[This article was originally written for a woman traveler on a forum asking for tips to visit Paris on a budget.]
There was a moment in my life I realized I did not knew Paris that much, even though I spent 80% of my time there.
Taking the Metro, getting out at St Lazard – where I worked – walking in the small streets to the office. Work. Lunch close by. Work. Finish late. Take the Metro back to home. Or hang out sometimes at the same old places. Sleep.
And nothing exciting will ever happen, really.
One day, it had to stop. One say I realized there was so much more I could do if I changed my state of mind. I decided to go explore the city of lights with a new glance and felt in love with it, again.
At that time, I was also broke but I decided that money will never be an obstacle again, an excuse, for me to slip from opportunities and enjoyement. I seek for solutions typing « Paris sans argent » , « Paris on a budget », or « Paris gratuit » on my search engine to make the tricks, and tried places which where appealing to me.
Part of this list was inspired by Time Out Paris recommandations and guides from alternative tourism in Paris.
The other part was inspired by life, people I knew, met, my associative circles, my coworker and by my huge will to try new places.
« Alternative » places owned by associations or off-the-grid people became my major criteria. They were adressing my core values and my wallet was not feeling offended by there price : Perfect match !
Today, I am no longer living in Paris. Thus, those advises are still accurate and may help some of you who’d like to get a taste of Parisian life without burning there budget : enjoy !
Where I eat
- Tribal café offers you free couscous friday and saturday. Beer is around 3 euros. It is in the popular 10th district, an area full of little streets to get lost in. And, after getting drunk, end the night at the New Morning, a wonderful jazz club close by.
- Le loire dans la théière is not so cheap BUT still a great place to go eat cakes in the 4th district !
- Equals in terms of price and atmosphere, La fourmie ailée is located in the 5th district.
- East Side Burger serves vegan/vegetarian burger for 11 euros and is located in a trendy 11th district.
- PMU bars, literally everywhere, are usually super cheap but I am not sure people speak english there.
- Basically, you can find good quality sandwich (french baguette, my dear) at any bakery around. No need to seat at fancy restaurant, just take a baguette, rosé at the supermarket, some cheese and rawness and admire the view at the bank of the Seine.
- Water can be free : Paris has mutiple fountain with high quality water. Don’t listen to haters. They can be spoted at strategic places, are green, and free to access. Just fill your bottle up, save environment by reusing it – best if you have a gourd – and drink as much as you want !
Where I shop
I apologize because I am not a serial shopper, I only buy what is necessary to me. Thus, here are some second-hand shops which could be handful.
- la boutique sans argent = the shop without need of money, in the 12th district [note : This shop was not opened when I was in Paris, but I do think it is an interesting initiative and want to support it]
- Oxfam shops for books
- Quartier Latin for books
Where I chill
- Bank of the Seine, Jussieu, summer time. Located in the 5th district, this is where we went to hang out, pic-nic, have philosophical discussion with my friends during spring/summer time. I adore this place as you can have free salsa lessons, listen to people playing music and/or just enjoy the sunlight and the bateau-mouche with all its toursits greeting you.
- Same as Jussieu, there are banks in the 19th district
- Les Grands Voisins is the best place in the entire parisian world, to my opinion. They do pay-as-you-want couscous on wednesday, music when the days are sunny, games and good food whenever. Located in an old hospital this is a place mixing associations, social business, second hand shops, beautiful park. Only because of its odd garden, you shall visit.
- La Recyclerie, trendy place in the 18th district.
Where I connect to internet
- Because I know that wifi hunting can drive you crazy, I have spotted the best places for coffee/wifi routine on my pinterest : this includes La Gaîté Lyric,
- Also, Le Parisien published an interactive map for free wifi spots
Alternative Guide to Paris
- This guy did a pretty cool list too : www.vizeo.net/visiter-paris-insolite-itineraire-alternatif-ecolo
- L’alternative urbaine is offering a very different side of Paris discovering.
- Also because I love street art, please visit Underground Paris
What to visit
- Museums are mostly free for people under 25 yo.
- Parks, parks, parks
- But because you are a warrior explorer, you’ll find out what you want to see.
I also got a very good maps of places you can stay 24/7 as with a friend, we used to hang out in café for hours, discussing about how to reshape the world. But this could be a specific article if you want to.
Share your good spots in the comments.