offering insights into the French capital’s neighborhoods that are informative and inspiring.
A Taste of Paris: Budget
Travis’ Tips to Budget Travelers visiting the Gare du Nord area
Live the culture: Paris is great in the summer due to all the free outdoor events like the Paris Jazz Festival and outdoor movie screenings in Parc de la Villette.
Visit museums off-peak: Look at museum websites to see what day each month is a free admission day and to find out at what times there is reduced admission. Check out municipal museums like the Musée d’Art Moderne, Maison de Balzac, and Maison de Victor Hugo which are always free.
Dine outdoors: You can save money by purchasing a bottle of wine for €3 ($3.33) and grabbing a freshly made sandwich at the local deli for only €4 ($4.43) and then going to the park and having a lovely Parisian meal all without breaking the bank.
Travel by train: It’s very easy to travel around Europe via the city’s main train stations by booking tickets at SNCB Europe. The site combines different carriers to bring you the lowest price.
Buy a one-of-a-kind souvenir: For cheap souvenirs hit up local flea markets (try the Marché aux puces de Saint-Ouen) instead of the exorbitantly-priced tourist shops
Get shown around by a local: Want a free personalized tour of the city? The Paris Greeters will lead you on a guided tour of their Paris, free of charge!
Notez bien! A week’s metro pass for the entire RATP system (Parisian public transit) is a worthy investment. For the short-term visitor, unlimited travel for 5 days will run you €37.25 ($41.29). If you plan on staying for longer, look into the Navigo Découverte card for €5 ($5.54), after which you can get a week’s worth of travel around Paris and its suburbs for €22.15 ($24.56) per week (valid Mon. – Sun.)
Hotspots for Budget Travelers
- Stroll the star-studded Père Lachaise Cemetery, the final resting place of Chopin, Piaf and Morrison
- Grab a drink and peruse the vintage finds at the shabby chic Comptoir Général, then come again at night for an art house film screening
- Tuck yourself into a forest of vivacious saris in the Passage Brady, a taste of India in Paris
- A last meal before boarding your train out of the Gare du Nord? Try the lunch specials at neobrasserie Barbès
- See the city on two wheels with the bikeshare service Velib’ with over 23,600 bikes in service around the city. A one-day subscription with unlimited 30 mins trips will run you €1.70 ($1.80) while a 7-day subscription goes for just €8 ($8.87)!
Abide by your budget near the Gare du Nord: The average hotel stay in the 10th (Entrepôt) and 11th arrondissements (Popincourt) will run you $201 and $200 respectively, according to trivago data. True budget travelers may consider a stay further east towards the Père Lachaise Cemetery in the 20th arrondissement with an average hotel stay priced at $183 (the cheapest arrondissement in Paris!)
Generator Hostel Paris
Situated on a kitty corner from the chilled-out Canal St. Martin, prepare yourself for the world of Generator Hostels. Whether in private or shared accommodations, hostel guests are likely to find themselves more often outside of their rooms in the attractive spaces around the Generator. Le Rooftop which looks out to the Sacré-Cœur is a strong contender, the Café Fabien for any of your three square meals of the day is yet another – meanwhile our money is on the subterranean Le Club & Bar taking stylings from the Parisian metro with retro train car banquette seating and a halting cocktail menu.
With beds starting at $25 (check trivago to make sure you’re getting the lowest prices for this ideal hostel), look forward to ‘room perks’ like en-suite bathrooms, LED bedside lamps, USB sockets for recharging, free WiFi throughout and a mini travel shop. The social backpacking bunch can bunk in a Large Shared which sleeps up to 10 or the Female Shared which sleeps up to 8 ladies. Friends can go for the affordable Quad Rooms while duos looking for privacy can’t go wrong with the sleek Premium Terrace Twin.
Cheap thrills are in no short supply via Generator’s Parallel which curates an up-to-date listing of (often, free) urban happenings.
As a part of a new lineage of affordable Parisian boutique hotels, the Hôtel Panache shows visitors again that bon chic and bon genre can also come at a bon prix. Outfitted by Dorothée Meilichzon, the hotel flirts with an Art Nouveau aesthetic while modernizing the turn of the century building into a hotel for the contemporary “voyageur”. Faux wicker headboards, white tiled bathrooms, brass light fixtures and arrowhead wallpaper play into the retro Parisian theme that stands at the heart of the Hôtel Panache.
With a stay starting at $100/night, these guestrooms have none of the smoke and mirrors of the 9th arrondissement’s past. Amenities like air conditioning, mini bar, in-room safe and LED TVs are the norm throughout the hotel in addition to breakfast in bed every morning!
Checking in as a family? The hotel can add a crib or cot for kids under 2 years free of charge (don’t forget to ask for a Tipi too!), or a cot for bigger kids for €30 ($33.26). Our tip for enjoying the hotel’s restaurant splurge-worthy dishes on a budget: start with an apertif at the honesty bar and then opt for the 3-course prix fixe lunch for €28 ($31).
How to Get In and Around the Gare du Nord
The suburban rail RER B from Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport provides a direct link to the Gare du Nord. Expect to pay €10 ($11) in each direction for the RER trip. If you’re planning on doing a day-long layover, consider buying a Mobilis Ticket for unlimited travel in Zones 1-5 for €17.30 ($19.18). Alternatively, if you’re staying at the Generator Hostel and on a shoestring budget, try Bus 350 from Charles-de-Gaulle which connects travelers directly to the Gare de l’Est in 60-80 minutes for €6 ($6.65) each way (the hostel is less than 15 minutes walking from the bus stop).
Get your bearings on your first day around the Canal Saint-Martin which runs parallel to the Gare de l’Est before turning towards the Place de la République, a key metro station for connections to all corners of the city.