Category Archives: France How To

Paris on a Budget, Episode 141

Paris on a Budget


Paris on a budget, euro bills and coins

On today’s episode, Annie shares tips for visiting Paris on a budget. Maybe you’re financially challenged at the moment, maybe you’re bringing your kids and don’t need or want anything fancy. Maybe you’re just the kind of person, like me, who likes to feel like you got great value for your dollar, maybe this is a business trip and your boss is cheap.  No matter what your situation is, if you want to come to Paris without burning an irreparable hole into your bank account, this episode is for you!

What do I mean by Paris on a budget? 150€ per day for two people. It is possible to go even cheaper I’m sure, but I can’t help you there. You could hitch-hike and do couch surfing I suppose, not for moi!

Today I’m going to tell you how to come to Paris with your significant other, or a friend, or your kid, and only spend 150€ per day. I am excluding airfare, but am including hotel, transportation, food and entertainment. That’s the minimum for me to be comfortable and have a good time. I am not a fancy person, but I do like to be comfortable and safe, so stay tuned because I’m sure that matters to you too.

The airfare to come to Paris is expensive, but you know, sometimes you get lucky. One of my friend’s sons found an incredible fair to Paris and it was so good he booked it on the spot. If you can can find airfare under 500€ between continental US and France, it’s a great fair, grab it while you can. I can’t give you tips on how to do that other than setup airfare alerts and act fast.

If you enjoyed this episode, also listen to Episode 80 on Free Museums in Paris, and Episode 142 on Paris Metro or Bus?

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

 Episode Highlights

Annie’s secrets for enjoying Paris on a budget:

  1. Travel in Jan thru March or November thru mid-Dec
  2. Always check out hotel price before you book your flight
  3. Once in Paris, the most expensive ticket item is the hotel, then meals, then transportation, then entertainment
  4. Annie’s favorite budget hotel in Paris: Ibis in Charenton-le-Pont
  5. Annie’s food schedule: hotel breakfast, lunch out, snack and wine in the room at night. You can have a nice lunch in Paris for 14€-20€ per person, ask for a “une carafe d’eau s’il vous plaît” for tap water (which tastes fine and is totally safe in Paris and is what most people drink at lunch).
  6. Pack carefully (see packing list episode 137) a charging cable will run you 10€, and umbrella 25€, Advil is 6€ and Band-Aids aren’t cheap either!
  7. Budget hotels don’t supply much: no safe, no extra pillows, no soap, no wash-cloths
  8. Go to free museums (see Episode 80) and splurge on one or two that you’ve really wanted to see, maybe the Louvre or the Orsay
  9. Museum pass is expensive (78€ for 6 days, only worth it if you are sure to see 2 museums per day, not worth it just to skip the line
  10. You can reserve a timed entrance to the Louvre from home and that line is always much shorter than the other two
  11. Transportation pass not worth it , buy a pack of 10 tickets for 16€ and walk a lot
  12. Transfers between bus and metro not possible in Paris, choose  your route carefully using the RATP App
  13. You need phone data, buy that at home with your carrier
  14. Don’t get robbed or ripped off
    • Plan your pockets: you need a safe pocket for your phone and credit cards/cash, always put your stuff back in the same pocket
    • You don’t need a fancy travel pack with titanium lining, you simply need to remember to zip up your pockets!
    • Don’t talk to anyone with a clipboard and don’t fall for the “You don’t want to talk to me? What’s wrong? Isn’t Paris not treating you right?” routine
    • Big crowds and tight quarters: your phone and wallet need to be in your hands
    • Camera around your neck and a note about expensive camera equipment
    • Small backpacks/purses or you can’t get in venues

 

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Tips for Driving in France, Episode 138

Tips for Driving in France


Tips for driving in France, Dawn at the wheel

On today’s show Annie and guests share tips for driving in France. You’ll hear from Stephanie and Dawn from Canada who drove between Bordeaux and Paris and my friend Jeff who drove around Provence and the south-west. All of us together share great tips for driving in France. If you are considering driving yourself in France, also listen to Episode 16 of the podcast which explains more of the rules and the gotchas. Both of those episodes should have you well-prepared for driving in France.

There are times when driving is so much easier than taking the train or even the bus. For instance, if you want to visit Loire Castles, well, you will either have to join a tour or rent a car because all of those castles aren’t exactly in the middle of a city with a train station. Same with Normandy. A lot of the highlights are in the country far from public transportation. If you want to explore the south-west where I am, it’s so much easier with a car!  I am not saying that it’s impossible to visit those areas without out car, but it’s quite difficult. So yes, if you’re a do-it-yourself traveler, you need to become familiar with these tips for driving in France, so keep listening!

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.
 Episode Highlights
  • [4’00”] Areas of France that are hard to visit without a car
  • [5’35”] French tip of the week at the end of the episode today
  • [5’45”] Consider joining the Join Us in France Closed Group on Facebook where you can also ask your own questions
  • [7’05”] Start of conversation with Stephanie and Dawn
  • [8’00”] Stephanie was against driving because she’s “risk averse”
  • [8’30”] Dawn found driving in France very navigable, roundabouts make it easier
  • [9’00] Gotcha: if you miss your exit on the freeway in France, you may need to keep driving for a long time before you get to another exit
  • [11’00”] Use either a GPS App or get a stand-alone GPS
  • [12’00”] Don’t forget to edit the settings on your GPS
  • [13’20”] Should you get an international driver’s license?
  • [15’30] Don’t bring too much luggage or it won’t fit in the car!
  • [17’00”] Having a car brings freedom
  • [18’40”] Waze, Google Maps, and Maps work well in France
  • [19’45”] Apps and GPS Make It Possible to Anticipate
  • [21’15] Start conversation with Jeff
  • [22’39”] What if you want to take day-trips from Paris?
  • [23’00”] What out for the speed limit!
  • [25’50”] Roundabouts Behavior
  • [26’50”] Is driving in France stressful?
  • [27’40”] What about paying for tolls?

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Paris Packing List, Episode 137

Paris Packing List

Fancy older woman wering a hat and jewelry
You may run into this person in Paris, but she’s the exception, not the rule.

Some people fret about what’s acceptable to wear in France, and it is true that there are some things you should NOT wear in France. Annie is in a good situation to talk about that because being someone who doesn’t worry much about clothing, she’s made every mistake in the book since moving home to France. But she’s working on it! Being an artist, Elyse worries a lot more about being stylish and has excellent tips to share. Click Continue reading to see our recommended Paris Packing List!

If you love our approach to travel and want to tour France with us, visit Addicted to France to look at upcoming tours.

Paris Packing List Episode Highlights

  • [4’11”] Americans tend to dress more casually than French people.
  • [6′] There is a Paris Style.
  • [7’50”] How to dress for Paris specifically.
  • [8’30”] No Bermuda shorts, sexy short shorts only for very young women.
  • [10’50”] Paris brings out the dressiness in people, but don’t get too dressy.
  • [11’30”] People don’t dress up to go out at night as much as they used to and you will not get turned away for not wearing a jacket and tie in Paris.
  • [13′] You can wear business casual even at the Symphony in France.
  • [14’10] Scarves will dress up any outfit as a decorative element for both men and women.
  • [15′] Practical tip: bring interchangeable items in dark solid colors and add colorful scarves or wraps. Women can bring summer dresses and capris.
  • [16’20”] Shoes: no sandals with socks, no clunky “nurse’s shoes”, but it’s OK to wear sandals and casual shoes.
  • [17’45] Men wear capris in France!
  • [18’20] Annie’s faux-pas at the Disneyland Hotel and at Louis Vuiton in Paris.
  • [22’44”] How to up your clothing game as a tourist in Paris: accessorize, wear a leather jacket (or a crochet jacket, or any sort of jacket), clothes that are cut closer to the body.
  • [24’20”] Change your outfit at the end of the day, women don’t wear t-shirts with words.
  • [26′] Some women in Paris wear dresses and high-heels, but they are not the majority. When walking a lot, wear closed shoes where your feet can’t move around too much.
  • [28’27”] No shorts for women over 30 in the city. Capris are fine. Sun-dresses and skirts are commonly worn in France.
  • [29’25”] Whatever you wear, you MUST have a bag that zips and goes across your torso. Men should not have their wallet in the back pocket of their pants.
  • [30′] Clean pants and a nice polo shirt works great for men, even if you are going to a nice restaurant.
  • [31′] A lot depends on who you hang out with. Fancy situations call for fancier clothes and accessories.
  • [32’44”] Layers are important in the winter.
  • [35′] French people wear fitting clothes, but don’t do it if you’re uncomfortable.
  • [38′] No baseball caps, berets are for old folks, Panama hats are stylish and can be worn by both men and women.
  • [40″] If you’re a “fluffy person” (aka fat) do what you want, wear what you want, don’t worry about what other people think. You don’t have to wear black.

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