Uncovering Europe's best budget hotels since 2001.
Come hither, Cheaparazzi, let’s take a spin!
1.Cheapo taxi to the airport
Let’s face it, we’ve all got baggage. And sometimes it’s pretty heavy, so occasionally I cab it from the CDG airport to Paris with Art-Trans Voyage. Costing about €10 to €15 less than a normal taxi ride, this super-reliable and friendly car service allows for advance bookings, greets you at the airport with a sign in hand, and lets you ride shotgun if you so fancy. The flat rate will be pre-determined during booking, and is based on your destination in the city, regardless of traffic snarls.
Email owner Lizza (also a concert cellist!) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell her you’re a Cheapo.
Tip: For the very lowest rate (especially if your flight is an early one), do tell Lizza that you are willing to wait for a group pick-up at the airport café, just outside the baggage area. I do this often, and I’ve never had to wait more than one hour. You’ll find the lull in motion soothing, and besides, hotel check-in is usually in the afternoon. So why not relax, people watch, and sip un café, always bien to the last drop!
2. Bière with the locals (Hymne à l’amour)
Chez Ammad at Hotel Clermont, 18 Rue Véron in Abbesses
Keep this tip under your hat. This one’s just for you. If enjoying a really cheap beer while shooting the breeze with animated locals is a Parisian dream, Chez Ammad is your place. Though located just a few blocks from the bustling Place Abbesses, you’ll spot nary a tourist in sight. For more restaurants in the area, read about our six favorite places.
Seductively adorned with a zinc bar, murals, and beveled mirrors, the joint once tempted the likes of Brassaï, Henry Valentine Miller, and Edith Piaf! (Edith actually stayed at the Clermont in the early thirties, while performing on the streets of Pigalle.) Clank a few cold’uns with sea merchants, tangled lovers, off-duty velvet-clad cabaret performers, artists, poets, and gypsy musicians, each with a cache of tales.
Tip jar: Order your “Sez” (1664) by the draft, not the bottle. Also, don’t walk away without trying the house couscous! They’ll post a sign if the pot’s on the stove.
3. High-brow beauty secrets! (more waxing poetic)
Yves Rocher at 17 rue Lepic in Abbesses
Full-service Yves Rocher “instituts de beauté” are Cheapo havens. Where else can you get an eyebrow waxing and mini-massage for just €9? With locations dotted all over Paris, walk-ins are a piece of cake. This is the “parfait,” idyllic treat while waiting for an afternoon hotel check-in.
Forgot your bubbles? Yves Rocher also sells a wide array of scented soap and shampoo for just a few euros. For gorgeousness’s sake, I often make a dash to the location on rue Lepic. Ask for Melanie. She’s an artist. Plus, she ends her sessions by describing your eyebrows as “Très, très jolie!” (Pumping up the ego? Oh, so priceless!)
Another pointer: Ask for their fidelity card (Carte Privilege Beauté) and receive discounts with each subsequent visit! There’s no expiration, so it can be used for years.
4. January sales at Zara and “Soldes by Paris”!
Zara at 75 Boulevard Haussmann
Soldes by Paris (the annual citywide after-holidays sale) is just around the corner! This highly anticipated happening runs January 6-9, 2010! (Speaking of high-kickers, Lady Gaga’s designer Jean-Claude Jitrois is this year’s fashion ambassador!) With nearly every store in Paris participating, it’s hard to avoid over-stimulating one’s senses and bank account. So strategize! Figure out a plan. I usually devote my attention to the Spanish brand Zara because the garb suits me, and the prices are easy on both the eyes and pocketbook.
Here’s the skinny: Not all Zara’s are created equal. I’m drawn to the two-story Boulevard Haussmann shop because of its spacious show rooms, changing cabins on both levels with flattering lighting, collections organized by color, and yes, drastic discounts! Also, at the end of the sale, this location serves as the last stop for the clothes that don’t sell at the Zara shops elsewhere in the city. Last year I was able to buy sale clothes deep into the month of March. (And by the way, this included a rather smashing and sturdily constructed pair of skinny green jeans for just €5! I know! It is a wonderful life.)
Bon Année Cheapos!
(Please note: Pinching from David Bowie, the prices above are subject to cha-cha-changes.)