When we think of France we immediately imagine sipping expensive glasses of champagnes, dining in Michelin-star restaurants, and shopping for high end couture. But a journey to this European hot spot doesn’t need to clean out your bank account. We recently wrote about affordable Parisian experiences for couples in love, but with this article we’ll examine the ways anyone can save in this romantic country’s capital and beyond.
France has some of Europe’s most beautiful hotels, but using them will cost you a pretty penny. Make your Euro go further by choosing hostels instead. Some are the dirty and rowdy establishments many people think of when they hear the term, but you’ll find value at those that are part of the Youth Hostel Association Network, or FUAJ. These hostels have clean and modern rooms and most even offer complimentary breakfasts. Those establishments don’t skimp either; you can likely look forward to nutritious yogurts and flaky croissants. Dormitory-style rooms are the cheapest, and a great way to make friends. However if you value your privacy and space you can always indulge in a private couples or family room. Alternatively you can find camping facilities at some of the regional hostels. What a great way to commune with nature and save a few bucks! A FUAJ guidebook will help you find the network’s hostels whether you’re in France’s cities or enjoying the countryside.
France’s SNCF trains are reliable but fares can add up without some careful planning. Look out for Europasses and other discount travel cards to avoid costly tickets on the day of your journey. Day tickets are another good alternative if you’re planning a lot of short trips. These passes allow you to catch all the buses, metros, and trams you like in a 24-hour period.
With transport sorted it’s time to see the sights. If you’re under 26 you can see them for less with an international youth travel card. Prices for the card vary according to your country, but it’s generally equivalent to the cost of a movie ticket. It’s worth that initial outlay to enjoy discounted entry to big attractions including the Eiffel Tower. Young people can also enjoy cheap student tickets to concerts and operas. A city guide or some searching online can also tip you off to free gigs, festivals, and open-air concerts.
After a busy day of sightseeing you’ll need to fill your belly. While those gourmet restaurants are alluring, frugal travelers know they can enjoy a great meal without spending a lot of money. Steer clear of the touristy eateries and look for the places that locals frequent. Keep your eyes peeled for places with wise old waiters and without English menus.
And never underestimate a picnic. You can find baguettes, cheeses, and other gourmet delicacies for less than you’d expect at a French farmer’s market or grocery store. Take your swag to one of the country’s beautiful parks and soak up the atmosphere. It’s probably better than the vibe of a stuffy restaurant after all!