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Paris on a budget – where to stay

by on June 23, 2015
 

The Choices

With only four nights in Paris and lots to see and do, it was important that we minimise unnecessary travelling between accommodation and destinations. Not having been to Paris before and thus unfamiliar with the layout of the city and the public transport, it was necessary to do a bit of homework. You will therefore first have to identify what you need.

We wanted to stay somewhere that met the following criteria:
  • Near a RER B train station (the one from the Charles De Gaulle Airport) thus saving a taxi ride or long ‘luggage pull’.
  • Close enough to the Metro and RER stations to get us places if it was raining or we were tired of walking.
  • Availability of food – street food, inexpensive restaurants, small supermarkets.
  • Within walking distance of all the museums and places we wanted to visit.

The area that met these requirements for us, was just to the south of Notre Dame Cathedral, within walking distance of the Saint Michel RER station and near the Latin Quarter with lots of great food available.

To ensure some consistency in our article, prices will be compared across the different types of accommodating we can find for the week between 1st and 8th July 2015 (7 nights). This is just over a week from the time of writing. Obviously the more lead time you give yourself, the more choice you will have in every type of accommodation.

Hotel

The easiest way to find a hotel in the location in the place you are looking is to go to an aggregator site which will allow you to compare prices across the type and range of accommodation you are looking for. (This also works when you’re looking for hostels, apartments or B&B accommodation).

Trip Advisor is one of the ones we’ve used and you have the added benefit of seeing reviews from other users as well. The main issue we found was that the filters were quite picky and it was difficult to check if the hotel was actually in the area we wanted. The first 5 we checked were nowhere near Saint Michel Station or the Latin Quarter, so we decided to check one of the booking sites. When we went to Booking.com, we were able to see all the hotels on their books within the city but all the ones in the area we wanted were ‘sold out’. The only place left was a Superior Queen room in Pullman Paris Montparnasse (4 Star) which would cost us USD 6010 +city tax for 7 nights with breakfast included (around USD860 per night). Even that was a long walk from this station.

The Hotel Des Deux Continents (3 Star), just near where we wanted, was not available for the whole 7 nights, but a double room without breakfast or city tax was available for MYR 915 for the 1st July.

From previous travels, we’ve often found that once we’ve identified a hotel we like, it’s not a bad idea to email them directly especially if you can’t find any rooms available (though other booking sites may have rooms available). You may be surprised to find they have a room, which is often competitively priced and doesn’t come with an additional booking fee. You can also sometimes find small hotels online that aren’t aligned with any of the booking agents, so a direct contact may also get you what you want.

Hostels and Apartments

Many hostels and apartment buildings use the same booking agents as hotels so when you are checking your parameters, try checking Apartments, Private Apartments, Apartment Hotels or Hostels to see the choices available. For the period requested we were unable to find anything available in the area we wanted, the nearest was Rive Gauche Comfortable for USD 113 per night, a good step in the opposite direction from where we wanted to visit.

We had slightly better luck with the Generator Paris Hostel found on Agoda, not too far from Gare du Nord station (on the way in from the airport and terminus of the Eurostar. Pricewise the cheapest option they have available fore the dates we want is USD 145.58 for a bed in a 10 person mixed dorm, plus taxes. A twin en-suite cabin in the St Christopher’s Inn Paris – Gare du Nord, much closer to the station was available, with breakfast for USD 587.09 or a deluxe double for USD 674.62 with breakfast.

HostelWorld is also a good place to look and prices are generally lower than the hotel booking sites. They had double private rooms available at St Christopher’s Inn from USD 70.41 per person per night, including breakfast. Generator Paris Hostel was available for USD58.47 per person per night for a bed in a 10 person mixed dorm.

Hostelling International Paris page has a running banner with a variety of offers and indicating why travellers find each a good place to stay. Worth a look at some of the offerings, which range upwards from around USD22 per dorm bed per night.

AirBnB

Airbnb is a way of staying in some really unusual locations, perhaps a lighthouse? a bus? or even a yurt! It’s also a place where people with an empty apartment /house/room make it available for you to stay for a payment when it is not otherwise being used. One of the things that makes Airbnb easier to use is that all the places available for the dates you want are shown straight on the map so no fiddling about with opening each to see exactly where they are. (Locations aren’t exact for security reasons, but they are close enough) There’s a slider so you can easily widen the price category if nothing;s coming up.

First up we found a houseboat right near the Notre Dame, available for MYR533 per night with instant confirmation or a small studio apartment nearby for MYR298 per night. Prices are given in your originally selected currency, though they are billed in the currency of the country you are staying, in this case, in Euro.

Read about our booking experience when we  were looking for places to stay in Europe to Paris in March. Note that we did make our bookings at least 3 weeks to a month before our travels and it was not yet the high season.

We wrote about our experience after the trip HERE.

To make a booking with AirBnB, set up an account on the Airbnb website and write a profile, then you’re ready to go.

House sitting

There are quite a few ways you can actually get free accommodation in desirable places. Yes, you read that right – FREE! People who live there and want to go on holiday themselves, sometimes want a reliable person to live in their home for the duration, maybe because they want the plants watered, pets looked after or just for the security of someone being there. Most of the sites we’ve looked at seem to require proof that you’re trustworthy and won’t wreck their home or car so they’ll need some sort of proof – a police check perhaps.

Trusted house sitters is one of the better known sites that matches up pet owners with pet lovers. Obviously you can’t go away for a few days and leave the pets alone, but otherwise, you can live like a local and you have patting rights as you care for a much loved family pet.  You do have to sign on as a member, either annual, monthly, or for a three month period and there is a subscription payment for this. To see what’s on offer in France, click HERE.

MindMyHouse is another site which matches up pet & home owners and sitters. You can also see straight away the sort of homes & pets and locations that are available.

Another place to look is House sitting Worldwide. Their website isn’t that pretty, but they have a lot of information and plenty of reviews available from people who’ve used them. If your eyes can take the colours, there’s also a HINTS page on what makes good sitters/sittees.

While we haven’t actually tried house sitting, friends who have swear by it as a great way to see great parts of the world at little cost.

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