How to travel to Paris on any budget

Hi Frugalistas!

Last year I posted on how the same itinerary can be made to fit any budget.  It was a fun post, was popular and received great feedback from you.  Now, I present how to stay in Paris on three different budgets.  The point of this post is demonstrate that a limited budget doesn’t have to mean limited travel fun.  Or missing out on any of the special treats Paris has to offer.


Budget rules

I’m basing my post on a day in Paris.  I’ve decided not to include sightseeing – a trip up the Eiffel Tower costs the same regardless of your budget.  Instead I’m focussing on girly day in Paris:  having a facial, doing some shopping (in particular, we are going to buy a man’s tie and a lady’s scarf), then eating and having somewhere to stay.

I’ve centred the day around the 6th and 7th arrondisements, where I can.  It’s not a particularly cheap part of Paris, but it is one I know well.

As in my previous post, I’ve looked at three price structures:

Cheap and cheerful;


Money no object.

I’ve based accommodation costs on what I could find online in January 2014.  Other costs were based on what I could find in Paris in October 2013.

You shouldn’t rely on any of the prices I’m quoting absolutely, however, they give you an idea of the relativities.

Accommodation in Paris on any budget

Genuine budget options are in short supply in the sixth and seventh arrondisements.  The cheapest I could find was the Hotel de Nantes in the sixth.  It comes in at EUR100 a night, when booked on a special rate on a booking website.

Frugalfirstclasstravel travellers will prefer a 3 star, and I can’t go past my favourite Paris haunt, the Hotel Muguet, 5minutes walk from Rue Cler.  A double room is EUR170 per night (cheaper for stays of at least 4 nights).

Break the budget options are far more plentiful.  My favourite choice is going to be the Hotel Montalembert over in the sixth, just off posh Rue du Bac.  The top of the range Christian Liaigre suite is just EUR1034 per night.  But that does include Continental Breakfast for two!

Facials in Paris

I had a facial in Paris the last time I was there.  It was a lovely experience, and definitely different to having a facial back home.  Given Paris is the home to many of the world’s great cosmetics houses, it is no surprise that premium facial options are plentiful.  The sky really is the limit in terms of price, but for this exercise I’m going very traditional – a Royal Facial at Guerlain for EUR210.


Free samples from Guerlain

If EUR210 for 90minutes is a bit outside your price range, why not consider something at a local beautician’s?  I found a 60minute Sothy’s facial near my hotel for EUR60.  Far more realistic, if a lovely splurge is part of your plans.

Regular readers will know I like chef schools as a good budget food splurge, so I’m also going with a beauty school for my budget facial option.  The closest one I could find near our location is on Ave Kleber in the ever-so pricey 16th.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a price list!  Hairdressing schools will put you back about EUR30 for a shampoo, cut, colour and blow dry, so I’m guessing a pretty great facial is probably about the same – or even less!

Lunch in Paris on any budget

All that facial relaxation has no doubt built up the appetite, so I’m sure some lunch is in order.  Budget travellers will head to any nearby supermarket for a sandwich or roll and a drink to go.  Allow about EUR7-8.  Ultra budgetters will make sure they eat a big breakfast and skip lunch altogether!

Mid-rangers can head over to the 9th to the cafeteria of Galeries Lafayettes – one of my favourite lunch spots in Paris.  The beautiful view of the Paris Opera, the Invalides and the Eiffel Tower is free, and lunch sets you back approximately EUR16 for roast chicken and salad, dessert, bread roll and either a bottle of water (large) or a bottle of wine (small).


View from the Galeries Lafayettes cafeteria

If you’ve got more of a splurge in mind, why not consider one of the grand Paris brasseries?  Les Deux Magots on Boulevard St Germain is easily accessible from the Left Bank Guerlain salon, so make a convenient lunch spot.  A meagre EUR40 gets you a salad and dessert.  Drinks are extra, bien sur!

Shopping in Paris on any budget

Having refuelled at lunch, it’s time to hit the shops!  We’re off to buy a tie and a scarf, so blow the budget shoppers will definitely want to head to the legendary Hermes.  One of their famous silk scarves is EUR320, while a silk tie looks cheap in comparison at a mere EUR150.  Don’t forget to ask for the VAT refund on those!


Mid-priced shoppers are spoiled for choice, but I’m suggesting you stay in the grands magasins.  Pure silk ties at both Galeries Lafayettes and Au Printemps are a more affordable EUR35 and there are plenty of choices for silk scarves at EUR25-40.

Budget travellers head straight to Monoprix, where I found the prettiest silk scarf for EUR20 and a reasonable range of classic men’s silk ties for a miserly EUR25 (complete with instructions on how to tie them!)

Dining in Paris on any budget

A grand meal in Paris is one of the highlights of any trip to Paris.  Regardless of your budget, do plan for one splurge meal.

Budget travellers can head to Café Cler on rue Cler, for a splurge meal of main course (entrée), dessert, a glass of wine  and coffee for EUR35-40 a head.

For my frugalfirstclasstravel splurge I’m suggesting L’Ami Jean, just near rue Cler, where EUR60 will buy you the biggest meal of aperitif, terrine and bread (no charge for this, so don’t order an appetiser as well!), a main (entrée), dessert, coffee and a couple of glasses of wine.  Order a dessert, and you’ll be given a little box of homemade meringues to take home – perfect for a snack with coffee the next day!  Just be ready to waddle home afterwards!

frugalfirstclasstravel L'ami Jean

Just part of my free appetiser at L’Ami Jean

For a blow the budget splurge, visitors to the Hotel Montalembert have to look no further than next door and the fashionable and pricey L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon.  Eating at such a temple to food comes at a price – EUR150 for a degustation menu, plus drinks.  But at least you don’t have to pay for a taxi home!

Total cost

Budget EUR223

Frugalfirstclass  EUR381

Splurge EUR1904

Whether you are budget, frugalfirstclass or spending the kids’ inheritance, it is possible to stay, eat and spend in this expensive part of Paris.  What is your favourite money saving tip for enjoying your time in Paris?  What is your favourite splurge?


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20 Comments on “How to travel to Paris on any budget”

  1. jenny@atasteoftravel 08/01/2014 at 6:52 pm #

    Great post Jo. Paris is the perfect city in which you can mix budgets. We usually stay at one of the many cute 3* hotels or an apartment which means that we can then eat at any of the restaurants on the long list I usually arrive with! L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon remains one of my favourites!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 08/01/2014 at 6:55 pm #

      Thanks Jenny! I seem to recall you writing about L’Atelier. Bit out of my price range, but maybe one day!

  2. Travelling Book Junkie 08/01/2014 at 10:05 pm #

    We took my mum to Paris for her 60th Birthday last year. My dad is not a person who particularly likes staying in a hotel and therefore I needed to find cheapish accommodation for 6 people. We decided to book a mobile home, yes I know it is not to everyone’s taste, at Camping International de Maisons-Laffitte. This gave us the freedom to chose whether we wanted to head into the main districts of Paris or explore the outskirts. We were able to get a train into the City which cost just £4 return and took less than 15 mins. Having the freedom to explore more of Paris and the outskirts was perfect for us as a family and could be the same for a group going together. In total the cost of 6 people staying in two brand new mobile homes for a week with two cars cost less than £600 – which we consider to be a bargain! 🙂

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 09/01/2014 at 6:06 am #

      Wow, that is a budget deal! Well done. To me, that is what great travel is all about.

    • Anita 11/08/2014 at 9:14 pm #

      That’s what we are planning to do when we go next year. My brother stayed there last year and recommended it.

  3. holidayaddict 08/01/2014 at 11:51 pm #

    Great ideas for when I visit in April! I think we’ll be somewhat conservative with our spending, but there needs to be a splurge on one dining out experience I think! Oh I can’t wait to go back…

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 09/01/2014 at 6:09 am #

      L’Ami Jean is a great splurge place if that fits in the budget. Great atmosphere and very friendly.

  4. Pretraveller 09/01/2014 at 6:41 am #

    Jo, thanks for sharing your three budget options for Paris. Paris is one of my favourite places and you have inspired me (again) to go back there!

  5. Carolyn @ Holidays to Europe 09/01/2014 at 6:10 pm #

    Excellent post, Jo. I love how you’ve covered all budget bases for a visit to Paris. I’m definitely in the frugalfirstclass category but a good splurge now and again never goes astray – especially in Paris!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 09/01/2014 at 8:12 pm #

      Thanks Carolyn. I did splurge and stay in the Hotel Montalembert once – it was somewhere I’d always wanted to stay. I afforded it by having an otherwise very budget stay, so mixing and matching is a good way to afford a genuine splurge.

  6. fotoeins 11/01/2014 at 3:58 pm #

    That is quite the difference in scale between “budget” and “splurge”! But that does describe Europe to some extent, too. 🙂 Thanks for breaking this down, Jo!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 11/01/2014 at 4:03 pm #

      It’s all relative isn’t it? Some people would think EUR200+ was not budget. But I chose an expensive, first class part of Paris, and of course, shopping and a facial are optional!

  7. Hannah @ GettingStamped 11/08/2014 at 10:21 pm #

    We just left Paris this morning! We found eating in the park was the best way to save money on eating, the restaurants were not cheap!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 12/08/2014 at 6:45 am #

      Yes Hannah, a sandwich from the supermarket or a picnic from a market are definitely the best budget options. I hope you did have one special cafe meal though?

  8. Dougherty Kay 12/08/2014 at 12:40 am #

    This is really a great, helpful post! I’d have to add in some museum costs and would see if I could possibly do a home exchange which is a great way to save serious moolah so you have more to spend on other things. Also – to make horrid vast generalizations – French home exchangers seem less likely to show up with a huge extended family they failed to mention or damage art work etc. Now if they will only comply with the non-snoking rule at my house! You’ve got my wheels turning – maybe we can go to Paris before a river cruise we’re doing in June next year. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 12/08/2014 at 6:42 am #

      Thanks Kay. For the purpose of these posts I don’t include sightseeing because the cost is generally the same regardless go your budget. Home swaps and house sitting are definitely also good budget options for those who have some flexibility with dates.

  9. Maggie 12/08/2014 at 7:42 am #

    A very helpful post. Don’t forget to check Airbnb for accommodation. We’ve booked a stunning apartment five minutes walk from the Eiffel Tower cheap as chips for our September trip. 😀

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 13/08/2014 at 4:50 pm #

      Yes Airbnb and apartments also make a great option – and can be a fantastic option for groups

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