Traveling Paris for Pennies

How to see the sites in Paris while saving money

Study Abroad Paris Eiffel TowerI feel as though no self-respecting student can study abroad in any part of Europe and not go to Paris. It’s one of the most important and influential cities in the world: tons of culture, unbelievable food, plenty of sites, and some pretty nice people too. In fact, my trip to Paris might have been my favorite excursion outside of St. Andrews all year.

If you’re worried about breaking your bank in the City of Light, or just have no idea how or where to start your trip, this is how I made it through Paris in three days for almost nothing (other than my flight and hotel), and how you can too.

This was originally going to be a step by step guide on how to plan your weekend, but I figured I would just throw you these tips and you can figure out your schedule on your own.

For me, the 4 biggest attractions in Paris are the Louvre, Notre Dame, Versailles, and the Eiffel Tower. Here’s how you can see 3 out of 4 for free:

The Louvre – The Louvre has FREE admission on the first Sunday of every month.  If you want to skip the line, I would enter through the underground via the Louvre station Palais-Royal/muse.

Notre Dame – The obvious way to see Notre Dame for free is to attend a mass which is a pretty good idea. However,Study Abroad Paris Notre Dame if you want a FREE tour (in English) head over on Wednesday at 2 pm, Thursday at 2 pm, and Saturday at 2:30 pm.  They last approximately one hour and “present the site’s Christian message by examining the cathedral as a work of art and the artwork it houses (architecture, sculptures, paintings, stained glass, history).” These visits are FREE of charge.

Palace of Versailles – On the first Sunday from November to March, admission is FREE for tours. One thing to remember is that free admission is during the winter period and therefore, the foliage is a little less spectacular and the fountains aren’t flowing in the gardens (just a consideration). If you decide to go outside of the period between November and March, there’s an entire chart on how to gain free admission.

The Eiffel Tower – Probably the only part you’ll have to pay for.  I found the best option to be going to the second tier. The views are better from the second tier, but being at the top of the Eiffel Tower speaks for itself. Take your pick, but remember if you plan on going to the top, you’ll probably have to wait in line again at the second tier to get to the there.  It’s a lot less busy during the winter months, but if you’re planning on going in the spring or summer, get there bright and early- probably 8:30 – 9 am – to avoid the lines.

(If you haven’t quite caught on yet, you should definitely try and plan your trip around the first Sunday of the month!)

I would also take some time to explore Paris on foot and the underground (which has a strong smell of urine, but is the fastest way around a big city). Maybe start by exploring the area of Monmartre and take in a view of the Paris from the top of the Sacre Coeur and continue from there.

Study Abroad Paris Arc De TriompheI would definitely walk up the historical axis, which is essentially a straight line connecting some of Paris’s most famous landmarks including the Louvre, the gardens of the Tuileries, the Place de la Concorde and the Egyptian obelisk, the Champs-Elysées, and the Arc de Triomphe (which can be accessed via one of two underpasses located at the Champs Élysées and the Avenue de la Grande Armée).

And I’m sure you’ll find plenty of other sites along the way that I hadn’t mentioned yet (The Orsay Museum, Palais de Chaillo, the Presidential Palace, different embassies, and the Paris Opéra).

There are a ton of things you can do at night. What my friends and I did, and what was really cheap, was grab a few bottles of champagne (seeing as you’re in Paris), met up with some friends, and drank the champagne while eating Nutella crepes under the Eiffel Tower as it lit up. It’s a good time, and you’ll more than likely meet a bunch of other cool people doing the same thing.

Finally, if you’re looking for good deals on food, just about every restaurant in Paris has a 10 euro lunch deal, and there’s some great, cheap fast food in the Saint-Michel area.

That’s pretty much that, 3 days in Paris for the price of the Eiffel Tower.