City Breaks

Paris on a shoestring

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It’s easy to let your budget run away with you on holiday

Often paying for things in a foreign currency can feel like not spending real money at all. This can be particularly difficult in a big city such as Paris, where it seems that everybody is selling something.

However, the savvy traveller can survive on the most meagre of budgets while still experiencing the best that France’s magnificent capital has to offer. So give your credit card a break and let Eurotunnel guide you through the best way to see Paris on a shoestring.

Getting around

The centre of Paris is surprisingly navigable on foot, wide avenues mean that you rarely feel hemmed in and the ever-visible Eiffel Tower means that you always have a point of reference to get your bearings by.

There will be times however when you find it necessary to use the Metro. In this case it is advised to get a Carnet (10 tickets for €11.60) which saves you money compared with buying individual tickets at €1.60 each.

Palais du Louvre

Nine hundred years in the making the Palais du Louvre is more than just somewhere to keep the Mona Lisa. It will cost you €9 to get inside the extensive former lodging for France’s royalty (before all the unfortunate business with the guillotines) and view the extensive museum collection, but if you find your funds falling short then there is still plenty to see from the outside.

The buildings themselves are a triumph of constant development, with extra wings being added throughout the centuries, right up to the infamous glass pyramid, constructed in 1989.

Once you’re done admiring the architecture, why not take a stroll in the Jardin des Tuileries? Open to the public since the 16th Century these gardens feature several casts of statues displayed within the museum and a funfair during Summer.

Once through the gardens you can continue your stroll up the spectacular Champs-Elysées, known in France as ‘The Most Beautiful Avenue in the World’. At the other end you are rewarded with the iconic Arc de Triomphe, which towers above the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and its eternally burning flame.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

There’s much more to this impressive Gothic landmark than just running around with a jumper stuffed up the back of your coat shouting “The bells! The bells!” (though that is fun).

In fact the creator of everybody’s favourite Hunchback did more than just popularise the cathedral; Victor Hugo led the successful campaign for its restoration during the 19th Century.

Today the cathedral is a stunning must-see landmark on a small island in the middle of the Seine. Entrance is free so it won’t hurt your budget, though if you do want to splash the cash it will cost €8 to go up the towers.

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise and Cimetière du Montparnasse

Hanging around in a cemetery may not be your first pick for a day out, but Paris’s two great graveyards, Père-Lachaise and Montparnasse, should not be missed.

Both are free to enter and feature some wonderful examples of elaborate and artistic gravestones and tombs which show that in Paris even the dead have style.

And if the ornate carvings and sculptures are not enough then both cemeteries feature a host of famous names, both French and international, for the keen dead-celeb spotter.

In Père-Lachaise the biggest draw for British tourists is probably split between former Doors front man Jim Morrison’s final resting place and the magnificent Sir Jacob Epstein-designed tomb for Oscar Wilde, which visitors traditionally adorn with lipstick kisses. Other big names buried there include Édith Piaf, Marcel Marceau and Pissarro.

In Montparnasse you can find the graves of Jean-Paul Sartre, Serge Gainsbourg and Samuel Beckett amongst a host of other famous and influential names from the annals of history.

Jardin des Plantes

For something with a bit more life in it, why not head to this charmingly dishevelled botanical garden on the left bank of the Seine, just a small walk from Notre-Dame?

With more than 10,000 species of plants this garden was started in 1626 and provided a model for the foliage of painter Henri Rousseau’s famous jungle pictures.

Entrance to the gardens is free, though if you’re willing to shell out €8 there’s also a small zoo (menagerie) on site.

Basilique du Sacré-Cœur

The skyline of north Paris is dominated by the majestic dome of the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. Constructed between 1877-1914 it can be found at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city.

Its height can really be appreciated by visitors after you’ve climbed the winding flights of stairs which lead up to the Basilica, affording a spectacular panoramic view of Paris.

If your surroundings seem familiar it may be because the area is a popular filming location for both film and television, having made appearances in the movie Amélie and music videos for U2 and Savage Garden.

Entry to the Basilica is free and visitors can view the spectacular pipe organ and elaborately tiled interior.

Once you’ve experienced the religious atmosphere of the Basilica you can take a short walk around the corner to see a very different Paris landmark in the shape of the infamous Moulin Rouge.

Galeries Lafayette

A department store may not seem like the ideal destination for the cash-strapped tourist, but Galeries Lafayette has to be seen to be believed.

Marvel at the magnificent glass dome which dominates the main shop and wander up and down the fabulous art deco staircases while feigning interest in whatever products are on offer nearby (which could be anything from fashion, cosmetics and jewellery to books, music, and electronics).

Eiffel Tower

If there’s one place where you’re guaranteed value for money it’s with a trip up the Eiffel Tower.

An absolute must for any visitor to Paris, you can enjoy incredible panoramic views of the whole city and the satisfaction of standing on top of one of the most recognisable monuments in the world.

It will cost you €13 to get all the way to the top, but it is worth every cent.

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