Paris is a city that has it all… culture, food, and a beauty all its own. It's no wonder that it attracts millions of visitors every year. Despite this, many people feel that this city is too expensive to visit. Indeed, the first time I was there, I asked myself "How much spending money do I need for Paris?" I discovered that while you can certainly spend a lot of money in Paris, you don't have to.
For between $50-$100 a day, you can have an authentic Paris experience. It's actually not as hard as you think, and with a little planning, you can sample much of what the city has to offer and not break the bank.
Below, I have assembled some tips to help you with this worthy endeavor. Paris is a city you must visit at least once in your life, so don't let your worries about spending too much money dissuade you. We are going to cover the following four areas:
How much should you spend on attractions per day?
How much should you spend on food per day?
How much should you spend on transportation per day?
How much should you spend on alcohol/treats per day?
By the end, you should have a good idea about how much spending money to bring to Paris. I'll also include some tips on where to stay as well as some of my personal favorite places to visit while you are in the world's most romantic city.
How much should I spend on attractions per day?
For me, Paris is just as much about the ambiance and the feeling of strolling alongside the Seine or through the Latin Quarter. To that end, you can enjoy much of what the city has on offer for free.
For one of the best views, head to Sacre Coeur Cathedral in the beautiful Montmartre neighborhood. Here you can have a picnic and see the city in it's entirety. Other famous attractions like the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Le Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel tower are all free to view from the outside.
The last time I was in Paris, I visited Versailles for the first time, and discovered that while you do have to pay to enter the palace, you can stroll the immense gardens for free.
Another thing to keep in mind is that on the first Sunday of every month, most museums are free to enter. Additionally, some museums are always free. I found this complete listing of all the free museums in Paris very helpful.
If you are going to spend money on attractions, you can do a lot for around $10. Tour the catacombs beneath the city for around $8.50. You can also visit the second level of the Eiffel Tower for about $11.50. Another great strategy is to budget $10 per day for attractions, but skip every other day and do free things. This will give you $20 every other day.
How much should you spend on food per day?
Another common misconception about Paris is that you have to spend tons of dough to eat well. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, you can do it for roughly $18-$35 each day. Here's how:
Free Hotel/Hostel Breakfast- Try to stay somewhere that offers this option. Just make sure you wake up early enough.
Barring this, for $3-5 you can get a simple French breakfast (usually coffee and some sort of bread). Bakeries are usually the cheapest places to do this. They don't always have the ambiance of Parisian café, but your wallet will thank you.
For lunch, your best bet is to hit one of the many open-air markets throughout the city. Here you can find fresh and local products, usually sold for cheaper prices. For about $5-7, pick up a baguette, some brie and some fruit and enjoy a picnic. You can do the same at any supermarket, although you won't get the same atmosphere.
If you must eat out, avoid other tourists and try to find neighborhood places, street food vendors, or a kebab shop. Here you can usually eat well for $5-10 depending on what you order.
Finally, for dinner look for places outside of the tourist zones. You should be able to find modest bistros with a decent plat du jour menu for $8-15. One of my favorite places is Chez Gladines. There are five locations throughout the city, so you should have one somewhere near you.
How much should I spend on transportation per day in Paris?
Paris is quite a large city, and while I do certainly recommend walking as much as possible, be sure to make use of the city's metro system. It is quite easy to use and can get you just about anywhere you need to go. The buses also use the same tickets. Taxis should be avoided as they are too expensive for my budget.
Metro Prices- For maximum flexibility and affordability, purchase a pack of ten one-way tickets. This will cost you close to $14.50 but is cheaper than buying individual tickets. If you can plan carefully, you can limit your journeys to two per day and only spend about $2.90 each day.
I understand that you may want to pack your itinerary and jump on and off the metro whenever you want. If this is the case, purchase an unlimited day pass for $7.10. Other options like the Paris Visite pass start at $11.50 for a one-day pass. This gives you transportation and discounts on museums and other sights.
How much should you spend on alcohol and treats per day in Paris?
This really depends on personal preference, but if you must drink or indulge in sweet treats, here are some money saving tips.
Beer and mixed drinks are notoriously expensive in Paris. My advice is to avoid clubs and trendy bars. The solution? Buy decent, cheap wine in the supermarket. For between $3-10 you can find nice wine that won't destroy your budget. You are in France after all, a nation that prides itself on great wine.
Not a wine fan? Then try having a beer in your hostel. I've discovered that hostels are great, cheap places to drink. You usually end up meeting really interesting people as well!
For treats, visit one of the many neighborhood bakeries/patisseries and avoid the expensive and trendy ones in tourist zones.
So how much spending money do you need for Paris?
The grand total = $23.90- 62.10
For this amount, you can have a great time in this wonderful city, without spending all your money. So remember my money-saving tips:
Attractions - Take advantage of all the free things available and budget for the things you really want to do.
Food - Go for the free breakfast, light market lunch and inexpensive bistros for dinner.
Transportation - Avoid taxis and get the 10 pack of metro tickets. Walk as much as possible.
Alcohol/Treats - Try to limit yourself if possible, but if you must, get quality, cheap wine at the supermarket.
Now you know how much spending money you will need for Paris. Have you gone to Paris recently? What was your experience? Do you have any advice for us? Where are your favorite places to go? Feel free to share and comment below! For more help planning your next European holiday, read our post How to Plan Your Europe Itinerary. As always, be safe and happy travels!