Paris on a budget is not a sentence you hear an awful lot – especially considering how Paris is now listed as one of the most expensive cities within the EU. But its rich culture and incredible sights makes it a great place to visit, even as a student.
“Cast your eye to other parts of the city and discover a whole new side of Paris.”
It is possible to travel to Paris on a budget airline for less than £100 return, but if you are savvy and wait for the Eurostar sale, you can travel in style for as little as £29 each way. Staying in Paris is expensive, so think about your priorities when booking: staying in a chic Parisian apartment in the city centre costs an arm and a leg, but gives spectacular views. Or, stay a short train ride away on the outskirts of Paris, where the price of the hotel is much cheaper and is simply somewhere to shower and lay your head.
Forget the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre and Champs Elysee. These are the biggest tourist traps in the City of Lights, and of course, you will pay through the nose for them. They are fabulous to see and explore, but cast your eye to other parts of the city and discover a whole new side of Paris.
Why not travel a little outside of the city and see the stunning Palace of Versailles? You would need more than a whole day to see the Palace, the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon, the Grand Canal and the Gardens, but it would be well worth multiple visits. The good news is that an EU Citizen (for the time-being) under 26 can enter the Palace for free as long as you have ID. If you have watched the TV
series ‘Versailles’ you will know that the Palace is decadently portrayed and this doesn’t differ in real-life; the French Royals went all out when decorating their home. You can utterly lose yourself in the labyrinth of beautifully extravagant rooms as time runs away with you. Rent a little electric car for an hour to explore the gardens, a slight expense at €34. Otherwise, a bike or a little train, at a mere €7.50 for the day, can take you to the different parts of the vast grounds. The latter allows you to jump on and off as much as you like so that you are able to explore each area.
“Lose yourself in the Empire of the Dead beneath the city streets in the Paris Catacombs.”
As we all know, many children enjoy pretending to be princesses. Well, it turns out that princesses sometimes like to pretend to be little girls. Marie Antoinette had a small hamlet built in the grounds of Versailles. Looking like it has been plucked from a Disney film and currently being restored, this quaint town is well worth a wander, and gives an insight into the mind of France’s last Queen before the Revolution.
If the lavish history of the French Royals is not for you, dive headlong into the underbelly of Paris. Lose yourself in the Empire of the Dead beneath the city streets in the Paris Catacombs, where the mass overcrowding of 6 million Parisians’ bones from the scourge of the Black Death can be found stacked respectfully and artfully.
Visiting during the hype of Halloween means a longer waiting time, but a wait well worth it. The 132 steps down the spiralling staircase allows you to descend into the history and stories of the Catacombs. As a young EU citizen, the cost of the ticket drops to €11. It is worth hiring an audio guide for €5 as it explains the history of the Catacombs which would usually go unnoticed. The guides, who are located in the tomb, can explain the meanings and significance of the different sections and point out small things that can otherwise be missed on your exploration.
Finally, take a free walking tour of the Hidden Gems of Paris. Starting outside the Louvre, this great little tour puts you in an English speaking group and takes you around the Royal Palace and surrounding area. It points out ‘hidden gems’ that even the most seasoned Parisians may not know about. The tour guides work for tips, so you can pay what you think the tour guide deserves.
One last ‘hidden gem’ for those in the know is a visit to Café Angelina on Rue de Rivoli, opposite the Tuileries Garden. As many have tried and tested, it has been rated as the best hot chocolate in Paris. It is pure indulgence of melted chocolate served in a teacup. If having a sweet tooth is a guilty trait, the signature dessert of the Mont Blanc is also highly recommended. Café Angelina is a little bit more on the pricey side, but through scrimping and saving on your trip, you deserve a sweet treat.
All these tips can help you on your way to take a trip to Paris and lose yourself like a Parisian, without breaking the bank.