Visiting Paris on a budget? This post is for you! Yes, it’s possible to see all the top attractions in the city of lights without breaking the bank.
For many, Paris is the trip of a lifetime and it can be a very expensive city without proper planning. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to have fun in Paris, even on a tight budget.
Today I’m sharing tips on how to visit Paris for families on a budget, including tips for where to stay in Paris and things to do.
After visiting the city a couple of times now, both during the low season (winter) and high season (summer), I’ve learned several savvy tips to help you enjoy an incredible trip to Paris without blowing your budget.
To make our summer trip to Paris more affordable, I booked a hotel near the Arc de Triomphe through Booking.com. This helped us save money and was the perfect location for exploring Paris.
There’s really no shortage of fun things to do in Paris, including exploring its museums, attractions, and going on self-guided walks.
To make your Paris trip more enjoyable, here are some costly tourist mistakes to avoid.
Where to stay in Paris for first-timers?
When visiting Paris for the first time, the best neighborhoods to book your hotel accommodations are:
- The 7th Arrondissement – Near the Eiffel Tower and the BEST neighorhood for first-timers.
- Montmartre (The 18th Arrondissement) – A quiet and romantic area of Paris.
- South Pigalle (The 9th Arrondissement) – Great for travellers on a budget.
- Le Marais (The 3rd & 4th Arrondissement) – Central location and one of the hippest districts in Paris.
- Saint Germain (The 6th Arrondissement) – A classic Parisian neighorhood.
- The Latin Quarter (The 5th Arrondissement) – Popular with tourists and students.
- Champs-Élysées (The 8th Arrondissement) – Lots of excellent restuarants and shops near here.
PRO TIP: If you’re visiting Paris on a budget, you can find accommodations in South Pigalle, located around Saint-Georges. This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris.
I stayed here with my sister when visiting Paris in the winter months. They have affordable restaurants too, which makes this a win-win for budget-conscious travellers.
If you’re traveling on a budget, these are the best affordable hotels in Paris:
- Hotel Marignan – Located in the Latin Quarter (5th Arrondissement)
- The Helussi Hotel – Located in the 9th Arrondissement
- Hotel Eiffel Turenne – Close to the Eiffel Tower
- Libertel Gare du Nord Suede – Located in the 10th Arrondissement
- Hotel de Roubaix – Just a 5-minute walk from Centre Pompidou in Paris
- 12 silly mistakes to avoid making in Paris
- 6-day Paris itinerary for first-timers
- Paris Pass review: Is it worth it?
Sightseeing in Paris on a Budget
Paris is home to some of the most famous monuments, churches, and museums in the world.
From seeing the Mona Lisa and French sculptures at the Louvre to marveling at the beautiful gothic architecture at Notre Dame Cathedral, there is something for everyone to experience in Paris!
The best way to save money on sightseeing is to:
- Visit free attractions and museums in Paris
- Take advatange of free museum days (the first Sunday of every month)
- Use a Paris sightseeing pass, such as the Paris Pass, Paris Museum Pass, or the Paris Explorer Pass. (If you buy the 4 or 6-day Paris Pass, you’ll also receive the Paris Museum Pass for FREE!)
Use the Paris Pass
Paris is a big city and there’s lots of fun things to do and see. It can be challenging to plan an itinerary and determine which attractions to spend your money on.
Getting the most bang for your buck is my #1 priority when planning a vacation and the Paris Pass was rated the #1 Paris tourism pass by TripAdvisor.
They’re also recommended by Expedia and the Paris Pass currently has a rating of 4/5 on TripAdvisor.
With the Paris Pass, you can save time, money, and enjoy stress-free sightseeing. But don’t just take my word for it. Check out these reviews.
What is the Paris Pass?
The Paris Pass can be a great option for anyone who wants to visit the most popular attractions and save money.
The Paris Pass is a pre-paid tourism card that includes free entry to over 35 popular attractions and tours in Paris, including a 1 day Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour and River Cruise on the Siene.
You can choose a 2, 3, 4 or 6-day pass duration for your trip.
If you choose the 4 or 6-day pass, you’ll also receive the Paris Museum Pass, which includes free entry to over 50 museums and monuments in Paris, including the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, and Centre Pompidou.
PRO TIP: Buy the pass online to save extra money off the retail price. To buy the Paris Pass, click here to go to the official website.
How to buy your Paris Pass:
STEP 1: Choose which pass duration you want to buy (2, 3, 4 or 6 day). You can click here to purchase your Paris Pass from the official website.
If you want to visit the museums, such as the Louvre, choose a 4-day or 6-day Paris Pass.
- 4-day Paris Pass and receive a 4-day Paris Museum Pass.
- 6-day Paris Pass and receive a 6-day Paris Museum Pass.
HURRY! Buy your pass now before prices increase on March 6th! Use the code MINTNOTION at checkout to save 10% off.
Why you should consider buying the pass online:
- When you buy the pass online, you can take advantage of online discounts.
- They offer a 365-day money-back guarantee, so you can get a full refund just in case your plans change.
- You can activate your pass anytime within two years from the date of purchase.
STEP 2: Download your mobile pass instantly using the Paris Pass App.
If you prefer a physical pass, simply print your pass and guidebook at home. Links and easy-to-follow instructions for both options will be in your confirmation email.
STEP 3: You now have FREE access to any of the 75+ top Paris attractions included for the duration of your pass.
How to activate the pass: It will activate once you visit your first attraction and can then be used on consecutive calendar days for the number of days purchased.
You’ll also receive a free guidebook, which is included with your purchase. Use this book to help you easily plan your itinerary.
Other ways to save money on Paris attractions:
Paris Pass – If you’re just interested in visiting museums and monuments, you may want to consider getting the Paris Pass instead.
Paris Explorer Pass – If you’re just interested in visiting the Eiffel Tower and doing tours in Paris, then you may want to consider getting the Paris Explorer Pass instead.
Paris Museum Pass – This pass included free entry to over 60 museums and monuments in and around Paris. (If you buy the 4 or 6-day Paris Pass, you’ll receive the Paris Museum Pass for FREE!)
Either way, there’s no reason to pay full price for attractions when you can save money with one of these three tourism passes. This is the best way to sightsee in Paris on a budget.
Some attractions require reservations
Some of the city’s most popular attractions, such as the Louvre Museum require reservations.
One of the most common mistakes tourists make when visiting Paris is waiting in long lines to buy attraction tickets.
If this is your first time visiting Paris, skip waiting for hours in lines by buying your tickets in advance.
PRO TIP: Many of Paris’s top attractions offer a separate line for people who have purchased tickets in advance.
The line for people who already have tickets is shorter, which means you can quickly get inside the museum and enjoy more sightseeing.
Popular museums and attractions that require reservations:
- La Conciergerie
- Palace of Versailles
- Orangerie Museum
- Louvre Museum
- Eiffel Tower Guided Climb
- Château de Malmaison
If you’re using a sightseeing card, such as the Paris Pass or Paris Museum Pass, you must purchase your pass first. Then you can choose the date, time, and number of people to reserve your time slot.
Where to book your attractions?
I like to use GetYourGuide to buy tickets for museums, tours, and attractions. They offer a good refund policy so I feel safe booking with them.
If you purchase tickets directly through the attraction, they usually offer NO refunds. But with GetYourGuide, you can get a refund if you cancel within the cancellation policy.
This can give you peace of mind in case your plans change or you’re unhappy with your experience.
For Paris Pass holders, you can skip the long ticket lines and get fast-entry at popular attractions in Paris. This includes museums such as the Louvre and Centre Pompidou. Why wait hours in line when you can save time by using the Paris Pass?
Don’t pay full price for tourist attractions
If you’re visiting Paris on a budget, you don’t have to worry about skipping all the popular attractions due to the high ticket costs. Below are some tips on how to save money while sightseeing in Paris.
Take advantage of free museum days
Free the FIRST Sunday of the month – You can save money by visiting museums for free on the first Sunday of each month.
Keep in mind that these free museum days are always EXTREMELY busy, so I suggest arriving at least 30 minutes before the popular museums open.
Free for students and anyone under 26 years old – National museums are free for all persons under 26 from the Europeaon Union. Proof of identity is required (EU passport or EU identification card).
Aside from this, you’ll have to pay to get into the main museums, monuments, and attractions. Instead of wasting time waiting in long ticket lines, getting a skip-the-line sightseeing pass is essential. Below are some good options.
Save money with one of these Paris sightseeing passes:
Paris Pass: The Paris Pass is sightseeing card offering FREE admission to over 35 attractions in the city.
Choose from 2, 3, 4, or 6 consecutive-day durations. You can visit as many attractions as you want within that time.
If you buy the 4 or 6-day pass, you’ll also receive the Paris Museum Pass for FREE! The Paris Museum Pass includes free entry to over 50 of the city’s museums and monuments.
BEST FOR: Those who want to see and experience as much of Paris during their trip.
Paris Explorer Pass: With the Explorer Pass, you can pick 3, 4, 5, or 7 attractions to visit from their list of the top Paris sights, tours, and must-sees.
Some of these attractions include Disneyland Paris, Eiffel Tower Elevator Guided Tour, Louvre Ultimate Experience, and a gourmet five-course champagne lunch at Mordu.
BEST FOR: Those who want to tick off a few favorite attractions from their Paris bucket list.
Paris Museum Pass: With the Paris Museums Pass, you have FREE admission, (without waiting in line), to over 50 museums and monuments in Paris and the Paris region. You can choose from a 2, 4, or 6 day pass.
BEST FOR: Those who want to visit the popular museums and monuments in Paris, but aren’t interested in tours or other attractions.
Check out the FREE things to do in Paris
While many of the top attractions in Paris cost money to visit, there are lots of free things to do if you’re on a tight budget. Some of my favorite free things to do in Paris include:
Notre Dame Cathedral – While you have to pay to go up and see a view from the towers, it’s free to enter the church.
If you’re using the Paris Pass or the Paris Explorer Pass, you can visit the towers for free. NOTE: Notre Dame Cathedral is currently closed due to the 2019 fire.
Basilica Sacré-Coeur – You have to pay to go up and see a view from the dome, but it’s free to enter the church. If you’re using the Paris Pass or the GO Paris Card, you can visit the towers for free.
Jardin du Luxemburg – This is one of my favorite free gardens to visit in Paris. The perfect spot to have a picnic!
Watch the Eiffel Tower light show in the evening – Parc du Champ de Mars is a good spot to check this out.
Take a stroll through Cimitière du Père Lachaise (Pere Lachaise Cemetery) – Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde are some of the famous graves in this old cemetery.
Musée Carnavalet – Free to visit the permanent collection, but you’ll need to reserve tickets in advance.
Musée de la Vie Romantique – Free to visit the permanent collection.
Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris – Free to visit the permanent collection. A small donatation is recommended.
River Seine – Take a scenic walk along the river seine in Paris.
Free museum days in Paris – Most museums are free on the first Sunday of each month. This includes The Louvre, Musée Rodin, Musée Picasso, Musée d’Orsay, and others.
Staying in Paris on a Budget
For first timers in Paris, choosing where to stay can be a little overwhelming. There are 20 Arrondissements (neighborhoods) in the city.
The 1st and 7th Arrondissements are popular neighborhoods for first time visitors to stay, however they can be quiet expensive. This is because you’ll find attractions such as the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower here.
Instead, I recommend staying in the 4th Arrondissement (Le Marais) if you’re looking for a classic feel of Paris.
Here are some costly mistakes to avoid when booking your hotel and travel accommodations:
Plan ahead when booking your accommodations
Just like with any major city, planning ahead can help ensure that you get the best choice and value.
If possible, I recommend checking prices for flights and accommodations at least three months in advanced, especially in you’re traveling during peak season (June, July, and August).
I like using Booking.com to find deals on hotels in Paris. This is because Booking.com will tell you exactly what you’ll pay.
Some hotels and other third-party booking websites advertise low prices, but don’t mention that extra fees or tourist tax that will be added to your bill upon checkout.
Booking.com will tell you the actual price so there will be no surprises!
Planning ahead also means deciding which month is the best time for you to visit Paris. I have been to Paris both in the summer and winter months. Each season has its pros and cons.
I personally recommend visiting during the shoulder season (spring or fall) because the weather will be nice and museums will be less crowded. However, winter and summer are still good times to visit.
Avoiding booking your hotel outside of Paris
I know those affordable hotels near Paris Disney sound tempting, but unless you’re spending every day exploring the Disney Park, it’s not a good idea to stay there.
Commuting into the city every day can get very expensive and it takes up a lot of precious sightseeing time. I don’t recommend it.
Instead, you’ll want to stay in central Paris to make the most of your trip. The metro makes it easy to get around the city, so don’t stress too much about trying to stay next to your favorite museum or monument.
Stay in one of the affordable neighborhoods of Paris
Below are some of the best neighborhoods in Paris to stay on a budget:
- 3rd arrondissement
- 4th arrondissement
- 10th arrondissement
- 18th arrondissement
- 20th arrondissement
- The Latin Quarter
- Saint Germain des Pres
Food in Paris on a Budget
Paris is home to some of the best food and restaurants in the world. Keep in mind that each restaurant sets their own hours, so I recommend checking ahead to see when places are open or closed.
Also, many of the popular restaurants fill up quickly, so you may want to make reservations in advance.
Tipping in restaurants – Is it rude to tip in France?
Most bars and restaurants include a service charge already, so you don’t need to tip. However, if you are happy with your service, it’s always nice to leave a 5% or 10% tip.
Order tap water at restaurants
There is no need to pay for bottled water in a restaurant, unless you actually want to order bottled water. Instead, just ask for tap water (it’s free). Paris tap water is safe to drink.
You can say this to your server, “Une carafe d’eau s’il vous plait”, which means ‘a jug of water please’.
I would also avoid ordering soda pop or sparkling water at restaurants.
It’s not uncommon for drinks like Coke or Perrier to cost more than a glass of wine in Paris restaurants.
Take advantage of happy hour drink specials
Ordering alcoholic drinks in Paris can get expensive, however many restaurants offer discounts on beverages during their happy hours.
A more budget-friendly option is to take a break from sightseeing in the afternoon and enjoy a drink on the patio before dinner. This is a fun way to relax and people watch in Paris without spending too much money.
Take advantage of pre-fix specials
Many restaurants and cafes in Paris offer fixed-price combos. For example, for lunch you might be able to get 1 starter + 1 main dish + 1 drink for a set price.
This is usually cheaper than ordering from the regular menu, which is a great way to save money when dining out. You’ll definitely want to take advantage of these great lunch specials!
The Latin Quarter area in Paris offers fixed 3-course meals that are much cheaper than the standard 3-course menu offers.
You’ll see this listed on the menu as “Une Formule“, which is a set menu.
- “Entrée + Plat = 15€”
- or “Entrée + Plat + Dessert = 20€”.
Find the cheap eats in Paris
Eating at restaurants in Paris can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are lots of great cheap eats that you should consider trying in Paris.
As a vegetarian, many traditional French restaurants tend to be heavy on the meat dishes.
I found the best way to eat vegeterian and stay on budget was to dine at Italian restaurants (hello endless pizza and pasta!), eat plenty of crepes, visit bakeries or boulangeries for a baguette, eat ethnic cuisine (falafels, Asian food, and so on).
Where to eat in Paris on a budget? Below are some of my favorite spots to eat well on a budget in Paris:
Ristorante Al Caratello – While this is not the cheapest option, it’s my absolute favorite restaurant in Paris. If you’re looking for delicious Italian food, friendly service, and affordable prices, then head straight to Ristorante Al Caratello. Portions are big and it’s located right in the beautiful Montmartre neighborhood.
La Droguerie – Whether you prefer sweet or savory crepes, this is the best place to enjoy affordable crepes in Paris. I ordered the Nutella Banana crepe and it was delicious!
L’As du Fallafel – This is a popular lunch spot for cheap eats in Paris. The falafels are huge, so don’t forget to bring your appetite.
Eric Kayser – This lunch spot is super popular with the locals. Everything is fresh, delicious, and affordable. For around 9 Euros, I was able to enjoy a veggie sandwich, a drink, and a dessert. There are many locations around Paris.
PITAYA saveurs thai – If you like Thai food, this is a good lunch or dinner option. Portions are generous and affordable.
Noodle Panda – Near the Arc de Triomphe, you can enjoy yummy Chinese food at Noodle Panda. It’s a cheap and popular spot with the locals.
Paradis Marguerite – This was one of our favorite meals in Paris. Almost everything on the menu is vegan, but my carnivore boyfriend loved his meal.
Josse Philippe – Montmartre is a great neighborhood to find cheap eats in Paris. If you’re craving a sandwich, look no further than Josse Philippe. This place offers some of the best cheap sandwiches in the city.
Kozy – This cute café is the perfect spot to grab breakfast in Paris. Whether you want a croissant or a breakfast quiche, this place is affordable and delicious.
Framboise – For a sit down crepe option, I highly recommend Framboise. They have some of the best savory and sweet crepes in the city.
Pizzeria Popolare – Head to Pizzeria Popolare and see why the locals love this place! For only 5 Euros, you can enjoy a delicious margherita pizza. Italian food is the way to go if you’re looking for cheap eats in Paris.
McDonald’s – Yes, that’s right. At first I thought it was silly to visit McDonald’s in Paris. But even the locals go there. This is a great option to enjoy FREE Wi-Fi, cheap coffee, and to use the public bathrooms.
Avoid eating at restaurants close to tourist attractions
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in any city is eating at restaurants located near tourist attractions. Not only are these restaurants expensive, but they tend to offer mediocre food at best.
To eat in Paris on a budget, walk a few blocks away from tourist attractions. Don’t be afraid to head down a side street and follow where the locals eat. This is where you’ll find the best food and value.
Make lunch your biggest meal of the day
Brunch and dinners are usually much more expensive than lunch menus. It’s not uncommon for the same lunch meal to cost twice the price for dinner.
Most restaurants offer a pre-fix lunch menu, which can be very affordable. If you’re hungry in the afternnon, you can grab street food (such as a crepe) and enjoy a light dinner.
Get take-away food and have a picnic
At casual restaurants in Paris, if you get your food to-go (“à emporter”), it’s usually cheaper than eating at a table (“sur place”).
When you order your food, the person at the counter will ask, “Sur place ou à emporter?” This means “Are you going to eat it here (sur place) or take it away (emporter)?”.
The sur place price will be slightly higher. If it’s a nice day, save money by taking it to-go and having a picnic in the park, Jardin des Tuileries, or sit by the Eiffel Tower and enjoy a fun picnic.
Lots of people have picnics in Paris, especially in the summer. You can buy bread, cheese, meat, olives, wine, or whatever you want from a local grocery store. Just don’t forget to bring a wine opener!
If you have access to a hostel kitchen or Airbnb, there’s quite of few grocery stores in Paris.
Have breakfast a cafe instead of your hotel
If your hotel doesn’t offer free breakfast, they might charge up to €15 per person for a continential breakfast of juice, coffee, and croissant. This isn’t good value.
Instead visit a local cafe to have the same option for less than €10. Some boulangeries even offer breakfast specials where you can get a coffee and pastry for a discount.
Have your coffee at the counter in the cafe to save money. This is usually much cheaper than sitting down at a table.
If you don’t want a pastry for breakfast, consider going to McDonald’s. While this isn’t your typical French breakfast, it’s cheap and filling.
Getting Around Paris on a Budget
The best way to save money is to wear comfortable shoes and walk to each attraction. Even though Paris is a big city, it’s very walkable.
Another afforable and quick way to get around is to ride the public metro. I know their metro system might seem a little intimidating for first-timers, but it’s really straightforward once you get the hang of it.
PRO TIP: Watch a video on YouTube of how to use the public metro system in Paris. This helped us a lot.
The RER train is the regional train system. The RER will take you to both airports and to daytrip destinations such as Versailles.
If you prefer to be comfortable and relax, you can ride the Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour , which is a great way to get familiar with Paris for first-timers.
Avoid taking a taxi to get around the city
With the convenient and affordable Paris Metro, there is no reason to take an expensive taxi in the city. If you are insistent on hiring a driver to get to and from the airport, then I recommend using Uber or a private shuttle car.
How to get from Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG) to city centre of Paris:
ONLY get inside official taxis and verified airport transfers. An official taxi will have an illuminated rooftop sign and a meter. The sign will read “TAXI Parisien“.
You’ll find regular taxis located in the official taxi queque. Follow the signs posted in the airport arrivals to the taxi queques.
A taxi from Charles De Gaulle airport to Paris will cost around €50 to €55. There will be an additional 15% automatically added when traveling between 5:00 PM and 10:00 AM daily, as well as all day Sunday and all holidays.
A taxi from Orly airport to Paris will cost around €30 to €35. This airport is closer to the city, so the fares will be less and the ride will be shorter.
Another good option is to take a private transfer between Paris and CDG Airport. or Orly Airport. I did this when traveling with my sister so we didn’t have to worry about fumbling with our luggage on the Paris Metro.
Taking public transportation from the airport to Paris:
The Bus or RER is the cheapest way to get to and from Charles De Gaulle Airpot. The airport has two train stations on the B line of the RER.
The journey time is approximately:
- 25 minutes from Gare du Nord
- 28 minutes from Châtelet-Les-Halles
- 35 minutes form Denfert-Rochereau.
Get to know the Paris metro system
Once you learn how the Paris metro system works, it’s easy to navigate and get to any point you desire in the city.
You can save money by purchasing a book of 10 (“carnet”) tickets for 18.60 €. This is cheaper than buying single metro tickets which costs €1.90.
Make sure to keep hold of your ticket until you have completed your journey, as you may be asked to show it if tickets are being inspected.
If you are planning to use the public transportation system a lot, consider getting Paris Visite travel pass.
This is a card that gives you unlimited travel on all of the public transport networks: the metro, tramway, bus, RER and SNCF Transilien networks. It’s valid for 1, 2, 3, or 5 consecutive days.
Falling for common tourist scams in Paris
Like with any major city, it’s essential that you keep an eye on your belongs at all times.
Pickpockets know where to operate in the city and you don’t want to run the risk of having your wallet or phone stolen. Here are a couple of other scams you should be aware of:
The string or bracelet scam
People may ask if you’d like a “friendship bracelet or ring”. They will tie it so tight that you can’t remove it and then demand money from you.
Keep an eye out for these people (usually males) near popular museums and the Montmartre area.
This is usually around popular monuments, such as the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower. Mainly run by young girls, they are often holding a clipboard (or a piece of paper) and ask you “Do you speak English?”
From my experience, these girls can be extremely aggressive and they are not afraid to grab your arm to get your attention. Firmly reject any petition and continue on your way.
If you stop and sign the petition, there are French words on the paper that usually say you have to give 1,000 euros or you will face a penalty.
They work in groups, so more people will come and demand money from you or pickpocket you.
Always remember to be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings.
Do you need to speak French?
You don’t need to be fluent in French to survive your holiday in Paris, but it does help to know a few key words. Here are a few French words you should know:
- Bonjour – Hello / Good day (this is a polite way to greet others before 6:00pm)
- Bonsoir – Good evening (this a polite way to greet others after 6:00pm)
- Merci – Thank you
- S’il vous plait – Please
- Pardon – Pardon / Excuse me (say this if you need to pass someone, especially on the Paris Metro)
- Excusez-moi – Excuse me (say this to get your waiter’s attention or you need to pass someone in a crowded area)
- Sur place – For here (say this if you want to dine-in)
- à emporter – Take away (say this if you want your meal to-go)
- Une carafe d’eau s’il vous plait – A jug of water please (always free in restaurants)
- L’addition s’il vous plait – the bill please
Paris on a budget FAQs
How much should you budget for Paris?
Your daily budget should be around €184 per person for your vacation. This is how much spending money you’ll need for a day in Paris. Based on the expenses of other visitors, this is the average daily price. (Price are in EUROS).
|Average Daily Cost|
What does a week in Paris cost? A vacation to Paris for one week will cost an average of €1,286 per person. (Source)
When is the best time to visit Paris on a budget?
The cheapest times to visit Paris is in early December (before Christmas), January, and February. The weather is cold and the gardens aren’t in bloom, but it’s the perfect time to enjoy the city with less crowds.
Ready to plan your adventure to Paris? See what hotel deals are available in the area thanks to Booking.com