A trip to Paris is a dream come true for many of us. But the financial crisis and the lingering recession may have you second guessing or even postponing that dream trip to Paris. Familiarity and bit of inside knowledge are often the key to enjoying your vacation without breaking your budget and Paris is no different. So let’s take a look at the ways that Parisians stretch their euros so we can enjoy the wonders of one of the most magnificent cities the world has to offer.
- Free entry to museums and cathedrals – There are over 180 museums and monuments in Paris many of which offer free entrance at specific times. Almost all churches and cathedrals offer free admission daily (except for la Sainte Chapelle), but you may need to pay an extra fee to visit the crypts or climb the towers (e.g. Notre Dame Cathedral). Many major museums, including the big favorites such as the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée Rodin and Musée Picasso, offer free admission the first Sunday of every month. The same museums, plus many more, offer free admission daily to citizens of any nation of the European Union who are under 26 years old and to children and youths under 18 years old, regardless of nationality.
- The Paris Museum Pass – Museum lovers who plan to visit lots of museums should buy the Paris Museum Pass. The pass allows unlimited entry to over 60 museums and monuments, including the Louvre Museum, Château de Versailles, the Musée d’Orsay, the Rodin Museum, the Picasso Museum, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Sainte Chapelle. You can visit any number of participating institut de beauté paris museums, without waiting in line, during the pass’ period of validity (2, 4, or 6 days). Anybody who wants to see as many museums as possible during a short visit, also needs to manage their time. So one of the most attractive features of the Paris Museum Pass is the ability to visit museums without waiting in line to buy tickets.
- Free concerts Paris has a great deal to offer music lovers. If you’re fortunate enough to have a flexible schedule, you should be sure to consider visiting Paris during the Summer when you can experience the Fête de la Musique (June 21) or the Free Summer Jazz concerts held every weekend in the Parc de Vincennes. If you’re time is not so flexible, you can still take advantage of the free concerts that are frequently offered at the Maison de Radio France. Dates and times vary, but a schedule and free tickets can be collected in the office at, 116, avenue du Président Wilson, 75016 Paris.
- Shop for designer clothes at department store sales and designer outlets – Paris is the capital of fashion and the home of myriad designers and labels. The high priced boutiques along the Rue du Faubourg St Honoré and luxury labels such as Hermes and Louis Vuitton may only be accessible to the few, but savvy shoppers can pick up close outs or seconds of designer outfits for huge discounts at designer outlet stores. Inside the Paris city limits, the Mouton à 5 Pattes on the Boulevard Saint Germain is a favorite, as well as the many ready-to-wear shops found in the 14th arrondissement, on the rue d’Alésia. If close outs aren’t your thing, big department stores like Bon Marché, Galleries Lafayettes and Printemps have twice yearly sales in January and July, typically discounting designer duds by up to 70%.
- Visit the Flea Market – The world famous Paris Flea Markets are a shopper’s delight and a good way to spend an afternoon, whether or not you’re planning to buy something. The largest of the Flea Markets is located at Porte de Clignancourt to the North of Paris. A huge selection of art, antiques, clothing and many other items are on sale. Entry is free and the atmosphere is reminiscent of the Great Bazaars of Middle Eastern cities like Cairo and Istanbul.
- Visit the Paris Opéra – Paris boasts two great opera houses: the Opéra Bastille and the Opéra Garnier. The Opéra Bastille is the newer of the two. It opened in 1989 and claims that every seat offers a clear view of the stage. The neo-Baroque Opéra Garnier is a renowned architectural masterpiece and the home of the Paris Opéra Ballet. It opened in 1875 and seats over 2000 people. Tickets for performances at either opera can go for over 100EUR for the best seats, but the cheapest seats (which may not always offer a great view) often cost less than 10EUR.