Paris Prices: What you can expect to pay—and how to pay less

One of Paris' many cafes. Photo by d'Alk.
One of Paris' many cafes. Photo by d'Alk.

When you plan a vacation, you generally budget a certain amount that you want to pay for airfare and a hotel. Yet, many forget to plan for all the little expenses—which can really add up if you’re not careful.

Here’s our handy cheat sheet for what you can expect to pay for some basic items in Paris, as well as tips for finding a cheaper alternative.

Cup of coffee: €2.50+

While a simple espresso generally will cost around €2.50-€3 when sipped seated at a café, anything fancier (latte, café crème, etc.) is going to tack on an extra euro or more in price. Cafés in central Paris also increase their prices for other basic items because they know tourists will pay.

When grabbing a coffee at a touristed café (or any café, for that matter), stand at the bar with the locals and pay half the price. For a leisurely café experience, why not venture to a spot along the Canal St. Martin in the 11th arrondissement where prices should be more reasonable?

Ticket to the Louvre: €9.50

That full-price admission ticket for the Louvre’s permanent collections doesn’t even include the €6 audio guide.

For a cheaper alternative, visit the museum on Wednesday or Friday evening from 6 PM to 9:45 PM for €6 and download the free Louvre app from the Apple store before you go. Better yet, aim for the first Sunday of the month when museum admission is free (although crowds can be a problem later in the day).

Many other museums also offer reduced rates for evening admission and most participate in the free first Sundays.

Lunch at a restaurant: €10+

Even at lunchtime, a main course at a moderately-priced restaurant in a touristy neighborhood will probably run upwards of €10—and that doesn’t account for wine or other beverages.

Instead, pick up a prepared sandwich at a boulangerie for about €3 or go for the “formule” that includes a sandwich, dessert, and drink for €5-€7. For a really cheap alternative, pick up a €1 baguette, a €3 bottle of supermarket wine (still tasty even though it’s so cheap!), and some cheese and find a spot for a picnic.

Pint of beer in a bar: €6

Even when compared to New York or London, I find alcohol to be pretty expensive in Paris at even the diviest of bars.

However, in supermarkets it’s fairly cheap. Since drinking in public is legal in most places in Paris (and even in places where it isn’t, most cops will turn a blind eye if you’re discreet about it), you can opt for a less expensive night out by picking up a bottle of wine or a couple of beers at the nearest Franprix and finding a place to sit along the Seine.

If you do want to order a beer at a bar, try a pint of French-made 1664. But to really feel like a local, ask for “un seize” (meaning “16″ – the first part of the beer’s name in French).

Add your tips

How have you kept your expenses low in Paris? Have some tips to share? Please add them in our comments section below!

About the author

About the author: Liz Webber is a freelance journalist living and working in Paris. She has previously worked for the International Herald Tribune and Budget Travel.
Posted in: Paris Planning
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Cheapo Comments

5 Responses to “Paris Prices: What you can expect to pay—and how to pay less”
  • Steve S says:

    I just got back from Paris Sunday night and traveled on a “budget”. To me, that means clean comfortable and quiet hotels under 100 euro – in a central location. Complete meals (including wine) in a restaurant for under 20 euros. Inexpensive attractions. Take a look at my blog and you’ll get plenty of recommendation for all price ranges.

  • Janice L. says:

    I was on a strict budget when I went to Paris in October 2009 for a month. I rented an apartment in the Northern 15th arrondissement and negociated with the landlord and got him down to about €55/day. I lived at my local Monoprix supermarket.

    My apartment had an oven so I was able to bake chickens and cook real meals. The baguettes are inexpensive so I made a LOT of sandwiches and bought scads of cheap wines, cheeses and liquors and even when I over-indulged, I never once experienced a hangover!

    There are tons of Paris apartment rental websites.

    À bientôt et bon chance!

  • [...] Paris Prices: What you can expect to pay—and how to pay less … [...]

  • georgia says:

    Salut mes amis!

    i agree that is really expensive in paris ..i’ve been there once and next week i’ll be there for 10 days..if you got any tips in how spending my money ”smart” please let me know..
    cause i’m a student and u know things are kinda hard! huhu

    merci beaucoup!
    A bientot!

  • Catherine says:

    If you are really feeling cheap, go for a CROUS meal. This is university student cafeteria dining. Most don’t require student ID. Get complete meals for around €3. (Coffee too!) There are several locations.

    The Sunday brunch at Port Royal DOES require a student ID for entry, & that brunch is better than a lot of local restaurants. Personally, the quality of day-to-day meals is hit or miss, but it is cheap! We have a little different info in our resources section of our site: http://www.parisexpat.com/en/resources

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