Last fall my friend, Joyce, and I discussed walking the Camino de Santiago. She commented, “If we’re going to go that far around the world, I also want to see Paris. I may never get another chance.”
The Camino walk takes a month, if you’re in great shape. Paris could take a month of exploration just to scratch the surface of what that city offers. Imagine the City of Light with world-class museums, lovely restaurants, and the best metro in the world, versus a long dusty walk through the Spanish countryside carrying a backpack just to see a tomb at the end of it all.
We chose Paris. [pullquote]Our studio had a tiny kitchen, a day-bed in the living room, and a loft above the kitchen with a double bed.[/pullquote]
As retired single women, we are careful with finances and neither of us thought we could afford to stay in Paris a whole month. We also wanted to see more than just one city in France.
So we opted to see four parts of the country, a week at a time. Paris was first of course. We rented a studio apartment in the center of the Marais neighborhood, just north of the islands that constitute the very heart of the city.
Our overarching plan was to shop in the local markets, eat breakfast and dinner at the apartment, and have nice lunches out on the town. Lunches are a lot cheaper, somewhat smaller than dinners in nice restaurants and just as well prepared. The average all-inclusive lunch, including a glass of wine, ranged from $18 USD to $30 USD. We ate at a couple of Michelin starred restaurants where lunch was more in the range of $40 to $70.
We paid $950 USD for a studio apartment for seven nights. We found it on AirBnB.com, an online venue where people who have a furnished property can rent it to travelers. Many of the owners also have weekly and monthly rates.
Our studio had a tiny kitchen, a day-bed in the living room, and a loft above the kitchen with a double bed. Quite a bit larger than a normal hotel room, it was perfect for our needs. Since it was on the third floor we saved a gym membership by having a built-in stair-master.
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Food shopping in the neighborhood grocery cost us each a daily average of $12 USD. We ate well: fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, great cheeses, warm baguettes, thick bacon, roasted chicken, and several bottles of decent wine.
We both enjoy museums, and are avid walkers. Paris is a walking city; full of places, both famous and out-of-the-way, to visit. We also prefer to see a museum thoroughly, so we only visited one a day. Museum ticket prices ranged from $12USD to $20 USD. A stroll along the Seine, the Luxemborg Gardens, and a number of other sites were free and enjoyable when the weather was nice.
We opted for a two-day pass ($45 USD each) on the Paris L’Open Air Bus + Boat tour. Those big red double-decker bus tours are popular in large cities around the world. We made an effort to ride all four routes in order to get a feel for the whole city and to know where the big attractions were. Then we decided which ones we really wanted to see.
Taking the boat up and down the Seine, we hopped off at the Eiffel Tower, took a bunch of pictures, hopped back on the boat and saw the Notre Dame Basilica. Another day we saw the vistas from Mont Martre and explored its gardens after traversing the porno neighborhoods with their sex-toy shops and strip bars. The buses certainly provided an inclusive tour of Paris.
The rest of the week, we took the Metro buses and trains. A carnet of 10 tickets cost $19.50 USD. It was simple to traverse the entire city, using the metro, in less than thirty minutes.
If we’d opted to spend a month in Paris, we certainly would not have eaten out as often, nor gone to as many museums and attractions during the week. I checked the local real estate window postings in the Marais and was surprised at how many furnished apartments were available. An efficiency apartment can be rented for as little as $1500 USD a month, a small apartment for under $2000 USD, and a 2-bedroom apartment for around $3000 USD. There were much cheaper rentals on the outskirts of the city. Any location in the metro area would be workable thanks to the fast transportation system.
All told, the week in Paris cost us each $900 USD, quite reasonable in what is considered one of the most expensive cities in the world.
This post What Does It Cost to Live for a Month in Paris? is by Sherry Hardage, author of the blog Soul Investing. You can also find her in the online newspaper column Solo Traveler. Even though Sherry didn’t spend all of her month in France in Paris, she did the research to see if it could be affordable.