Useful tips for your next trip to Paris
When to book and get the best prices in Paris?
Indulge yourself in a holiday to Paris during summer!
Paris is empty, especially in August! You won’t have any issues to find a place to stay, neither to park or to visit… August is surely the ideal month to discover Paris with all its advantages (monuments, quais de Seine, parks, terraces…) but without all the drawbacks (much traffic, busy public transportations...). That is why also the prices are the lowest: as an example, the weekend offers “train+hotel” from the countryside cost 200€ less than in July compared to June, you save around 10 to 30 euros per day on your hotel room.
Or during scholar holidays from zone C:
Parisians don’t ask for much but to go on holidays away: visit their sublime city during holidays is, therefore, a good plan. There are fewer people around, fewer business deals too so hotels and train tickets are less expensive during that period… In France, the country is divided in order to have different areas which go on holidays at different times of the year (avoiding road traffic and subpopulation in touristic places) therefore you must look at the “zone C” holiday time on the internet to know when Parisians will be on vacation.
Note that during winter holidays, especially February, this is particularly true because everyone's gone to the mountains (skiing).
Book on Sundays rather than during the week:
Here again, the matter of economic activity: business travel represents a huge part of the “come and go” during the week, filling up the hotels which prices go up easily from Monday to Thursday.
The real good deal is to go there on Sunday/Monday, it assures you to save money: Sunday night is generally the cheapest of the week in hotels, and most of the museums/attractions are open on Mondays (lot of them are closed on Tuesday except the Orsay museum which is closed on Mondays).
Book in advance for Autumn or Spring seasons:
That’s where the Parisian life and activity occurs: there are a lot of important exhibitions in October and November, then Christmas takes place, then the new year and eventually the winter sales. After the break of February, comes the fashion week, the Salon de l’Agriculture (giant exhibition), Roland Garros the grand chelem tennis tournament…
Well for all these events, hotels are getting totally filled up so better booking in advance to get a chance to stay in Paris center without wasting all your savings!
Our tricks and tips to get the best out from your trip to Paris
- Go to the museum on the first Sunday of the month. Beaubourg, Le Louvre, Orsay...
All the national museums are open on free access every first Sunday of each month. Also available for national museums during winter!
- Or by night.
There are a lot fewer people around and the experience is pretty cool (for testing it myself on a Thursday night in winter, the sculpture department of the Louvre almost felt alive… It was magical and there was no one!)
Notes: Le Louvre is open until 9.45PM every Thursday and Friday, Orsay until 9.45PM on Thursday with reduced ticket prices from 6 PM, Beaubourg until 9 PM every day.
Be aware that museums are less crowded generally from 5 PM no matter the museum.
- And don’t forget to look for the hidden entrances:
Le Louvre has got a lot of different access other than the one through the glass pyramid which is always crowded; if we buy our tickets in advance, we can get in inside Orsay but the VIP access!
- Prove that you are young:
Since 2009, all national museums in France (permanent collections only) are free to every EU citizen who’s less than 26! Don’t forget your ID card!
- Eat at school!
Most of the cooking schools have their own restaurants (for “practicing” purposes), they are held by the students themselves and open to clients during the week (most of the time for lunchtime only but sometimes also for dinner a few times a week). You can eat true gastronomic cuisine for not much at all: count around 15 to 25 euros for a menu. However, you will need to book a few days in advance.
Examples : lycée hôtelier Guillaume Tirel, lycée hôtelier Jean Drouant, Ecole Française de Gastronomie Ferrandi…
- Cycle with Velib.
Probably the greener and the most economical way to move around in Paris.
Passengers and tourists can pick-up their Velib Express card in any Parisian collection point (there is at least one per “arrondissement”, the name of each area in Paris) or subscribe online with their credit card then use the service straight away.
The first 30 minutes are free, the next one will cost you only 1€, then next one 2€ and so on.
- Go to the theatre for nearly nothing.
Thanks to the “Kiosques Théâtre” which put on sale tickets for half their prices when they show occurs on the same evening (theatres, cabarets…). Eventually, you will pay the same price as a 2nd or 3rd category ticket but you will have way better spots. Get there in the morning because places are limited.
3 selling points: Montparnasse, Ternes & Madeleine
- Enjoy the “free” Paris...
And there is a lot to do! There are tons of cultural places on free access: permanent collections from the city of Paris, Le Petit Palais, the Modern Art Museum of the city of Paris, Victor Hugo’s house, the Carnavalet Museum, The Museum of Romantic life. Note that the gardens of Versailles’ castle have a free entrance too! (and it only takes 20 minutes with the train called RER).
- Listen to an Opera for less than 5€.
Standing tickets nearby the Orchestre are sold for 5€ about 1.30 hour before the beginning of the show. Be on time!
- Try a luxury spa… without going bankrupt!
There are several private sales’ websites offering spa, body care or luxury hairdressing bundles for really low prices (50 to 80% discount). Generally, those are top class institutions in the “chic” area (such as le Spa Vendôme). Once you have acquired the coupon, you have to book in advance to make sure it will be free when you want it.
To find on: Beauté Privée (in French)
- Buy a RATP (Subway) pass or a book of tickets.
Even if walking into Paris is probably the best way to visit it, you will still have issues to avoid public transport at some point which by the way are very performing. Tourist pass is not very expensive: €14.40 for 2 days, €19.60 for 3 days. They are worth it from the moment you take the public transports at least 5 times a day during your stay. If you don't get to use all of your tickets, keep them for your next trip, you can keep them for years if needed!
- Drink your coffee for 1€!
Paris city official website asked Parisians if they could help out to create a list of all the bars and cafés in which the expresso is still served for 1€ ( at the counter but it is sometimes served at the same price on the terrace!). There are quite a few still and the list is updated regularly. Now that a coffee in a chic area can reach 4 to 6 € so you better take this list quite seriously!
You can find the list on le mag of Paris.fr by typing “où Boire un café pour 1€ à Paris?”
- Get guided by a true Parisian.
Some associations offer free commented tours in Paris, mostly organized by volunteers in love with their city. It’s pretty cool and it allows you to also get out of the “normal” touristic path. Even if that does not count you a cent, nothing holds you from making donations to help them surviving correctly.
Find out more on Paris Greeters or Paris le Nez en l’Air
- Buy a specific train ticket for Disneyland Paris.
The francilien train ticket is a ticket that is working only on a specific date but that cost way less money. Though you need to book it 5 days in advance. As you are preparing your weekend or holidays, you won’t have much of an issue to decide when do you want to visit the park, constraints are therefore minimal. You can take a 1 day/1 park or a 1 day / 2 parks version (there are Disneyland and Disney Studio).
Prices: 39€ instead of 64€ for the 1d/1p, 49€ instead of 74€ for the 1d/2p. Unique price for both adults and kids.
I hope this small article will help you to prepare your future trip in the French capital the best way as possible! Don’t forget to book in advance with Taxi2airport to enjoy your trip to the fullest!