Paris can be the city of dreams and light. But unless you are a trustafarian, prince or dignitary you must find a way to enjoy Paris without breaking the bank. One seldom thinks of Paris as a “ budget travel” city. But there are values to be had. Value travel is not defined as budget travel; it is realizing great reward for the money spent. Planning your trip from the UK is easy. Compare the price of hotels and airlines before you book . Hint: Fall is the perfect time to go!
To help you maneuver around in Paris here are tips offered by those in the know: an international businesswoman from New York City, a francophile who divides her time between Paris and Honolulu and an international travel journalist.
Where to Stay
Businesswoman: Beauchamps Hotel is just steps away from the Champs Elysees. The famous chestnut trees are leafy green in the spring and summer and at Christmas they are draped in tiny lights making the view from the Arc de Triomphe down to the Ard du Carousel near the Louvre a classic view, with many Xmas markets nearby to Le Grand Roue . The Ferris wheel is close by too- down at Place de la Concorde.
A walk from this superbly located hotel down the Champs, past the Eiffel Tower, through the Tuileries and to the Louvre is perfect on a pleasant May day. The hood is also filled with art galleries. Christie’s just opened down the street, and Gagosian from NY and other galleries very close by with art deco furniture, paintings, etc. And, you are dangerously close to the designer boutiques and can can walk over to rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré where you can do some really serious credit card damage at the likes of Houbigant, Lanvin, Hermès.
Francophile: Buy your museum pass online before you go to France. You won’t have to wait in line to get in the museums. www.parismuseumpass.com.
Buy your Metro tickets in groups of 10, which is less expensive. It’s called a Carnet de tickets (pronounced kar-nay).
Take the RER to Versailles, Monet Gardens, and quick out of the city excursions. You can purchase tickets at Chatelet, Pont Alma, Arc de Triomphe for a nice day trip.
If it’s raining and you can’t find a taxi, go to a hotel and ask them to call a taxi for you. A small tip to the concierge or desk clerk will be appreciated.
For medical assistance, go to the Emergency Room at the American Hospital in Neuilly. Everyone speaks English and you can get any kind of medical care for much less than in the U.S. You can use a charge card to pay and normally your medical insurance in the U.S. will reimburse you 80%.
Do not carry a lot of money around tourist sites. There are many pick-pockets especially looking for back-packs. A new scam is to stop someone and wave a badge and ask to see your ID. When you pull out your wallet, he will run away with it.
The best open market I’ve found is on Avenue du President Wilson between Avenue Marceau and Place Iena every Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Many times we have seen famous chefs shopping for produce at this market.
I shop the Galleries Lafayette, especially during sales in January and July. A great place for lunch before or after is “Cafe de la Paix”; a little pricey, but well worth the value.
Best place for souvenirs is in front of Galleries Lafayette or on the Rue de Rivoli, which are all open on Sundays.
To shop for fantastic fabrics and window dressings, you will find many shops with thousands of fabrics not available in the U.S. near Montmartre on rue St. Pierre, rue Ronsard & rue Nodier in the 18th. Use Metro stop “Anvers” in the 18th Arr.
Journalist: Take a pre-paid shuttle van from the airport to your hotel. Avoids paying extra in a taxi for bags and traffic delays.
Also check Rick Steeve’s guides. He favors the Marais area for good hotel rates in a charming neighborhood with Renaissance architecture in an area not usually considered by American tourists. Guide book is packed with value tips for restaurants, sights, and museums. His Paris pop-out map is compact. Great for those that can’t really make out the map apps on their phone.
Dining and Experiences
Journalist: I cover luxury travel. But when publisher is not paying, I fend for myself. When visiting the d’ Orsay Museum the reasonable lunch menu at the upstairs restaurant is wonderful and if you score a river view table – a consummate experience. There is an offer on the website for dinner and museum entrance on Thursday nights by reservation; “dinner and drinks” is 55 Euros. Take a moment to look at the Exquisite ceiling and chandeliers above you.
Intimate walking tours of Paris with Context Travel experts are fantastic and educational for first-time and seasoned Paris travelers. The offerings run from architectural , gastronomy, and art history to special events.
I like to buyRailEurope passes good for a few days for a comfortable dash out to the countryside or day trips when I have a week or two in France. Buy a sandwich at station to carry onboard.
For a treat you can train it to Angers and stay overnight in a beautifully restored fairytale castle, Chateau Challain.
For a free art gallery show? Le Royal Monceau an artsy five-star Raffles Hotel with a galler,y Art District Le Royal Monceau, open to the public showing such topics as Dennis Hopper’s traveling show “ Photographs from the Sixties.”
After your gallery tour stop in for a very expensive but truly chic drink at Monceau’s Le Bar Long just off the entryway. Think of it as part of your entertainment budget. You’ll see a parade of Paris elite, some nearby showroom models and yes that trustafarian, prince and a dignitary or two.