I'm a girl who loves traveling, adventuring, and trying new things, but I am also a girl who likes saving money. When traveling, having a budget is one of my top priorities, and staying within that is what makes me feel like I've had a successful trip. In my mind, the more money I save when visiting a place, the more money I have to put towards the next trip. So I am here to tell you all about my dreamy trip to Paris, on a budget.
To be honest, Paris has never been at the top of my list of places to go. I personally enjoy smaller, lesser known places, but just like London or New York, it feels like an obligation to go at least once. Especially now that I'm living in Europe. So since my birthday was coming up, and travel within the EU has reopened, I decided that I was going to treat myself to a trip to the City of Light.
Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time had a way bigger impact on me than I expected. This is definitely one tourist attraction that is famous for a reason.
Usually, the biggest cost when going to a different country is the travel and accommodation, but since I live in the Netherlands, the travel costs are pretty cheap. From Amsterdam there are a few options: plane, train, or bus. Most people will recommend taking the train, and if you book far enough in advance you can get some pretty good deals. I did not plan far enough ahead to benefit from finding a train ticket within my budget, so I opted for the 6 and half hour bus ride. I had read some bad reviews about taking the bus online, but I honestly didn't mind it at all. Maybe its partly due to the fact that I'm an American who is use to taking long road trips, but I found it to be really comfortable (despite having to wear a mask the whole time), convenient, and most importantly: cheap. Plus, I got to see a few glimpses of Belgium as we passed through. A return ticket from Flixbus for both my husband and myself was under 100 euros.
We got off at the Bercy Seine Bus Station around 2pm, and were eager to stretch our legs and explore the city. Instead of taking the metro to our hotel, which was on the opposite side of the city, we decided to walk. In the moment, I was proud that we were making the more economical choice and were going to immediately start sight-seeing, but we ended up walking for about 4 hours in the heat of the day with all of our luggage. I wasn't sure how much the public transportation within the city would be, but now that I know it is super affordable, I definitely would have paid the extra few euros it cost for us to take the metro rather than walking that far.
We stayed at the Hotel des Batignolles located on the upper west side close to the Moulin Rouge. I usually like to look for cheap places to stay on lastminute.com, but then book directly from the hotel's website once I've found one that I like. This place was really affordable considering its location, so I was preparing for our stay to be less than a 5-star experience, but I was pleasantly surprised. It had a nice clean room, big bed, and a massive bathtub, which came in handy after our long walk. In order to save money, we decided to opt out of the hotel's breakfast option, and instead bought cheaper breakfast items from local bakeries nearby. This also forced us to get out a little earlier to make the most out of our short stay and to try things that felt more local.
Paris is known for its classy culinary experiences, and most of the prices in the restaurants we visited reflected that reputation. We did allow ourselves for two meals out (well, three if you count the one time we got McDonald's). I really enjoyed my beef tartare and omelette au fromage, but I honestly preferred eating from the bakeries. There is a bakery on almost every corner in the city, and all of the ones we visited were delicious while remaining affordable. I thought people were exaggerating when they said the bread in France is good, but oh my gosh they weren't lying. I won't tell you exactly how many baguettes I ate, but most were only 1 euro...so let's just say I took advantage of this affordable French delicacy. We paired our baguettes with some cheesy spreads we bought from the supermarket, and I have been dreaming about the combination ever since.
Most of the things we wanted to see in Paris were free and easy to get to on foot, so we didn't need to spend money on much else. My favorite places that we saw were the Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Cœur, and Hotel D'ville. Notre Dame was still closed due to the fire in 2019, and we decided not to buy entry into the Louvre and just explored the gardens outside instead. Most of the attractions were still relatively spacious and easier to enjoy due to the decrease in tourism under the Corona Virus.
In the four days we were there we walked a total of 35 miles, and consumed the caloric equivalent in carbs. Overall, it was exhausting, like most city breaks, but also extremely rewarding. The architecture was awe-inspiring, the public gardens were immaculate, and the food was great. The bread alone was worth the trip. Paris exceeded my expectations and was truly dazzling.
My traveling partner posing in front of the Louvre. I still can't believe how empty it was here.
Join all the influencers and instagrammers on Rue de l'Universite for a good street shot with the Eiffel Tower behind you.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, also known as the Sacré-Cœur, was easily one of my favorite spots. It sits at the highest point in the city, and the area around it feels more like a village than the rest of Paris.