P a r i s i n g [on a budget]

I am fond of taking nouns and making them into verbs. As a language teacher who holds to the theory that the speaker is in charge of their language and its rules, I like to test "language creation" on a regular basis. Some of my most recent favorites include:

- to swank: "I'll never see another place that swanks like this."
- to metro: "Do you want to walk or metro there?"
- to pizza: "Imma pizza for dinner."
- to museum: "Do you want to museum after class?"
- to Paris: "We'll be spending the month of July Parising."

All of the above vocabulary has truly come in handy for July 2015, as D$ and I have been studying French in Paris. Honestly, this was my first time in my life to visit a place where I didn't know any of the language, nor have a friend alongside to help me communicate. Also, full disclosure, I have a bias toward Spanish-speaking countries... so I didn't expect to like Paris quite as much as I like Latin America. BUT, my expectations were certainly exceeded, and I can see why so many people fall in love with this city. Paris is beautiful!

We've Parised on a student budget, which is a bit tricky as Paris is quite a large and expensive city. Fortunately, I've been able to receive free entrance at many of the museums for being a 26-and-under EE member. But, for any of you wishing to travel to Paris on a tight budget, here are some tips on how to get the most bang for your... euro.

1. Visit the free and beautiful sights!
- Notre Dame de Paris - they offer free tours in English on Wednesdays at 2pm. **Check their website to make sure times haven't changed. 
- Luxembourg Gardens/Tuileries Garden - two beautiful parks for a picnic or a stroll.
- Eiffel Tower - self explanatory, right?! :) It costs money and time to elevator up to the top, but I enjoy simply admiring it from the ground. **but watch for pickpockets
- Le Sacre Cœur - basically any Catholic church you can find that still holds mass for the public will be free to enter... and they are incredible!
- Arc de Triomphe - and a walk down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, maybe stopping in Cartier for a free museum-like experience?
- La Maison de Victor Hugo - a cute thing to see, especially if you're fond of the Hunchback of Notre Dame or Les Miserables.
- La Canal St. Martin - specifically the part on the Quai de la Seine.
- Les Passages Couverts - Gallerie Vivienne is probably one of my favorites! I'd recommend spending a weekday to wander around and find them -- be careful, because they close and are locked up in the evenings and on Sundays. 
- etc. The list goes on and on. For a more comprehensive list, check out this site. The ones listed here are simple a few of my favorites.

2. Find out when the museums offer deals. 
Like I said above, Notre Dame offers free tours in English on Wednesdays at 2pm... but they aren't the only ones. Some museums have discounted entry in the late afternoons. For example, like stated below, the Louvre is free on Fridays after 6pm for young people. Also, many museums will offer free entrance to an art or history student, and the Jewish Art and History Museum will even offer for people studying religion. The d'Orsay is reduced from 4:30 every day but Thursday (6pm). Also, almost all of the museums are FREE the first Sunday of the month. So if your trip falls during that time, plan to be at the museum when it opens for a free and less-crowded experience. Basically, do a bit of research to find the best days at the best prices.

3. Mobilis on the metro.
If you plan on doing a lot of metro traveling one day, get the mobilis ticket. Find out which zones you'll be in, and this ticket will cover all of your travel for one calendar day. They are on the SECOND page of tickets (sneaky!), but are actually cheaper than the first option which is the "Paris Visite" day-ticket. Don't get the latter unless you plan on going to the airport by metro at the end of the day... you'll lose money. But keep in mind, you'll discover so much more of Paris if you travel by foot or bike, so don't metro too much!
**note on the metros... the majority of stops are not handicap/stroller friendly. 

4. Street food is your friend. 
Food will be one of your biggest expenses while in Paris. If you want to avoid some of those costs and save for one or two nice eat-outs, consider the street food. You'll see the vendors as you walk along... little shops that hardly have enough seats for 4 customers, selling pizza, falafels, crepes!!, sausages, etc. It's a cheap option *can get by for 5e per person* plus, it gives you the opportunity to continue exploring while you eat. OR, you can be like the Parisians and find an outdoor spot to dine al fresco. Savory crepes are a must-try!

5. Some things are DEFINITELY worth the splurge.
1. Sainte Chapelle - a chapel completely surrounded by stained glass, with about 70% of it being the original glass.
2. Le Louvre - on Fridays from 6pm - 9:45pm entrance is free for all people 25 and under of all nationalities... just show your ID! Before you go, decide what's most important for you to see (i.e. Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Greek art, the Royal Apartments, etc.), because it's unlikely you'll get through the entire museum in one trip.
3. Seine River Cruise - they leave from all over the Siene, but Pont Neuf is right in the middle and they offer great prices. You can save €4 if you book online! These tours are lovely as the sun is setting.
4. Palais Garnier - this opera house is breathtaking. Go see for yourself! Honestly I liked this more than Versailles, because it was just-as if not more luxurious and had at least 100x less people. Check their website for English-tour times. They were sold out of the tour when we arrived, but it would definitely be worth it... with the tour group you get to go down into the seats close to the stage!

*Other random tips:

1. To avoid larger crowds at museums, early morning/late evenings visits usually offer a less-busy experience.

2. Versailles is beautiful and luxurious, but it's so crowded! There are 3 rooms I thought were stunning inside the chateau, but it was hard for me to enjoy the experience; so many people accidentally touching my bum because we were all so smushed together! If you go to Versailles but don't want the crowds, the gardens alone are worth the trip... plus, the gardens are free to enter! Take the RER C to the west of the city.

3. Be sure to do a little research before you come. If you're taking a short trip, it's a good idea to have a plan of what you want to see... then you can look at google maps and figure out how to group nearby-things. 

A few blogs that helped me plan our month-long stay:
*A Cruising Couple
*Well Plated
*On The Luce

Enjoy every minute of Paris; you really won't be able to help but fall in love with the city! If any of my readers are experienced Paris travelers and have additional tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below! I'd really like to hear what you all love about Paris. :)

Bon voyage!

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