The Eiffel Tower, the Seine River, How Origina...
The Eiffel Tower, the Seine River, How Original for a View of Paris! (Photo credit: Thomas Claveirole)

Imagine yourself taking a sunset stroll along the Seine River, enjoying a pastry after a day of taking in culture and art in the City of Lights. If spending your vacation time in France is a dream come true, but a little bit out of your price range, not to worry! Here are some tips to help you stay thrifty while vacationing in France.

The City of Lights

If you’re hoping to visit France on limited funds, it’s best to pick one destination that will give you the most holistic taste of all this beautiful country has to offer. When it comes to culture, art, history and cuisine, Paris is the hub of it all. By picking one main location in France — specifically Paris — you will be able to do a lot of varied activities all in one place, cutting down on expenses for traveling within the country.

Lodging

Besides airfare, lodging is typically the greatest expense when traveling. If you don’t mind skipping room service, or  the 5 star hotel that just created a new resort pool design that rivals the pools in St. Tropez, there are some cheaper options that will stretch your budget much farther.

Do your research and give staying in a university dorm room a try. It’s much less expensive than a hotel room — the average cost is around $35 USD nightly, and it could help you relive your college days. Hostels are also a great way to stay within your budget. A private room will run you about $85 USD, but will house your whole party; if you’re traveling solo, go for a public room, which will lower the cost. Getting a hotel room in a suburb outside of the city, or even camping there, may reduce your expenses. Couchsurfing or renting someone’s house or apartment for your stay is a thriftier option, as well.

Food

Paris
Paris (Photo credit: ario_)

While you don’t want to miss out on the five-star cuisine Paris has to offer, there are some ways to avoid breaking the bank to eat. During your vacation, try to only splurge on larger meals one or two times, as each will cost about $30 USD per person. For your other meals, have a picnic: shop for ingredients at an open-air market, and make sandwiches to enjoy by the Seine. Pastries from a bakery are a cheap and delicious way to start your morning. Also, don’t forget about wine! A bottle can be purchased for under $5 USD.

Transportation

When staying in the city, the cheapest way to get around, besides walking, is taking the metro. Individual rides will cost about $1-2 USD; if you’re staying longer, a rail pass will be worth the fee. If you’re planning on leaving the city and driving, think about getting on board with Autoeurope, a short-term car rental program much like the Zipcar programs in Philadelphia and New York City. For a small fee, you will be able to use one of the cars in the Autoeurope fleet whenever you need it at a reasonable cost.

Attractions

Louvre at dusk
Louvre at dusk (Photo credit: scot2342)

During your Parisian holiday, you won’t want to miss the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and all of the other museums and attractions throughout the city. However, each admission ticket can run you between $10-20 USD per person. To reduce this cost, think about getting a Paris Pass. This pass will grant you admission to almost all of the sites in Paris, and even offer transportation, all at a flat fee. Also, check the websites of the places you want to visit; they may offer free admission on certain days to students and the general public.

Beyond Paris

St Tropez
St Tropez (Photo credit: Michael Gwyther-Jones)

If you’re looking to visit other parts of France besides Paris on limited funds, certain cities will help you keep to your budget. Nice is a great place to visit if you’re interested in seeing the French Riviera, and will cost much less than Monte Carlo, Cannes or St. Tropez. Also, try Marseilles, as you will be able to find cheap accommodations and still get a heavy dose of art, culture and cuisine.

Traveling the world yet staying thrifty can be a tricky task, especially in France. However, if you do your research to find accommodations, food and attraction tickets at a lower cost, you can make it happen. Wherever you travel, make memories, take photos and stay cheap!

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