By Hannah Pugh
Have you dreamed of going to Paris since you were a kid? Have you assumed that it would cost you thousands to get there, and then even more to spend your time well? This article is written for you.
Planning Your Trip to Paris
First, secure a travel companion (if you so desire), and book your ticket(s) to Paris 9-12 months in advance through
Second, travel light and save money by ditching your suitcase for a backpack.
Fourth, you must go to your local library and grab books on the history, architecture, intellectual heritage and culture of France. For instance, Blue Guide to Paris is a guide to Paris through the lens of art and architecture, and I highly recommend it.
Fifth, you must learn French. A few of my top free recommendations for learning French include Duolingo, Rosetta Stone (through your local library,) or picking up language books from your local library, as well as pursuing a native speaker to correspond with.
6. Lastly, purchase a small map before your trip. You are going to now take a pen and mark the map up with the locations of many of the places which you desire to travel to.
To sum up, this is how you will spend the nine months before your trip: learning about Paris and how to engage with it well, so that your trip is an extension of your educational experience.
What to Do on Your Trip
When you are in Paris, you should plan to walk most of the week, this enables you to save money on metro tickets, and to experience much more of Paris, allowing for spontaneous adventures to interrupt your plans. If you are unable to walk, please budget for metro tickets accordingly. Start each day in any direction you please, refer to your map for certain destinations, but plan to take detours on the way.
In short, your trip should be focused on gardens, parks, free events, markets, picnics, museums, sunset views, and engaging with French people, and NOT on shopping, expensive dining, and entertainment. Your mission is to learn and to engage with the ideas, people, and places of Paris, and not to become a passive consumer. Moreover, consider extending your trip to do a work abroad
Museums and Gardens
The museums of Paris can be found here. I would highly recommend a museum pass for some portion of your trip. Although, if you would really prefer to spend the money on other experiences in Paris, here is a list of times for free
In addition, a wonderful and free thing to do is to visit the countless gardens. My favorite is the Luxembourg Gardens. Bring a book, a journal or a sketch-pad, and enjoy sitting in the luscious grass of the children’s garden, or watching the various games of chess, or matches of tennis. For markets, my personal favorite is the market of flowers which becomes the market of birds each Sunday. Another fun thing to do is
Plan for sponataneity
Most importantly, make time to wander! On your walks, look for interesting characters, and you will not be disappointed…
I highly recommend planning your trip around one of the many summer festivals, if not the Tour de France. Also, each morning and evening plan to watch the sunrise and sunset. Printemps’ rooftop has an exquisite, free panoramic view of the city. As you wander each day stop and smell the roses, they bloom just about everywhere. Constantly refer to your Blue Guide to learn the history as you walk. Wander into local bars each evening to watch soccer with the locals. Notice the street fashion and the way couples hold hands. Rent a bike one day and cover the distance of the city. On a rainy day wander through the secret passages of Paris.
Meals do not have to be expensive. For breakfast, have a croissant and espresso. Grab a baguette, cheese and fruit from street stands and markets for lunch. Then for dinner, cook in at your hostel or
Adding up the costs:
+ airbnb or hostel $200
+ 1 map $2
+ bike rental $20
+ pastries, espresso + lunch ($14 a day x 7) = $98
+ dinners $30
+ walking, practicing french, picnic-ing, gardens, scenic reading, street festivals, markets, movie film spots, sunset gazing, people watching
+ museum pass (optional) $50
Photography by Hannah Pugh