17 Useful Tips on How to visit Paris on a Budget

A trip to Paris can get pretty expensive. Today I have 17 tips on how to visit Paris cheaply and how to save money in Paris so you don’t have to pay more than necessary for a perfect holiday on a budget.

17 tips on how to visit Paris on a budget

From flights and accommodation to free sightseeing, specific tips and tricks to help you save money in Paris:

1. Cheap airline tickets

Return tickets to Paris start at €130 with low-cost airlines. For this price you can get tickets from Prague, Berlin or Vienna.

According to Skyscanner, tickets are usually cheapest 2 months before the planned trip. Try to be flexible and don’t stick to a specific date. The differences in ticket prices between days are high. You can fly for 70€ one day and 200€ the next day.

Generally, tickets are cheaper midweek (Tuesday to Thursday) and more expensive as the weekend approaches or during the weekend, holidays and vacations.

2. Accommodation outside the centre

HotelF1 Paris Porte de Châtillon is a very cheap hotel in 14th district, which is ideal for those arriving at Orly Airport. Metro and tram stops are just a few minutes away. Breakfast is served in the morning, and you can shop across the street at the Monoprix supermarket if needed. The reception is open 24 hours a day.

ibis Budget Paris Nord 18ème can be found in 18. district on the outskirts of Paris, making it convenient for travellers from Charles de Gaulle Airport. Metro and tram stations are just minutes away, as are shops and restaurants. The rooms are small but sufficient and with private bathrooms. The reception is open 24/7.

3. Paris Navigo Decouverte Pass

Paris is relatively large, so using the metro and public transport is unavoidable.

The Paris Navigo Decouverte Pass is a travel card that gives you unlimited travel throughout Paris in zones 1-5 (i.e. including Versailles, Disneyland, CDG Airport, Orly Airport in addition to Orlyval). It applies to metro, trains, buses, trams and cable cars.

You’ll pay a higher one-off fee, but this is often soon recouped (especially if you’re flying into Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports).

The price for the Paris Navigo Decouverte Pass is €30 plus a €5 non-refundable card fee. Child rates are the same as for an adult. You will need a 3 cm high x 2.5 cm wide photo to be attached to a paper card.

Important: The card is valid from Monday to Sunday. It goes on pre-sale from Friday of the previous week and you can buy it until Thursday midnight of the week you plan to use it for.

You can buy the card at almost all metro stations, train stations and airports (if the card is sold out, you can try another window or station). For arrivals at CDG airport, the easiest way to buy a card is at the SNCF ticket offices.

Another option is Navigo day cards, where you choose the number of zones you plan to travel in. More information here.

Paris on your own / Paris without a tour operator
RER trains

Mobilis one-day tickets

Mobilis day tickets are another option for getting around Paris. Valid for 1 day only and for the zones you choose. The price varies accordingly.

This is a good option for those who don’t plan to use public transport or plan to visit Paris for a very short period of time.

It’s also a great option to the Navigo card if you’re planning a trip to Paris from Wednesday to Monday, for example. From Wednesday to Sunday you can use the Navigo card and on Monday you can use the Mobilis ticket.

You must write your name and the date on your Mobilis ticket. Valid for all modes of transport (metro, RER, buses, trams, trains) with the exception of the Orlyval line, SNCF reservation lines and Optile lines.

You can buy a Mobilis ticket at all metro, RER, tram and bus stations.

Prices vary by zone:

1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-58,45 €
1-3, 2-4, 3-511,30 €
1-4, 2-514 €
1-520,10 €

Note: Zone 1-3 includes central Paris and adjacent districts, Versailles and Orly Airport are in Zone 4 and Charles de Gaulle Airport is in Zone 5.

Read: Complete Guide to Transport in Paris

4. Free museums

Visit national museums for free. On the first Sunday of the month, you can visit a number of museums in Paris for free, including the Orsay Museum, the Picasso Museum and the War Museum at the Invalides. The disadvantage is long waiting times.

Admission is free all year round for all students under the age of 26.

Louvre Museum entrance fee

5. Paris Museum Pass

Get Paris Museum Pass. This is an official tourist card that gives you free entry to more than 60 sites in Paris, including the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Orsay and Pantheon. The card can be purchased for 2, 4 or 6 days. You can buy the Paris Museum Pass online and then pick it up in Paris just outside the Louvre. You will receive the address and other information in your email.

6. Paris Pass

Are you planning to visit more? For example, use the sightseeing bus or take a ride on the Seine? Try the Paris Pass, which you can find out more about in my Paris Pass guide .

7. Restaurants in side streets

Don’t eat at the restaurants downtown. In our experience, the price of the food does not match the quality. Outside the touristy parts of Paris, you can eat cheaper and often better. Restaurants are required to display their menus outside the entrance, so you can get an idea beforehand whether it’s worth going in at all. The French cuisine is great, but there are also plenty of excellent international restaurants.

Specific restaurant tips can be found under the link or on the map at the end of this article.

The Montmartre district has many great restaurants.

8. Paris markets

Paris markets are a great way to soak up the local atmosphere. You will meet French people who have come here to shop or have something good to eat. Popular markets include:

I’ve marked the markets again on the map at the end of the article to make planning a trip to Paris easier.

Read: The most beautiful places in Paris (photos, entrance fees and practical tips)

9. Special Disneyland tickets

Tickets to Disneyland Paris book well in advance – online booking is required. You have a chance to catch bargains. In the case of Disneyland, these are huge differences.

If you order tickets at this link, you can cancel up to 72 hours in advance if necessary.

Read: Complete Guide to Disneyland Paris

10. Paris Explorer Pass

Speaking of Disneyland, here’s another tip on how to save on tickets. Disneyland is now part of the tourist card Paris Explorer Pass. This gives you free entry to 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 attractions out of a total of 40+ attractions and experiences in Paris.

Paris Explorer Pass includes one day’s admission to Disneyland, a guided tour of the Louvre, a guided tour of the Eiffel Tower or a view from the Montparnasse skyscraper.

Please note: Disneyland is in high season after 8th March 2023 included only in the Paris Explorer Pass for 5, 6 or 7 attractions.

More than the sights, you’ll find attractions and sights that will take you to places you wouldn’t normally go. Taste wines in the historic royal cellars of Les Caves du Louvre, try your hand at making your own macaroons in the famous Lafayette Gallery or head to the Astérix theme park. It’s an interesting way to get to know Paris from a different angle and soak up the atmosphere.

With the Paris Explorer Pass, you can also save money on transport – it includes a day trip on a sightseeing bus that stops at most of the sights in Paris. Get off where you need to and then you can take the next bus (buses run every 20 minutes).

Read more about Paris Explorer Pass in our detailed review.

11. No ATM withdrawal fees

Check your bank’s fees before you go to Paris. Some banks sometimes charge higher fees or don’t have such favourable exchange rates.

12. Picnic in the grass

Build your menu and eat in the grass. A warm baguette or croissant from a local bakery, accompanied by French cheese or salami. Under the Eiffel Tower. Or on the grass in front of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica with a great view of Paris. You must also try the French crepes, which are made both sweet and savoury, or the French panninis sandwiches.

The Sacré-Coeur Basilica is a popular picnic spot.

13. Paris as in the palm of your hand

The view from the Eiffel Tower is unique. While I think it’s worth every euro, there are places in Paris where you can also enjoy spectacular views. Cheaper or even free.

  • Arc de Triomphe overlooking all 12 avenues that radiate out from the monument – including the most famous Avenue des Champs Élysées (full admission €13)
  • La Grande Arche Monument with a photography museum in the modern and architecturally interesting part of Paris, La Defense (full admission €17)
  • The Sacré-Coeur Basilica at the top of Montmartre, where you can sit in the grass during the day and enjoy the view of beautifully lit Paris in the evening (free); for €7 you can climb into the dome
  • Montparnasse skyscraper which offers one of the best views of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower not far from here (full admission €21)
  • Lafayette Gallery with a roof terrace, which is open free of charge from Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 20:00 and on Sundays and public holidays from 11:00 to 20:00.
  • Cruise on the Seine will show you Paris from a completely different angle, and it’s definitely worth it. Many sights are located right on the banks of the Seine – the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Orsay or Petit Palais museums, Notre Dame Cathedral or the Conciergerie Fortress (full admission €16)

14. Free sights

Many sights are free in Paris. For example, admire the three domes of the neoclassical La Madeleine Church, see the golden mosaic of Christ inside the Sacré-Coeur Basilica or visit the Petit Palais art museum on the Avenue des Champs Élysées.

Petit Palais
Paris in 3 days
La Madeleine

Read: How to plan an itinerary for 3 days in Paris (including a map)

15. Gardens and parks

There are plenty of well-kept gardens and parks in Paris where you can sit, read or chat with other Parisians. Here are some of our tips:

  • Luxembourg Gardens with Luxembourg Palace in the Latin Quarter
  • Tuileries Gardens at the Louvre Museum
  • The gardens of the Palais Royal just outside the Louvre with its striped bollards
  • Champs de Mars Park under the Eiffel Tower
  • Trocadéro Gardens across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower
  • Île aux Cygnes with the Statue of Liberty in Paris
  • Parc des Buttes Chaumont with Gustave Eiffel’s suspension bridge and a view of Montmartre
  • Parc de la Villette with modern and interesting architecture, a water canal and lots of greenery
Tuileries Gardens
Tuileries Gardens

16. Paris Cemeteries

It may sound strange to you, but Parisian cemeteries are certainly represented here. They are like works of art where many famous personalities are buried.

The most famous cemetery is the Père-Lachaise Cemetery, where Edith Piaf, Frédéric Chopin, Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde rest. Another is Cimetière du Montparnasse near the Luxembourg Gardens or Cimetière de Montmartre in the district of the same name.

Cimetière de Montmartre

17. Free city museums

In Paris, the city’s museums are free all year round. These include:

  • Petit Palais (Museum of Fine Arts from Antiquity to the 19th Century)
  • Musée Cernuschi (Museum of Asian Art)
  • Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris (Museum of Modern Art)
  • Musée de la Vie Romantique (Museum of Romantic Life)
  • Musée Curie with a focus on Marie Curie in the house where she lived
  • Musée Bourdelle with works by artist Antoine Bourdelle

Map of Paris

A map of Paris with tips on sights, museums, places of interest, accommodation and other useful information to easily plan your trip to Paris.

HOW TO USE THIS MAP: Above you will find a detailed map of Paris. Click at the top left of the map to see separate layers with highlighted locations. You can hide and show the different layers or click on the icons on the map to see the names of the places I mention in the Paris guide. If you want to save the map, star it. For a larger version, click on the icon in the upper right corner.

If you have a question about the article how to visit Paris cheaply, ask in the comments below. Have a safe journey!

More information about Paris

PARIS ITINERARY: Check out our tips on what to see in Paris. To help you plan, we’ve created an itinerary for 3 days in Paris. For a complete overview of admission fees to monuments, see the article Overview of admission fees and opening times to monuments in Paris.

THINGS TO DO IN PARIS: If you are an art lover, we have prepared a detailed guide to the Louvre (things to do, prices, admission, etc.). In the next article you will learn everything you need to know before visiting Versailes.

Are you planning to visit Disneyland? Read our detailed guide to Disneyland.

PARIS GUIDE: In a separate article you can find out everything about transport in Paris (airport, public transport, metro, bicycle). Read about accommodation, prices, food and safety in our guide to Paris.

PROVENCE: How about discovering more beautiful places in France? Provence is one of them. The Provence guide tells you everything you need to know before your trip.

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