Paris on a Budget

 
 

You don’t have to break the bank to visit Paris. Catherine Munnelly shows you how to make the most of the city on a budget

Whether you’re going with the girls, the lads or with that special someone, Paris is truly the place to be. The small isle of Île de la Cité is the birthplace of Paris in 53BC. Since then the city has become one of the biggest in the world, with 20% of France’s population living within the metropolitan area. Paris is also the most visited city ever with an average of 42 million tourists every year. With so much to do and see, it’s not surprising why.

The most iconic symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower, is an immediate must-see. Opening in 1889 as an exhibit for the World Fair, Mr. Gustave Eiffel did none too shabby a job creating this incredible monument. The sights from the top of the Eiffel Tower at night are incredible. You really see why Paris is dubbed the city of lights.  Plus the queues at night are an eighth of what they are during the day.

No doubt the entry fee for a student is relatively dear at €12.50 to go all the way to the top, so instead, why not view the light Eiffel Tower light show from a nearby park. Drinking publicly is also very tolerable in Paris, so grab a bottle of French wine and watch it sparkle all night.

Other budget friendly examples of Parian history include Notre Dame, with plenty to keep you intrigued with the immaculate architecture both inside and outside the church. Art fans will also be delighted to find amazing paintings and terrific sculptures inside the world famous cathedral. The stain windows are a sight in themselves.

Next you should head over the La Conciergerie situated around the corner from Notre Dame to uncover the history of its hundreds of prisoners, including Marie Antoinette, all destined for the guillotine. If you’re exhausted after that, head down to river side where you can munch on a picnic, take in the scenery and wave at the tour boats go by.

Even if you’re not an artsy type, a trip to the Lourve comes recommended. But don’t just leave after seeing Da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’.  The Louvre offers hours of endless beautiful paintings and sculptures. You might even come across one of the heads from Easter Island. It’s free on the first Sunday of every month and with an international student card, so if you plan it well, it won’t cost you a cent.

For fans of more recent art, a trip to Musee D’Orsay is a must. Also free for students, Musee D’Orsay is home to an impressive display of paintings by impressionist and expressionist painters such as Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh and Gauguin.

If your walking shoes aren’t worn out yet, try strolling down the Champs Elysees. Known as the most beautiful avenue in the world, this two kilometre stretch of road is home to some of the world most expensive retail stores such as Chanel and Gucci, as well some of the world’s most expensive real-estate. You may not be able to buy anything, but you wont find a more indulgent window-shopping experience.

Paris also offers a range of beautiful parks which are free to wander in should you want a break from the big tourist attractions. Jardin de Tuileries is one of the best in which to pop your feet up beside one of many enormous fountains after a busy day of sightseeing. Or if you’re a bit peckish head to a café in the bohemian Latin Quarter, pick up a coffee and a croissant and simply watch the world go by.

There are also plenty of cool and unusual art galleries in this area worth checking out.

If you want to check out old school bohemian Paris head up to Montmartre. If the Moulin Rouge is a bit pricey, Montmartre offers a great amount of other Cabaret shows. Too risqué for you? Then visit the beautiful Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Located upon the summit of Montmartre, you not only get to see the magnificent piece of architecture but also a breath-taking view of Paris.

The Paris Metro will be your number one for transportation. Paris Visite cards are the best value option at €31.50 for a five day card, but they also have one, two, three and seven days cards. This works within the zones one, two and three: all around central Paris. You can also use it on the bus and RER (suburban train). With so much to see, this card will save you a fortune on transport.

To make your trip really special, pop on the RER and head to Disneyland Paris. It’s cheaper to buy online, plus you get to skip to the large ticket queues when you arrive. They’re not wrong when they say this is the happiest place on Earth. If you’re an adrenaline junkie then rollercoasters like Space Mountain and Aerosmith along with the terrifying Tower of Terror will quench your thirst. However if you’re scared of going on the teacups, Disneyland Paris is home to amazing shows, shops and Cinderella’s Palace.  If you have the time and the money it’s a must do.

If you want to go to Paris anywhere from three days to a week, October is the best time to visit. This way attractions are not as busy, with the queues cut in half at least, and you’re not sweating from the blazing Parisian summer sun. Your body won’t be squashed on the crowded metro and accommodation is a third of the price.

There’s plenty to do in Paris but don’t rush, remember you’re on holiday so give yourself some time to relax and soak in all Paris has to offer.

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