If you have recently been frustrated trying to plan an affordable trip to the city of lights, you can blame the law of supply and demand. The city’s beauty, historical significance, cultural impact, and an endless supply of activities have all contributed to the insane prices you will wind up paying on your trip if you are not careful.
Two of the greatest expenses on any trip are accommodations and activities, so here we will help you keep costs in these two areas to an absolute minimum, while, at the same time, not giving up too much in the way of an overall great travel experience.
While we all dream of staying in a luxury Paris Hotel such as the world-famous Plaza Athénée, at a cost of well over 1,000 euros a night they are well out the price range of all but the wealthiest people in the world. That is the bad news. The good news is that how much you enjoy your accommodations depends as much on picking the type of accommodation that matches your personal needs as it does on just how much money you throw at it. Depending on your personality and budget, you can choose from among three main types of accommodation: Hostels, Hotels, or Air B&Bs.
The easiest and most familiar option for most of us will be to simply book a hotel. Unfortunately, this is also the most expensive option. If you have the money and want to stick to a tried-and-true vacation experience, then they are not a bad option, but they are not as customizable an option as Air B&Bs nor are they as exciting and adventitious a choice as a hostel.
Speaking of hostels, it is worthwhile exploring this option even if you are not a college student or travel nerd. Many hostels have become more appealing to adult couples and even families in recent years. While famous for being inexpensive, the greatest benefit of hostels is the people you can meet along the way. The risk with hostels, of course, is that you have no say in you who are staying with and will often wind up in worse shape than if you had randomly chosen from a list of craigslist roommates. The reward, however, is that this same randomness can pair you with people you would have never otherwise met and who can expand your own horizon or even become lifelong friends.
The final option for accommodations is Air B&B, and the quality of the options in this category is so diverse that it can be hard to make any blanket statements about them. The costs, locations, and quality vary widely, but no matter which you choose, you will have a chance at a more customizable experience than at a hotel or a hostel. You get to make all the rules (within reason, of course), and that – combined with greater privacy – is a big reason this choice has become more and more popular with travelers of all types.
There is no end to the amazing places and events that dot the Parisian landscape, and many of these attractions are completely free. If you know how to plan ahead right, you can fully experience the city and have a great time doing it without paying for anything except food and transportation.
The easiest and most plentiful type of free attractions in Paris are the seemingly endless parks. Le Jardin du Luxemboug is a favorite amongst locals and tourists alike and is especially famous for the expert chess players who battle it out in the park’s idyllic grounds. If you have children, then the Jardin d’Acclimation is a must-see. It is designed especially for children and is sure to wow. Finally, no park tour would be complete without a visit to Paris’ largest park, the Bois de Vincennes.
The age and historical significance of Paris makes it an especially great place to develop an appreciation of our connections with those who lived before us. The venerable cemeteries (e.g., Cimetiere du Montparnasse), castles (e.g., Château de Vincennes), churches (e.g., Sacre Coeur), and architecture (e.g. Eifel Tower) are more than anyone could see in a year, much less in one vacation. Take your time picking out which you want to go visit, but do not stress too much – no matter where you pick to visit, you will wind up stumbling across innumerable sites of historical and cultural significance.
Regardless of how you develop your itinerary, be sure to sample the different areas of the city. Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements, or districts, and each has its own unique character. The tall buildings of la Défense present an entirely different feel than the medieval-feeling streets and alleyways of the older, more central, districts.
Few cities in the world can lay claim to being as beautiful, interesting, and influential as Paris. If you want to visit the city of lights, do not be discouraged by the high price tags you can see online. With a little bit of creativity and research, it is possible to have an absolutely magical experience without emptying your pocketbook.