Paris is one of the most expensive cities in the world. You would be astonished at how quickly money can be spent here. I am nearing my 14th month of living here, and I’ve discovered a few ways to keep my spending down. Hope this is helpful!
Website Jenna of Paris Cheapskate always has current information about low-cost entertainment all over Paris.
Opera Brave the cold and wait for standing room tickets on Sundays at Opéra Bastille. Be one of the first 20 people to arrive and you can purchase a ticket for 5€.
Museums These museums are free on the first Sunday of the month (plan for lines, but it’s worth it!). The city-owned museums are free all the time – here is a list in French. Sometimes there will be a temporary exhibition that costs extra, but you can stay in the free part.
Coffee Pop into a cafe and stand at the bar – the prices are lower than if you sit.
Magazines some women’s magazines will have “prix special” for 1€ or 2€. I like to buy one every once in awhile for fun/French practice. Bonus: use pretty fashion photos for wall decoration
Movies affordable movie-watching! UGC Gobelins in the 13th: under-26 4,50€ student 7,30€ and UGC Bercy: under-26 4,90€ student 7,50€. Normal prices are usually around the 9-10€ range so these are great rates!
Boulangeries most croissants, pain aux raisins, etc. only cost a few euros, but many boulangeries have mini-viennoiseries for less than 1€. If I really don’t want to spend a lot or am feeling guilty about eating a whole pastry I will go for a tiny croissant or pain au chocolat – no guilt!
Happy Hours I think it’s funny that they use the English expression Happy Hour but always with the s at the end. If you think about it, it actually makes more sense, since who ever stays for just one hour? 😉 Many, many bars in Paris have Happy Hours, ranging from 17h-22h, usually with prices around 3,50€-5€ for a drink. The catch is that each bar has a different schedule, so you need to pay attention to the menu and signs. Be sure to check the website or their menu if you are planning to drink this way and counting on the lower prices.
Printing I buy 15 minutes of internet for 1,99€ at Milk, and email whatever I am printing to myself beforehand. When I arrive at Milk it takes me just a few minutes to log on and print (for 0,40€ per black-and-white page) and then log off. I keep my login slip in my wallet and use the same one several times!
Bathrooms If you do choose to sit down and dine or drink somewhere, use the bathroom as many times as you can before you leave. Public bathrooms cost money and you can’t just walk into any store and use the bathroom like you can most places in the US. The exceptions I have found: BHV has a restroom on the 5th floor that always has a line but is my go-to pit stop when I am (usually window-)shopping near Hôtel de Ville (btw, window-shopping = lèche-vitrines, “licking windows” in French); any McDonald’s or Starbucks have public bathrooms, and the employees don’t say a word if you walk in and use them and then leave without purchasing. I do this all the time and feel no guilt because they are big evil companies.
Internet MacDo and Starbucks also have free internet that I will shamelessly use in a pinch. Once in awhile I do indulge in a super-sugary latte (they have pumpkin lattes here this year!) but the lines are always so long that I will work on my laptop for an hour or two before the line goes down at all. I figure if they are going to charge me 5€ for a drink, then if I pay for it a few times that equals free internet whenever I need it.
Miscellaneous Floss, contact solution, batteries, deodorant and mascara all cost SO much more here than in the US. If you are coming from the US, stock up before you come and you’ll have more money for things like wine and cheese, which are cheaper here than in the US!
And finally…Walk Around! There is so much to see, and not enough time to really take it all in! When I am bored and don’t want to break a 20€ bill, I go for a walk and take a new turn somewhere. I never regret it. Even in the rain!