How to save money in Paris

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
How to save money in Paris
People picnic at the Champ-de-Mars near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on March 27, 2024. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)

Whether you are visiting Paris for a short trip or you live here year-round, there are plenty of techniques to make life more affordable.


Paris routinely makes the list for 'most expensive cities in the world'. In 2023, it came in 7th place, behind Los Angeles in 6th place and ahead of Tel Aviv and Copenhagen, which were tied for 8th place, according to the Worldwide Cost of Living index.


This is one area where it's going to be hard to cut costs.

Rent in France's capital city is notoriously high, and as of April 2024, it was €31 per metre squared, according to real estate site Seloger, meaning a 1-bedroom 35-square-metre apartment would cost around €1,085 a month.

For those who are visiting, hotels and Airbnbs do not come cheap either. In Paris, the average price of a night at an Airbnb was €248 as of September 2022, compared with €110 in Lille and €140 in Chamonix, according to AirDNA.

Prices for both rent and nightly stays decrease if you are willing to go into the nearby suburbs, but areas like Montreuil and Pantin have grown significantly in popularity in recent years.

If you are really looking to travel on a budget, you could consider staying in hostels. Paris has plenty of them, and many are in convenient locations with restaurants and bars attached.

There are also applications such as 'Couchsurfing' that allow you to stay with strangers for free, though understandably that is not everyone's cup of tea.

As for finding an affordable long-term apartment, there is not really one magic answer. The best thing you can do is to prepare your dossier and scour listing sites, such as Jinka, Seloger, Leboncoin, as well as ads listed by real estate agencies. You can set up alerts to help you respond more quickly.

Do not be afraid to enlist your Paris-based friends to consult their networks on your behalf - oftentimes, the most affordable apartments come via a connection to the landlord, rather than a lucky find on the internet.

Groceries and eating out

Supermarkets such as Franprix, Monoprix, and Carrefour can run up a high grocery bill. Consider opting for more affordable options, such as Aldi, instead.


The best choice - both for your budget and finding fresh fruit and veg - is to go to local markets. You may not be able to find everything you needed for your recipe (grains might be hard to come by), but you can stock up on plenty of healthy and delicious vegetables at a fraction of the cost you would pay at the supermarket. Remember to bring cash - many stands do not accept cards.

You can find out the schedule for markets in your area here.

READ MORE: All you need to know about shopping at French food markets

When going out to eat, consider opting for the lunch menu instead of dinner. Restaurants frequently offer lunch deals that include an entrée, plat and dessert, though these deals tend to only be available on weekdays. 

When hosting visitors - or visiting yourself - you can still enjoy authentic French food while on a budget. The Bouillon restaurants might be in the old-school, cafeteria style, but their menus are filled with traditional French cuisine at a low price.

Crêpes are also a tasty treat, perfect for an afternoon snack, and they do not break the bank.

You may also notice that as soon as the sun comes out, Parisians flock to the parks, like Buttes-Chaumont and Vincennes, as well as the quais along the Seine river and the Canal Saint-Martin. 

Save a few euro and pack a picnic. You can even turn it into your own personal cheese and charcuterie tasting - try taking a trip to the fromagerie beforehand and ask for help with your selection. Be sure to inquire about how to pair the cheeses with wine.


Picnics can also be a great way to avoid spending gratuitously. Generally, drinking alcohol in the public space is legal in France, though it is subject to local restrictions. There is no shame in sipping a glass of rosé on a picnic blanket, and during the summer months, you will find the park filled with people enjoying their apéros in public.


Pop into a supermarket before heading to the park and buy a six-pack of beer, which may end up costing less than two pints at a pricier bar.

READ MORE: What are the rules for drinking in public in France?

Unsurprisingly, seeking out happy hour can also be a good way to save money. Many Parisian bars run their happy hour well into the evening - some do not end until 9pm or 10pm. You might even find bars that offer happy hour on the weekends too.

To find affordable bars in your area, download the app MisterGoodBeer

Once you get to the bar, you might be able to keep your bill lower by sitting at the bar rather than the table, as some locations have different tariffs for different seating locations. This rule goes for alcoholic beverages too. 

And if you're in the mood for a high-quality glass of wine, don't bother getting it at the restaurant. Go into Nicholas or another cave (wine cellar) and do not be afraid to ask for tips and recommendations.

For the price of two or three glasses at the restaurant, you could walk out with a very nice bottle.



If you happen to be here at the beginning of the month, several museums offer 'free museum Sundays'. You can find the listing here.

There are also several groups that qualify for free or reduced entry into cultural sites and museums - you might be eligible.

You do not need to pay to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower to get a good look at Paris. You can find stunning views of the city in unexpected places, from looking out from the top of the Parc de Bellevile to climbing to the top of department stores like Galeries Lafayette, there are plenty of free options. 

If you want to go to the opera or the ballet, you might also be able to get cheap, last-minute tickets. On top of that, some performances offer discounted rates.

Like many countries, most movie theatres in France also offer less expensive matinee tickets, and French theatres usually have discounted pricing for seniors and young children.


It would probably be too self-explanatory to say 'just walk', but it is a genuine suggestion.

One of the easiest free things to do in Paris is simply to walk around and admire the sights. France's capital city has a special quality - it's beautiful rain or shine. Take a stroll along the Seine.

Paris also has affordable bicycle hiring schemes, such as the city bicycles 'Vélib'. A single ride allows you 45 minutes of cycling for just €3.


When it comes to the Paris Metro, as of 2024, single tickets cost €2.15  (though this price will increase during the Olympics). 

To reduce costs, you could consider buying either a bundle of 10 tickets at once. The carnet (pronounced car-nay) costs €17.35 - working out at the cheaper price of €1.73 per ticket. Carnets are no longer available in the paper ticket option, but you buy them on the ticketing app.

Depending on how much you plan to use public transport, you might be better off investing in a full-day or week-long unlimited pass.

READ MORE: How Metro tickets, passes and apps work


And finally - many people come to Paris to shop. There are plenty of boutique stores and high-end brands which would inevitably bite out some of your savings.

There are some ways to purchase well-made, authentically French items besides going to expensive shops. Consider checking out flea markets (marché aux puces), vide greniers and brocantes. You might need to be a bit patient as you sift through used items, but at some point you will find a hidden gem.

The Puces de Saint-Ouen is a famous antique flea market, just north of the city, and it is well-worth a visit.

Otherwise, Paris has plenty of vintage and second-hand shops (friperies). Some are curated, and like the flea markets, if you are willing to put enough effort in, you can come across high-quality items.

Do you know about a great way to save money in Paris? Email us at [email protected]


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Mary Sankey 2024/04/17 12:30
Excellent article - as always. Having lived in Paris for many years and now in the "south of France," I've used and passed on many of these suggestions. My recommendation to friends who think of Paris as prohibitively expensive is "pretend you live here" and enjoy the city every day. Just walking to the local marché, enjoying the architecture, mini-parks, and historic signs is better than a guided tour.

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