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Top 25 Ways to Save on Paris Travel

Transportation
metro paris14. Use your feet (and your phone). Paris is the perfect place for walking -- whether you're hoofing it from A to B or strolling aimlessly along the Seine. Want to upgrade your walking experience? Take a tour and learn a thing or two about your surroundings. You'll find detailed walking tours with maps and other information in many a Paris guidebook. Or put your smartphone to good use. Complimentary Paris audio guides and walking tours can be downloaded from travel brands like Rick Steves' Europe (available on iPhone and Android) and TripAdvisor (available on Android).

Want a living, breathing guide? Book a walking tour with City Free Tour, which offers free small-group tours in Paris (find them at www.cityfreetour.com).

Essential Travel Apps

15. Pedal through Paris. Paris has an outstanding bicycle share system called Velib. If you aren't hesitant to bike through busy Parisian streets, you can save significantly on transportation by joining the program. There are 1,800 Velib stations throughout Paris and in 30 surrounding cities. It's simple: Just pick up your bike at any station and drop it off at any station for as long as your ticket is valid. A seven-day ticket costs 8 euros (about $10 as of this writing). You can pay for your rental with a credit card at any Velib station, but you must have a "chip-and-PIN" card to do so. If you don't have a credit card with a chip (most American cards aren't equipped with them), you can purchase a Velib ticket online at https://aboen-paris.cyclocity.fr/.

16. Take the Metro. Paris' extensive Metro system is an affordable means of transport within the city. It only costs a few euros for a ride, and if you buy a book of 10 tickets it's even cheaper. Pick up a free map at your hotel or a Metro information booth. There is, however, a downside. During the morning and evening rush hours, Metro trains can get uncomfortably crowded. Think sardines in a can or clothes stuffed in a too-small suitcase.

25 Ways to Save in Europe

Meals
17. Find some falafel. Paris is known for its baguettes, cheese and saucy French dishes. But there's another iconic Parisian food you may not have heard of: falafel. A series of shops on Rue des Rosiers in the Marais district serve pita pockets stuffed with delicious fried chickpea fritters and all the toppings: hummus, cabbage, pickles, spices. And the price? A falafel sandwich costs just a few euros at the acclaimed L'As du Falafel (arguably the most well-known of the Marais falafel shops), and neighboring falafel houses serve similar fare for low prices as well.

18. Eat your most lavish meals at lunch. If you're planning on visiting a Michelin-starred Parisian hotspot, get ready to pay up. Some of the most luxurious, celebrated restaurants in Paris charge hundreds of euros for a single dinner. Lunch, on the other hand, is almost always more affordable. For instance, according to Frommer's, the fixed-price dinner menu at Le Cinq costs 160 - 230 euros. Le Cinq's fixed-price lunch menu is 78 - 160 euros.

19. Buy baguettes. Just-baked baguettes abound in Paris. While you may have to wait in line for one at the better bakeries, you won't have to bust your budget to munch on crispy, doughy goodness. Most Parisian boulangeries sell baguettes for just a few euros each. Add a hunk of cheese and some fruit, and you've got a simple, affordable and delicious meal.

Paris Travel Deals

20. Look for lunch specials. During lunchtime hours, from around 11 a.m. to 2 or 3 p.m., many Parisian restaurants offer special set-price lunches; you'll usually see a "prix fixe" menu advertized on a chalkboard somewhere in the restaurant. The specials often feature a select appetizer, an entree, a glass of wine or coffee and sometimes a dessert for one set price. In many instances, you'll end up paying 12 or 13 euros for a meal that would have cost upwards of 30 euros if purchased a la carte.

21. Buy wine at the supermarket. Many Parisian supermarkets have well-stocked wine sections, with some bottles selling for just a few euros; don't sneer at this notion. High-quality wines are available in many French food stores for surprisingly cheap prices. Jazz up a picnic in the park or an evening meal at your rental apartment with an affordable store-bought bottle.

Lodging
paris neighborhood22. Pick the right neighborhood. Hotels in centrally located neighborhoods or near major attractions like the Eiffel Tower tend to be more expensive than accommodations farther afield. But don't count out a stay in an outlying community. Transportation from peripheral areas to the center of the city by Metro is a cinch. Additionally, those out-of-the way neighborhoods offer their own unique attractions. Montmarte, for example, an artsy neighborhood north of central Paris, is home to the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, the Dali Museum and some of the best views in the city (thanks to the highest hills in the city).

Discount Hotel Deals

23. Rent an apartment. What's the solution to high-priced Paris hotels? Book a vacation rental or an apartment. Sites like Airbnb, FlipKey and HomeAway offer listings of Paris rentals with rates that often fall well below standard hotel prices. If you're staying in Paris for a week or longer, a vacation rental's a particularly great choice, as many properties have special weekly rates that are more affordable than nightly rates. An added bonus: Book a rental with a kitchen and you can cook your own meals.

24. Forgo the view. Contrary to what's depicted in movies and on television shows, few buildings in Paris offer a view of the Eiffel Tower. Consequently, hotel rooms and apartments featuring a glimpse of the famous monument from a bedroom window will be very expensive. Ditch your dream of a tower view and save.

25. Book in advance. The best way to acquire affordable yet agreeable accommodations is to book well in advance. Paris is an exceptionally popular tourist destination, so highly-rated budget -digs -- you know, those 100-euro-per-night inns that rise to the top of the list on TripAdvisor -- fill up months in advance. The sooner you book your Paris hotel for your upcoming trip, the better bang you'll get for your euro.

Editor's Note: IndependentTraveler.com is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network.

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    --written by Caroline Costello

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