Europe, Travel Stories

A week in the life: Paris

This is my third time coming back to Paris. The first time I celebrated my 26th birthday in Paris with a soggy baguette and Joe Purdy in my ears while the rain fell next to the Seine. I was elated. The second time was unplanned. After the first of many passport debacles, I met my aunt in Paris for a week of writing and fantasizing about our future enterprise together, “Buns in Bed” featuring delicious and steamy French bread delivered straight to your door in the morning.


Paris is definitely for lovers 2013

This time, I had few plans beyond drinking as many grand crèmes as possible and taking every advantage a full wi-fi connection can offer (mainly Skyping and catching up on the last 5 months of New Girl). Curious to see how much I could spend or not spend in Paris, I decided to write down all of my expenses and activities, to prove how cheaply a city like Paris can be enjoyed.

Bastille, Paris 2014

Day 1
I arrived in Paris in the afternoon and took the metro to Le Gare Nord where I was to meet my couch surfing host in the evening. I spent an hour or two people watching and soaking up the bustling atmosphere, listening to the free piano concerts played by passerby whose talents far surpass mine.

After meeting my host, we shared a snack of yogurt and watched the soccer match between Morocco and Guinea late into the night

Total expenditure: 
3.40 – metro ticket 

Day 2
My host serves breakfast and after a slow morning we take the train to La Defense where we enjoy the view and the sunshine. We head over to Sacre-Coueur for a picnic and watch a live band of street performers. People holding signs for free hugs are smiling and waving, so I oblige.

A few hours later, we see another musical theater performance a few blocks away while meandering down the hill. We walk past the portraits and observe people sitting quietly as their likeness comes alive in charcoal, oil, and pencil. We walk past Le Moulin Rouge and end the day with a coffee next to Bastille. We head home and my host buys a take away pizza, sharing laughs about the news, politics, and our mutual love of Morocco.
La Defense, Paris 2014
TheBarefootBeatSacre-Coueur, Paris 2014

Total expenditures:
13.90 A carnet of 10 metro tickets (for the whole week)
4.50 a sandwich for lunch
3.60 cafe next to Bastille 

Day 3
I meet my second couch host in Paris early in the morning, before he goes to work. I grab a coffee with the two Canadian girls he’s been hosting, buy a quiche at the boulangerie, and spend the rest of the day watching New Girl and lazing around until evening.

Around 5pm I take the metro to St. Michelle where I grab a take-away dinner and watch the sunset along the Seine. I sit inside St. Severin’s cathedral, absorbing the quiet and dark atmosphere, watching the candles flicker before heading home. That night the girls and I go out with our host for a few beers and spend the evening discussing the situation in Ukraine.

Paris, France 2014

Total expenditures:
3.60 morning coffee

3.90 quiche Lorraine
1.10 baguette
4.90 bottle of wine
5.00 gyro with fries
3.20 turkish pastries for dessert
3.90 beer

Day 4
Today was another casual day, hanging out with the Canadian girls, saying goodbye and doing some errands. I visited a friend for tea and cookies, washed my laundry, and spent the day sending emails.

Total expenditures:
12.50 groceries

8.00 quiche, croissant, pan au chocolat, baguette
12.00 wash and dry clothes at the laverie

Day 5
I had another lazy morning, but spent the afternoon getting lost and seeing the Jewish History Museum, and going to an open art gallery. I walked around Montparnasse where Hemingway and Fitzgerald used to hang out, and passed by the Louvre where I saw the older gentleman I’d written about earlier, creating beauty in his own special way. I cooked dinner and watched a French movie, “Romantics Anonymous.”
This gentleman has no clue how much he means to me.
Montparnasse, Paris 2014

Total expenditures:
Metro ticket 1.70 (I ran out of my carnet)
Water/cookies 4.00
Cafe 4.00
Groceries 10.31

Day 6
I started feeling sick, so I stayed in bed all day. After a morning trip to the boulangerie, I napped, read, and waited for my host to get off work so we could go for a final evening out. We walked to the neighborhood bar and enjoyed a last evening in the city together.

Total expenditures:
Boulangerie 4.00
Bar 8.00 

Day 7
I left Paris early in the morning by covoiturage, after having a coffee and pain at the local Tabac store.

Goodbye Paris! 

Total expenditures:
Boulangerie 3.00

Cafe 4.00

Total cost of staying in Paris one week: 122.51 euros

I know this itinerary might horrify some people who want to observe and soak up as much of the Parisian lifestyle as possible. Admittedly, I didn’t do a whole lot this week, preferring to rest and spend time with my couch hosts rather than hitting the touristy spots. I’d already done a lot of the major highlights during my previous trips, so I didn’t feel like I needed to repeat them. BUT, if you have time or are revisiting Paris, it can be done probably a lot more cheaply than you realize.

A lot of Paris can be seen and explored without spending any money, and my favorite thing to do (as you can see), is to visit the bakeries or cafes and just sit and chill. There’s so much life happening around you, it’s nice to set yourself apart from it a bit and just watch.

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