby. Moulin Rouge, Place du Tertre can get super crowded with pseudo artists hawking their latest creations. Thats why you may want to head down rue des Abbesses and rue Lepic instead, where cottage lined alleys and steep stairways give way to local bars and fabulous restaurants. Also don’t forget the glistening white, domed, Sacré-Coeur Basilica at the crest of the hill, totally worth a visit but more on that later (win, wink). Address: place des Abbesses, 75018 Getting there: Get off the metro at Abbesses
2. Père Lachaise Cemetery
Ok, now I know it looks like I have some weird preoccupation with death, but I really don’t. This cemetery is a great addition to any budget Paris France itinerary since this is a beautiful place to walk through on a sunny day. There are quaint, cobble stone paths that line an avenue of ornately carved gravestones that are unlike anything I have seen on my life (I feel like cobble stone and the adjective quaint always go hand in hand. LoL).
The cemetery is also quite large with an area of over 110 acres, making it the largest cemetery in all of Paris. Because the cemetery is so large, there are some guided tours available but I chose to explore the unique and elaborate graves that are found here, on my own. But before you go off exploring, make sure you do two things. Firstly, go to bathroom because there really are no restrooms anywhere in this enormous cemetery. Therefore, do your thing while you can because you don’t want to pop a squat behind a gravestone like me!! Also grab a free map from the administration building since the cemetery is HUGE and it is super easy to get lost (After a while everything starts to look the same and you don’t want to get locked in. Talk about creepy). Plus, the map outlines all the famous graves that you’ll want to check out like those of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, etc. My favorite part was actually trying to these “celebrity” graves. It felt like a massive treasure hunt so when I finally found a grave I was looking for, I did a little happy dance because I was so proud that I actually found it (People looked at me a little funny but oh well). In total, I spent a little over two hours in the cemetery but you could meander along the rows of graves for an entire day if you want. Just be warned that some of the graves are a total pain in the ass to find so be sure to give yourself plenty of time (Like over two hours. And I promise, once you find what you’re looking for, it’s totally worth it). Address: 16 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris, France Getting There: Take Metro line 2 and get off at Philippe-Auguste. This stop will take you to the cemetery’s main entrance on the Boulevard de Ménilmontant. Hours: In the winter (November 6-March 15), the cemetery is open Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, Saturday from 8:30 a.m to 5:30 p.m., and Sunday/holidays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Access ends 15 minutes before closing time.) In the summer (March 15-November 5), the museum is open Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m., Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sunday and holidays from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Access ends 15 minutes before closing time. And cemetery employees will actually escort you out when its time to leave).
3. Walk Along the Seine
The amazing culture and rich history of Paris, make it an amazing city to walk through. Plus, walking is one of my many tips on how to save money in Paris. To me, walking is how you see, feel, taste, touch, and smell the heart of a city. That is why you NEED to walk along the Seine. You just have to do it. Because if the people are the soul of Paris, then the Seine is the body that they rely on to move. This river is an intricate part of Parisian culture, both in the past and today. It helps define who Parisians are and how they spend their time. Simply stroll along the boulevard, by the river, and watch all the people as they eat their cheese and drink their wine. Friends will laugh as they rip open fresh and crusty pieces of baguette (my mouth is watering thinking about these carbs. yum). Once you get tired of walking, hop in a riverside seat and get a massage for €10.
After your massage, continue to wander along the shore and watch the boats cruise by. As you explore this seemingly endless river, take in the French way of life that unfolds right before your eyes. Shops, restaurants, and even beach chairs with beach umbrellas, litter the shore and make the river an excitingly diverse place to be ( these chairs are accompanied by sand, which makes it feel more like a beach than a river). But whatever you do, just take some time to let the Seine, and Parisian culture, wash over you and capture your heart.
4. Jardin du Luxembourg
Absolutely one of the most scenic parks in all of Paris, Garden du Luxembourg is a buffet of vibrantly colored flowers that meticulously line the well manicured lawns in the area. Because this green space is so well kept, be sure to stay on the paths because you certainly won’t make friends by walking on the grass. But this shouldn’t be a problem since there are plenty of tree lined pathways that provide you with ample shade as you stroll along the areas vast network of parks.
Because most people living in Paris do not have green space of their own, this park bustles with activity as soon as the weather warms up and the sun comes out. That’s why, if you find a vacant, pale green, lounge style chair, hold onto it because it is a hot commodity among sunbathers and ardent readers alike (Seriously, you need to stake out and claim a chair that is in a quiet, shady area. And once you find it, hold onto it because this chair is like the Abominable Snowman of chairs, mythic and hard to find). I need a chair because I like to sit back and watch the vibrant life of the park unfold, right before my eyes. And with pony rides, sandpits, playgrounds, and tennis courts scattered around you, there is no shortage of people to watch as you sit back and enjoy the most epic of croissants (My ADD rattled, NYC brain still has trouble sitting still though). Also check out the round pond where children of the past and present go to rent toy boats and sail them around the pond ( It makes me feel like I’m in the musical Gigi. Anyone get the reference? No? Okay, I’ll just move on then). This is one of those moments where you kind of wonder to yourself, “Does it get anymore French than this?” And I mean that in the best possible way. Address: Place Edmond Rostand, 75006 Paris Getting there: RER Luxembourg Hours: Open daily between 8.15am-4.30pm in December to 7.30am-9.30pm in late June
5. Canal St-Martin
With its tree lined canals, and cobblestone walkways, it really can’t get any more picturesque than this canal (I guess it could but then you would want to throw up because it would too saccharine sweet), which Napoleon built and opened in 1825. The canal starts at Port de l’Arsenal marina, goes underground by Bastille and emerges after a long tunnel near République. Like most of Paris, this is a great addition to your budget Paris France itinerary since you can take a stroll or just sit and enjoy a fresh baguette that is slathered in brie (All I ate were baguettes and Brie. I almost cried when I realized I couldn’t bring cheese back on the plane with me. So sad. I love cheese, a lot more than most of my exes). Probably the best day to visit Canal St-Martin is on a Sunday when the roads in the area are closed to cars, allowing the local cafés, bistros, and shops to come alive with pedestrian traffic. But if all this walking has totally worn you out (My knees would be begging for mercy), you can also tour the canal by boat with Paris Canal. Boats operate between the Musée d’Orsay and Parc de la Villette and from Canauxrama between Bastille and Bassin de la Villette. A totally relaxed and quaint way to take in all that city of love magic (Yes the men, I mean city really is magic. Like Disney magic). Address: quai de Valmy, quai de Jemmapes, 75010 Paris Getting there: Jacques Bonsergent or Jaurès
6. La Villette
The ultimate question for most tourists is how to save money in Paris. The answer is, why visit this modern park and museum complex has been brought to life with edgy and exciting, modern architecture that is accented with a punch of vibrant red paint, just to keep your senses on their toes. Add in a giant dragon slide and some themed gardens, and you have a place that is perfect for kids and adults alike. Just stroll through the grounds and you’ll see an assortment of modern sculptures that will make you scratch your head and wonder what on Earth you are actually looking at. But the best part of all is that La Villette is adjacent to a scenic canal that you can walk along, where you almost feel the romance oozing out of Paris’ pores. Now if endlessly meandering through crazy ass modern sculpture is not you’re thing, then check out the northern edge of the complex where the Cité des Sciences is found. This museum has interactive exhibits, a Planetarium, and even a spherical Géode IMAX cinema. You can also head south of the canal to try and catch a show at the Cité de la Musique, where an assortment of events are hosted like the circus, art exhibitions, theatrical performances, outdoor film festivals and even a Jazz à la Villette concert series. Address: 211 avenue Jean-Jaurès, 75019 Paris Getting there: Metro Porte de Pantin or Porte de la Villette Hours: The park is open daily: 6am-1am. (Cité des Sciences: Tue-Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-7pm. Cité de la Musique: Tue-Sat, noon-6pm; Sun, 10am-6pm) Admission: Cité des Sciences: Explora, €9; 6-24 years, students, over 60s, €7; children under 6, free; Cité des Enfants, children 2-12, €9. Cité de la Musique museum: €7; under 26, free:
7. Maison de Victor Hugo
So I don’t know if you have heard of him, but Victor Hugo was this kick ass, French (shocker) poet and novelist who wrote some mildly famous works like the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables (My personal favorite. If you don’t like it we can’t be friends. ‘On My Own’ was like my angsty adolescent anthem. And yes, I know he didn’t write the musical). But even when someone is an epic author, a detailed history of their lives can be quite a snooze (Visiting his house is free though so add a Victor Hugo house party t your budget Paris France itinerary.LoL). But never fear, that is not the case here (Poet and I didn’t even know it). I mean if this place was a bore then it would never make it on my list. However, good old Victor Hugo does not disappoint and led a rather varied life that is well presented in this apartment that he rented, between 1832 and 1848 (Guess he hadn’t reached baller status yet. Just kidding. This place would have been on an episode of cribs back in the day). Museum displays educate visitors about the author’s life, including an awesomely vintage, red damask lounge where he entertained his artistic and political friends alike. Also included in the exhibit are Gothic and Chinese-style furniture that Hugo designed for himself (talk about a Jack of all Trades. I can’t even build a toothpick) and his mistress Juliette Drouet when in exile in Hauteville House in Guernsey (after his opposition to Louis-Napoléon’s 1851 coup d’état). And while all of these artifacts are interesting to behold, I enjoyed the series of personal drawings, caricatures, correspondence and photographs that provided a small window into the life of a man whose work has transcended time and touched countless numbers of people. Just fascinating to see how these literary icons lived and to be in the presence of such greatness (maybe some of it will rub off on me, or was that wet paint). Address: 6 place des Vosges, 75004, Paris Getting there: Metro Bastille or St-Paul
8. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
Okay, so this is one of those places that you have to see while you’re in Paris. I mean it was in the title of a mediocre Disney movie, so how could you not want to see it? In all seriousness, obviously Notre Dame is better known as the true star of the novel, the Hunchback of Notre-Dame (Forget Esmerelda, and her tambourine) since this Cathedral has a special place in the heart
of the French nation. The French people cherish the exquisite architecture of this Cathedral and take so much pride in it, that all distances from Paris are measured from Notre Dame and no place else, making Notre Dame the literal canter of Paris. And this makes a whole lot of sense once you see this enormous, Gothic cathedral towering over you with it’s flying buttresses galore. As you walk through the main entrance, you can see a structural balance to the building, that is studded with elements of asymmetry (Each of the three main portals has a slightly different shape which makes things a lot less monotonous). But aside from being the home of flying buttresses (I just like saying it because I’m as mature as a 12 year old), Notre Dame has a breathtaking, central choir that is made up of carved wooden stalls and statues that represent the Passion of the Christ. For the best view of the cathedral, in my humble opinions, head to Jean XXIII Square , or the quaint park behind the cathedral. From here, you can appreciate the ornate flying buttresses that support the walls and the roof of the building. Also be sure to check out the line-up of bells in the garden (put here to celebrate the cathedral’s 850th birthday).
Address: parvis de Notre-Dame, 75004 Paris Getting there: Metro Cité Hours: Cathedral: Mon-Fri, 8am-6.45pm; Sat, Sun, 8am-7.15pm. Towers, daily: Apr-Sep, 10am-6.30pm (until 11pm Fri and Sat in Jul and Aug); Oct-Mar, 10am-5.30pm Admission: The Cathedral is free but the Towers cost €10 (children under 18 and EU nationals between 18-25 are free).
9. Walking Tour
Okay, so I feel like the goal of any tourist is to see a foreign city through the eyes of a local. I mean we travel to feel, see, taste, and understand a new way of life that is (hopefully) vastly different from our own (At least I do. I can’t speak for anyone else). Well, if this sounds even remotely like you, then check out Paris Greeters. This free, walking tour company is operated by volunteers who are passionate about Paris and want to share their love of the city with you. Tours of up to six people are conducted in either the city of Paris or in nearby communities that are accessible via Metro. But no matter where your tour takes you, rest assured that you will travel off the beaten path and enjoy a side of Paris that most tourists never get to see. Plus, you get to meet a local and learn about this beautiful city from their point of view. Truly an amazing way to experience the city.
***One of my favorite and super easy walks in Paris starts at the Arc de Triomphe. From there, walk straight down the champs elysees. It’s a fun walk because you feel like you are on the Rodeo Drive or Park Avenue of Paris (I mean they even let you test drive Ferraris Yup, I felt like a total baller). On the way, stop at Laduree for some epic macarons and desserts. Once you have obtained an adequate sugar high, continue down the champs elyesses and you will run into Jardin des Tuileries. Explore the park and if you walk right through it, you’ll run into the Louvre. A lovely walk that is a great way to see some of the major sites that Paris has to offer. ***Looking for some tasty treats? Head over to the cobblestoned street of Rue Mouffetard, which is crammed with artisan bakers, fromageries and gourmet sweet shops. Visit on a Saturday when it closes off to form a huge food market.
10. Shakespeare and Company Bookstore
Okay so even if you don’t like bookstores, you will love this one because Shakespeare and Company Bookstore is anything but ordinary. Here, writers, intellectuals, and artists all congregate to become inspired by the greats who called this place home. From the first day this store opened, writers, artists, and intellectuals were actually invited to sleep among the shop’s shelves and piles of books, on small beds that doubled as benches during the day.
These beds exist to this day and add a quaint charm that gives the store a humanity that is unlike anything I have ever felt. Since the store first opened, over 30,000 young writers and artists have stayed in this bookshop, including then unknowns such as Robert Stone, Kate Grenville, Sebastian Barry, Ethan Hawke, Jeet Thayil, Geoffrey Rush, and David Rakoff (Shout out to Geoffrey Rush because I think he is one epic actor. Also a place I tell people to stay if they want to know how to save money in Paris). When here, you feel this very real aura of greatness that inspires you to comb through the shelves and create a piece of art that means the world to so many people. It is almost like the footprints of these guests or so called “Tumbleweeds” leave an indelible mark of intellectual creation and community that stays with you long after you leave the shop. In the safety of this shop, it feels okay to dare to dream. Plus, they have a really cute tote that I use everyday (Yup, total shopping whore right here). ***Each Tumbleweed that spends the night in the store is asked to read a book a day, help at the shop for a few hours, and produce a one-page autobiography. Thousands and thousands of these autobiographies have been collected and now form an impressive archive. Address: 37 rue de la Bûcherie 75005 Paris, France Hours: Open daily from 10am to 11pm
11. Parc du Champ de Mars (to see the Eiffel Tower if your on a budget Paris France itinerary)
The Eiffel Tower is probably the most iconic site in all of Paris so obviously you are gonna have to see it and take loads of selfies. But going to the very top can set you back €17 a person (yikes indeed). And while the view from the top is pretty spectacular, I’m not Victor Hugo and have not written any literary masterpieces as of late. Therefore, I don’t really have his type of bank roll at my disposal and can’t just shoot to the top of the Eiffel Tower on a whim. I have a budget to consider people!
Well, if you are chronically budget conscious like me, another great way to see the Eiffel Tower is from below, amidst the expertly manicured lawns and flowerbeds of the Parc du Champ de Mars (What else would you expect from a former military marching ground). Just grab a blanket, your favorite french pastry (FYI I don’t share), and a beverage, and relax at the foot of this architectural wonder. Just make sure that you stick around until nightfall, when La Tour Eiffel comes alive during a nightly light show . Address: Champ de Mars, 5 av Anatole France, 7e Paris, France Getting There: Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel (Line C) Hours: Everyday, the elevators and stairs are open from 9am – 12.45am from mid-Jun–Aug. From Sep–mid-Jun the lifts are open from 9.30am-11pm and the stairs are open 9.30am-6.30pm. Admission: An elevator to the top is €17 for adults and €8 for kids. The lift to the 2nd floor is €11 and €4. The stairs to the 2nd floor are €7 for adults and €3 for kids (Prebook tickets online to avoid long lines).
12. Arc de Triomphe
I visited Paris in August, when everyone was away on vacation, and there was still a horde of tour buses letting off selfie stick wielding foreigners at the Arc de Triomphe (But this is a great part of any budget Paris France itinerary so what did I expect). Now, I did not come off a tour bus, but I still needed my selfie to show my Facebook friends how awesome I am because I was at the Arc de Triomphe (The picture below is evidence of that). With all this selfie snapping mania, I think people forget that there is a history behind this symbol of Paris.
This 1836 monument was built in celebration of Napoléon’s victory at Austerlitz in 1805.. That’s why this intricately sculpted arch stands victoriously in the centre of the Étoile (‘Star’) roundabout. From the viewing platform on top of the arch (50m up) you can see the entire city of Paris unfold before you. To access the viewing platform, do not cross the traffic ridden roundabout above ground (Its like Frogger, only NOT fun). Stairs from the northern side of the Champs-Élysées will lead you beneath the Étoile to a series of pedestrian tunnels that will bring you up to the ticket counter and finally, beneath the arch. (I didn’t go to the viewing platform because I felt like it was the same as going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, only shorter) Address: Place Charles de Gaulle, 8e Paris, France Getting There: Charles de Gaulle Etoile (lines 1,2,6, and RER A) Hours: Apr – Sep the hours are 10am-11pm and Oct – Mar the hours are 10am-10.30pm Admission: The viewing platform is €12 for adults and free for children.
13. Jardin des Tuileries
Okay, I know this one is super touristy with the amusement park rides and the huge Ferris wheel but whatever, you’re a tourist and I feel like you’re entitled to do some touristy things, especially if you have never been to Paris before. I just love the Tuileries because it is at the heart of the historic center of Paris. Just look up the champs elysees and you’ll see the Arc de Triomphe. Then look in the other direction and you’ll see the Louvre. Everywhere you look, it feels like pure Parisian magic surrounds you, not to mention the fact that this park is now part of the Banks of the Seine Unesco World Heritage Site; which makes sense when you explore the plethora of fountains, ponds and sculptures that make this 28-hectare garden a total feast for the senses to explore.
You almost feel transported back to a time to 1664 when the park was created by André Le Nôtre. Quickly it became the most fashionable spot for the Parisian elite to strut their stuff in their finest garments (Oh you saucy minx you. Side note, a guy from this century actually said that to me. I almost died laughing). Thank God you are no longer required to wear a formal dress in this garden because then I would be totally excluded, and left on the outside, stuffing my face with an endless number of croissants. Actually, that doesn’t sound so bad at all. Address: rue de Rivoli, 1er Paris, France Getting There: Take line 1 to the Tuileries stop. Hours: The park is open from 7am-9pm, from late March to late September and from 7.30am-7.30pm from late Sep to late March
14. Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen
Look, I am not a shopper, but sometimes its fun to go window-shopping (Lécher les vitrines to the locals. Have no idea how to say that. Lol) and gawk at some of the eccentric wares that are on sale. And what better place to do this then at a flea market (or garage sale, tag sale, white elephant sale, etc. Random aside, at home I sometimes see underwear on sale and I always wonder who would buy it. But I digress, per usual). Founded in the late 19th century, this insanely large market is said to be Europe’s largest, with more than 2500 stalls for you to wander through (Don’t get lost! Actually to prevent this they are grouped into 15 marchés (markets), which each have their own speciality). So if you’re in the market for some antique, 17th century furniture (I know you are. Just throw that foot stool into your backpack and you’ll be good to go. Packing light is overrated anyway), head on over to Marché Paul Bert Serpette to shop until your pockets bleed, or until you giggle and need to excuse yourself.
Here, you’ll find awesomely crazy things like bearskin rugs, antique tapestries, and even brass diving bells in this wildly fantastical marketplace. A totally great place to bring a shopper who is desperately figuring out how to save money in Paris. Just make sure you that you keep your awe and shock in check when you look at the number of digits on some of these price tags because we don’t want to offend anyone. Address: 124 rue des rosiers 93400 Saint-Ouen France Getting There: Take line 4 to Porte de Clignancourt station or take line 13 to Garibaldi station. Hours: Open from Saturday – Monday from 9:45am – 1:00pm and 2:00pm – 5:45pm.
15. Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
Generally speaking, I am not big into modern art. I feel like half the time I don’t understand it or I end up sobbing and have no idea how it happened. Generally, about as modern as I go is Impressionism and thats because well, its awesome. But I am a huge proponent of not judging places before I visit them. And that’s why I would check this museum out, even if you are not into ultra modern art. I mean, if nothing else, the museum is gorgeous since it is located in the East wing of the Palais de Tokyo, which was originally built for the 1937 Exposition Internationale. But definitely walk inside and wander through the collection, which has a distinct, Paris-centric bias that emphasizes works on fauves and cubists, the Ecole de Paris, and even some Delaunays and Fautrier pieces thrown in for a little bit of flavor. There are also some fine examples of art deco furniture and artists’ ceramics, as well as a more international display of contemporary art. Also check online for a list of the excellent temporary exhibitions on offer here. But be sure to reserve tickets ahead of time so you avoid any insanely long lines. ***Don’t miss Raoul Dufy’s vast mural La Fee Electricité halfway up the stairs, and the Salle Matisse, with its two versions of Matisse’s La Danse. Address: 11 avenue du President-Wilson, 75116 Paris Getting there: Metro Alma-Marceau Hours: Tue-Sun, 10am-6pm (Thursday open until 10pm) Admission: The permanent collection is free. The special exhibitions are between €5-€12. For people over 60 or between 14-26, tickets are between €2-€9, while children under 14 are free.
16. Basilique du Sacré-Cœur
This Basilica is like a church on steroids, which is great because you need something almost divinely inspired to look at after climbing all those stairs (Okay, I actually paused to catch my breath and not admire the church but whatever. And if you don’t want to walk, use your regular metro ticket to board the funicular).
Begun in 1875, Sacré-Cœur is a symbol of the struggle between the conservative Catholic old guard and the secular, republican radicals. However, to really understand and experience the beauty of this place. One needs to look beyond the massive white domes of the exterior and venture inside to marvel at the mosaic, stained glass windows and the grand organ that baths this sacred building in harmonic splendor. Done in the Romano-Byzantine style, the design of the interior gives this “house of God” an atmosphere of harmony and peace. This is because the light and architectural details here draw the visitor’s attention to the apse, the place of liturgical celebration and adoration of the Holy Sacrament. Truly more than just a church, Basilique du Sacré-Cœur is an experience. Everything from the musicians along the exterior steps, to the picnickers spread along the hillside, to the panoramic view of Paris, give you a sense of peace and calm that is totally different from anywhere else in Paris.
17. Arènes de Lutèce
So I don’t know about you but when I think of ruins, I generally think of Rome or Athens. Believe it or not though, Paris has some Roman ruins of its own, tucked away behind rows of hotels and apartment buildings. Here, you’ll find an amphitheater that was built in the first century AD. This theater was so large that it actually seated up to 15,000 people for theatrical performances and gladiatorial matches (Russel Crowe anyone? I still love that movie. Good old Maximus. Okay, I’ll stop). To this day though, Les Arènes is a great escape from the hordes of people who call Paris home. For many people who lack a home garden, this local park has become a second home as local children play football or watch puppet shows. But if you look closely, you can still sit on the tiers of these ancient stone seats and see the cages where wild animals were once kept for gladiator matches (lions and tigers and bears, oh my).
Address: 49 rue Monge or 4 rue des Arènes, 75005, Paris Getting there: Assemblée Nationale or Invalides
Take a stroll through a Parisian neighborhood with a history of rebellion that is sprinkled with a touch of multicultural flair. It is within this district that you have the bustling streets of Chinatown and a series of imaginative, artist residents that makes this a fun and lively place to explore. Be sure not to miss the rue de Belleville, where Edith Piaf is said to have been born under a street lamp. From here, turn right onto rue Dénoyez and you’ll find some of Paris’ most decadent and vivacious street art. Lastly, meander on over to the Parc de Belleville where you can savor some stunning views of the city.
19. Street Art
What used to be considered a sign of neglect and disrepair in seedy neighborhoods, has now become a world wide artistic movement. You know, the graffiti that everyone used to complain about? Yeah, we call it street art now because we’re so posh (Come on, graffiti is so 90s. Where’s TLC when you need them?).
But in all seriousness, I absolutely love street art. It expresses the soul and mind of the people in a raw, real, and unfiltered way that is reflected within the canvas where they are displayed. On the streets, bureaucracy, elitism, and monetary gains are cast aside in favor of a totally authentic expression of art that is hard to find in many art galleries today. And since Paris is home to one of the most famous museums in the world (Cough…The Louvre…Cough…Mona Lisa), it should come as no surprise that the street art scene here is insanely rich, diverse, vibrant, and beautiful. I mean, you can find the man, the myth, the legend, Bansky here so clearly Parisian Street art is something you should check out. Now while you can take a pricey tour of the street art scene, I’ll also provide you with a list of places where you can check out the best and brightest street murals that Paris has to offer, just in case you don’t have a ton of money to drop on a street art tour (I bet its pretty cool though). Rue Saint-Maur – A 2km-long street in the 10th and 11th arrondissements that is littered with artistic expression. Keep your eyes open for the work of Kashink who is probably Paris’ most notable female street artist and known for her strong expressions of feminist ideals. Rue Oberhaupt – Another urban art hotspot in the 11th that is home to Le Mur, an association-coordinated wall where a new artist is invited to transform the space every few weeks. Rue Germaine Tailleferre – This Street in the 19th runs parallel to a canal and eventually terminates at the Parc de la Villette. Here, a several hundred meter stretch of wall is adorned in art by some of the neighborhood’s biggest names. Rue Laurence Savart – This narrow, cobblestone street over in the 20th arrondissement is developing quite a reputation for its vibrant and diverse collection of street art. Rue Riquet – On a bridge over the railway tracks towards Gare du Nord, this street connects the 18th and 19th arrondissements and has a 500m-long street art wall that is actually the largest dedicated space in Paris.
***Also check out Boulevard de la Villette, Rue de Cascades, Rue Ordener, Rue de l’Ourcq, and the cross section of Rue de l’Elysée Ménilmontant and Rue Julien Lacroix.
20. The Louvre (one of my favorite places on this budget Paris France guide)
Oh hey, I bet you have never heard of this place before. And I know that you will be absolutely shocked to hear that none other than the MONA LISA is found here! Okay, I know you were not surprised at all because this is one of the most famous attractions in all of Paris (its like you are obligated to come here), but now I bet you’re thinking, “Kelly are you smoking something a little strong because no way is the Louvre free.” Well, if you’re thinking this then you would be right. The Louvre actually costs €15 for a ticket that includes both the temporary and permanent collections (Yikes! Tack on another €5 if you want to purchase an audio guide as well). Luckily though, there are some times when you can visit the Louvre for free. Like every first Sunday of the month, from October through March, when access to the permanent collections is free for all visitors. Admission is also free on Bastille day and for anyone under the age of 18. The museum is also free, every Friday after 6 pm, for anyone 26 and under, with the presentation of a proper ID. So since you kind of need to visit the Louvre anyway (Yup, its THAT big of a deal), might as well visit when admission is free. Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France Hours: Monday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9am – 6pm and Wednesday/Friday from 9 am – 9:45 pm Wednesday, Friday: from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. Getting Here: Take line 1 to the Palais-Royal–Musée du Louvre station. ***Rooms begin closing 30 minutes before closing time so plan your budget Paris France itinerary accordingly. ***Visit late on Wednesday/Friday when the museum is a lot less crowded.
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Congrats! You made it to the end of this Budget Paris France Guide (the crowd goes wild)! You survived this marathon of a post and have earned my unconditional love and undying devotion, within reason. Let’s not get carried away. Although, I bet you need a snack or a nap or a bathroom break or all three right now. And I get it. You probably look like a Walking Dead cast member. Its cool. Zombies are en vogue. Vampires were so 2010 anyway. But minus the severe case of zombie face, I hope you found this post helpful and come to love Paris just as much as I do.