Backpacking is all about seeing as much as possible on as little as possible. So you have to be smart. Sure, you probably know how to save money on your hotels, and you might be the master of the al fresco lunch. But there are always more ways to save precious Euros. Be the envy of your fellow backpackers by seeking out extra clever ways to be a savvy spender.
Know Your Metro Pass
Arriving at Gare du Nord can be a daunting experience for first time visitors; deciphering the best route to your Paris hotels is one thing, but knowing which ticket to get is not an easy task. Many backpackers tend to buy a single ticket straight to their destination, and figure the rest out later.
Save money from the start by knowing what pass to get. There are 1, 2, 3 and 5-day Paris Visite passes, which cover either zones 1-3 (ideal for central Paris) or zones 1-6 (if you want to go out to Versailles, the airports, or Disneyland Paris).
Work out which pass or passes will work for you before you arrive, and you’ll avoid spending more than you need to.
Time Your Visit Well
The first Sunday of the month is the golden date for anyone keen on keeping sightseeing costs down. On this day the majority of major museums and other sites offer free entry to all.
This includes the Rodin Museum, Musee D’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, and even the Louvre. (The Louvre is also free on Friday nights to those aged 25 and younger.) Between October and March this Sunday deal includes the towers of the Notre Dame, and the Pantheon.
Time your visit well, get up early, and you’ll save a bundle.
Let the Paris Greeters Guide You
Of course, anyone can pay for a guided tour, or rent an audio guide at the major sights or museums. To see another side to Paris – one which is arguably more authentic – then let the Paris Greeters be your tour guide.
These volunteers are so passionate about “their” Paris, that they provide free walking tours of the Paris you wouldn’t otherwise see. There is no fee for this service; all the Greeters wish to do is meet new people and share their love of Paris. Their motto is “Parisian for a day, Parisian forever”, which says it all.
Not only will you have spent nothing, you’ll be able to share your knowledge of intimate Paris secrets while fellow backpackers bemoan the time they spent queuing at the Eiffel Tower.
Big Lunch, Small Dinner
When eating out, lunch is always cheaper than dinner, and many Parisian restaurants offer some rather exciting set menu lunches. Fill up on three courses, and then eat a lighter dinner. It’s what the French do, and of course, you’ll spend less doing it this way round.
Plus, if you ask for tap water you’ll avoid paying for a bottle of Paris’s best sparkling Evian – an easy mistake to make if you’re not careful!
Just be sure to ask for “une carafe de l’eau… s’il vous plait”.
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