Jane is a contributor for To Coffee With Love.
This past spring I spent a month studying abroad in Europe. Most of my time was in Amsterdam and Brussels, but my group did spend one day in Paris. My friend and I paired up together and wandered the streets of Paris, just the two of us, and we had an amazing day. Not only that, but we each spent less than 30 euros on food, transportation, and souvenirs! Here’s how we did it.
We were taking a train from Brussels to Paris, and we packed sandwiches and fruit for lunch. We ate our sandwiches on the train, so that we wouldn’t have to stop and eat while we were in Paris. Because of a train delay, we didn’t end up arriving in Paris until 1pm and our bus left the city at 7pm that same day. So, we had just half a day to explore.
Making a Map
On the train ride over, my friend and I did some research on Paris, and put together a Google Map. I make a map for almost everywhere I travel to and there are a few reasons why:
- I am directionally challenged. Having a map prepped ensures that I can get everywhere I need to while minimizing the number of times I get lost.
- It allows me to group activities that are close together, ensuring efficiency. This was especially important when we only had half a day!
- The process of putting together a map requires that you research the places you want to visit a bit beforehand. Hopefully, you’ll also be able to double check prices and hours for things as you’re planning it out.
Choosing Our Must-Sees
After doing our research and making our map, we planned a general route. We had a list of a few things that we definitely wanted to do:
- See the Eiffel Tower
- See Notre Dame
- Eat macarons
- Try Pain au Chocolat
- Visit Parc de Bercy
We decided to start on the east side of the city working west. We would hit the Eiffel Tower first, then Notre Dame, head to the park and finally the bus station. We decided to leave the Pain au Chocolat, macarons, and dinner up to chance. Because of the distance between all these things, we also decided to purchase metro tickets and bought a book of 10 tickets to split between the two of us for 14.90 euros so that we didn’t have to walk everywhere.
Enjoying these tips? Check out How to Travel Internationally on a Budget.
And We’re Off
When we arrived in Paris, we hopped on our first train to the Eiffel Tower. What I found about the Parisian train system is that it is very convenient, but it can be difficult if you don’t speak French. Most major sites, like the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre, are stops on the metro and the systems are quite extensive. We double and triple checked the train maps to ensure we were heading to the right places. I also speak a smattering of French, which helped immensely with getting directions. The metro tunnels were fun to wander through, since many of them feel like they haven’t been updated since the 1950s, with lovely retro tile and all. They also provided a welcome shelter from the heat and sun.
The Flame of Liberty
On our way from the train station to the Eiffel Tower, we ran into the the Flame of Liberty and grabbed a few pictures there. As a history major, being able to see the Flame of Liberty was an awesome surprise. We were able to drop by without taking up precious time because it was right along the main road – it was efficiency at its finest!
Travel tip: it helps to make a packed day feel relaxed to give yourself permission to stop and look at things that strike your fancy.
The Eiffel Tower
At the Tower, we took some more pictures, and bought five Eiffel Tower keychains for a euro from the sellers there. Just seeing the famous landmark was plenty for pictures and enjoyment, so we skipped going up the tower which saved us both time and money, two things we didn’t have much of. We walked along the Seine, grabbing a few more pictures of the Eiffel Tower. This area was very crowded and full of touristy things so we didn’t spend much time there. However, it was enjoyable to see the historic river, and take some pictures of the roses that grew beside it. They provided a lovely foreground for the Eiffel Tower.
The line to get into Notre Dame was far out the door so we skipped going in. We opted instead for lots of pictures of the exterior, which was fun and free! We needed some more cash so we began to wander toward an ATM. In our wandering, we saw several delightful shops, refilled our water bottles at a fountain, and found a macaron shop.
Hidden down an alley, this shop featured refrigerated cases stacked with rows upon rows of the colorful little cookies. For four euros, we bought two: chocolate and coffee.
There were refreshingly sweet and made for a perfect break in the afternoon heat. It was also another thing checked off our list. After purchasing some prints for a euro at an art market that was by the Seine, we moved on.
In the process of going to our next train stop, we ended up discovering a flower market. Half a city block long, full of potted plants and other garden knick-knacks, the market was a welcome change of scenery from the Parisian stone architecture.
Giving ourselves that permission to stop and look at things along the way led us to places like the flower market, art market, and macarons. On the train to the park, we ate some of the grapes I had brought in my bag. We were getting hot and tired, but the fruit was refreshing and delicious, and meant that we didn’t have to stop and buy something.
Travel tip: bringing your own food helps cut costs, especially when you’re heading to more touristy areas where the prices will be higher than average.
Our last few hours were spent having a picnic in a park. We stopped by a bakery on the way and picked up sandwiches, drinks, and pastries, in total costing up seven euros each. The park was shaded and cooler than walking in the city, with plenty of beautiful gardens to wander in once we had finished eating. It was the perfect end to an amazing day in Paris.
What We Spent
|Metro Tickets||14.9 euros|
|Eiffel Tower Keychains||2 euros|
|Art Prints||2 euros|
|Other assorted souvenirs||12 euros|
|Total expenditures||48.9 euros|
|Divided by two||24.45 euros each|
Jane is a Social Studies Education major at Purdue University who loves pinching pennies to expand her horizons. When she isn’t traveling around the world, she enjoys photography, riddles, and writing. Check out her Instagram @arwinelanor!
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