It’s hard to believe, but you really can have an amazing time in Paris on little or no money. Here are some ideas:
1. Hang out underground – One of the best things about the Paris Metro system is the abundance of underground street musicians. From swing bands to solo violinists, the variety will astound you and you can easily pass away an entire Friday night transferring from concerts on one line to another. These musicians earn their living this way, so bring some tip money to spread around. You can buy single Metro passes, a “carnet” of 10 passes at a discount, or a more comprehensive discount pass. A great write-up about how to buy tickets can be found here http://europeforvisitors.com/paris/articles/paris-metro-tickets.htm.
2. Get down on the farm – While not necessarily the cheapest way to shop for groceries, farmers markets are a great low-cost way to while away a tourist day, especially in the Paris sunshine. Test your French and buy a peach without using any English. See how many food names you can remember. Sample divine cheeses. A trip to a farmers market might just be the most inexpensive meal you have in Paris. See here for a comprehensive guide to Paris markets http://www.timeout.com/paris/en/shopping/the-best-markets-in-paris.
3. Go vintage – Forget the hoity-toity stores on Champs-Élysées, fashion bargains abound in Le Marais district, where you can find gently used clothing at bargain prices. Once reserved for the aristocracy, Le Marais had become a predominantly Jewish quarter before the Germans invaded in World War II. Today, Le Marais is a haven for the shabby chic, with plenty of stores offering vintage items for only 5 Euro.
4. Go two-wheeling – Vélib is the Paris bike sharing system that costs less than 2 Euro per day. The system boasts 1,800 stations in Paris and 30 surrounding cities, so you won’t have any trouble finding a home for your bike when you’re done with it.
5. The wheels on the bus – Who needs to drop 40 Euro on a hop-on-hop-off bus when Paris has such a great city bus system? Contrary to popular belief, Parisians, and especially bus drivers, can be plenty friendly and helpful. The easiest way to go is pick a random bus, sit in the back taking pictures out the window, and when you get tired of the view, just cross the street and take the return bus back the way you came.
How do you enjoy Paris on a budget? Share your tips in the comments below!