Surprise, surprise- I’m going on another European adventure soon! I’ll be heading to London, Ireland, and back to Paris before the end of this year. In the spirit of things, I’ve decided to spill the details on how I was able to plan my six day trip to Paris on a budget back in March.
One of the biggest expenses was getting to and from Paris all the way from the United States. I booked my trip back on Travel Tuesday, which is that Tuesday after Black Friday. There were some crazy good deals on flights across the world, and I was able to book my flight for $317 roundtrip. (Check out my post on travel tips to see what websites/apps I use to book flights.) I had been planning this trip for a couple of months, and my goal was to buy tickets before Christmas. When I saw a deal I couldn’t resist, I booked my flight without even thinking.
For transportation in Paris, I was able to use a Metro carnet for the most part, with slightly more expensive RER tickets to travel from the airport and to/from Disneyland Paris. Note: Pay attention to how far away from the city center you are traveling in order to purchase the appropriate ticket. There are people checking tickets on the train and you will be fined 35 euros if you have the wrong ticket. I only used Uber twice; once when it was too late (and cold) for comfort to use the Metro, and once when switching hotels. I loved getting around on the Metro, but be warned: you will encounter stairs everywhere. No matter where you are, what you do…there will be cardio involved.
I am not one for group tours; I would much rather see things at my own pace with as few people as possible. During my six day trip, I was able to do pretty much everything I wanted to do. The attractions I booked online in advance were Versailles (20 Euros), Disneyland Paris ($88 USD), The Louvre (17 Euros), and the Catacombs (29 Euros). Going to the Eiffel Tower is very easy to do by Metro, getting off at the Champ De Mars or Trocadero stops to take in views.
I found Versailles pretty easy to get to by RER, so it was a very affordable day trip. I paid 20 Euros for the Passport, which includes admission to the entire Estate. Due to the time of year, I didn’t feel the need to pay extra for the Musical Fountain Shows/Musical Gardens, and I’m glad I didn’t, because the weather was a mess on the day I went. With Disneyland Paris, I lucked out with a special promotion going on where due to the time of year, admission to both parks was only $88 USD. I love DLP more than I thought I would because it really seemed like Disneyland for adults; less of a crowd and more thrill rides. It was cool to note the changes between WDW, Disneyland in California, and DLP. DLP has a dragon sleeping under the castle that you can visit!
The Louvre is a museum that you could spend a whole day or two in, and I probably would have if I hadn’t been able to find my way out. I definitely recommend purchasing timed tickets in advance as lines can get long for those who have not purchased tickets in advance, and admission without pre-purchasing a ticket is not guaranteed. I decided to go on a Sunday morning and it wasn’t obnoxiously crowded, nor did I have to wait too long to get in. General admission is 17 Euros. My last ticketed must-see was The Catacombs, which ended up being 29 Euros for a quick-access ticket with audio guide. I highly recommend buying tickets in advance because the line for tickets was wrapped all the way around the building on the evening I went.
Since everything sightseeing-related was purchased in the couple of months before my trip, it was easy to spread out the expenses. My big savings goal was to save 100 Euros per day.
Food is important to me everywhere, but I was especially looking forward to the food in Paris. I did some research on brasseries and cafes and decided to budget 20 Euros per meal with the exception of two more expensive restaurants I wanted to try. I loved wandering around my hotel to find different brasseries and cafes; I felt right at home with the forward-facing people watching seats outside of every cafe. It also felt more authentic to check out local spots and interact with the servers.
The two big restaurants I refused to leave Paris without eating at were Le Train Bleu and Pink Mamma. Le Train Bleu is the most beautiful restaurant I have ever seen; it is located at Gare de Lyon (a train station) and is like stepping through a time machine. I had the poultry supreme for dinner, and not to be dramatic, but it was so good I could’ve cried. There was also a magical moment where a bunch of the waiters broke out into La Vie en Rose and the entire restaurant joined in. And just when I thought the food scene couldn’t get any better, I completely fell head over heels in love with the truffle pasta at Pink Mamma. Pink Mamma only takes lunch reservations, but I was more than happy to walk around the neighborhood and wait to be called by the restaurant once I put my name down. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about la fameuse pate a la truffle.
An honorable mention goes to L’Alsace on the Champs Elysees, which offers a special three-course menu for about 30 Euros. Just be sure to request the specific menu otherwise you’ll be paying full price for each course. The food and drinks were great, and the restaurant is quite beautiful, too.
One of my favorite things about my trip to Paris was the hotel situation. There are so many boutique hotels that it’s almost overwhelming to know which one to pick, so I decided to stay at one hotel for half of the trip and move to a different hotel for the other half. A classic Parisian balcony was a must, and somehow the hotels were more affordable than American hotels (in my opinion).
The first hotel I stayed at was the Hotel Gare du Nord, which is located in very close proximity to the Gare du Nord. The surrounding brasseries and boulangeries were great, and my hotel room had a balcony. The room was small by American standards, but normal by European standards, and it seemed like everything was recently renovated. All of my boxes were checked…until I found the Hotel Splendid Etoile. The Hotel Splendid Etoile has a few rooms with dedicated views of the Arc d’Triomphe, and they are worth every penny. The rooms are large and every detail is stunning. The front desk staff were very welcoming and helpful; I truly didn’t want to leave. The direct bus to the airport across the street from the hotel was only about 27 Euros and very convenient.
After booking my flights, I decided to budget 100 Euros per day and 130 Euros total for spending money. I decided to put any extra money I didn’t use each day towards shopping as well. Disneyland Paris tickets were considered a splurge, but I bought them a couple of weeks in advance so it didn’t hit my wallet too hard. I calculated how much I had to save total and made a savings plan well ahead of time. Checking out local brasseries near the hotels was a huge help, as most of them had breakfast and lunch specials.
As for shopping, I bought a few things from Zara, Mango, and H&M as well as a pair of Chip and Dale ears from Disneyland. Shopping isn’t a must, but I found so many cute pieces while I was in Paris! The next time I go, I want to visit a flea market for some unique finds.
My trip to Paris took a lot of planning, but I had the time of my life. You can check out my post on the most Instagramable spots in Paris for first timers and watch my vlog below: