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Vacation in Paris on a Budget

“I think it’s a matter of securing a plan and then saving like crazy. I want to go to Paris for a week. How could I make this happen without spending thousands of dollars?”

One contributor asked on SmartTravel.com, a question the keeps most people with the travel itch from making their vacation dreams to Paris a reality.

European Vacation to City of Light

Travel to the city of light is  possible on any budget with proper planning and an open mind. See how you can make it happen here!

Flight to France

The flight will be the most expensive part of the trip. Time of year and airport choice can vary the cost of a flight. In the summer flights are more expensive than in the off season. Traveling from LAX or New York City will cost more than flights from Burbank or Boston. Booking through alternative agencies like Aer Lingus instead of directly from the airline or from popular sites like Orbitz and Expedia is cheaper. Book as far in advance as possible.

Lodge Choices

Youth hostels are the most common way to save money on lodging. They can sometimes be available for $20 or $30 per night. Hostels are also a great way to meet people and add a new layer of adventure to your trip. Be sure to check curfew rules and age restrictions before you go. The Village Hostel in Montmartre is a great affordable option that’s clean, youthful and in a great location.

Another option is to rent a room in an apartment. Prices will vary depending on where you stay. For example, in the heart of the popular St. Germain des Pres an apartment rent for a week will average around $650 or about $93 per night. Where an apartment in the Montparnasse neighborhood will average about $430 per week, or $62 per night. Affordable stay has perks but has its risks. Consider trip insurance to cover lost, stolen or damaged items. Or to help direct you through a crisis situation.

Eat Great Meals

If you choose to stay at an apartment, you have a kitchen available! Which cuts costs tremendously. This is a great chance to check out the local market and enjoy fresh baguettes, cheese and wine. If you go out, choose restaurants wisely. If you are dying to check out a fancy restaurant, go at lunch instead of dinner. The food is just as good but half the price. Neighborhood bistros offer a formule, which is a set, three-course menu sometimes with a glass of wine, all for a reasonable price.

Get Around

Avoid cabs, they are extremely expensive. All sights in Paris is highly concentrated, which makes walking between most destinations possible. Do research on attractions like museums and galleries that have free-entry on certain days of the week or special discounts for travelers, students or teachers.

If you are crunched for time, the Metro is an affordable choice that’s faster than walking. If you plan to do some shopping, consider filling out the détaxe refund form. The detaxe form is a refund for non-European citizens who are visiting for six months or less and who spend more that 175 Euro in one store on the same day.



Here’s how you get it:

  • Bring your passport.
  • Ask the retailer for a form.
  • When you pack, keep all claimed items in your personal luggage. You cannot ship items you
    want to claim.
  • Your form must be stamped in last European country you are on ground at. If you’re flying from Paris to New York with a connecting flight in Dublin, your form needs to be stamped at the airport in Dublin.
  • Customs will review the items and, once approved, will make you mail the forms out.
  • Plan for an hour at customs, but note that customs will not process a refund more than
    three hours before a flight.
  • After that, it’s a waiting game to receive your refund by mail. This can take up to six weeks. If you have problems, communicate with the store you made the purchase from, not customs.
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