“I lived in Paris as a student,” began Valentine Fouché to the group assembled for our Live and Invest in France Conference last week.
“And students know how to live on a budget… even in Paris.”
Valentine is our Conference Director. She is also, coincidentally, French.
At last week’s event, Valentine shared insights from her experiences in this country, including tips for how to get the most out of life in Paris if you’re getting by on a shoestring.
“In central Paris,” Valentine continued, “you are living in a very small space… especially if your budget is limited.
“But that does not mean that your life is small. The city itself becomes part of your living area… your living room, in a sense. You quickly learn to include Paris’ parks and gardens, for example, in your day-to-day.
“Paris is full of parks. Each one has its own vibe and its own community. Find your favorite… the one that suits you best… and then become part of that scene.
“A picnic in your favorite park can be a super low-cost way to make any sunny afternoon memorable. We Parisians do this nearly all year round. When the sun is out, we are, too, even in winter.
“Some of the best views of this beautiful city are free. I’m talking about views from the rooftops. The department stores BHV and Galeries Lafayette, for example, have rooftop terraces. My favorite, though, is at the Centre Pompidou.
“Paris is also full of museums. Some of them are free all the time, but every museum in the city offers free times—the first Sunday of the month, for example, certain evenings, or during the Journées du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days).
“Movie tickets are 11 euros, but you can get a movie pass.
“In fact, in Paris, you can get a pass for almost everything—for movies, for the Métro, for the train, for museums, theaters, pools, shops…
“Take a look at www.billetreduc.com or www.lylo.fr. You’ll be amazed at all the discounts available.
“I met with friends for dinner last night, and that’s how we chose the restaurant—by searching on those websites to find the best discount offer in the area where we wanted to eat.
“My favorite free thing to do in Paris is lèche-vitrine. That’s window shopping. I can indulge in an entire Saturday afternoon in one of Paris’ grands magasins (that’s department stores) and have a wonderful time without spending a single euro.
“When I was little, I used to dream that I was locked up in Le Bon Marché for the night… and those were the best dreams of my life.
“The other best free thing to do in Paris is to take a walk. This city is small but dense with experiences of all kinds. Every square meter offers something new and fun to see and do.
“I’d say that walking is the best entertainment in Paris. But transportation can be entertainment, too. Take a do-it-yourself tour of Paris by Vélib’ (that’s the city’s nearly free bicycle rental program) or by bus.
“The other budget thing to do in Paris is to get out of Paris. This city is a great hub for traveling throughout all Europe on the cheap, by train or plane.
“And, yes, of course, as for everything in Paris, you can get passes and discounts! Ouigo offers discounted train tickets, for example. I bought a ticket on Ouigo to go by train from Paris to Bordeaux for 10 euros…”