Jan from France Travel Tips shares some great ideas on how to save and when to splurge when you’re in Paris. Her blog features unique experiences for travelers in France as well as tips to save them time and money.
Free: Views of Paris
When you want to get a beautiful photo of the Paris landscape, most people will mention going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, or Notre Dame. Besides being iconic monuments, they can also get extremely crowded and cost money (15.5 Euros, 9.5 Euros, and 8.5 Euros respectively).
One of the little known gems in Paris is the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute), where you can go up to the top floor terrace and get superb views of Paris FREE. When you enter, you go through a metal detector and then take the elevator to the 9th floor terrace. You’ll be able to see the Seine, Notre Dame and a large area of Paris. The Institute also has a restaurant and small museum, and often has exhibitions.
Save: Last Night Before Flying Home
The cost of a hotel or apartment in the heart of Paris can be high and one way that I have saved some money is by booking a hotel near the airport for the night before I fly out. Most often the price at the airport is much less than one in the city. The added benefit is that you don’t have to get up as early to get to the airport. You’ll be close and most airport hotels have free shuttle service.
Here’s how I do it.
- If you are going to be taking a taxi to the airport, hopefully the hotel will store your luggage or the apartment will allow you to keep your luggage there until you leave later that day.
- If you are not able to leave your luggage, head to the train station that you will be leaving from or that is nearest to your accommodation. Most, if not all have storage facilities. Just keep in mind that you have to put your luggage through an X-ray machine for security reasons.
- At the storage facility, there are lockers where you are given a code to open the locker when you return. It goes without saying: don’t lose it! The cost to leave your bag isn’t that much. I left mine at Gare Austerlitz for about 7 hours and it cost me 5.5 Euros.
- You now have the whole day to do what you want and you can go and pick up your luggage and make your way to your airport hotel whenever you want.
- I usually had dinner in town (cheaper than eating at the airport or airport hotel) and took the RER/Metro to Charles de Gaulle airport for around 9 Euros. The shuttles go to various hotels and are located in the area between terminals 2C-2D and 2E-2F. It runs frequently. Just look for the shuttle that goes to your specific hotel.
Splurge: Cordon Bleu
One of the most enjoyable, unique experiences was learning how to make macarons at Cordon Bleu, the world renowned culinary and hospitality school. Macarons are sweet meringue-based cookies made with ground almonds, egg whites, and icing sugar and filled with various ganaches. They are not to be confused with “macaroons”, which are coconut and entirely different.
When I took the half-day (3 hour) class, the cost was about 90 Euros but since then the price has gone up. In addition to the complimentary apron and tea towel, all of the ingredients are already measured, and the utensils are laid out in front of each participant. There were about 12 people in my class and we were also provided with the recipe.
There is an English translator for the French-speaking chef who takes you through all the steps to make your own macarons. He teaches by demonstrating for you the technique and then walks around the room assisting each student.
The process to make the macarons is precise and can be tiring. Whisking the egg whites for a long time uses muscles one doesn’t usually work out. You really appreciate the effort and skill needed to make these delicious treats that can cost 2-3 Euros each in patisseries. By the end of the 3 hours, each student has made approximately 40 chocolate macarons.
Two excellent books about experiencing life at the school include Julia Child’s “My Life In France” and “The Sharper The Knife, The Less You Cry”, by Kathleen Flynn.
Le Cordon Bleu is located in Paris at 8 Rue Léon Delhomme in the 15th arrondissement.
Thanks again to Jan for her great tips! Be free to visit her blog Francetraveltips.com