A few years back before I was a student, I had even less money than I have now, but myself and a group of friends decided we desperately wanted to go and visit somewhere together but we needed to keep it super cheap. As we are from the UK, the cheapest place to get to is Paris and then a nice, obvious one after that is to go to Amsterdam! Back when we went, Megabus and National Express were still relatively new companies and so it was much cheaper to get a coach all the way to Paris and then Amsterdam, but the prices have gone up (around £30 each way), so I would recommend just flying instead (around £60 return both London to Paris and Paris to Amsterdam).
When you’re in Paris, the cheapest thing to do was to find a hotel that was quite far out and to drop our standards a little bit! We stayed in the Metropole Lafayette which was probably not the nicest of places, the “painting” in the room wasn’t even the right way up and the floorboards moved so you had to step carefully, but it was cheap and cheerful and directly outside the metro station with a local shop and a boulangerie metres away.
Every morning we would get up and go downstairs to the boulangerie, buying a baguette each for around €1 each, pop to the local shop and between us buy nutella, cheese and ham. When we got back to the hotel, we made ourselves nutella sandwiches for breakfast and then made ham and cheese sandwiches with the other half of the baguette and wrapped it in the brown bag it came in and took it as a packed lunch so that we wouldn’t spend much money whilst we were out.
Keeping everything on the cheap, most of what we went to see was free, but we still saw a lot of Paris, so I’ll just list everything we did here:
- The Eiffel Tower – we decided against actually going up the Eiffel Tower (13.5 € if you’re a young person), but we went there anyway and sat in the lovely park below it to eat our sandwiches.
- Sacré-Coeur – this is free to go inside and outside (opening hours here) and is beautiful, just be warned that is is a massive climb to the top! The architecture is stunning and you can see the majority of Paris from here (see the featured image at the top of this post). If you walk behind the Sacré-Coeur, there is a lovely little garden with a waterfall which is also lovely to stop for a spot of lunch.
- Montmartre Artists’ Square – a lovely place to go and have lunch, eat crepes or have a picture drawn of your and your friends! Lots of places to eat and see lots of art.
- Notre Dame Cathedral – the actual cathedral is free entry and an obvious choice for a visit- it’s beautiful! (See opening times here.) Not only is the part above ground amazing, but there is also the crypt below which isn’t free entry but it’s still fairly cheap and very interesting if you’re into archaeology!
- Moulin Rouge – this isn’t free entry, but you can go outside and take pictures. There are a lot of sex shops and sex museums which are fairly entertaining too so worth a visit if you’re not with your family. There is also an Irish nightclub which was good fun and quite cheap and friendly to tourists. If you are interested in going inside the Moulin Rouge, you can get tickets here (€99 upwards)
- Champs-Elysées – as this is a street, it is obviously free entry. There are loads of shops down this road but they are all fairly expensive. There are lots of places to eat and if you were wanting to go somewhere for a fancy Parisian lunch that’s very touristy, I would recommend here.
- Arc De Triomphe and the Grave of the Unknown Soldier – a beautiful monument at the bottom of the Champs-Elysées. A very moving place that you access via a subway and is definite one of the obvious places to visit whilst in Paris. There is also the grave of the unknown soldier here: a tribute to the men who lost their lives in World War One and were never identified.
- Centre Pompidou – This one isn’t free but it’s still fairly cheap and definitely worth a visit. It’s a fantastic modern art gallery and the area it is in is beautiful too. Here are the opening times and ticket prices.
I’m sure there are many other free or really cheap things to do in Paris that I haven’t thought of so I would love any extra contributions! See my gallery below of the many things we got up to in Paris!
Note: if you’re intending on going clubbing with anyone LGBT, in Paris, the gay clubs are seperate from the lesbian clubs and they don’t let anyone from the opposite gender in, so bear this in mind if you’re planning on going to a gay club with a group of friends