Take euros further in Paris
The Louvre, Paris. Entry on the first Sunday of the month is free. Picture: Tempo Holidays

Paris is famous for being one of the most beautiful, if not expensive, cities in the world but a visit to the city of romance does not have break the bank.

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Parisian food and drink prices often shock the average tourist while accommodation and the entrance prices to many of the city's attractions are sometimes nothing short of frightening.

However, it is still possible to visit famous sights such the Mona Lisa in the Louvre for free or drink a coffee for as little as a euro. All it takes is a degree of planning and to think like the locals do.


COFFEE

The price of a cup of coffee around the major tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre or Notre Dame can reach up to four euros (around $5 especially if served at a table by a waiter).

Most menus do not mention the fact that the same drink costs just a fraction of this if ordered at the bar or to take away. If the weather is good, ordering a coffee to take away and drink on one of the many public benches situated across Paris is an attractive alternative.

For the true coffee-drinking bargain hunters there is even an internet guide which lists more than 70 places in Paris where coffee can be bought at the bar for no more than one euro ($1.18).


ART AND CULTURE

With the right amount of planning, art and culture lovers can also save money. For example, on the first Sunday of the month entrance is free to all the permanent exhibitions at the city's state-run museums and galleries.

This includes the world-famous Louvre gallery, where such masterpieces as Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa are on view, or the Centre Pompidou with more modern artworks from the likes of Picasso, Matisse or Gerhard Richter. Entry to both galleries normally costs a minimum of 10 euros.


DINING

Any tourist considering a romantic dinner for two or an evening at the opera should first look on the internet. The last-minute booking system La Fourchette has registered more than 8 million bookings and offers are sorted according to such categories as price, location and cuisine.

Even the top-class restaurants offer special menus and reductions of up to 50 per cent are sometimes offered.


VIEWS

A view of the city from the Eiffel Tower or Tour Montparnasse costs more than 10 euros but the same vista can be experienced for free by climbing the steps to the Basilica Sacre-Coeur on Montmartre.


ACCOMMODATION

The greatest savings can be achieved when booking overnight accommodation. Tourists can avail of the growing trend of Parisians renting out their apartments when they leave the city during the holiday season to offset the high cost of living in Paris.

Younger travellers can use one of the three hostels run by the community organisation MIJE. The hostels are located in the central Marais quarter in old houses once owned by aristocrats.


NIGHT LIFE

Partying in Paris is also an expensive past-time but just as much fun and a lot cheaper are midweek after-work parties.

Queen, a former gay club on the Champs-Elysees, charges just five euros on a Thursday evening while champagne, salad and sometimes a slice of pizza are included in the 20-euro entrance fee to the Madame club.

The offer ends at 9pm, after which time the music is turned up, the lights go down and the price of a glass of champagne is 17 euros.

The West Australian

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