Despite Paris’ luxurious and expensive reputation, the city brims with special offers and deals. If you’re anything like most people – and don’t want money to get in the way of enjoying your trip – make sure you keep an eye open for discounts and passes and compare prices before you choose.
However, a little reading prior to your departure can go a long way in saving a buck or ten, so read the following section closely.
Let’s start with the basics:
• Euros are the official currency in France (as well as in most of the other EU countries).
• 1 € is divided into 10 cents.
• There are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 € notes.
• There are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent € coins as well as 1 and 2 € coins.
Banks are generally open from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday and some are only open from Tuesday to Friday. There’s a plethora of cashpoints or ATMs scattered around the city where you can easily withdraw cash in Euros at any time or any day. Please make sure you check with your credit card issuing bank first, to see if this service has any extra rates.
Not all banks offer exchange services, but all exchange bureaux do. Look for the “Change” signs to correctly identify them; they are usually found around tourist areas and might even be open on Sundays. Rates are fixed daily according to the market and should be displayed outside for everyone to publicly see.
Again, shop around and choose carefully: exchange bureaux usually charge a commission and this commission can vary from bureau to bureau. Commissions will be higher for exchanging low sums, so don’t count on stopping at a bureau each time you need Euros if you’re looking for the best deal. When in doubt, simply ask the person behind the counter how many Euros you’ll get for the amount you’re willing to exchange.
When visiting Paris, you’ll need to pay a tourist tax or “tax de séjour” applicable to all forms of paid accommodation. The amount ranges from €0,20 to €1,50 per day, per person and everyone must pay it except under 13s. This tax is usually included in the accommodation rates (even when you’re renting an apartment) but sometimes it is not. Avoid surprises and ask!
Eating in Paris doesn’t need to be expensive. Most restaurants offer ‘menu’ prices, where all courses are set and included into the displayed price. Ordering ‘a la carte’ would mean to choose each course – and its respective price – from a menu, something that would invariable result in a bulkier bill.
Here’s another little tip: drinking coffee at the counter in a café costs less than sitting at a table to do so. Plus, all restaurants and cafés are obliged to publicly display their prices for people to choose and compare, so don’t feel odd if you don’t decide to sit down at the first café you go into.
Prices displayed usually include tax and service (“service compris”), which is around 15%. If the service is particularly good, try and leave something more (5-10% of the bill). If you pay in cash, it is considered good manners to leave the waiter any small change you get. Porters and chambermaids usually expect a small tip, as do taxi drivers (10-15% of the total fare), hairdressers (10%) and cloakroom and washroom attendants. Ushers, museum guides, tour guides and guide bus drivers are usually tipped too.
Travel and Discounts
The cheapest way to get around Paris is either the metro or on foot. Find a metro map before you arrive and check what lines you could take to all the attractions you wish to visit. If you find one online, it might be wise to print it and carry it with you while you’re out.
Discounts are commonplace for senior citizens, students and children under 18, not only at attractions, monuments, museums and other leisure activities, but also for transportation.
Some attractions are always free, while others are only during specific days or times. Many paid attractions have at least certain times when one can enter for free:
- Some attractions are free on the first Sunday of each month.
- Some attractions are free on the first Sunday of each month but only from November 1st to March 31st.
- Some attractions are free on the first Sunday of each month but only from October 1st to March 31st.
- Some attractions are free on Wednesday evenings.
- Some attractions are free for under 26-year-olds from EU countries.
- Some attractions are free for teachers.
- And so on.
The best thing you can do in order to know what attractions will offer free entrance during your stay – and when – is to ask around and do a little research before embarking in your Parisian adventure.
Paris also offers a museum pass that you can purchase to skip lines and pre-pay your museum visits with a discount for 2, 4 and 6 days. The museum pass is also applicable to many attractions and is not only limited to museums.
For more information about money deals and attractions in Paris, contact us and we will gladly send you further material about any subject of your interest. We will e-mail this information at no cost within 72 hours and it will be specific to your requirements.
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