Paris is a place to escape to and explore. And though it is also a place where spending money can be as easy as walking out the door, this city offers people like you and me (a fully grown fashion student embarking on a complete career change) so much to do, see, eat and buy at pretty reasonable prices if you keep your eyes out for it. So if you're up for a bit of an adventure, I've done some of the groundwork for you. Here are my five things to do under 5 euros in Paris:
1. Soundwalk is a one-hour tour of chosen Parisian neighborhoods that you can download onto your .mp3 player (for 99 cents each) and take part in whenever you have the time. That's right, 'take part'. The audio tours are not your typical 'monument here, famous thing happened here' guides but an interactive story that takes you through each 'hood in a very unique way. For the Marais tour, you'll have a coffee at a local cafe while Isild, a singer/actress, introduces herself and her neighborhood to you before you embark on a tour to find her lost Walkman, stopping along the way to peek into courtyards and learn about special restaurants, shops and monuments that you may otherwise walk by. Paris tours include the Marais, Belleville, Palais Royale, Pigalle and Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Learn more and download here.
2. Arguably, one of the greatest things about Paris is how inexpensive a good bottle of wine can be, so it would be silly to not take advantage. Head to your local grocery store and pick out something that sparks your fancy (read tips on picking a good, cheap bottle here) and check out one of the many outdoor films being screened throughout the summer. Forum des Images is running a great series in different neighborhoods across the city for the first two weeks of August, including evenings in Montmartre and Place des Vosges. More information here. Admission is free and wine under 5€ is super easy to find.
3. At some point you will have worked up an appetite on your travels and the cuisine in Paris is quite the temptress. Now though I may be going 50 cents over my budget, you can get the best falafel of your life on Rue des Rosiers in the Marais, as well as a bit of an experience. Falafel joints telling you they are all the best in the world line this little cobbled street but if you can get yourself up to L'as du Fallafel, you'll be in for a real treat. (This is even coming from someone who previously didn't think she enjoyed this delicacy at all.) It'll be fast and furious but totally worth it. In front of the green facade, line up with all the other patrons and wait for a fast-talking fella to come up to ask you what you want. You pay him, he gives you a ticket and you present that when you get to the window. No questions asked, except if you want a hot sauce on your lunch/dinner. Walk around and explore the neighborhood or find a nice little park or square to enjoy your meal in. I consider it the best 5.50€ I have spent in Paris (Jenna's note: I agree so hard).
4. If you thought shopping was out of the question on a budget in Paris, I am delighted to ask you to please think again. Known for its vintage and thrift stores, the Marais has something for everyone. Once you finish your falafel, walk just a couple of doors down to Vintage Desir (or Coiffure, as it reads on the outside). This place is small but full to the brim of clothing, shoes and accessories, most priced at a cool 5€. I've scored a gorgeous leather briefcase, adorable cross-body bag and a pair of slouchy polka dot trousers for 5€ each. And if you're feeling lucky, there are some real gems to be found. I am still kicking myself for letting a black leather Longchamp bag go for 10€. And is there much better than getting to reply to a compliment with 'oh, I just picked this up at a vintage shop in Paris'?! No, there is not.
5. Now I know we have been hanging around in the Marais a fair bit and there is so much of Paris to see! Heading up the Eiffel Tower for a view of this beautiful city can cost a lot in both money and patience. For what I would consider the best view of the city, take a hike (literally) up through Montmartre to Sacre Coeur. Perks are that it doesn't cost you a thing (except for a bottle of water or much-deserved drink at the top), there is great people watching and even entertainment when you reach the summit and you get to see Paris WITH the Eiffel Tower instead of from it. (Note to those travelling to London: skip the London Eye and climb St. Paul's Cathedral. It's a very interesting climb up over the dome of the building and also boasts much better views when you reach the top.)
Merci, Kate! Now everyone go follow her fabulous blog and Twitter.
All photos courtesy of Kate Neary.