Gourmet food, grand hotels and world-class museums and galleries, the things that make Paris a must-visit can also make it pricey. In the first of our guides on cheap family holidays, we give you the ten top ways to get more for your euros in the city of lights.
Everyone loves the city in the summer, but it’s cheaper to explore Paris on a budget in low season between November and April. The city’s just as beautiful (if a little chilly!), accommodation is up to half price, queues are shorter and you’ll feel like a local, wandering the city without the crowds.
A carnet of 10 tickets for the Metro, RER, Ile de France bus lines and Montmartre funicular costs £10.70, a 27% saving on buying them individually, from ticket offices and tabacs. Or invest in the Paris Visite pass, unlimited one to five-day (£8.20 to £26) travel on bus, Metro and RER, depending on travel zones.
Borrow a bike from one of 1,800 Vélib pick-up spots. Buy a one-day access card (£1.40) from the Vélib parking stations. After that, the first 30 minutes riding are free, then 85p, £1.70 and £2.55 for each additional, consecutive 30 minutes.
Out and about
A two-day museum pass (£32) gives free entry to 60 museums and monuments in Paris (adult Louvre entry costs £8.30 alone). Or go on the first Sunday of the month when many museums, including the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay are free. Also explore smaller options – Musee Rodin costs 85p for entry to the garden, full of the sculptor’s work.
If you're aiming for cheap family holidays, at £3.90, walking up the Eiffel Tower is a fraction of the price of the lift (£11), although you’ll only get to the second level by stairs. City views from the Sacre Coeur, a top Montmartre are free – plus you get the iconic tower itself in the view.
French stores are only allowed to have sales twice a year, and January is one of them. Get even more off at flagship department store, Galeries Lafayette – where you get a 10% discount card. Show your passport at the information desk to claim.
Food and drink
Stop for a Grand Crème, but drink it at the bar – coffees cost twice as much sitting at a terrace. And if you fancy a beer, order a ‘demi’ – two short 25cl beers are usually cheaper than one tall 50cl beer.
Small bistros offer gastronomic heaven outstripping anything price-equivalent in the UK. Choose value ‘prix fixe’ menus, which give a set price for two or three courses, especially at lunchtimes – you’ll find prices from £12. For an affordable Michelin-star experience - Il Vino D'Enrico Bernardo offers a two-course lunch ‘prix fixe’ for around £26.
Hotels can be pricey in Paris and renting a flat can be better value for space and money. Plus with a kitchen you can cut out expensive breakfasts. Paris Address currently lists a two-bedroom apartment sleeping six in République from £138 a night – a steal if you share with another family.
Night on the town
Treat yourself to a performance at the Opera Garnier, Paris’s Belle Époque concert hall. Tickets range up to £150, but 32 standing-only spots are available 90 minutes before performances – at only £4.15.