Wine, cheese, the Eiffel Tower, snooty waiters – France is famous for a lot of things and for good reason. It’s beautiful with stunning coastlines, valleys, wine country, forests, and beaches;
has some of the best food and wine in the world; historic towns and chateaus, and a long and rich history. And, despite what you might hear, the French are a wonderful people who love to stop and smell the roses. There’s nothing like a picnic along the Seine or a day through the French countryside to make life seem beautiful. France is everything that people make it out to be and then some. Its long history lends itself to beautiful ruins, castles, architecture, and culture. Traveling France is a very expensive affair, second only to traveling through Italy in mainland Europe. Those on a super tight budget will find it hard (but not impossible thanks to three Euro bottles of wine) to experience everything France has to offer. Make sure you go to France with a few extra Euros in your pocket so you can soak in all the food, wine, and beauty you see but this guide will help you cut costs!
Accommodation – Dorm rooms will range from 15-40 EUR per night, depending on where you’re staying in the country, with Paris being on the higher end. Private rooms in hostels will cost around 75 EUR or more. Budget hotels begin around 60 EUR per night for a double room with free WiFi and air-conditioning. Accommodations are cheaper outside Paris, Bordeaux, and the French Riviera. Also look into renting rooms or apartments, through services like Airbnb. In an expensive city like Paris, this will be the best value. Airbnb rates start around 15 EUR for a shared room and 45 EUR for an entire apartment.
Food – Buying your own food in France can be very cheap and the best way to experience the country’s cuisine. The market is your friend! There are many bread, cheese, and meat shops around – and it’s how the French eat. They go to their local markets, buy food, and cook. You can make your own lunch for around 10 EUR for two people (including wine if you’re savvy enough). Pre-made sandwiches at cheap local shops will cost about 4-7 EUR. Conversely, eating at a restaurant will cost between 20-35 EUR for a meal including a glass of wine. If you shop for all your food, you can expect to spend around 45-65 EUR for a week’s worth of groceries, but if you find a discount grocer like Aldi or Lidl, you’ll pay way less.
Transportation – The best way to get around France is via trains, but it can be expensive. Overnight trains cost the least, while the fast TGV lines (high-speed train) cost the most. Book ahead of time to get the best savings. Bought the day of or very close to departure, a train trip from Paris to Nice costs 160-180 EUR. A train trip from Paris to Strasbourg costs 75-85 EUR. But if you buy in advance, Paris-Nice is around 25 EUR in 2nd class and Paris-Strasbourg starts around 25 EUR as well. Good discounts on train travel exist for travelers under 26-years-old. A different option, which takes longer but costs less money, is Megabus/FlixBus. A bus trip from Paris to Marseille, for example, will cost around 30 EUR while a trip from Paris to Strasbourg costs 17-24 EUR. Local transit systems are reliable and cost between 1-3 EUR per trip. Transportation to and from the airport into the city center is generally affordable and user-friendly. Expect about 10 EUR to get to Paris from Charles de Gaulle. Taxis will be tough on the budget, so avoid when you can.
Activities – Wine tours will be your priciest activity at around 90 EUR per day. Most attractions and museum entrance fees cost between 9-20 EUR. Going up the Eiffel Tower will cost between 7-17 EUR. Visiting the Versailles Palace and Gardens will cost 25 EUR.
Suggested daily budget – 45-75 EUR / $46-76 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)