Anyone who knows me knows that I had always dreamt of going to Paris! I always felt that that dream would come true in many, many more years from now. To my surprise, I was able to go the first week of December this year! And let me tell you – there’s a reason the quote “Paris is always a good idea” lives on….the city is incredible (more on this in a bit).
One of the main factors that was preventing me from affording a Paris trip was airfare. With most airlines, the airfare to Europe from the U.S. can cost more than the hotel and food combined! An Icelandic airline, called WOW Air recently started making trips from select locations in the states. I booked a trip with WOW Air from Los Angeles to Paris for $800 total ROUND TRIP for two people! That is $400 per person round trip! And I didn’t have to go to any third party sites or anything troublesome like that, I just booked directly from them. The airline is able to afford to provide people reasonable airfare since they charge for luggage, food, and don’t have TV’s on board. But I am totally okay with that! I honestly rather save my money, and I loved taking the time to read (since it’s hard for working moms such as myself to get to read a book or two). The food I purchased on board was absolutely incredible! And to save money on luggage, I packed light, making going on trains with my luggage a breeze.
WOW Air flights all have a layover in Reykjavik, Iceland, where you can have the option to stay there for a day or two (without additional cost of airfare). It definitely now has been added to my travel wishlist. Just from the airport the country looked beautiful! This is another small touch, but I loved that the airplanes were PURPLE (my favorite color).
I can’t recommend them enough, as their customer service is also stellar. I will definitely be using WOW to travel internationally from now on. You can learn more about WOW here.
For my hotel stays, I spent half of my week at an Air BnB. You can find some that are quite affordable! I stayed right in the heart of Paris, near Notre Dame. It was equal distance to nearly everything, and was able to get to so many popular sights by foot. If you want a hotel in a prime location, it could cost an arm and a leg. An Air BnB will most likely be more affordable in prime locations. It also helps save money, since most have refrigerators. My husband and I picked up bread and cheeses from local markets to make our own, more affordable breakfasts.
For the second half of the week, we stayed at Disneyland Paris. They often have amazing package deals, like ours, which was buy three nights get two free! You can read all about my Disneyland Paris experience here.
So I talked about how we saved money on breakfast, hotel stay, and airfare. What about things to do? We paid for a few things to do, but most of what we did was free! That’s the great thing about Paris – so many historical sites make this an amazing city to explore, and most of the time those historical sites are free of cost!
For example, the Louvre has the first Sunday of each month free! It will mean more of a wait (it was about an hour and a half), but the courtyard isn’t a bad view while you’re waiting to go in!
We also went to Notre Dame cathedral. If you want to go up in the tower, it does cost money, but we just went inside the cathedral (which is free), and there is plenty to see in there!
Also while by Notre Dame, live life the Parisian way and take a long, gorgeous walk along the Seine.
We did this walk many times, and it never got boring! You walk by so many painters, beautiful buildings, cafes, and booksellers – you truly get a taste of the Parisian way of life.
Another place I loved to walk along was Saint Germain des Pres. There we found the tastiest cheese shops, chocolateries, you name it! We got some of the best food and best people watching along that street. The street is also near one of Paris’ most famous gardens, Jardin du Luxembourg. You can sit with a coffee here, people watch, or play some tennis. This, among many other gorgeous gardens, are some of the best free things to do in Paris.
Also along all the major streets of Paris are beautiful side streets! One of my favorite things about the city, and what makes it so magical, is that every alley way, every nook and cranney, has a cobblestone street with little shops, street art, gardens…there’s always something secret to find in the sidestreets of Paris!
We also visited the huge Palace of Versailles. You could spend a whole free day doing that! To tour the palace itself costs money, but the gardens and grounds are free to roam. You can view the beautiful fountains, or sit on a bench that has a view of Marie Antoinette’s chateau. There is even a farm with sheep along the path.
And of course, the most iconic landmark in Paris, is the Eiffel Tower. It costs money to go up into it, but to stand out front and walk the streets around it, of course is free! When I was taking pictures of the area, I discovered there’s no bad view of the Tower!
When you go to Paris, each neighborhood has a different personality. Save your money on tourist attractions, and instead sit and savor the local’s lifestyles. Sit in the Montemarte district and watch artists paint, sit in a garden and people watch.
And there’s no bad food in Paris, so instead of pricier cafes, pick up food from delis, grocers, markets, or food stands. You will get a great value for your Euros! If you want to do the cheap eating option though, be sure to have cash, as many smaller places like that don’t take card.
And when you’re wondering how to get from site to site, I can’t stress enough how convenient the Metro and RER train lines are. We never rode in a car once, we did the metro the whole time. We purchased a Navigo Decouverte pass, which you can purchase at nearly every station’s ticket window. For 27 euros, you can get a pass that’s good from Monday to Sunday (unlimited), and even goes as far as Versailles and Disneyland Paris.
I would love to hear what some of your favorite things are to do and see in the magical city of Paris! And also would love to hear your suggestions of where I should travel next! Bon Voyage!