Paris is renowned for it €8 pints and couture fashion houses so my challenge this weekend was “to do” Paris on a Shoestring. And I think I managed it.
First things first: getting there. The Eurostar is probably my favourite way to travel to the City of Lights but unless you live in London it is not the most practical or cheap. (Do lookout for offers though!)
I flew from Cardiff to Paris Charles de Gaulle with flybe for under £100 return. Easyjet and Ryanair both travel to Paris from most UK airports too. To save a little extra, pack light and only take hand luggage. It is possible. I did it! If there is a group of you going, share the packing of things like hairdryer and straighteners – you don’t need three of each for two days!
Accommodation in Paris can be expensive but it certainly doesn’t have to be. I am about to share with you my best kept secret – Centre Paris. This company has many many apartments on its website and many for as little as €60 a night! Our little one bedroom apartment set us back just €90 a night and we even had a view of le Tour Eiffel from our balcony:
You can just make it out in the distance!!
The balcony – with the flowers and the view – reminded me of Carrie’s first sighting of the Paris landmark in the penultimate episode in Sex and The City:
If you would like this view of the Eiffel Tower from your Paris window you could stay in the same hotel that Carrie did – the Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris but it would definitely break a shoestring budget!
Having an apartment has more advantages than just the price. The space is another and the ability to eat in is yet another. We had a little supermarché and a boulangerie across the road from our building – perfect for an evening feast of fresh bread, brie and a €2 bottle of wine!
Most of the famous – and must-see – sights in Paris are free – at least from the outside. So grab a book of 10 metro billets (for about €12) and hop on and off to your heart’s content.
On Saturday we took the metro to Anvers and walked up the steps to the Sacré-Cœur.
After watching the painters for a while in la Place du Tertre, we stopped for a café and crêpes nearby:
Having read so much about macaroons and never actually having had one, it was my mission this weekend to try them. But not just any old macaroon, it had to be one from Ladurée! So that was our next stop. We alighted at la Place de la Concorde and made for the original 1862 tea shop on rue Royale:
I was too impatient to try one and had therefore already eaten one of the café-flavoured macaroons before taking a photo!
We then took a little meander up the Champs-Elysées. Past Guerlain:
And Louis Vuitton:
And on to l’Arc de Triomphe:
Stopping on route for un petit peu de shopping! Naturellement.
Then it was on to the area outside the Louvre where we took the weight off our weary feet for a bit by the fountains:
After a little supper and a little more wine at the apartment we were off out again. If you are lucky enough – as we were – to have your trip coincide with la Nuit des Musées then you can visit the museums of Paris by night, for free! So that is precisely what we did. We first visit la Grande Palais for an installation featuring scented bubbles, followed by the Louvre where we wandered about for a few hours – until about 12.30am – without seeing the Mona Lisa!
With this being just a 48 hour trip to the French capital, on Sunday we had to take our little bags with us. So rather than drag them around the streets of Paris we decided to take a bateau mouche from the Pont Neuf, down the Seine. The sun being out helped make this an altogether very pleasant trip. And, of course, it meant we saw all of the sights that we had missed the day before:
For €12 it was well worth not dragging our suitcases from place to place or having to find somewhere to leave them and then go pick them up again before heading to the airport.
We managed to cram a fair amount into our little sojourn and feeling tired, with the clouds rolling in and the UK airports being closed, we were happy to head to the airport and home.
There was just time at the airport to use up the remaining €uros and buy a few presents to take home:
Tip: if – like me – you’d like to treat yourself to a little bit of French luxury in the shape of a Chanel nail polish, wait until you get to Charles de Gaulle. In Sephora the nail polishes were €20.50 but at the airport they were €16.40.
If there is anything you think I have missed out, please let me know.
Look out for more Paris-inspired posts in the upcoming weeks: some of my semi-successful Street Style Stalking – and what might become a more permanent feature – and a postscript to my previous “how to… dress like a Parisian” post.
Would also welcome any comments – good or bad – on photos as I have a new camera – an early birthday present – and am trying to improve. Slowly.
More soon. Love, SG
Alba asked for costs of the trip. So here goes:
Train from airport €18 (return)
Book of 10 metro tickets €11,80
Dinner Friday night (from supermarket) €10
Breakfast Saturday €0,90
Café and crêpe €10
Ladurée macaroons (6 for) €8
Dinner Saturday night (from supermarket) €2
Breakfast Sunday €0,90
Bateau mouche €12
Sunday lunch in the Latin Quarter €20
Total (minus flights) = €153,60
Of course, if you also want to shop, you may want a little more extra cash.
Hope this helps.