I know, the song goes “in the Springtime”, but it was halfway September, and the weather wasn’t at all very Spring-like… and we did do Paris on a budget!
Who’s we? Me and my 2 best (RL) buddies. They’re pretty much the only good thing that came out of my years at University, before dropping out.
Anyhoo, this trip to Paris had been discussed over 3,5 years ago, and had been postponed several times, but last week, it finally happened!
Since it was my 5th time, and their first, I got to play tour guide and do (most) of the homework. But I like doing those sort of things, after all, I did study Tourism in High School (about time I used some of what I learned back then right?) 😉
So, 3 days, 2 nights, 3 guys in their (early) twenties… the majority still in University… things had to be done on a budget. And I’m pleased to say that Paris can be done “on a budget”, but it’s tricky.
I found us a nice budget hotel, the Vintage Hostel, at the bottom of Montmartre. It used to be a 2-star hotel that only recently re-opened as a hostel (April 2009). I checked the website and noticed that it was very basic, but it seemed clean. And what more do 3 young guys need then a bed to sleep in and a shower? Breakfast if possible, but there are alternatives for that.
We got hold of the last available triple room, and at € 180 for 2 nights, breakfast included (but without towels), we found it well within our budget limits.
The room itself was ok, the bathroom may have been outdated but it was still clean, and the beds were squeaky, but I was prepared for that I had read on HostelWorld.com that there was quite some street noise, so had brought several pairs of ear plugs (which my mates were very grateful for).
The only real downside were the hard mattresses and the pillows, which did not provide any support at all (even when folded double).
All in all, I’ld go there again, but on top of ear plugs also bring my own pillow… and maybe a sleeping bag for a softer sleeping experience… but perhaps those mattresses still need to be broken in to.
Like most major city public transport companies, the Parisien public transport company offered a touristic pass, called ParisVisite. It was only available for purchase at the self-service machines, and it was hidden under a sub menu, but in the end we managed to figure it out and at just under € 20 we were safe to use the metro lines, trams, RER trains and busses within the downtown city limits.
We took the car to get to Paris since one of us actually had a car.
The VINCI Park company is widely spread in Paris and offered 3 underground parkings near our hotel. We opted for the cheapest one, even though it technically wasn’t the closest one to where we were staying.
The website stated our selected parking had a 3-day arrangement at € 46, but in the end, we still had to pay just over € 53… it’s something I still don’t get, since we stayed there for roughly 60 to 65 hours, not even close to 72. And it didn’t accept my Visa even tho the machine had a Visa sticker on it!
Still, when divided by 3, the combined amount of péage, parking and gas remained 30% cheaper than a return train ticket (from Brussels).
Having done my homework, I learned that quite a few places in Paris have price reductions, or can be totally free to visit if:
- you’re either a student and can present a valid student card
- are under 24, 25 or 26 years old
- are an EU member under 24, 25 or 26 years old
It varies from place to place, so even though it may take some hours, it is worth it to check out the official websites of the monuments, landmarks and museums you want to visit!
Everybody who has ever visited Paris can tell you a couple things about food and drinks:
- having lunch is a lot cheaper compared to having dinner
- terrace prices are highest, inside the restaurant is cheaper, bar is cheapest
- ordering a small coke is almost as expensive as ordering a 1/2 litre of wine, or sometimes even a full bottle
So far we all experienced this to be totally correct.
However we still ended up keeping it cheap by really searching which restaurants offered a 2 or 3 course menu between € 10 and €14.
The only place worth mentioning was where we dined on our 1st night. We dined late, and on Montmartre itself. The restaurant of our choice was a cozy little place called “La Taverne de Montmartre” in the Rue Gabrielle n° 25.
Great place, excellent location, good and inexpensive food. We all took a 3 course menu for (if I remember correctly) still under € 13, a bottle of wine and water. Total price was about € 43 for 3 people, and all were satisfied!
Mind you this place is really small, it only has 5 or 6 tables on the inside and 2 small ones outside. Orders are not taken after 10 PM. But it still is a great find!
More on what we’ve done in Paris asap in a next post, with some pics!