How you can experience Paris on a budget

Bonjour! We’ve made it to the city of loooove, made it out of the stinky Amsterdam hostel full of farting boys and into a cute little Airbnb in the area of Le Marais, Paris. 

Not our smartest move, me leaving Amsterdam with a hangover that could kill and Bryn still drunk as a skunk but here we are! In Paris! The city of love! And the first thing we do is? SLEEP…yes

Okay okay okay I’m up, I’m awake! It’s 2 o’clock and I’m starving. “Can we just blow our budget for Paris?” I ask Bryn, as my head swims around with all the possible restaurants we could eat at. “No way girl, this might be Paris, but we’ve still gotta do it on the cheap…” Alriiiiiiiiiiight you heard the boss… Here’s how we got through Paris on a budget, still managing to see/do everything we wanted.

We knew we’d want our own space after spending 4 nights in an 8 person dorm, so we took to Airbnb (back in April) to check out the listings. Yay we found a place! And paid $60nzd each per night, paying it all before we left the country. By the time we arrived, tired and hungover, it was good to know we didn’t have to blow any more money on accom.

To see the listing for the place click here. We really loved it. It was perfect for the two of us with a little bathroom, kitchen, lounge and loft bed. A very cool space for the price we paid.

Not really knowing the area of Le Marais, other than the fact it was recommended by a friend, we walked around getting our bearings. I definitely recommend this being the first thing you do in every new place you visit. We found ourselves a good, cheap and easy Turkish food stall and had ourselves a feed. Here’s a budget tip for ya: judge the size of the meal, if it’s big enough, share it and save your coin! This has actually saved us heaps throughout our trip, we’ve shared quite a few meals (1 meal for the 2 of us and maybe a side of fries to bulk it up). You not only save yourselves money but you don’t roll out of the restaurant and into a food coma (something Bryn’s notorious for). The kebab like sandwiches were about the size of a foot long sub so we decide to share it, costing us only €3 each! BLOODY BARGAIN!

Another money saving tip is to go to the local supermarket (called a Carrefour or Supermarche in France) and buy yourselves breaky food & snacks to keep ya going. If you make your own breaky every morning instead of buying it out, you’ll save! Simply put: supermarket food is cheaper than cafe food. We paid €10 for tomatoes, gherkins, avo, salami, bread, coffee, cheese and fruit and this was enough for the both of us for all 3 mornings + the odd snack in between.

Off to Sacrecoeur in Montmartre. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Sacrecoeur is the huge and absolutely beautiful church on top of the hill with views of the city. The architecture is mind blowing! Everything is perfection, it’s almost spooky looking. The steep steps leading up to the church are filled with people eating dinner, drinking wine and enjoying the views. Walk right around the outside to see it from every angle and if you have time, go inside and have a look around too. The interior is just as insane as the outside and you can literally climb right up to the top! I promise the view is worth it! It’s also FREE…that’s the best part when you’re in Paris on a budget. If I’m being honest with you though, the sheer amount of people at Sacrecoeur was a little overwhelming for our first night in Paris being tired and hungover. Men trying to sell you things you don’t need. 5 men literally surrounded me, grabbing at my wrists, trying to put bracelets on me so I would buy them. It was a little too much, so we walked the steep steps to the bottom and I relaxed by getting on the carousel and having a ride with the other 5 year olds. (€2 well spent I think.)

WOWZA what a sleep! Feelin as refreshed as doing the ice bucket challenge, we had our breaky, drank our coffee and set off for the day. Being on a budget means ya gotta “use as little money as possible” so walking or using the metro were our only options. Walking is obviously free so we headed off in the direction of the Louvre (the museum the Mona Lisa chills out in). Walking along the river Seine toward the Louvre is very pretty, with bridges letting you cross from one side to the other, and “love locks” padlocked to them. It honestly looked like my Pinterest board! We heard it was bad luck to put a lock on? No idea if this is even true so we didn’t take our chances. Happy as it is thankyou Paris! 

As we arrived to the grounds of the Louvre, we decided to give it a miss to save our money. Some of you will gasp at that and by all means I recommended going in. But with what we want to achieve in the next few years, the Louvre was off the menu. In 2013 I went to see ol Mona, hoping to see this magical painting standing tall in a room of its own… But no. It’s teeny tiny, like maybe the size of an A4, or even A5?! Plus it’s covered with so much glass so you can’t steal it, then cordoned off with a red carpet like fence, then like 100 people!!! After explaining all this to Bryn he was happy to just see the outside of the museum which in itself is amazing to look at (plus it’s free).

We headed down through the Tuileries Gardens, past some fountains and towards the big ferris wheel which sorta stands between the Louvre and the Champs-Élysées (famous shopping street.)

We walked and walked and walked until my feet almost fell off but it was good to be outside, being active and looking at all the things you see in the movies. Down the shopping street we went, buying only a couple of lollies to keep us going until lunch. 

The Arc de Triomphe is the huge arc at the end of the shopping street, which is actually a round about. 

This in itself is hectic to watch, the driving in Paris is not only back to front for us NZers, but it’s also carnage with cars coming in and beeping from all directions! It’s organized chaos I tell ya, but somehow, it works. Last time I was in Paris, you could walk up the Arc de Triomphe, for free and get a wicked view of the city with the Eiffel Tower peering its head out of the residential buildings…but now you have to pay! Booooooo!

Instead, we changed direction, walking the 2.4km towards the Eiffel Tower. Note: we’ve only spent €2 on lollies today that’s all! Plus the €10 breaky food which will last 3 mornings. 

The plan was to be cute and have a picnic at the Eiffel Tower, but it was raining and the grass was wet so those plans went out the window faster than Usain Bolt will run the 100 meters in Rio. Instead we walked around the tower, looking up at its beauty. There’s something pretty magnificent about the Eiffel Tower when you see it in the flesh, even Bryn was in awe of it. You can of course climb this bad boy and in 2013 I did. But back then I had good ol mum and dad to pay for it, this time I don’t, so viewing it from the ass up had to do. And it did.

By now we’re facing a 50 minute walk home and as you can image were starving and grumpy. Two things caused by lack of food and dehydration. We have enough bread, salami and cheese at home to make sammys so something small and cheap to share would at least get us home. We found a panini type toasty thing for €6 and shared it as we walked the long way home. 10.7km we walked! And saw most of what Paris had to offer for free woohoo! 

Home, shoes off, feet up and chill sounded like the perfect plan for us! As we later got hungry for dinner we went down to the Asian restaurants that were just below our Airbnb apartment. The road our Airbnb was on was a sorta China Town area, so the authentic Chinese food was cheap and tasty! We shared noodles and dumplings for €9 then from the moment we walked back into our room, we were asleep. 

Oussssssh it was hard to get out of bed this morn! My back, my legs, my muscles, everything, sore and tired from yesterday’s 10.7km walk through Paris. But after a coffee and breaky in bed, made by Brynnie #winning… we made a plan to go do something more chill and less touristy. No tourists at all in fact. Yus! 

We set off (on the metro this time, €3.80 for the two of us) towards Bois De Boulogne a huuuuuuuge Park in Paris. If you get a chance this is a great thing to do outside of the tourist madness! There’s nothing like rowing a boat down Lac Inferier (a lake within the park) with your loved one. Romance at its finest, unless your names are Leah and Bryn, then you’re just two idiots trying to figure out how to row a boat, not tip over but also trying to be romantic all at once. Romantic is one way to put it, I’d say more ridiculous but super fun none the less and we loved it.


One last budget tip for ya: keep your eyes peeled for deals! As we were getting off the metro we saw a deal for a mussel pot, fries and beer for €13.90 at a restaurant called Leon. We figured we’d do the classic sharing technique from tip number 1 and boom we have ourselves a nice/cheap place to have lunch. Luckily in France when you go to a restaurant they bring you a plate of French stick, so we were banking on this to fill us up also! Yum yum and yum this was the goods! 

There’s nothing better than a home cooked dinner with fresh produce right? Especially in Paris, the city of love, where being romantic isn’t lame or corny. So we went to the Carrefour (supermarket) to grab some stuff to cook for dinner. Get this…for €5 we brought 2 tomatoes, 5 mushrooms, pasta, tomato pasta sauce and an onion! Using the left over salami from the first shop I cooked us a simple pasta that lasted us for dinner that night + breaky on our last morning! Primo! 

Off we went, back to the Eiffel Tower (again on the metro for €3.80) with our pasta ready to eat and bottle of wine (€4), to watch the lights come on. The crowds flock around sunset to watch the Tower slowly light up as the sun goes down. Then on the hour of every hour between sunset and 2am, it starts flashing beautifully in the night sky, with a beam of light shining out from the top. It was sort of a strange irony sitting there watching all this happen. There’s this one part of the city lighting up, showing off and being bold and beautiful, then there’s this other side of the city full of rubbish and scam artists surrounding the crowds of people. Seems as though Paris is trying so hard to be beautiful but the amount of people there is just killing it a little. Just my thoughts. Finding ourselves an area out of the direct crowds, with less rubbish and we were 2 happy children.

That’s a wrap. 3 days in Paris was plenty enough for us backpackers. We saw the sights, saw the culture and embraced the romance – ridiculously but still embraced it. Even though we didn’t go into the Louvre, up the Eiffel or the Arc de Triomphe , we realized that there’s plenty of time to come back when we’re old and rich to do it all then. Our goals are different and our budget is smaller, so doing it on our budget was a great achievement. Mum and dad you’d be proud!

Leah | free & addicted




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  • Great read Leah, I remember those days of travelling on a budget, keep it up and keep the blogs coming xx