Paris is a destination that sits atop many bucket lists and travel destination dreams. It’s beautiful, full of incredible history, stunning buildings, museums, and more. Not to mention, who doesn’t love indulging in some of the best cuisines in the world?
Despite the reality that Paris can be an expensive city to indulge in, there are alternatives one can take to minimize the impact on a bank account and still get the enchanting experience of one of Europe’s most desired cities to visit.
Sleeping on a budget – Hostel Bastille
While this hostel is no Ritz Carlton, it gives you all you need in a lodging facility in Paris. When one is in a beautiful city like this, there is no reason to book a hotel or place to spend an excessive amount of time in, there is just way too much to do and see.
Located at 6 Rue Trousseau in the Bastille district of Paris, this hostel is well-located, walking distance to various attractions and right on the metro line.
Notre Dame de Paris
Meaning “Our Lady of Paris,” this famous Roman Catholic cathedral is a must-see for its history and architecture. The line accumulates outside the main doors and a simple walk through tour is completely free, and donations are welcomed with the option to light a candle upon donating.
Impressive stained glass windows, sculptures of biblical figures and gargoyles, and the architectural feat of the flying buttress all come together to make this Cathedral an iconic site to visit.
The Lovers Bridge
Located a few blocks away from Notre Dame, this tourist/collectively created site in Paris has gained recent fame and interest on the internet from various celebrities locking their own locks on this bridge. Thousands of locks of different shapes and sizes are locked on this bridge, representative of a couples love for each other, many locks have names or initials written on them. While it looks somewhat tacky amongst the classical style of this city, it is still a site worth visiting for the picture value as well as the opportunity to leave a piece of yourself in Paris.
The Eiffel Tower
Day or night, the Eiffel tower is a magnificent sight to see and experience. Going all the way up to the top is a must for anyone visiting Paris. It’s a great thing to do with friends night or day. I personally loved going all the way up at night to see the vast lights across the city and being in the tower when it sparkles during the first 10 minutes at the start of every hour. It’s a breathtaking experience everyone has to have when they travel to Paris.
French for “Sacred Heart” Sacré Coeur is a beautiful church that sits at the highest point in all of Paris. It’s a bit of a hike to make it up to the plaza where the church sits, but definitely worth the walk.
Caution is advised to tourists in this area, as pickpockets roam freely preying on naive and distracted travelers, especially those paying close attention to the various street performers. A walk through the cathedral is free of charge, but donations are appreciated. To get there, take the metro to Anvers. From here you can walk to the plaza where there are various vendors (try some vin chaud – hot wine) and climb up to the church from there.
Not a far walk from Sacre Coeur (and its a downhill trek, fortunately) this iconic place is not as exciting as one would expect, but it was a unique spot to check out and take pictures at. Famous for the red windmill and the conception of the can-can dance, the Moulin Rouge has a rather seedy history which can still be felt today in this part of the Pigalle district of Paris.
A trick to visiting this famous museum is to go on the first Sunday of the month if your travel plans allow because it is free of charge! If your travel plans do not coincide with the first part of the month, go anyway and pay for admission because the Louvre is not something to miss while in Paris.
An art museum that is sure to please people that do not have a preference for art museums, the Louvre boasts an impressive collection of galleries of sculptures, paintings, and other works by famous artists from an enormous range of time periods. Of course, the most famous painting that is at home here is the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, which will surprise you with its actual size.
The Palace of Versailles
Located a brief train ride outside of the heart of Paris, the Palace of Versailles is a must see. The enormous chateau turned into a museum houses the famous hall of mirrors as well as sprawling gardens, preserved gold and other artifacts from when it was used for government affairs and housing royalty.
Entrance is €15. Purchase the tickets ahead of time and download them to your phone or save the confirmation email, as this is sufficient to gain access to the palace.
Headsets are free and are very nice for gaining a lot of insight about the various artworks as well as historical information on the construction and changes that the palace went through over several centuries.
Champs-Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe
As a student, the posh upscale boutiques and expensive restaurants are far beyond my budget, making the Champs-Elysées more of a window-shopping destination, but it is a pretty walk.
At the one end of the Champs-Elysees is the Arc de Triomphe, a monument in honor of French soldiers who have died throughout the various wars of the country’s history. To get to the Arc you take an underground passageway. The Arc is a very nice monument to walk around and it is also possible to purchase a ticket to go to the very top to gain another view of Paris different from the Eiffel Tower.
French fondue: a delicious conglomeration of melted cheeses served with small potatoes, toasted bread and meat for dipping. Delicious combination, and even though these dinners are typically more expensive, they are well worth it as they provide an excessive amount of food, more than enough for sharing.
Le Cafe Faubourg
This is a nice cafe in central Paris to stop in for a cappuccino and a meal, I had a grilled ham and cheesy toasty, which was perfect to wake up from my jet lag.