Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Ultimate Paris on a Budget, Part One

Bonjour! Indeed, Paris was where I spent my grand 20th birthday and I loved every minute, but enough about me, here are a few top tips on how you can have your own amazing yet budget-conscious trip to the continent's style capital!

Before You Go

I'd say don't buy a guidebook if you want to save yourself £7. It really isn't necessary as you can research everything on the net before you go, here's how:

Find the best hotels and restaurants at the holy grail of travel sites, TripAdvisor.com where you can get candid, real people's photos, star ratings and reviews, plus maps and price comparisons. They've even put together a whole guide to visiting Paris with both budget and luxury options (follow the link and it's a little way down in the right column.)

Print necessary maps straight from Google or pick one up free when you get there, they are available from the train station at the airport and probably your hotel, both will come with maps of the metro too.

If you want to get uber-organised before you go, head over to Tripit.com where you can put together an entire itinerary with incredible ease!

How to Travel

I flew with easyjet for what I considered to be a reasonable return price of around £80. You could probably get an even better deal by booking in advance but that was the best price I could achieve through many an evening of Internet research.

Flying was my choice simply because I am conveniently close to an airport and it's the quickest most exciting way to go! If you do fly and want to save money then DON'T get a taxi on the other side unless you have absolutely no choice, we thought we might until we discovered that to central Paris from Charles De Gaulle airport we'd have to pay around 50 euros! The train and metro system in Paris is so speedy and reasonably priced that there really is no need.

Plan your train and metro travel here before you go for extra efficiency and less confusion.
You could also buy a travel pass in advance here if you think it'll be worth it for the amount of getting about you have planned (it probably will be!)

Obviously, there are alternative travel options like taking your own car on the euro tunnel or getting a coach, but I'm not sure of the prices. I know you can get great coach deals (many including sight-seeing options) with a bit of web research if you're willing to suffer the long journey!

Where to Stay

This was my first and only time in the city so, of course, I can't offer ultimate authority on the best bits. However, I can assure you that due to being the nerd I am, literally hours and hours of research went into my trip and it was most definitely a winner.

I stayed at the New Orient Hotel which, although only a two star establishment, certainly felt far more luxurious with lovely clean rooms and absolutely fabulous, helpful staff. I couldn't fault it. That said, my first choice was this hotel - how cute?! I definitely want to go back in the summer time and stay here.

There is a great, if slightly dated article on Cheap and Chic Hotels in Paris from the New York Times which is how I found my hotel. There are some fab finds in there and because of their popularity and general greatness, I'd suggest booking as early as possible.

Clearly, staying in a hotel will always be more expensive than a hostel but, for me, where you stay is integral to the whole sense of your trip. A gorgeous, well staffed hotel just screams luxury, and man oh man, do I love a bit of luxury.

You need to work out what you want from your holiday and what you are and aren't willing to splash out on. Are you going to ride the metro or get taxis everywhere? Do want to go out for five star dinners or haunt the nearest burger joint? Do you want to splash out at Chanel or save the shopping for the sales back home? Allow yourself the one luxury that means the most to you. And really, if you're going to stay in a city like Paris, you might as well do it properly!

Look out for Part Two of Charade's Ultimate Guide to Paris on a budget where I will offer up ideas for Where to Eat, Where to Play and What to Take.

Do you have any top travel tips? Have you been to Paris and loved it? Comment away!

Megan x


sparkleandglitter said...

Fabulous post! I'm saving this, I intend to visit Paris sometime in the new year and this post will be exceedingly useful!

Jackie said...

Thanks for the tips! Okay, so I have to wait another year and a half before I can even dream of Paris (actually, just Europe in general).

I can't believe that hotel was only two stars. It looked pretty ritzy to me!

bellefantaisie.net said...

This is brilliant, it's made me want to go to paris for my 20th!

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