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30 Paris MoneySaving Tips

Bag cheap Eurostar, hotels, Disney tix & more

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Jenny | Edited by Steve N

Updated 16 Aug 2017

Few cities compete with Paris for sheer romance, beauty – and the beating a trip gives your wallet. Yet vast savings are possible for those in the know, whether you plan to go or have already booked.

You'll Louvre our rundown of top Paris MoneySaving tips, from how to bag bargain Eurostar and Disneyland tickets to free public Wi-Fi, a free loo-finder app and the cheapest way to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

This is the first incarnation of this guide. Merci beaucoup for all the tips from MoneySavers that went into this guide – please add yours to the Cheap Paris forum thread. Also see our destination guides to London, New York, Rome, the Costa del Sol, Barcelona and Amsterdam.

Bag cheap Eurostar seats – from £58 return

Rail service Eurostar links London with Paris in just two hours 15 minutes (and it's a mere one hour 52 minutes from Ashford in Kent). What's more, it's arguably less hassle, with fewer queues and searches to endure than at airports, and a check-in time of just 30 minutes (45 minutes at busy times).

Standard fares from London to Paris can be as much as £338 there and back – yet it's possible to get them for as little as £58/rtn. Here's how to keep it cheap:

  • Book 180 days ahead to bag cheap'uns. As a general rule, booking early wins. Unless you know a sale is coming, the key is to start looking 180 days (about six months) before, when it releases tickets. As it limits the number of super-cheap fares, buying early improves your chances.

  • Under-fours go free. Kids aged three and under go free on Eurostar, as long as they sit on your lap. With flights, kids aged two and over need their own seat and you have to pay a surcharge even for babies who sit on your lap, so this can work out cheaper.
  • There's no weight restriction – fill your boots. You can take two large pieces of luggage (up to 85cm long), plus one small piece of hand luggage. But unlike with air travel, there are no weight restrictions.
  • Got VitalityHealth? Get up to 50% off. It's not worth buying the private medical insurance just for this. But if you already have VitalityHealth, you can nab 25% to 50% off return Eurostar tickets. Your discount depends on how long you've been a member. Only policyholders can use the cheap tickets.

The cheapest way to get to Paris – jump on a budget bus from £29 return

If you can handle seven-ish hours on a coach, Megabus and Eurolines can be cheap as frites. These days both offer free Wi-Fi – just don't forget to take a sarnie and some water.

Eurolines runs services from London to Paris from £12 each way, plus a hefty £5 booking fee. It launches tickets 90 days ahead, so check then before cheaper fares sell out. Megabus fares start at £16 (no booking fee) and are released 60 days in advance.

Unfortunately Megabus vouchers – including those you can get via Tesco Clubcard – cannot be used to book journeys to Europe, as these routes are now operated by FlixBus (though fares can still be found via the Megabus website).

Book the Eiffel Tower two months ahead to beat queues

It's one of the world's most iconic views, but the queues are Eiffel-ly long. While you can walk around the bottom and take selfies for free, if you want to go up, you need to pay.

There are three floors to explore: the first floor, the second floor and if you've a head for heights, the very top. The price depends on how high you want to go – here are a few tricks to cut the costs and beat the hordes:

  • Book two months ahead. Skip queues by booking a half-hour time slot on the official Eiffel Tower site. Do it via this link rather than just googling it though, or you may get copycat 'tour operator' sites charging twice as much.

    A ticket to the summit costs €17 and one to the second floor by lift is €11 (both include the first floor). Sadly, you can't save cash by booking ahead, but it cuts queues. Buy at least two months ahead for the best availability – you show the ticket on your mobile or print it out.
  • Walk up for just €7. If you're willing to put in the graft, climbing the 704 steps to the second floor and stopping there costs just €7, plus you can see the first floor too. You can't book in advance, though queues are shorter than at the lift entrance.
  • Go after dark. The tower closes between 11pm and midnight (it varies by season), so go from 9pm when it's quieter and enjoy the city lit up.
  • Or try other stunning vistas for less. The Eiffel Tower may be hard to match, but if it's simply a gobsmacking view of Paris you're after, there are other options.

    Entry to the Montparnasse Tower's usually €15, yet you can cut the cost with Tesco vouchers. Alternatively, take in a panoramic city view for free from the Galeries Lafayette department store's roof terrace, or ride to the top of the Pompidou Centre escalators to see amazing views for just €5.

Save a load of Monet on museums

There's an amazing wealth of museums in Paris – but if you want to see a few, it can quickly add up. We've a few ways to curb the price.

See some of the world's best paintings FREE one Sunday a month

Over 50 museums offer free entry on the first Sunday of every month, including the Musée d'Orsay, home of Impressionist masterpieces by Van Gogh and Degas. Or head over to the Musée de l'Orangerie for Monet's famous water lily series, and the Pompidou Centre for modern art by Picasso and Dali.

The Louvre, which houses the Mona Lisa, is included from October to March.

Get there just before opening and prepare for a bunfight. See a full list of freebies.

Under 26? Most museums are free

Those 25 and under get free entry year-round to over 50 museums and monuments in Paris, including the iconic Arc de Triomphe and all of the above. See a full list.

Check out permanently free museums

Paris also boasts a host of fab free museums, including the Musée d'Art Moderne, a museum devoted to French contemporary art and sculptures.

See the Paris Visitor Bureau's list of pay-nowt museums, plus see Free things to do below.

Travelled by Eurostar? Your ticket gets 2for1 entry

If you can't visit the Musée d’Orsay or Musée de l’Orangerie on the one free Sunday a month, your Eurostar ticket gets you 2for1 entry to these and other popular museums and galleries by simply showing your Eurostar ticket at entry. See the full list.

Hitting more than five sights? Consider a Museum Pass (and it's not just museums)

The Paris Museum Pass gives entry to more than 60 museums and monuments. The pass costs €48 for two days, €62 for four days and €74 for six days.

The 'museum'-pass name is a bit of a misnomer. As well as covering the Musée d'Orsay, the Louvre and the Pompidou Centre, it also includes sights such as Versailles Palace, the Arc de Triomphe and, where standard entry's free, a tour of Notre Dame Cathedral. Holders can skip queues too.

The longer your stay, the better value it is – so do the maths.

Museum entry's typically about €10 per person, so as a rule of thumb, a pass is worth it if you squeeze in at least five of these sights for the two-day pass, seven for the four-day pass or eight for the six-day pass. Entrance to Versailles is a steep €18, so a pass is more likely to be worth it if that's on your list.

You can buy it online (go via the official site rather than googling though, to avoid copycat sites charging extra) or at Paris airports, visitor centres and more – see the full list.

Forumite song_of_calliope is a fan:

I lived in Paris for seven years. My number one tip is to get a Museum Pass and visit as many as you can. You'll save a bundle and a ton of time queuing too.

... but give the Paris Pass a miss

The Paris Pass combines the benefits of the Museum Pass above and the pricey Paris Visite metro pass for travel. It also adds a few extra attractions such as a tour of the famous Palais Garnier opera house, a river cruise and a bus tour.

This is worse value than the Museum Pass, at €135 for two days, €199 for four days and a whopping €239 for six days. It's likely much cheaper to buy a cheap metro pass and a Museum Pass, then pay for extra attractions separately.

Tap into free public Wi-Fi across the city

With totally free public Wi-Fi (the French pronounce it 'wee-fee') at 300 tourist spots, including parks and museums, uploading your holiday snaps has never been easier.

Look out for the Paris Wi-Fi logo, then select the network PARIS_WI-FI_ and sign up. You'll get two hours free.

Use your mobile phone in France with NO extra roaming costs

New rules which came in on 15 June mean that the extra mobile roaming fees you pay to use your phone in Europe have mostly disappeared (though not entirely – some could still face data fees).

See our Cheap Mobile and Data Roaming guide for full help.

Picassos, Notre Dame, Oscar Wilde's grave – the top 10 FREE things to do in Paris

You could easily spend €100s ticking off Paris's attractions, but there are countless free hot spots that don't cost a cent. Here's our rundown of, as Del Boy would say, the "creme de la menthe" of free sights.

  1. Notre Dame Cathedral. Entry's free to Notre Dame, one of the world's most famous cathedrals, with its gargoyles and bells.

  2. Peruse a Picasso. Paris boasts a wealth of permanently free exhibitions. Take in free collections including Picasso and Matisse at the Musée d'Art Moderne, or Renoir and Cézanne at the Petit Paris museum of fine arts. Remember many galleries are free one Sunday a month.
  3. Oscar Wilde's grave. Pay your respects to Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Édith Piaf and more at Paris's famed Père Lachaise Cemetery.

  4. Take a 'free' walking tour. Get to know Paris with a free tour from WEGO, City Free Tour or Sandemans. At the end they ask you to pay what you think it was worth – the typical tip for a two-hour tour is €15. So while 'free' is stretching it, feedback is fab. Reservations are recommended.

  5. Paris's best parks. Grab a picnic and wander through one of Paris's dozens of green spots. Two of the most inviting are the Jardin du Luxembourg and Jardin des Tuileries. The city's oldest square, the Place des Vosges, is also beautiful.

  6. Take the ultimate Paris selfie at the Trocadero. The Eiffel Tower is the world's top spot for selfies, according to website AttractionTix, narrowly beating Disney World in Orlando and the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. To get the best angle, head to the steps of the Place du Trocadero.

  7. Cross the famous Pont Alexandre III. Mosey along one of the French capital's most ornate bridges, Pont Alexandre III, with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

  8. These streets are made for walking. Paris's compact size makes it perfect for pedestrians – some of the best times can be had just ambling around areas such as the Marais district, the Latin Quarter and along the Seine.

  9. Visit Paris's Holocaust memorial. The Memorial of the Shoah honours French victims of the Holocaust, telling the story through photos and a wall of names.

  10. Get a panoramic view of Paris. Take a stroll up Paris's historic hilltop Montmartre, take a look inside the free stunning domed basilica, the Sacré Coeur, and sit on its steps for far reaching views across the city.

With Paris flights, early booking wins

Unless you're holding out for a sale you know is coming up, it's usually best to book Paris flights as early as you can. Unlike with package holidays, business folks will be willing to pay top whack at the last minute so prices soar.

Most flights to Paris from the UK arrive at Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly – see getting from the airport below for more.

Easyjet flies to Paris from various UK airports, including Gatwick, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Southend. It releases seats in tranches five times a year. Prices are fluid and move based on demand, so if you can pounce when they're launched, you're often getting the very cheapest deal. See Easyjet Tricks for this and many more hacks for the budget behemoth.

Ryanair flies from Manchester to Paris. Our Ryanair Tips guide can help keep costs firmly on the ground.

These aren't the only options though. A host of airlines fly from the UK to Paris, including Air France, British Airways, Flybe, Iberia and Vueling. But don't just check one airline's prices – use the right comparison site. We like Kayak* and Skyscanner* – see our Cheap Flights guide for a full list, plus more tricks to slash flight prices.

Posh apartments often undercut posh hotels

There's no getting around it – finding a place to lay your head in Paris can be an expensive business. But posh Parisian apartments can be half the cost of similar hotels.

We found a £230/week one-bed apartment in Montmartre, compared with £525/week for a similar quality three-star hotel nearby. Our Holiday Rentals guide shows how to find them, what to watch for and how to cut costs.

Alternatively, consider renting rooms in private homes through sites such as Airbnb. We found rooms in the Latin Quarter for £30/night, compared with £85/night for a three-star hotel. See more on Renting a room.

Stay in a hostel with a private room from £30/night including breakfast

Hostels may be dirt-cheap, though they're not necessarily dirty. Take a look at this 18th century mansion near the Palais Garnier opera house – yep, that's a hostel. (The BVJ Opera, starting at €19 for a dorm bed.)

Don't assume you'll be in a sweatbox dorm too – we found private hostel rooms in Paris from £30. So if you're on a budget, don't be a snob.

For more help, see our Cheap Hostels info and, if you're a hostel fan, we'd love to know your hidden Paris hostel gems.

Tricks to uncover five-star Paris hotels at three-star prices

Lastminute.com sells 'secret' hotels at big discounts in Paris and worldwide, where you know the star rating, description and rough location, but don't know the name till you've paid... Unless, that is, you use our Uncover Secret Hotels tips.

You can also grab discounts through Priceline, a US booking site (it works for Paris and other European cities too). The Priceline Loophole trick is fiddly, but devastatingly lucrative, as forumite Bengt found:

I stayed at Mercure by the Eiffel Tower and paid around €50 per night for a nice double. Rack rate [ie, the original, official cost] was well above €250.

For how to save £100s with top hotel comparison sites and more, see our full step-by-step Cheap Hotels guide.

Make the most of Tesco Clubcard vouchers – eg, cruise the Seine for £4

If you've Tesco vouchers stashed, you'd be in-Seine to miss this. Tesco's special Clubcard Boost catalogue can increase your points value fourfold, eg, £10 of vouchers can be worth £40 in restaurants, £30 at Goldsmiths. See our Reclaim and Boost Tesco Vouchers guide for more.

One of these deals is a boat trip on the Seine. Just £4 worth buys a child or adult a one-hour trip on the Vedettes de Paris cruise (normally €15, about £13 at time of writing).

For heady views of Paris without the Eiffel Tower queues, visit Montparnasse Tower in exchange for £4.50 worth of vouchers (normally €15). Or go to the Paris Aquarium for £6.50 (normally €20.50, approx £17).

For all the above, you exchange Tesco vouchers for attraction-specific tokens on the Clubcard site. Tesco posts the token, which you take to the attraction to use any day within six months.

Forumite Yorkshire lass loved her Clubcard day out:

We had a cruise on the Seine and went to the top of Montparnasse Tower – all courtesy of Tesco Clubcard. We had great views of the city and timed it so that we could watch the sunset from the tower as well.

Get max euros to the pound whether you pay by plastic or cash

One of the best ways to spend abroad is to use a specialist travel credit card that gives you near-perfect exchange rates every time.

Our current top pick is the Barclaycard Platinum Visa travel card with near-perfect exchange rates and no interest on ATM withdrawals until 31 August 2022.

As an alternative, the Halifax Clarity* also offers no fees on overseas spending. However, unlike the Barclaycard, ATM withdrawals incur interest even if you pay off the card in full - so it's best to prioritise spending where possible. You can use our eligibility calculator to see your chances of acceptance.

Always pay both cards off IN FULL each month, or you'll pay 18.9% rep APR on spending (and 18.9% rep APR on withdrawals for Halifax Clarity). See our Travel Credit Cards guide for full info and other best buys.

Paying on a credit card means you'll also get the super Section 75 protection on anything over £100 (about €117). This important law means your credit provider must take the same responsibility as a retailer if anything goes wrong.

Alternatively, if you want to take cash, use our TravelMoneyMax tool to ensure you get the very best rate.

A warning... don't book your holiday naked

Ooh la la! OK, 'naked' is an exaggeration, but it got you reading. The point is, don't wait to get travel insurance. Without an active policy from the day you book, in the event of cancellation, injury or illness, or death in the family, you're uncovered and have no recourse.

It's these eventualities that cheap travel insurance is there to protect you from – and you can often massively undercut holiday firms' policies.

Learn the magic phrase for free tap water

Bottled water can cost an eye-watering €10 in restaurants, so you're best off asking for tap water. And don't let any snooty waiters deter you – by law, you have a RIGHT to get it free in restaurants.

Here's the magic phrase in case you don't know: une carafe d'eau, s'il vous plait. Say it like this: ewn kah-rahf dough, seel voo play.

Don't pay a euro to spend a penny

Avoid buying coffee every time you need to 'oui' by downloading the free Toilets in Paris loo-finder app on Google Play or iTunes.

It maps free public conveniences, including Paris's 400 free self-cleaning sanisettes (see pic right) and lavs in metro stations.

You need a data connection to use the map, but if you don't have one, the app has a setting allowing you to see the toilet locations in a list.

Slash metro and other public transport costs with a carnet or week's pass

Parisians may gripe about the metro services that cross the city, but on the whole they are frequent and reliable. Nowhere in the centre are you more than 500 metres from a metro station, and a trip anywhere costs a flat rate of €1.90 (though it can be more for the fast RER trains).

There are tricks to slash the cost though. For starters, download the free Next Stop Paris app, which gives handy instructions and works offline.

Visitors are steered towards the pricey Paris Visite pass, but there are often cheaper options. You can buy the following from metro stations, and they are valid on the metro, RER, buses and trams in central Paris.

  • For speed and ease – a carnet of 10 tickets. Grab a carnet (book) of 10 tickets at any metro station for €14.50, saving €4.50 on buying individually.

    They're valid on metro lines, RER fast trains within zone one and buses (except Orlybus and Roissybus).

  • A week's unlimited travel for €27.15. A week's Navigo pass is fantastic value at €22.15 for zones one to five. It's more of a faff to get though, as you first need to buy a €5 Navigo Discovery smart card, which they load the pass onto (it requires a passport photo).

    Annoyingly, the passes are valid Monday to Sunday, rather than just for seven days from when you get them – so they're less likely to be worth it if you're buying later in the week. Yet even if you're not staying a full calendar week, it beats buying a carnet if you'll make 16 journeys on it. You can only buy the pass until 11.59pm on Thursday during the week it's valid.

  • Making more than 11 journeys in a day? Get a one-day Mobilis pass. A one-day unlimited Mobilis pass costs €17.30 for zones one to five (see a full list of options; you may need Google to translate the page).

    You need to make more than 11 journeys in one day for this to beat buying a carnet of 10. (If you're sticking to central zones there are cheaper Mobilis passes available – you need to make fewer journeys on those to beat carnets.)
  • Usually NOT worth it… The Paris Visite pass. Targeted at tourists, a one-day Paris Visite is pants value in most cases. For example, a one-day zone-one-to-five pass is €24.50 (compared with €17.30 for a Mobilis) and a five-day €63.90 (compared with €27.15 for a week's Navigo).

    There are a few cases when it may be worth it, eg, if you arrive on a Friday, so can't get a Navigo right away, but would like a pass for more than one day. Even then though, a carnet of 10 tickets could work out cheaper – decide which zones you'll be visiting and do the maths.
  • Jump on a bus. Don't rule out buses. Many people prefer them to the metro as you can watch Paris through the window. Buses use the same tickets as the metro – download a map before you go.

Get from the airport to Paris for as little as €6

Most flights from the UK to Paris land at Charles de Gaulle Airport, about 14 miles from the city centre, or Orly, nine miles to the south. While it's tempting to just jump in a cab, that can cost €40+, so check out the alternatives:

Take the train – €10 from Charles de Gaulle or €12 from Orly

  • From Charles de Gaulle, the RER train, which runs from 4.56am to 11.56pm, 365 days a year, costs €10 one-way to Gare du Nord, Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame and others, and takes 35 minutes. It runs every 5-15 minutes. Depending where you land, you need to catch a free quick ADP airport shuttle to the RER stations of Roissypole or Terminal 2.
  • From Orly, the total cost comes in at €12.05 – for the Orlyval train to Antony RER station (10 minutes) and from Antony to Gare du Nord, Gare du Luxembourg or other central stations on the RER (25 minutes). Trains run every 10-15 minutes (not between 12am and 5am).

Hop on a bus – €6 from Charles de Gaulle or €8 from Orly

  • From Charles de Gaulle, buses 350 and 351 run to central Paris every day from 5.50am to 9.30pm, every 20 to 30 minutes. It costs €6. If you want to pay more, there are quicker buses – see Tourist Info for full options.
  • From Orly, the Orlybus runs to Place Denfert-Rochereau and costs €8. It runs from 6am to 11.30pm, every 15 to 20 minutes. See Tourist Info for full options.

A night at the opera for just a tenor

Get your glad rags on and catch an opera for €10 at the Palais Garnier opera house (the one haunted by the Phantom).

It's normally €11 just to look around, but from 11.30am the ticket desk sells 'sixth-category' restricted-view seats at €10 for that day's performances. Carmen get 'em! It's worth giving the box office a call before heading out.

If you don't mind standing up, the Bastille opera house sells €5 tickets from 90 minutes before the curtain goes up (this page includes details).

Also keep an eye out for online flash sales (you may need Google to translate), which take place on some Wednesdays at midday, for current shows at both opera houses.

50% off cabaret and theatre tickets

Tickets to the cabaret at the legendary Moulin Rouge can cost hundreds of euros, but there are wallet-friendly alternatives if you can be spontaneous.

Head to one of three official Kiosque Théâtre ticket booths where you can grab unsold tickets for cabaret, theatre, ballet and comedy shows on the day of performance at 50% off. Tickets typically cost €25, though some start at €15. There are kiosks on Place de la Madeleine, Place Raoul Dautry in Montparnasse and Place des Ternes.

The group Théâtres Parisiens Associés, which runs 50 theatres in Paris, slashes tickets by up to 50% for opening night performances. You need to book directly at the theatre – see current deals.

Get on yer bike for less than €2

Go for a spin along the banks of the Seine for under €2 with the Vélib' cycle hire system – the Paris cycle scheme that inspired London's Boris bikes.

You don't need to be a member. Just hire a bike with a credit card and return it when you're done.

First of all, buy a pass that allows you to access the service for 24 hours (€1.70) or a week (€8) online or at a Vélib' station.

For journeys of 30 minutes or less you pay nothing extra on top. The next 30 minutes costs €1, with rising costs for journeys of more than one hour. It takes a €150 deposit, refunded after you return your bike.

While you're not required by law to wear a helmet, they're recommended so you may wish to consider taking one.

Bag cheap Disneyland Paris tickets before you go

Going to see the big mouse is top of many kids' lists, but the prices definitely aren't Minnie. If you're heading to Disneyland Paris, check early doors if you can get cheaper tickets – here's how to magic 'em up for less.

  • Buying from a European website can save £100s. To slash costs, check if buying from Disney's other European sites, rather than Disney UK, is cheaper. It can save £100s, particularly when those sites have special promos on packages that include hotels.

    Check prices across French, German and Italian sites, then convert into pounds and compare to the UK. Remember, if you use a foreign site and pay in euros, ensure you pay with specialist overseas plastic.

    Forumite peachyprice did this and saved large: "I just made a huge saving by booking through Disneylandparis.fr. I booked Davy Crockett Ranch for two nights/three days for three people. Through the UK site it was £825; through the French site €709. That's a massive £285 difference!"
  • Check specialist ticket agents. These, which include AttractionTix and SuperTrips, bulk-buy from the parks and then resell, sometimes at a discount to customers (not always, check first). So use the theme park's own ticket prices as a benchmark, then see if these agencies beat them. Be careful though – see more on what to watch out for in our Cheap Disney Tickets guide.

  • Bust queues for free. Queues are a bugbear at Disneyland, yet this trick helps. On popular rides, you can use the free FastPass system: at their entrances, you can get a ticket letting you skip the main queue if you return at a set time. Rides include Indiana Jones and Space Mountain. You can only FastPass one ride at a time, so plan your day.

  • Take a picnic. With a captive audience, restaurants can be pricey. Many assume you can't take your own food into the park, but you can. Disney just says you can't bring in cool boxes or tables.

Also see the forum's long-running Disneyland Paris thread, where forumites post deals and kindly answer questions.

Service is included in the price when eating out – but you may want to add a euro or two on top

Restaurants' advertised prices by law have to include a service charge (normally 15%), so there's no obligation to add anything on top. The standard reward for decent service, though, is to add a few euros as a pourboire (tip) – less than you would in the UK, so perhaps €1 to €2 at small restaurants and €3 to €5 for a fancy meal.

As in restaurants, service is included at cafés and bars. If you're buying drinks at the bar there's no need to tip – if they bring drinks to your table, the same rules apply as in restaurants.

Aside from that, tipping etiquette is similar to the UK, so consider a euro or two for hotel porters and 10% for taxi drivers.

Grab a free EHIC card

The free European Health Insurance Card entitles you to treatment in an EU state-run hospital or GP surgery at the same cost as a local. So if they pay, you pay – if it's free for them, it's free for you.

You need to present an EHIC to use it. So leaving it in the hotel or, worse, at home, means it's worthless if you have a problem.

However, the EHIC doesn't cover private healthcare, so get treatment from a state provider in France (conventionné). The NHS has a useful guide to using your EHIC in France. Also see our EHIC guide.

Stay at a campsite from €25... inside the city

Open year-round, the Bois de Boulogne campsite is set in leafy parkland near the Seine. For hardy types, it's the best of both worlds – a city centre location with plenty of green space.

There's a children's playground, a café-restaurant, morning bread service, and a free shuttle bus to the nearest metro station, Porte de Maillot.

If you take your own tent, pitches start at €38.80 for up to six people. Or you can rent tents, cottages and even gypsy caravans.

If asked 'Do you want to pay in pounds or euros?', SAY 'EUROS'

When paying in hotels, shops and restaurants, they often ask if you want to pay in pounds or euros.

In general, always pay in local currency. If you select pounds, the overseas store/bank does the conversion, and rates tend to be awful. Full info and explanation in Martin's 'Pay in euros?' blog.

Download a free map to tour the city

There are a wealth of apps with maps for tourists – one of the best freebies you can use offline is Ulmon.

An alternative is the free Navmii app, which cleverly turns your smartphone into a sat-nav using GPS. It works offline with pre-loaded maps and comes with a walking option.

Also check out Google Maps apps for Android and Apple. If you don't want to use data out and about, you can save an area to your phone to use offline. Search for Paris, then touch the bar at the bottom showing your search results, and select 'download'. See our 50+ Overseas Travel Tips guide for more.

A good ol' fashioned paper map is always handy too, in case your battery runs out. You can grab 'em free from Paris tourist offices.

Just point your camera to translate French menus with a free app

WordLens app

The Google Translate app is free for Android and iPhone. Hold your phone's camera over text and it auto-translates French within the image (like on the right – very cool).

You can use your camera to translate text in 30 languages or type to translate 103 languages.

Tuck into a picnic in your hotel room

Paris's exquisite food can come at extreme prices – so cut costs by having a delicious picnic in a park or even your hotel room.

Pick up fresh croissants and pastries from boulangeries for breakfast. For other meals, head to supermarkets or food markets to create a delicious platter of baguettes, cheese, meats, olives, salads, macaroons and vin blanc.

Competitive supermarkets include Monoprix, Carrefour and Franprix (check out its cheap Leader Price brand).

Paris has over 80 outdoor food markets: one of the most popular is Marché des Enfants Rouges in the Marais district, where you can tuck into delicious food (closed Mondays).

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