Paris Olympics: Insider advice for planning a wallet-friendly trip to the City of Light

Paris Olympics: Insider advice for planning a wallet-friendly trip to the City of Light

Stay on budget in the French capital with our insider tips on saving money on your Paris trip

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With the Olympics fast approaching, many travellers are planning their dream trip to Paris to combine world-class sports and athletics with the city’s famed art, culture and food.

While it’s a bucket list destination for many, costs can soon mount up and it’s easy to go over budget in the French capital.

With careful planning and savvy choices, you can experience the magic of Paris without draining your wallet or missing out on the city of lights’ charm and allure.

From free events and affordable dining choices to low-cost attractions and insider secrets, we’ve put together some practical advice and recommendations to help you maximise your Parisian adventure while staying within your budget.

Discover famous landmarks, explore lesser-known sights and indulge in local experiences that won’t cost you a small fortune.

Visit Musée d’Orsay for free

Affordable culture is closer than you think in Paris, with many museums and galleries offering free entry once a month.

On the first Sunday of the month, Musée d’Orsay is free to visit so long as you reserve tickets online.

Housed inside the historic Gare d’Orsay railway station, the museum is a fine example of Beaux-Arts architecture. Its large central nave features a glass roof that allows natural light to illuminate its diverse art collection – which includes Van Gogh’s famed Starry Night.

Wander the thematic galleries and enjoy a sublime collection of French art from masters including Monet, Manet, Pissarro, Morisot, and Renoir – without spending a Euro.

Enjoy free views from Parc de Belleville

For panoramic views of Paris without the price tag, head to Parc de Belleville in the 20th arrondissement.

At 108 metres, the Parc de Belleville is the highest park in Paris and is situated atop Belleville Hill. A nearly thirty-meter-tall terrace at the park’s peak offers sweeping city skyline vistas, including views of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and Montmartre.

Pack some local cheese and wine and have a budget-friendly sunset picnic with the best views in all of Paris.

Feast on freshly cooked crepes

Freshly cooked French crêpes are a low-cost lunch on the go in Paris, with numerous crêperies scattered throughout the city serving crispy crepes off a sizzling griddle.

These portable pancakes are skilfully cooked-to-order in a circular shape and made from wheat flour, eggs, milk, and salt. They are then packed with various sweet or savoury fillings, including Nutella, whipped cream, bananas, cheese, ham and mushrooms.

Crêperie Genia – Vente à emporter – located on 7 rue de la Harpe is one of the best cheap eats in Paris with crispy crêpes and filled paninis to take away for just a few euros.

Take advantage of affordable transportation

You can navigate Paris with budget-friendly transportation options that will get you around the city at a reasonable cost.

The metro and the RER are the two distinct but connected train networks that provide affordable travel around Paris. The RER has five main lines, while the metro has fourteen numbered lines. Because all systems are connected, switching between trains is simple and cost-effective.

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You can also opt for a Paris Visite travel card for unlimited rides on the metro, bus, and RER networks.

Paris is also one of the most bike-friendly cities to visit in Europe, and it has big ambitions to become a 100 per cent cyclable city. Pro-cycling measures include a massive increase in the city’s protected cycleways, bike cafes and cycle parking spaces.

As well as being environmentally friendly, exploring Paris by bike is a cost-effective way to see the city, with many top tourist sites near bike routes.

The Georges Pompidou is a popular bike lane that runs along the banks of the Seine, offering views of iconic Parisian landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre Museum.

Visitors can hire a bike for just €5 for 24 hours from Vélib’ Métropole – a large-scale public bicycle-sharing system in Paris that now includes e-bikes.

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Shop at super cool Paris flea markets

While Paris is known for its high-end fashion and luxury boutiques, there are plenty of affordable shopping options and vintage finds when you check out the eclectic flea markets.

Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen is one of the most-loved markets and is where locals come to bag a bargain.

Located on the northern edge of Paris, this chic market is a maze of narrow alleys and winding streets packed with shops, stalls, and stands that are overflowing with Bric-à-brac, clothes and antiques.

The market is so large that it’s divided into sections, including Vernaison Market, Dauphine Market, and Malik Market, each with a distinctive style and live entertainment.

Vernaison Market is known for its diverse range of antiques, vintage furniture, and decorative items, while Dauphine Market is known for its higher-end antique and design items. Malik Market is known for its affordable mix of vintage and second-hand items.

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Enjoy classic French food for under €10

While dining in Paris can be a pricey endeavour, you can save money on eating out by dining in a traditional bouillon – a restaurant serving classic French cuisine to the masses at affordable prices.

You can also take advantage of fixed-price menus (menu du jour) at neighbourhood restaurants and enjoy lower prices – especially when you dine away from tourist hotspots.

Opting for the ‘menu du jour’ means you can feast on French favourites, including croque-monsieur, cassoulet and bouillabaisse, for as little as €8 or €10. House wine can also be purchased for around €3-4 a glass if you fancy a midday tipple.

Head to Affordable Bistrot Victoires for a reasonably priced lunch; this vintage gem on Rue de la Vrillière serves pan-seared steak frites for under €13 and giant salads for €11.

Go on a free walking tour of Paris

Book a free walking tour and experience a budget-friendly way to explore Paris with a local. Free tours are typically led by local guides who provide insider tips, stories and historical information about their city.

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Paris free walking tours operate on a pay-what-you-want or tip-based system, where you can tip the guide at the end of the tour based on what you feel it was worth, making it an affordable option for Paris travellers on a budget.

SANDEMAN’S NEW Europe Paris tour is one of the city’s most popular free walking tours. Their 3-hour route around Paris shows you many of the best attractions in Paris, including Notre Dame de Paris, the Louvre, and the impressive Parc des Tuileries.

You’ll also hear the stories behind the landmarks and have the opportunity to take many photos. If it isn’t on Instagram, it didn’t happen, right?

Discover vibrant street art at Canal Saint Martin

The Canal Saint-Martin neighbourhood in Paris is known for its vibrant street art scene, achingly hip coffee shops, thrift shops and restaurants packed with chic Parisians.

Located in the 10th and 11th arrondissements, this boho area has become a hotspot for street artists to express their creativity and leave their mark on the historic city walls.

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Grab a cheap takeaway coffee from funky coffee shop Le Look and wander around to find large-scale graffiti pieces.

One of the most famous street art spots in Canal Saint-Martin is the Rue de la Grange aux Belles, which is known for its colourful murals and stencil art.

Check out free cultural events and concerts in Paris

Paris has a wide range of free concerts, festivals, outdoor film screenings and cultural events that visitors can take advantage of year-round.

Spring and summer feature a range of free cultural events in Paris, and this year will also feature the 2024 Olympic Games.

In June, Paris becomes alive with music as amateur and professional musicians take over public spaces during the Fête de la musique. Expect stages to spring up with live bands, singers, amateur musicians, drummers, and DJs all performing for free.

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From mid-July to the end of August, you can bask on the banks of the Seine on artificial beaches that are installed alongside the river and the Bassin de la the Villette during Paris Plages.

Complimentary sun loungers, palm trees, entertainment, open-air movies and swimming set the scene for a sizzling summer in the city that won’t break the bank.

Plan Your Trip in Advance to save money

Trips to the city of lights are notoriously expensive, and your travel budget will likely take a huge hit if you leave it to the last minute. One of the best ways to save money on your trip to Paris is to plan ahead and book your flights and accommodation in advance.

Airline prices can dramatically vary, especially around the peak season, big holidays such as Christmas and Easter and large events – like the Olympic Games.

If you still need to set travel dates, you can take advantage of cheaper flights to Paris by using tools like Skyscanner and Google Flights to look at a wide range of flight dates and times.

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To find affordable hotels in Paris and special deals, use a hotel or travel comparison site to see an aggregated list of hotels and filter by lowest price. For many sites, like Expedia and Kayak, you can set up price alerts for your search query to get an alert if prices go up or down.

If you’re flexible with your travel dates, you can often save money by booking a mid-week hotel stay.

Many hotels now offer free cancellation (up to a specific date), and some have date change options, providing greater flexibility for travellers on a budget.

Stay on budget in the French capital with our insider tips on saving money on your Paris trip ADVERTISEMENT With the Olympics fast approaching, many travellers are planning their dream trip to Paris to combine world-class sports and athletics with the city’s famed art, culture and food. While it’s a bucket list destination for many,…

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