Visiting one of the world’s most expensive cities, and the world’s most visited city, within budget expenses, is always a challenge. Most of us have dreams of visiting Paris one day. And yet many of us are deterred by various factors and questions. Can I afford it? Is it a safe city? Is it worth it? Should I opt for a group tour? Will I get vegetarian/halal food there? Will I need to stay in a pigeon-hole hostel in a shady colony? Will I be mugged/pick pocketed there? Will taxis rip me off? Can I understand the train ticketing and network there? Etc Etc.
Frankly most of these thoughts enveloped me the day we landed Paris. Months of feedback from friends only helped raise concerns. Hence I sought these parameters to ensure we enjoy Paris:
- the safest way
- the cheapest way
- with family
- stress free
- spend most time by the romantic river Seine and sights (no group tour)
- Good tasty food
- And enjoy on a budget.
I must add, after my visit, I fell in love and especially my football stadium experience means, will surely visit Paris again. Our trip also had an amazing week at Costa Del Sol and another at Barcelona, but the French capital remained special.
From wherever you fly in, landing at Orly airport makes sense. Budget airlines mostly land there (so you save on airfare). You and family can take a taxi straight to the main city. It’s a flat fare of 35 euros. Suggested. Other options like the shuttle bus to city exist, but with family won’t make sense at all. This is because the cost of four tickets will exceed 35 euros plus the hassle, the changeover from the point the bus drops etc isn’t worth it. Even if you are a couple, I suggest the taxi.
However if you land at Charles De Gaulle airport, there is train connectivity.
Hotel recommended – Hotel Nicolo or Le Hameau de Passy Hotel. Hotel Nicolo the room with four beds size is bigger and cheaper if you don’t include breakfast.
Stay duration – 2 nights (remember you are on a budget)
Costs – Around 200 euros per night for a quadruple room ie a room with four beds. It’s not too budgety but you pay extra for the connectivity, area, safety and access to sites.
Why I recommend these two hotels
- Cost includes good speed WiFi
- Cost includes basic breakfast (solves your start of day tension of what to feed kids, or yourself) so you start day charged and filled up!
- Extremely neat and clean, with good linens/towels and bathroom.
- Staff friendly and try to help to the extent possible (not common in Paris, filled with grumpy people!)
- Decently spacious… not really a pigeon hole!
Location (next to Eiffel Tower) :
Reasons for choosing this area
- It’s inevitable that you would like to spend good time around the Eiffel Tower. A daytime visit is recommended to admire, to climb the 700 odd steps, sit by and fall in love!
- A night-time visit is recommended to see the Eiffel Tower all lighted up (8pm onwards, every hour, for 5 mins) and get mesmerized.
- It’s adjacent to an upmarket posh area. The buildings around are extremely artistic and beautiful. You will feel you are at a special romantic place.
- Absolute safe location, probably one of the safest there. As a family we were roaming at midnight chill with not many people around and yet felt comfortable.
- It’s short walking distance to two train stations.
- 6 stations away from Parc Des Princess stadium (for football fans).
- Short and direct bus ride away from all sightseeing points.
- It’s next to the romantic river Seine (sit by it) and the brilliant romantic architecture around.
- Really, it’s the start point of the stretch of sightseeing points.
On same street (Rui De Passy) as hotel, there are half a dozen Chinese tiny restaurants (100 mtr away from the hotel) who display all their food and you need to buy basis weight. So you can take one dish only 100gms, other one 200gms and so on. The food is cheap, tasty, healthy and some of them were open till 12 midnight (a luxury in Paris to find a budget restaurant open late in such area at 10 degrees chill in April).
They have enough vegetarian options (not sure about the halal part though) and when you see and taste from a big spread, in little quantities, obviously you will find some to many of the dishes likeable. For a family of four, our average meal bill was 15 to 20 euros which included prawn and chicken dishes, but no alcohol or drinks.
(Update April 2018) – Also eat the 6€ giant chicken skewer or pork hot dogs under Eiffel Tower. Economical and very filling.
Thumb rule about the restaurant business is that beverages and desert always have more mark up ie profit margin. Note, these are restaurants, not take away joints, so the deal has to be cheap. Possibly, comparable to your hometown!
Aside airport to and fro by taxi, its suggested to buy the local transport ticket booklet of 10 tickets. It costs around 15 euros and each ticket can be used for one full end to end journey! The bunch of 10 tickets can be easily obtained from kiosks at railway stations (as told before 5 mins walking there are two stations near your hotel). And use the tickets to go all the way upto Disneyland or nearby. Much cheaper than your group tours and more flexible.
Sightseeing (all key points) :
Eiffel tower – 500 mts from your hotel
Palais De Chaillot – 300 mts from your hotel
Arc De Triumph – 1km from your hotel
Esplanade, Louvre area, Notre Dame, Museum, Grand Palace – very simple. Walk 200 mtr from your hotel to road Avenue de New York, take bus 72 (red) it goes straight down the road, by the river Seine, and stops next to all these points. Same route to return back! Use the tickets from ticket booklet. No complicated train lines maze to solve, just a straight bus. Couples on a chilly day can actually walk from each of these points to the other.
Entrance Tickets :
Always buy online, beforehand. To lock your day, timings, save queuing time (from potential pickpocket situations in queues), reduce stress and better pricing. Online tickets often have discounts.
(for Eiffel Tower ‘climb by stairs’ ticket – you can book there and then itself at the counter).
Nett Budget :
So what’s the damage on your pockets looking like for a family of four?
- 35*2 for taxi to and from airport.
- 200*2 two hotel nights for quadruple room.
- 100 euros for six meals (this one is a killer, most friends will tell you it’s 50euro per meal at Paris!)
- 15*2 euros for 2 ticket booklets. Enough for 2-3 days for family of four.
Essentially the above totals to 600 Euros, plus if you add sightseeing entrance fees, some souvenir shopping, I can’t see the total bill crossing 800 euros (<1000 usd) for family of four for three days at Paris. Three dreamy days
If you feel its too cheap, then add Disneyland and give your kids a lifetime experience.
Stick to the basics as mentioned above and you will unlikely not encounter any bad incident or rip off. I must add I watched a key football game where the local team, Paris St Germain, disappointed and i was surrounded by all big burly coloured people. Yet, I had my life’s most fascinating football watching experience.So avoid all prejudices and fall in love with Paris. On a Budget!