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Tips for making my Euros stretch?

Williamsburg...
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Tips for making my Euros stretch?

Hi,

We're leaving for Paris in just over a week. Was appalled to see how weak the dollar was vs. the Euro. Any tips for making my Euros stretch, including freebies and discounts?

Merci!

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1. Re: Tips for making my Euros stretch?

Hi,

Yes the dollar is miserable. We were there in June and the exchange rate is not great. Where are you staying? If at a hotel, is breakfast included? If so, eat lots and skip lunch. if not, find a patisserie and eat there, not in the hotel. For lunches, if the weather is good, buy some bread and cheese and some drinks and picnic in one of the parks or eat on a bench facing the Seine. For dinners, check out the places near the university. they are likely to be cheaper and good. eat at Bistros and try the specials of the day and/or Prix Fixe. Go to museums on the days they are free. This varies from place to place. Buy discount carnets for the Metro and Buses and also walk around. Remember you can sit outside at a cafe and nurse a cup of coffee or a drink for hours.

Check TA for earlier posts.

have fun. You will be in Paris.

minneapolis
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2. Re: Tips for making my Euros stretch?

There is no way around it. You're gonna pay. Prices in Paris are high. For example. A cocktail is 8-10€ which comes out to be about $10-15 a piece. In USA, the same drink is $2-4 tops at your local pub, $6 in the city. So not only is the Euro high, the prices are high no matter where you go within the city. So if you want to spend little, think about going to Mexico where the American Dollar is still strong.

Paris was a fun town, use your Visa to pay your way. Never mind with exchanging money cuz the exchange rates you get at home and in Paris stink. Your Visa card will become your best friend while traveling there.

If you do need cash, pull money at the ATMs using your card. They're all over the place.

have fun!

Kamloops, BC...
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3. Re: Tips for making my Euros stretch?

Hey BT --

Don't buy Cokes or cocktails - or even beer for that matter. Drink the house wine wherever you're eating. No cafe, restaurant, or bistro in Paris could survive if it served inferior wine.

It is not necessary to drink mineral water. Most Europeans do, but I think that's sort of a left over from the war years (both of them) and post war years, when the domestic water supply was a bit iffy. These days tap water anywhere in western Europe is potable. If you don't like the flavour of the tap water, at least go to a market for your bottled water. Ask at your hotel, they'll direct you to the local Monoprix or whatever.

Remember that what we call the menu is "la carte" in French. Restaurants have what they call "le menu", and that is a fixed price two or three course meal that is probably the best value in the place. I have never ordered "a la carte" in all my trips to France, and I have never eaten second class, nor have I ever walked away hungry.

If you want to eat at some high end Michelin starred restaurant, go at lunch time if they're open. The food will be exactly the same, but the prices will be lower.

If you stand for your coffee and pastry in the morning you'll pay less than if you sit down inside or outside. I don't care to save money on my morning coffee. I'll make it up on something else.

Be sure you take some Zip Lock bags with you so you have someplace secure to keep your picnic supplies. I hate it when my things smell of cheese and sausage. The ZLs will prevent the odor transfer.

Have a great trip. Bon voyage.

Loire Valley
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4. Re: Tips for making my Euros stretch?

My first tip is do not have (and make sure you do not pat for) the breakfast at your hotel. You will always find a coffee and croissant cheaper at the cafe across the road. If you want youghurt, buy it at the local supermarket. While you are in there buy a big bottle of water - a different one each day. This can be decanted into small bottles for carrying around.

Make picnics for lunch - buy the makings at the speciality shops (boulangeries, chatcuteries) rather than supermarkets, and then shopping for lunch becomes part of the holiday experience.

Dont drink coffee all day (especially in the touristy cafe's). Coffee and a slice of cake in an expensive cafe can cost as much as a cheap 2 course meal.

See if you can get a copy of "Rough Guide to French Hotels and Restaurants". It's a translation of Routard, the guide for French people who are careful with money when travelling.

Dont buy anything for transport that includes areas outside of 1 and 2. That covers most (maybe even all - it's a close call) of Paris proper. If you go outside that area buy a ticket. Most days it will be cheaper to buy a 1&2 Mobilis. This enables you to use the Metro, buses, and the RAR within those zones.

Dont catch taxis.

Dont worry about what arrondissement you stay in - none of them are too far from the action. Paris is a compact city. I always stay in the 19th. Untrendy, but completely comfortable for 60 Euro a room , 3 star..

Have fun - and dont be TOO careful. You dont want to get home and regret not seeing something because it would have cost you $5

New York City, New...
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5. Re: Tips for making my Euros stretch?

Take cosmetics, shampoo, soap, aspirin etc. with you (small quantities, of course). Also a wash cloth in a plastic bag because hotels most often do not provide them. This stuff is generally much more expensive in Europe than in US.

Before you go, check on the charges your bank levies on ATM withdrawls. I used my Bank of America ATM card to withdraw $$$ and was appalled to find a charge of $5 for each transaction. If I'd used my KeyBank ATM, the charge would have been only $2. Of course I didn't learn this until I was back in the US.

The usual advice about breakfast is not to eat it in the hotel but rather find a cafe instead. Well, this is not always good advice. Most hotel breakfasts are buffet style so you can eat all you want. Not true of restaurants. So you can fill your tummy as full as you want (and maybe sneak fruit or a roll or two into your purse/backpack). We liked hotel breakfasts because we are caffeine addicts and could get our daily dose along with a selection of croissants, fruit, juice etc.

At cafes, the moment waitpersons approach you they will ask if you want water. They mean bottled and that will cost 2 to 5 Euros, depending on the cafe. Don't order it. Just ask for a "carafe d'eau" which is tap water at no charge. There's nothing wrong with the water in France so don't be afraid to drink it!!!

Adrian, Michigan
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6. Re: Tips for making my Euros stretch?

Dear Berkeleytraveler,

First of all, let me just say that despite the picture painted by some of these posts, Paris is just another country, not another planet, so the things you would do to save money in Paris are really not all that different than the things you would do here. There are ATM machines in the US that charge $5, just about everything is more expensive if you get it in your hotel here, and we charge for bottled water and give away the tap water for free too. So, in general, the biggest money-saving tip is simply to not throw your God-given common sense out the window. Those things you already learned (i.e., public transport is cheaper than a taxi, water is cheaper than beer, white linen is more expensive than placemats) are the same in Paris as they are here, and if you just apply what you already know, you should be OK.

So...now that I got that off my chest...

Do a search for IrishRovr's thread on Paris transportation. There you will find a some great information about various passes that are available to you, and if any of them might work, depending on your dates of arrival, length of stay, etc, including a link to my post on the discounts offered with the Paris Visite pass. If you plan to visit a number of museums and monuments, you should investigate whether or not the Paris Museum Pass is worth the cost. In some cases, it will save you money. www.parismuseumpass.com

While the reviews are very mixed on this board, there are several restaurants located in the area next to the Place St. Michel along the Rues de la Huchette and de la Harpe that offer meals at extrememly reasonable prices( Avoid Restaurant Santorini on r. de la Harpe, but you can always count on La Petite Hostellerie and Le Pre Grill (see below)). There are also a number of Greek-type to-go places there, where you can get a sandwich or gyro and coke for a few Euros. Many crepe stands offer a "complet", which is often ham, cheese and egg, and makes a great breakfast for 3euros.

All restaurants post their menu outside, so you can price-compare, look at selections, etc., before you ever sit down.

Paris (contrary to the poster who suggested you go to Mexico), can actually be pretty affordable. As big cities go, I find it to be one of the best bargains out there in terms of what you get for the money. Even when the Euro is strong. Many museums are also free (although crowded) on the first Sunday of the month.

My personal favorite cheap eat is Pizza Cotti on rue d'Odessa in the 14th. A complete, delishious Italian meal for under 15euros per person. Try the Lasagna or Canneloni al forno, with salad and mousse au chocolat for dessert. The table wine by the caraffe is quite nice as well.

There is a 24-hour pizza place next to Les Halles on rue St Denis called Pizza Enio that does a delicious pizza for 10euros that includes a drink.

Le Pre Grill (on the much criticized rue de la Harpe) is located at the corner of r. de la Harpe and r. St. Severin (at no. 17) and in my opinion always offers a decent meal for 15euros (not including drinks). The muscles, the beef bourgingnon, the steak and poulet frites, are all quite good. Many of the restos in this area are hit or miss, and there are many, many tourists, but I have never had a bad meal at Le Pre Grill.

Los Angeles, CA
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7. Re: Tips for making my Euros stretch?

I'm confused by the poster above who recounted the shocking ATM fees when using her Bank of America card. I remember reading somewhere on this forum that BofA has a relationship to BNP (Banque National...Paris? perhaps?) and that using the BofA card there would be free. Does anyone know more about this? I will need to watch for hidden things like this, and need to be sure I make the wisest choice as far as withdrawing cash or using my credit cards.

Adrian, Michigan
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8. Re: Tips for making my Euros stretch?

I just re-read my above post and realize I was being a bit feisty. I meant no disrespect to any other posters, and apologize in advance. Next time I'll finish that first cup of coffee before I start to type.

Berkeleytraveler, I've read some of your other posts on this forum and am confident you will have no problems.

Paris, France
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9. Re: Tips for making my Euros stretch?

A wonderful French-N. African restaurant where you can eat an entrcôte plus fries for 6.10€ (yes, six!) or a Cousocus royal for 8 euros:

Les bons amis, rue de l'Atlas, M° Belleville.

Another slightly more expensive but more refined:

L'entrepot, rue de Ménilmontant, M° Ménilmontant.

I'll make a complete review one day.

New York City, New...
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10. Re: Tips for making my Euros stretch?

Maybe Bank of America does have a relationship with BNP and wouldn't charge a fee if BNP were used. I don't know. My point is that I should have checked on this sort of thing before I left the US. Then I would have known how to get a better deal. I paid B of America $5 in ATM fees plus local bank fees ranging from $1.60 to $3.42 for each transaction, for a total of about $70 in fees. Since I am not on a tight budget I am not losing sleep over it. But I do hate to pay more when I don't have to.