As Valentine’s Day approaches, you might be thinking about what to do and where to go for a romantic excursion with your boo. And where better to go than the city of romance, Paris. This historic city is the perfect place to visit, and yes, even in February. Or if you’re all about that #singlelife, your journey doesn’t have to be romantic because you can use this guide for a trip with friends or a solo tour because Paris isn’t just for lover.
Coming from London
There are a few different ways to get from London to Paris. For a fast train ride, you can take the Eurostar from St. Pancras station, which only takes 2 and a half hours, and can range from $68-180 for a one way journey. If you’re lucky, you can get the cheap fare, but they usually sell out fast. If you want to fly, it’s only about an hour and 15 minutes in the air, but you have to take into account getting to the airport early and then going through customs and immigration on the other end. These fares usually range from $120 being the cheapest if you go through Easy Jet. The most affordable way to get to Paris is to take a bus. With MegaBus or iDBus, you can get to Paris for about $40 one way. This takes longer (between 7 and 10 hours), but if you get an overnight bus, you can sleep during the ride and arrive in Paris in the morning.
Coming from Elsewhere
Thank goodness for cheap flights with budget airlines. Norwegian always has great deals for round-trip travel from multiple places. And you’re in luck because February is one of the most affordable months to travel because many people aren’t, so you’re bound to find a good deal.
The 3 major hostel websites are HostelWorld, Hostels.com, or HostelBookers. I like to check all 3 of them before purchasing, because occasionally, even though they have the same choices on each site, sometimes it will be cheaper through one website than another. I have no idea why, but it’s worth the extra ten minutes to check before clicking the purchase button.
For example, a double bedroom with a shared bathroom for 3 nights at the Le Regent Montmartre is $357 on HostelWorld, $350 on Hostels.com, and $334 on HostelBookers. While the payment difference is only about $20 between the highest and lowest, if you’re trying to budget, obviously the smaller amount is better to go for. This makes me glad I checked multiple sites.
Another tip is to check the hostel’s website and see what they charge. Le Regent Montmartre charges even less if you go directly through their website, only $314 for three nights. The only pro to going through one of the hostel booking websites is that you only have to put down a deposit on the room instead of the full amount, which is usually the case when you purchase directly through the hostel’s website.
Check out Airbnb or Booking.com for fancier options. Airbnb or accommodation found through Booking.com can actually be even cheaper than a hostel, especially when it comes to booking a room to share. I’ve found deals for about $100 cheaper by staying at a room in an apartment, rather than going for a hotel or even a hostel. Hostels are better for solo travel or when adventuring with friends or solo, while Airbnb or hotels work better for couples.
Paris actually has a really great underground train system, as well as buses that go all over the city. The Paris Metro system is fairly cheap to ride on. You can buy individual ride tickets for $2.50, or 10 rides for $18. You can also purchase day passes, with the 3 day pass going for $34. Which is a really good deal for unlimited travel around the city. Paris is a fairly walkable city, but you will definitely get tired if you’re on your feet all day, so catching a bus or train is simple and can be very budget friendly, depending on how often you want to use the transportation system. Taxis can get expensive, and you’ll usually find a bus going somewhere familiar.
The Eiffel Tower is a must-see. For $29, a ticket to ride the lift to the top may seem like a lot, but it is so worth it. The Eiffel Tower is magical. The view from the top is staggering and unforgettable. I’ve been up twice now and can’t wait for my third time. At night, the tower lights up with a sparkling light show every hour. It’s delightful and so romantic to watch together.
The Louvre is one of the most amazing museums in the world and you really need a whole day to explore. I can say that the $17 you spend will be an adequate amount to be able to view the great art of the world. Obviously the Mona Lisa is in there, but the crowd to see it is usually wild. It’s still nice to see in person. It’s understandable how one could get lost in there. The building used to be a palace, and it now houses a great amount of history.
A walk around Montmartre is essential for a romantic trip to Paris. This city atop the hill is famous for its bohemian vibe and history of creatives hanging around making their artwork. You can see the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and walk down lovely, peaceful streets.
If you have time, take a day trip to the Palace of Versailles. It’s a bit outside the city, but worth the journey to see the grounds. If you don’t have time to go, an alternative inside the city is is the famous opera house, Palais Garnier.
Then of course, there’s all the other traditional spots to see that are free because you can just view them from outside. The Notre-Dame, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Élysées, and others will fill up plenty of your time.
WHAT TO EAT
One does not need to spend a bunch of euros on food if they can avoid it. While Paris is a culinary capital, that means that prices can get high in fancy cafes and restaurants. My favorite alternative? Go to a grocery store, stock up on wine, fancy cheese, some slices of meat, and grab a loaf of fresh baked French bread and you can have a full picnic meal for cheap. But wait, it’ll be cold out, so why would you want to do a picnic? Because it’s Paris for goodness sake. Go to one of the many parks or gardens and sit on a bench, people-watch and eat your meal, it won’t be as bad as you think.
Other options include going to a boulangerie (aka bakery) cafe and eating a bunch of pastries and coffee and feeling Parisian as hell while doing it.