Why do I want to backpack through Paris? The Eiffel Tower, the Paris Catacombs, the Louvre and of course the food! Paris is a foodie’s delight renowned for their unpasteurized cheeses, caramels, macaroons, baguettes and last but not least wine. After saving up a few thousand dollars through a teaching contract in Orlando, doing my research on backpacking, and finding a cheap roundtrip ticket to Paris – I just pulled the trigger!
3 Apps You Must Download For Europe:
MAPS.ME allows you to download maps of the cities for free and then use them without the need for WiFi or data.
Rail Planner allows offline access to European train timetables.
Friend Locator every have that one friend who just answer his phone or gets lost and doesn’t know where he’s at? Simply download and sign-up for this app and your GPS tracks your family and friends location for those nights you had one too many or just plain and simple get lost.
17 Things They Don’t Tell You About Visiting Paris
- Champ-Élysées is a tourist trap, it’s famously overrated as there’s nothing extraordinary there except for the prices considering almost all of the shops are international brands.
- Don’t blow your hard-earned money using the taxis or renting a car, stick to the metro instead.
- People aren’t rude as long as you practice good manners, common courtesies, and a basic understanding of the culture – like anywhere else!
- Ask for tap water! It’s safe and free as opposed to the bottled water that will set you back an easy $10+ on bottled Parisian water!
- Eating outside of sit-down restaurants is extremely underrated. The French savor their meals, be like the French.
- Blend in! Leave the cargo shorts, baseball caps, and sneakers at home. Otherwise you’re putting a target on your back for tourist traps and pickpockets. Remember for Parisians black is always in.
- Paris is split into 5 zones. Zones 1-3 encompass the city center and revolves around downtown and attractions while 4-5 are more so on the outskirts and neighbor the suburbs.
- Don’t be afraid of the cold. I’m a born and raised Floridian and seeing snow for the first time during winter in France. Dress accordingly and you’ll be fine.
- Don’t be a jackass with your selfie stick.
- Learn some basic French phrases such as “excuse me” and “thank you”.
- Restrooms are not always free! You must be a paying customer and many stand alone public restrooms charge a small fee to use.
- You must ask for your check at a restaurant.
- Dogs are allowed to poop in parking lots.
- Paris’ neighborhoods are split into 20 arrondissements.
- There’s plenty of observation views such as the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, and Montparnasse Tower – just take your pick unless you think the variety of views are worth the euros.
- Don’t ever exchange your money at a currency exchange booth.
- No open container law!
Breaking It Down: Is the Paris Pass Worth It?
Paris Pass includes public transportation, a 2-day bus pass, and a few other benefits such as a boat cruise.
Paris Museum Pass is strictly for select museums and attractions.
Paris Museum Pass vs. Paris Pass (Adult Prices)
2 Days: 39€ vs. 2 Days: 110€
4 Days: 54€ vs. 4 Days: 160€
6 Days: 69€ vs. 6 Days: 195€
Saves money if used efficiently.
“Free” entrance to over sixty attractions throughout Paris.
Skip the line; this makes a big difference during peak season.
Unlimited public transportation, Paris is a big city; it’s impossible to walk to every attraction throughout the city.
Free tours and wine tastings.
The Eiffel Tower and Paris Catacombs are NOT included in the pass!
Time constraint is a serious setback, especially for those who aren’t early birds, as most museums are closed at least one day a week and generally close around 5pm.
Some attractions are already free such as the Luxembourg Gardens.
If you’re visiting during the slow winter season like me, getting to skip the lines with the fast pass isn’t worth it because there are no lines!
I don’t enjoy tours. I have an infatuation for venturing and getting wonderfully, within reason, lost in a new city and stumbling into hidden gems.
I’m not a wine guy, I know its Paris but whiskey is my preference.
Versailles Palace being over an hour drive from Paris is a day trip, decide if it’s worth it to you to visit or not.
Arrival 1:45pm Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle Airport
Dec 17th-21st (4 days and 1 half day)
Attraction Fees: Expect to spend generally between $8-$12 dollars for attractions like museums and use a virtual map to plan your expeditions out where attractions are grouped together in walking distance.
Day 1 (Saturday):
Place du Tetre
Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre: Free, €6 to enter the Dome (Open Daily 6am-11:30pm)
Dali Museum: €11.50 (Open Daily 10am-6pm)
Day 2 (Sunday):
Eiffel Tower: €7 to take the stairs, €17 to use the lift (Open Daily 9:30am-11:45pm)
Champ de Mars: Free
Arc de Triomphe: Free, tickets to Observation Deck: €8 (Open 10am-10:30pm)
Day 3 (Monday):
Sainte-Chapell:e €8.50 (Open Daily 9am-5pm)
Notre-Dame Cathedral: Free, €10 to enter the Towers (Open Daily 8am-6:45pm, weekends until 7:15pm)
Cluny Museum: €9 (Open 9:15am-5:45pm, closed on Tuesdays)
Saint Sulpice: Free (Open Daily 7:30am-7:30pm)
Pantheon: €7.50 (Open Daily 10am-6pm)
Luxembourg Gardens: Free (Open Mon-Sat 9am-6pm)
Day 4 (Tuesday):
Montparnasse Cemetery: free (Open daily 8am-5:30pm)
Montparnasse Tower: €15 (Open Daily 9:30am-10:30pm)
Paris Catacombs: €12 (Open 10am-8:30pm, closed on Mondays)
Day 5 (Wednesday):
Orsay Museum €12 (Open Daily 9:30am-6pm, closed on Mondays)
Louvre Museum €15 (Mon, Th, Sat, Sun: from 9am-6pm Wed, Fri 9am-9:45pm, closed on Tuesdays)
Check-out of hostel, visit anything missed, revisit favorite eateries and sights, and hop on the train to Brussels, Belgium.
Sum of Admissions: €97.50-136.50
Getting Around: Paris is well-known for having a great public transportation system in their subways and trains.
Paris Metropass/Travel Card
This can be bought in either 1, 2, 3, or 5 days.
1 Day $18
2 Days $30
3 Days $40
5 Days $58
Single Trip Tickets: €1.90 or a pack 0f 10 for €14.50. A typical train ticket one-way is $2, assuming you’re taking the budget route only leaving once to a certain zone and then returning to your hostel at night you’ll only be spending $4 daily on metro passes.
Accommodations: For a cheap hostel expect to be spending between $20-$25 a night. With a simple quick search on hostelworld I found a deal booking one of two hostels in Paris for four nights for the price of three. St. Christopher’s Inn 4 days and 4 nights €76.95
Flight: Start looking for your flight several months in advance using Google Flights’ tracking feature to monitor the price drops, doing this I found a round-trip flight from Orlando to Paris for only $531 via United Airlines.
Budgeting For Paris: It’s no secret Paris is not a cheap city to visit, in fact, it’s nationally ranked as one of the most expensive European cities. Granted the Euro is not quite as strong as it used to be against the U.S. dollar it still boasts a dime over every dollar on top of the exchange rate fee. Therefore, exchanging a $1000 U.S. will still bring you less than 900 in Euros. To avoid a hefty exchange rate go to a bank or ATM as apposed to a currency exchange booth.
Food & Drinks: For a cheap meal on-the-go budget $5-10 per meal, for a nicer sit-down meal prepare to shell out $20+.
My Costs Summary:
Round-Trip Plane Ticket $531
5 Days’ Worth of Attractions’ Admissions: $107
Public Transportation: Single Trip Tickets $2 each (10 Trips = $16)
Accommodations: $84 for 4 nights
Daily Food & Drinks: $15-$60 x 5 = $75-$300
Buy a shorter Paris pass and visit the sights not included on the pass the other days you’re in Paris such as the Eiffel Tower and Paris Catacombs.
Buy a pack of ten metro tickets for €14.50
Foods I Must Try:
Soupe à l’oignon gratinée (French onion soup)
Croque-monsieur (a grilled cheese and ham sandwich smothered in more melted cheese)
Steak frites (steak and french fries)
Coquilles St–Jacques (seasoned scallops topped with cheese and bread curmbs served in a shell)
Pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants)
Puits d’amours (large puff pastries filled with vanilla cream and drizzled with caramel sauce) Crêpes (fixins’ range from Nutella to bananas and berries)
Chocolat chaud (hot chocolate)
Café crème (coffee with cream)