Saturday, 2 June 2012

Adventures | A Long Weekend In Paris On A Budget

I recently came back from spending a few days in Paris, with my boyfriend Sanchez, and thought it would be nice to share our trip with you lovely people.

Ma Bicyclette: Adventures | A Long Weekend Paris - Rachel and Sanchez

We tried our best to do Paris on a budget. Before going we sought out the best deals on flights and accommodation that we could find, spending just over £200 pounds each on all of this together. We stayed in an area called Bellville. Here we had everything we needed; patisseries, boutique shops, supermarkets, bars and restaurants. And being pretty close to the Metro station, Jourdain, meant that we were free to go off and explore the whole of Paris.

Ma Bicyclette: Adventures | A Long Weekend Paris

Due to us only staying in Paris for a few days, we were prepared to be busy for pretty much the whole trip. We made a rough itinerary before we left just so we could plan a little of what we wanted to see, and even though we didn’t fully stick to this, it was useful to have some ideas in mind. It felt good to just kind of go with the flow of Paris, seeing new and beautiful things every day.

Disneyland Paris


On our first day we visited Disneyland Paris. This fitted in well with our budget as we had free tickets for the day from an offer that Sky TV was running. Our day here has to be one of my favourites – literally a dream come true. Neither of us had been as children and the fact that we are both in our twenties didn’t matter. We loved every minute of it. From the rides to the Disney character parade, it was magical from start to finish. The best part of the day had to be the Disney Spectacular. This is a show that is put on at Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at around half ten once it’s gone dark. A projection is played onto the castle, which tells the story of a lost star, and is based around Disney characters of all kinds. Throughout, fireworks light up the dark skies. The show is exactly how you’d imagine it to be and more – just like the adverts they put at the end of Disney films to make all of the kids want to go to Disneyland. 

The only advice I’d give about Disneyland is wear some good shoes. Visiting here involves a lot of walking around and once you’re in, you will most likely want to stay until the very end. If you do go yourself, I’d also say make sure you stay to watch the Spectacular. We waited for over an hour for the show to start because it has to be dark to have the full effect, but it is definitely worth the wait! 

Travel to Disneyland is straight forward. We took the Metro to the nearest RER line and the RER on line A to pretty much straight outside the place. The train cost us about 18 Euros each for a return on the day and if you were to pay to enter the park I think it would be around 60 Euros for an adult – although don’t quote me on that, that’s just a rough idea.

Ma Bicyclette: Adventures | A Long Weekend Paris - Disneyland Paris

Latin Quarter, Centre Georges Pompidou & Notre Dame


On our second day we visited the Latin Quarter. This is classed as the student area of Paris and from what we saw, is one of the places with the most going on. Like the rest of Paris, the area is filled with beautiful architecture, and amongst all of this, there are great places to eat and pretty cool shops. We ate out here for a cost of 45 Euros for a meal and a drink each. This may sound pretty expensive, but with Paris being a costly place, we thought it was quite reasonable and the food was pretty good too.

Ma Bicyclette: Adventures | A Long Weekend Paris - Latin Quarter

Whilst in the area, we visited Centre Georges Pompidou. The building itself is pretty impressive, it’s one of the world’s most famous pieces of modern architecture today. It was made to look ‘inside out’ with brightly coloured pipes and an escalator going up the outside of the building. Inside the centre is the modern art museum. At the moment they are showing the work of Matisse. Entry to this cost 10 Euros each although everything else was free. It was really interesting to see Matisse’s work – it will be there until the 18th of June if you’re interested. The permanent exhibition there has some very funky stuff too. It is definitely worth a look. Admittedly this was the only art gallery we visited during our stay as it was really warm whilst we were there and we didn’t want to miss the sun.

Ma Bicyclette: Adventures | A Long Weekend Paris - Modern Art Museum

Whilst still in the Latin Quarter, we took a walk over to Notre-Dame. Even though on the map it looks pretty far away, it didn’t take too long to get there. And in walking, we discovered cute shops, little cafes and saw a snippet of Parisian life. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame does not disappoint and has often been referred to as the heart of the city. Even without being religious, the sheer architecture of this impressive monument will stand to amaze you. It is completely free to go in and have a look around. The only advice I would give with regards to visiting here would be to not stop for a drink right outside the cathedral, especially if you’re hoping to save some money. We paid 20 Euros for just two glasses of coke which we thought was extremely expensive.

Eiffel Tower & River Seine


After this, we left the Latin Quarter and took the Metro to the Eiffel Tower. We got off at Bir Hakeim and it took around 10 minutes to walk there. As soon we got off, we could see the tower and so finding our way there was really easy. There are quite a lot of options if you wish to go to the top of the tower. You can pay around 14-16 Euros if you want to take the lift to the top and around 8 Euros if you take the stairs up part way and the lift to the top. We just admired the view from below as the queues were over an hour long and we felt that we still had so much to see. At the foot of the tower, there is a nice park where we stopped for an ice cream. Sitting here in the hot sun taking in the scenery was breath taking.

Ma Bicyclette: Adventures | A Long Weekend Paris - Eiffel Tower and River Seine

After basking in the sun, we decided to take a boat ride on the river Seine, this cost us 12 Euros each for an hour long cruise of some of the most spectacular monuments in Paris. We found this to be one of the best and most relaxing ways to experience Paris, although in some cases, we could only see small sections of these monuments. Therefore it is something that I would advise doing alongside actually walking around and seeing the sights, although it did make us realise how amazingly close to one another these magnificent attractions are and being on the river Siene whilst the sun was setting is a moment I will never forget. 

Sacre-Coeur & Louvre


On our third day we decided to go to the Sacre-Coeur. Meaning ‘Sacred Heart’ in English, the Sacre-Coeur watches over Paris from its highest point. Being here is one of my best memories of our trip, it is definitely a must-see attraction. We got off the Metro at Anvers. The monument is just a short walk away from here. Although it does sit on top of a hill, the journey up isn’t too bad and there are plenty of spaces to sit down in the gardens that lie underneath and enjoy the panoramic view along the way. The only downside of walking this way is that there are a number of "hustlers" who work to earn money from tourists and can be quite forceful in getting you to stop and speak to them at the entrance of the gardens. Yet this does not stand in the way of how beautiful the place is and the view from the top is spectacular. The Sacre-Coeur is free to enter although photographs are not permitted to be taken inside. Like many Parisian monuments, the architecture is amazing and there are beautiful mosaics to view inside.

After this, we headed to the Louvre. We didn’t go in as we were conscious of saving money and it felt too nice and sunny to be inside. Instead, we decided to walk around the impressive palace gardens there, and this was a great substitute. 

Ma Bicyclette: Adventures | A Long Weekend Paris - Sacre-Coeur and Louvre

Aligre Market & Jardin du Luxembourg

 
On our last day we decided we’d like to have a taste of authentic Parisian life and headed to Aligre Market. The market runs every Tuesday to Sunday, and sells inexpensive produce in an open air market. The hustle and bustle was great to see. A flea market also runs adjacent to this, selling handmade crafts and intriguing second hand goods. Also in the vicinity of the market are more boutique shops selling beautiful jewellery and clothes.

The final sight we decided to visit before our flight home was Jardin du Luxembourg. This park is set around the Palais du Luxembourg which houses the French Senate. It was great to see the garden whilst the sun was shining. It has a similar feel to the palace gardens at the Louvre, boasting a great water feature in the middle of a small lake. This is lovely to sit by, and there are plenty of free chairs to use to take in the relaxed atmosphere. The park also houses tennis courts and a Café. It was here in fact that we enjoyed the best ice creams of the whole trip. Also here, children can take a horse ride around the park, although the horses looked sad and part of us wanted to set them free.

Ma Bicyclette: Adventures | A Long Weekend Paris - Aligre Market

If we were to visit Paris again, we’d probably buy our Metro tickets and passes in advance as this was the only major problem we encountered whilst there. In arriving at the Train station Gard du Nord from the airport, a friendly looking man offered us help in showing us where the ticket machine was, and in taking his help we were scammed out of 112 Euros. So as a word of advice, only seek help from officials.

You can get around the whole of Paris using the Metro system, and although it may seem daunting at first, you will quickly become familiar with how it works. Travel is relatively cheap, on the day it cost us 6.80 Euros for one day's travel between systems 1 and 2, which is where most of the attractions are located.
Also, if you are hoping to budget your spending, don’t eat out all of the time. There are plenty of supermarkets where you can buy reasonably priced sandwiches, and if it’s sunny when you go, Paris is full of parks for you to sit and eat them in. 

On the whole, our Paris trip was a short but sweet adventure. We managed to fit in as many sights as possible in the time we were there, and left feeling that we’d explored it to it's full potential. If you are to visit yourself, prepare to do lots of walking and you will have the time of your life.

Rachel
x

3 comments:

  1. J'y habite et tes photos sont juste magnifiques <3

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a magical post... I love the info, recommendations and pics. Before getting married my husband and I ran off to Paris for 10 days and it was the best time of my life. Now with 3 lil ones it may take some time before we can head back but I dream of it practically every day. Your article brought new ideas to mind on what I would like to do for trip 2 and can't wait. Thank you again !!

    @sassydianamarie
    http://sassydianamarie.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm beyond jealous! I really want to do Paris on a budget so thank you very much for putting the costs of everything - so useful. I also haven't been to Disneyland so I'm glad to hear it doesn't disappoint! Your photos are so lovely as well SO MANY COMPLIMENTS TO PAY, NOT ENOUGH TIME. All round loveliness xxxx

    ReplyDelete