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The Globetrotting Texan

(Practically) Free Paris

FRANCE | Monday, 28 February 2011 | Views [715]

Paris is known to be one of the most expensive cities in Europe. If you’re not well-informed, it surely is: my budgeting skills have been beaten by Paris before, and almost once again this last week (which is why I was gone from the blogosphere, briefly)

Me thoroughly enjoying my first time in Paris 

back in 2007, by indulging in a free game of

hide and seek.

This time, I decided to fight back. Paris will not win! I am poor, and certainly cannot afford to be any poorer. So  this time around, I did my research. And I decided to share what I discovered:

The Louvre: It’s free on Friday evenings. And if you’re under 26 years old. If you’re teacher. And the first Sunday of every month it’s free for anybody. So save yourself some money and plan accordingly: just don’t forget to bring your ID to qualify for under-26 or teacher discounts. If you don’t believe me, you can check out the official website in English, here.

Les Invalides: You can access the famous Musée de l´Armée for free if you are under 18, a EU citizen under 25, in the military (of any country, but you are required to show up in uniform), or a journalist. Don’t forget to bring the appropriate ID. Otherwise, if you are a citizen of non-EU country under 26, you only pay 4 euros to get in. More information, in French, here.

Paris Catacombs: Sadly, the only way you can get in for free is if you are under 13 years old. Assuming that my readers are not, I can tell you that if you are under 26 years old, regardless of nationality, you can get in for only 4 euros if you bring your ID. More information, in English, here.

Oscar Wilde’s Tomb

Père Lachaise Cementery: It’s free and well worth a visit. You can pay your respects to the likes of Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Frederic Chopin, Modigliani, Henri Salvador, Molière, Balzac and Oscar Wilde (don´t forget to bring your favorite lipstick and leave a kiss on his tomb!). If you don’t want to waste a lot of time or be forced to purchase a map of the tombs for 3 euros once you get there, you can find a map with all the “famous” graves here and plan your route beforehand.

Eiffel Tower: Sorry, it’s definitely not free. But I can give you a tip: reserve your ticket online beforehand and avoid all the lengthy lines that pick-pocketers love to target on a busy day. If you get the ticket online, all you have to do is show up, pick it up, and go up. Remember, if you plan on going all the way to the top of the tower, you need to reserve it at least 3 to 4 weeks in advance.

Paris Museum Pass: If you only have a few days in Paris, and you’re not under 26, you can always buy a Paris Museum Pass that will let you go to all the museums and monuments you want, as many times as you want, and best of all, without standing in line, for cheap. You can buy a 2, 4 or 6-day pass, and even order it online to get it before you leave home, so once you’ve arrived you can hit the ground running! More info at their official website in English, here.

Stay in Good Graces: French people are likely to be nicer and therefore, more helpful, if you simply attempt to speak French. Even if you’re bad at it, as long as you initially approach them in French, they will be more willing to switch to English for you if you simply just try to speak French. So, polish your basic skills: it’s free too.

Get your Velib´on!

Study Up on Public Transportation: There are many options to navigate the sometimes confusing public transportation system in Paris. First, you must chose: do you prefer the metro (subway, tube) or bicycles? For the metro option, there are a few alternatives that depend on your schedule and budget. Basically you can buy tickets as you use them, buy whole day or weekly passes, or get a Paris Visite pass that allows you unlimited travel throughout the whole Paris transportation system (including buses, trains, etc.) plus discounts on restaurants and shops. Check out your metro options here. And if you plan on partying the night away, but going back to your hotel or home before 5:30 am (when the metro opens), take a look at the Noctilien, the night-bus service.  As for the bicycle service, you can access the official Vélib website here and download the English-language brochure at the top-right corner, but basically you can buy 1-day passes (for 1 euro) or 7 day passes (for 5 euro) that will allow you to use all the public bicycles in the city: Not a bad way to move around Paris, and it beats being underground and shoved around in small claustrophobia-inducing compartments. And best of all: this service is available 24-hours!

Eating Out: You can eat at great restaurants for very little with this local tip: book your restaurant beforehand online here (French only, sorry) and receive up to 50% off on your meals in restaurants throughout France. (Thanks to CountrySkipper for the tip!)

See, planning ahead and reading blogs like mine never hurt anybody :D

Any more questions? Leave a comment below or ask me anything!

Tags: budget, capital, cheap, france, free, french, paris, travel, trip, velib

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