Paris on a budget: 5 great value things to check out in Paris
Paris is easily one of my favourite cities in the entire world. There is so much going on there: cutting edge fashion, stunning architecture and some amazing food.
But for first time visitors it can sometimes get a little pricey. I was pretty horrified when it turned out I had spent 15 dollars on a shot glass of OJ at a cute sidewalk café (I had to take the smallest sips ever to make it last!). Thankfully a few more trips to this amazing city have allowed me to explore the more great value areas of the city, and if you do a little planning you can easily have a bargain break in Paris. Some of the best things in life are indeed free.
1. Fashion Show at the Galleries LafayetteLocation: 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 PARIS
Getting there: Metro – Chaussée d’Antin La FayetteChanel, Yves St Laurent and Christian Dior, it is not really hard to see why Paris is often considered the fashion capital of the world. The Parisians have a level of chic that for some reason cannot be replicated elsewhere, however hard we try and boy do I try. Shopping at any of these brands will leave your credit card in tears, but if you want to get a taste of haute couture then check out the free fashion shows at Galleries Lafayette.
This stunning art nouveau mall hosts a 30 minute runway show every Friday at 3pm. Past designers who have displayed their frocks include Diane von Fürstenberg, Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren. The only disappointment is that there are no fashion week inspired goodie bags…
|Hot tip: These tickets aren’t quite gold dust, but the fashionistas at Galleries Lafayette tend to be a little slow at responding. Keep emailing or try phoning, they respond eventually. (Tel: 33 1 42 82 36 40 or email: email@example.com).|
2. Dinner at Bouillon Chartier
Location: 7, rue du Faubourg Montmarte (9th)
Getting there: Metro stop: Grands Boulevards
The city is also famous for food, but those Michelin stars don’t come cheap. For a tasty meal in true Paris style, I recommend Bouillon Chartier. Here you can get a classic steak frites for only 15 AUD, in a restaurant that looks remarkably similar to when it opened its doors in 1896, with red and white covered tables, large gilded mirrors on the walls and bright globe lights. Open from 11:30am until 10pm there might be a long queue during peak hours, but the penguin dressed waiters are extremely efficient.
Don’t worry if you get sat with another group, they squeeze you in where they can, scribbling your order on the paper table cloth and totting it up in their heads. Romance is probably off the cards, but this is easily the most charming restaurant in which to enjoy a bargain meal in Paris. Word has it (and I heartily agree) that Bouillon Chartier serve some of the best crème Chantilly (heavy, sweet whipped cream) in France, so finish off your meal with a choux bun for only 4 AUD.
Most people go to Montmatre for a view over Paris, but I think the green space at Buttes Chaumont is far more impressive. Climbing up and down the hill is an excellent work out and at the centre is a lake with a stunning Italian temple. The whole place feels like a fairy tale, with statues hidden in the undergrowth and manmade waterfalls and streams.
Best of all, it isn’t on the tourist trail so you get to feel like a local. It’s a great spot for lunch too, grab a baguette and some cheese from the little shops that fringe the part and voila! On your way back to the metro sneak a peek at the puppet show, which happens at 4pm and 5pm on Wednesdays and weekends (subject to the weather).
4. Free Museums
Paris is a city of culture, and there are some great monuments and museums for free all year round. My top picks include the Edith Piaf Museum, an amazing collection dedicated to the French songbird set up in her old apartment (by appointment only) including her teeny tiny shoes and Musées des Parfumeries-Fragonard where you can enjoy a history of scent.
|Hot tip: Trips to the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée de L’Orangerie and Musée Rodin usually cost a pretty penny. But if you are keen to check them out, try to visit the city on the first Sunday of the month, they all throw open their doors free of charge. Merci beaucoup Paris!|
5. Watching the Eiffel Tower twinkle at night
Getting there – Metro: Champ de Mars / Tour Eiffel
Of course there isn’t anything in Paris that’s more famous than the Eiffel Tower, and the nightly light show divides the locals, but there is something pretty amazing about sitting on the Champ de Mars with a beer or a glass of wine (hawkers sell these at acceptable prices) and watching an icon sparkle like a Christmas tree.
Let’s be honest, it’s a pretty amazing thing to check out when it is just glowing gold, but from nightfall in both winter (until 1am) and summer (until 2am), the start of each hour is marked by a symphony of 20,000 bulbs in red, blue and white. In fact, I love it so much that I stayed an extra hour to catch the show again. To me it just sums up Paris at its best: classic, a little bit showy and sure to make you go wow.
Have you been to Paris? Any bargain tips to share? Or tales of the expensive side of this fabulous city?