From SWMBO who is finally in Paris:
When people find out that we will be spending a month in Paris, they all say the same thing. “But Paris is so expensive!”
Paris is an expensive city but it’s not Singapore expensive. In Paris, you can stick to your budget if you are careful and creative. The secret is to accurately assess your priorities and to stick to them regardless of what advice you get from others. If your priority is to eat in Michelin 3 star restaurants, it makes sense to earmark the $500/person/meal that it will cost and scrimp elsewhere. You will be miserable if you go to Paris and decide to forgo Alain Ducasse because it is so pricey.
Our priorities are to stay right in Paris, experience daily life in the city, absorb some of the history of the place and soak up a lot of art/architecture. Oh ya, and for Paris, to buy Eiffel Tower related souvenirs.
We have a set daily budget that has to include everything except accommodation. The daily budget is the same every day regardless of whether we are in Vietnam or Paris. Obviously we try to create a surplus in cheaper places to build a bit of a buffer. But honestly, our goal is to never exceed our daily budget because we don’t have much contingency and you never know what might happen down the road. Since February 4, we have only gone over budget 3 times and with a total of five days in Singapore and numerous taxi rides to/from airports, I can live with that. Especially given the fact that we’ve been under budget on most days.
So back to Paris. Many people recommended that we stay outside Paris and take public transit in each day. I agree that this is sound advice but it doesn’t work for us. Public transit for 7 people isn’t cheap so in our case, staying outside Paris is a false economy. Also, when it takes 45 minutes to get from your apartment to the city, you don’t have the luxury of going home in the afternoon to drop off bags, eat a yogurt, get a sweater. You can’t just pick up the 3 people who didn’t want to come with you in the morning. It is unlikely that you will just visit one thing and then head back. For us, packing a day too full leads to unhappy campers. So number one priority before we got here was to find accommodation in Paris proper.
Thus begins a new addition to the blog called PERSONAL Tip of the Day. Notice the caps on PERSONAL? What follows is my explanation of what we are doing to stick to what most people would think is a crazy-low budget for 2 people in Paris, let alone 7 people. I realize that most of these things won’t work for most visitors to the city. I offer them as examples of how to decide what is most important to you and to think outside the box so that you get the Paris vacation YOU have always dreamed of without breaking the bank. Stay tuned for Tip #1 tomorrow…