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How to Save Money on your France Vacation

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

France is at the top of most travel wish lists. However, in addition to seducing visitors with beautiful views, historical sites, and culinary delights, this popular destination can also leave one strapped for cash.

Luckily, there are a number of ways to enjoy France on a budget and still have an amazing trip. Here are some money saving tips to consider:

Be flexible

Consider visiting France earlier in the year. Airplane tickets to Paris at the height of summer can cost three times as much (or more) as the same flight in February. The money you save and the fellow tourists you don’t encounter will more than make up for the nip in the winter air! (You can also save money by booking a non direct flight—although a roundabout trip may mean added time and frustration, it can save you a couple hundred bucks.)

Don’t get stuck on staying in the heart of French cities either

You can save money and see sites off the beaten path by choosing a hotel in a neighborhood further out. When I first visited Lyon, I stayed in the 9th Arrondissement. It was a bit out of the way, but I got to experience a calmer, more scenic part of the city, and was still only a twenty-minute metro ride from downtown Lyon.

Take advantage of your age!

The French seem to favor the age bracket 12–25—so if you fall there, make the most of it. You can get discounts on train tickets, museum passes, metro cards, bowling alleys and skating rinks, bus rides, almost everything. Just don’t forget an ID to verify your age. (The same discounts often apply to students regardless of age. Many establishments accept international student photo IDs.)

Remember, travel doesn’t always have to be expensive to be memorable

Pick up a free guide when you arrive (most major French cities offer them at a visitor or tourist center) and head out for a full day of sightseeing. Some of the best features of French cities are outside—the historical landmarks, the interesting architecture, the cobblestone streets…all you need is sunscreen and a camera. Large cities also periodically offer free cultural events such as outdoor festivals, plays and ballets produced by local universities, and open-air film showings. Check with the city tourist center to see what’s available.

Avoid tourist traps

For example, the sandwich shops near the Louvre are enormously overpriced. Stop by a local market near your hotel instead and select a picnic to go. Want to enjoy a romantic evening with your loved one and a bottle of wine? Skip the expensive restaurant. Double the romance (and save money) by spending an evening under the stars with a blanket and a store bought bottle. (Not to worry, drinking alcohol outdoors in France is legal. Vive l’amour!)

Photo of Euro coins by Visentico / Sento

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About the author

Venere Travel Blog writer lara bensenia

Lara Bensenia is a freelance writer and perpetual student living in Lyon, France. Lara calls both the United States and Tunisia home and hopes to achieve EU citizenship to top it all off. In the meantime, she enjoys playing up French clichés, especially fancy chocolate, berets, and French men.

6 responses to “How to Save Money on your France Vacation”

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  1. Budgeting Tips says:
    February 25th, 2009 at 19:38

    Nice post
    A budget is a spending plan that includes everything you will spend money on. A good budget is a spending plan that includes everything you will spend money on and stays within your income.
    Budgeting tips, information, advice, and resources to help you set up a successful budget and stay motivated.
    Budgeting is something that many of us don’t like to consider as we think it will tie us down. But if you really stop and think about it, budgeting is simply a means of looking at your income and expenditure and deciding on what is most important to you.

  2. The Bogtrotter says:
    February 26th, 2009 at 15:06

    Two simple tips to keep food costs down.

    1. Eat your main meal at lunchtime. Most restaurants have a special lunchtime fixed menu which is much vheaper than their normal evening offerings.

    2. Always try to get a fixed menu instead of going a la carte. This normally saves around 20 – 30% on the total meal costs, and often includes a glass of wine.

  3. Lara Bensenia says:
    February 26th, 2009 at 17:06

    These are great additions – thanks for the tips!

  4. vn says:
    May 6th, 2009 at 10:42

    hi all,
    there are many trap for tourist all every where in the world. please be awaken when you travel

  5. Alex says:
    August 10th, 2009 at 21:13

    Having been to France several times (mainly south around Toulouse and Albi) I find that vacation spots near the south of France tend to be much cheaper than in Paris and much more scenic as well. vacationing in the south of France would accommodate a much smaller budget and leave you with a very satisfied return back home along with some money left over. I very much enjoyed this post and really think that the age bracket of 12-25 is also an excellent time to take a trip to France and enjoy the beauty of the country side!
    Thanks Lara!


  6. Brad says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 14:21

    Hi Lara,
    Nice post, thanks for writing and sharing with us.


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