When I read articles about how much it costs to travel to different destinations, Paris is frequently mentioned as a notoriously expensive city. €5 for a tiny cup of coffee? Seriously?! Before our recent trip there, our first, Travis and I didn’t plan a budget or research prices except to compare the cost of driving with public transit (incredibly, driving from Göttingen, Germany was cheaper and faster than plane, train, or bus) and to price a few attractions we knew we wanted to see. Beyond that, we were just excited to meet up with our American friends and spend several days exploring the city with them. Always a bit of a Scrooge, I promised myself (with encouragement from Travis) that I’d try to relax and not be a penny-pinching Debbie Downer. It was an excellent policy! We had a fantastic time with our friends, and with the exception of the high prices, Paris exceeded my every expectation.
This is a summary of what we spent on our 5-day road trip to Paris, including lodging, attractions, food, copious amounts of alcohol 😜, and transportation. If you’re planning your own trip to Paris, hopefully our budget will be helpful. Obviously you can spend far more or less than this depending on your style and budget. We visited twice as many attractions as we expected and ate every tasty treat Paris had to offer, and we don’t regret splurging one bit. Of all the places you can easily scrimp a bit, Paris is not the place to do that. Go big or go home!!
- Airbnb – We booked a private room in a shared flat for 5 days, 4 nights for €70/night (all fees included), which is a steal in the fashionable Le Marais district of Paris. We were a 5-minute walk to the nearest Metro station and about 10 minutes by foot to the Louvre and Notre Dame. The location was superb. Our hosts were fantastic and actually left the place to us for the weekend while they traveled. If you book the same flat, note that it’s small (though not necessarily by Paris standards), but even with the hosts there, it’s large enough for a couple. We would highly recommend their Airbnb apartment!
- Louvre Museum – €15/adult x 2 = €30
- Le Calife dinner cruise – €67/adult x 2 = €134
- Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris – €8.50/adult x 2 = €17 (Note: Entry into Notre Dame is free. We paid to climb the towers for an unguided tour of the cathedral, to see the bells, and for a view of the city.)
- The Panthéon – €8.50/adult x 2 = €17
- La Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre – Free
- Eiffel Tower – Regular price is €11/adult for tickets to ride the elevator to the 2nd floor or €17/adult to ride to the 3rd floor, the top. We paid €29/adult for a guided with Cultival, which I would recommend. It took nearly 2 hours, included a tour of the underground bunkers beneath the Champ de Mars, we toured the area beneath the Eiffel Tower elevators and learned how they operate, and then were given access to the roof of the 2nd floor restaurant (which was less interesting, but we did see the wind turbines that generate electricity for the tower). Our tour ended on the 2nd floor, where we paid an additional €6/adult to take the elevator to the top. Do it all! It’s worth it!
- Maison de Victor Hugo – €8/adult x 2 = €16. Free entry except when the museum is hosting temporary exhibitions, which it was during our visit.
- Père Lachaise Cemetery – Free
- Marché Popincourt – Free entry, spend as much as you like at this fantastic farmer’s market.
- Paris Visitors Bureau – Buy tickets in advance! Sights like the Eiffel Tower sell out fast. We bought tickets for the Louvre, Notre Dame towers, and Eiffel Tower tour with Cultival as one purchase on this site. You can also book lodging, shows, excursions, and transportation, plus you can buy the Paris Passlib’, a card that grants access to a bunch of museums and public transit in the city. Personally, the price of the Passlib’ is so high per adult for a 3,4, or 5-day stay that I can’t imagine how it could be cost-effective, but if it suits your travel plans, it’s available on the site. Tickets are either emailed immediately (Eiffel trip with Cultival), available for pick up for free at the tourism office in Paris (note that it doesn’t open until 10 am!), or you can receive your tickets by mail for a fee. The delivery cost to Germany via DHL, the only option, was €14.95.
This one’s a toughie since we didn’t keep receipts, nor did I keep a running tally in my head like I normally do. Typically we eat out so rarely that when we do, the total price stands out. In Paris, we ate out every day – ice cream, Costa Coffee, street food, escargots at the Sacre-Coeur farmer’s market, a fancy dinner on Le Calife during a cruise on the Seine (one of the best meals I’ve ever had), and several cafes. This tally is a rough estimate.
- Batch of homemade blueberry muffins, banana bread, sandwiches, Clif bars, salami/cheese/crackers, etc packed from home – €10
- Cocktails/beer at Chouchou – €15
- Coffee, mostly from Costa Coffee – €25
- Lunch & cocktails/beer at Brasserie du Quai – €30
- Breakfast at Miss Manon – €20
- Cocktails/beer at Hotel 29 LEPIC bar – €20
- Misc. ice cream cones, kebabs from a street vendor, muffins – €40
- Escargots, bottle of wine, and beer at Sacre-Coeur – €30
- Fuel – Our VW gets 5.7 liters of diesel/100 km, so 1629 km @ €1.15/liter = €107
- Road Tolls – €54.80
- Parking Pyrénées-du-Clos – €55 for 4 days. Located on the eastern perimeter of Paris, the lot offers 24-hour parking, CCTV video monitoring, and 24/7 security guards. You can reserve online in advance and pay on arrival. They also offer multiple locations all over the city. Staff at the office spoke English and were very friendly, even printing out a detailed map for us to get to our Airbnb with specific Metro directions. I can’t recommend them enough!
- BlaBlaCar – This ride-sharing website is a fantastic option for cutting transportation costs that we just discovered on this trip. It allows you to offer rides and get paid per rider or look for someone going to your destination on your dates. The prices are typically lower than taking the train or bus, helps reduce costs for the driver, and encourages ride-sharing. The environment (and your wallet) will thank you! We were paid €41 for 1 passenger which nearly covered all the road tolls in France.
- Metro Tickets – €14.10 for a booklet of 10 that was sufficient for us both to ride the Metro for 5 days. Buy on site at any station. It’s a fantastic deal! (Note: Do not put the unused tickets next to your credit cards like I did. It demagnetizes them. You can ask for replacements at the ticket booth in any Metro station.) More helpful info about Paris Metro tickets and passes.
Total cost of our trip for 2: €960
Regardless of your budget or personal travel preferences, Paris really does offer something for everyone.
Despite the city’s fame for its landmarks like the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, we thought we’d have to tolerate unfriendly locals, outsmart mobs of shifty pickpocketers on the Metro, and stand in endless lines to get through security at attractions. Not so at all! From the guy at our parking garage to staff on our fancy dinner cruise, from the huge security guy at Notre Dame who was really funny to our Jean-Valjean look-alike of a waiter at Chouchou, everyone was friendly. Driving in Paris was easy. The food? Gadzooks! The food deserves a blog of its own. Every single day was a fun adventure packed with new things. Yes, Paris is expensive. But it’s worth it!