ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.
Paris Money-Saving Tips
Airport TransfersTo avoid a pricey cab fare, make use of public transport options to and from the airport. To Charles de Gaulle, there are three bus routes from Paris (departing from Opera, Gare de l'Est, and Place de la Nation). To Orly, catch the bus at Place Denfert-Rochereau. Both airports are also serviced by the RER. Another alternative is the Air France bus, with multiple departure points for both airports (www.lescarsairfrance.com).
Art on TourA handful of guided English-run tours (€5; 1.5 hours), led daily at the Louvre, are a fantastic way to uncover some of the most reputed pieces on display. Meeting point and tickets in the museum’s Hall Napoléon
Bargain TimeSerious shoppers should consider coordinating their visit with the soldes – major semi-annual sales usually held in January and July.
Late WarningHave cab fare handy if you’re going to be out late: the métro stops running around 1am during the week (2am on Friday and Saturday nights) – and doesn't start up again until 5:20am or later.
Not So FastNote that lunch can be as big an affair as dinner, so budget in extra time for restaurant dining. For fast eats, check out cafes serving soups and sandwiches and street-side crêpe and sandwich stands.
A La FrançaiseYou'll be amazed at the reception you'll receive with a few French words – a well-placed bonjour and merci works wonders with Parisians, who, for the most part, know enough English to meet you the rest of the way.
Strike-outThe Paris métro system is clean, fast, and remarkably efficient – when it’s not on strike. Most strikes are announced days in advance so ask your concierge to keep you posted, and know that it’s rare that all lines are affected.
Fly OpenSkiesBritish Airways’ subsidiary OpenSkies offers nonstop all-business class flights to Paris from New York and Washington, D.C., sometimes for less than twice the price of coach. Fully flat “Biz Bed” seats are also available in a separate cabin for only a few hundred dollars more. www.flyopenskies.com
Paris Museum PassThe visitors bureau offers two-, four-, and six- day museum passes that include admission to 60 Paris sights, from Notre Dame to the Louvre. If museum hopping is your plan (say, four or more attractions in two days), these passes are a smart purchase. As an added bonus, pass holders also get to skip the entrance lines.
Picnic in the ParkMost boulangeries offer a lunch-time "formule" special that includes a baguette sandwich, drink, and dessert for under 10 euros (about $14). Take your cheap eats to the nearest park – the Luxembourg Gardens and the Tuileries are particularly primed for picnics.
Free MuseumsMany of Paris's most popular museums – the Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, Musée National de Picasso (closed for renovations through spring 2013) – offer free admission on the first Sunday of the month (but beware of the crowds). Admission to the permanent collections of the city-run museums, such as Victor Hugo's home and the Musée Carnavalet (showcasing the history of Paris), is always free, though most exhibits are only in French.
Discount Métro TicketsTo save on each Métro trip, purchase a carnet of 10 tickets at a reduced rate. Daily and weekly passes are also available, but note that a daily pass is valid for one calendar day (rather than 24 hours after you first use the ticket) and weekly passes always start Monday and end the following Sunday.
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