Dream, Plan and Save

Budgeting

Your biggest expense will be your plane ticket, followed by ground transportation when you get there. You almost always want to fly into Paris, unless you have no intention of visiting Paris,  c’est grave (that’s is too bad )!

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Air fareAir fare ranges from $550 in the Winter to $1600 in the Summer, in coach with 3 months advance planning. I never do the bundle because it doesn’t work for me, as I have found far better and less expensive ground transportation and accommodations on my own. My favorite airlines from the West Coast are: Iceland Air, British Airways, Delta, Air France and American Airlines, but you choose your own!

Ground Transportation -Once you get to France you will need ground transportation from the moment you land!

  • Paris has a wonderful AirPort plush bus system for 17 euros each way, much cheaper than 50 Euros taxi ride  and less time and hassle than the 11 euro RER (train version of the metro).
  • You can also rent a car if you are brave enough to drive in Paris!  Pick any of the car rental agencies and you will find them at the airport and in or across from majority of the Gares (train stations) in Paris. Average cost for 2 weeks may run up to $300 plus gas in Euros ($5 or $6 a gallon) and freeway tolls (as little as 3 euros and as much as 22 euros)!
  • If you travel with Trains, France’s SNCF is SUPER easy! Ranging from 10-90 euros, depending on where you want to go!wp_20141029_15_19_31_pro
  • Bus system is just as easy in France, the plush Wi-Fi buses between major cities are much cheaper than trains, like 1/3 of the cost! The drivers are professional and most of the bus stations are near the train stations. Try Oui Bus  or Keolis Bus, I have tried both and highly recommend it.
  • Food and restaurants – When is comes to France gastronomy is a serious business.
  • Your 2nd or 3rd biggest expense, depending on your taste in Food and your desire to eat at a Michelin Star restaurant, you could spend 10 euros or 450 euros (at a 3 Michelin Star)!
  • Do you want to eat at restaurants breakfast, lunch and dinner? I found markets to be a great way to explore and eat! There is plenty of boulangeries that won’t break the bank for breakfast, and grocery shopping to cook a night or two will give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture!
  • I have tried to include some tips on restaurants under each regions, and added photos of food under the gastronomy section! In addition, under recipe page you will find easy to make recipes for those few days or nights that you decide to eat at home! Bon appétit.marketAix

Accommodations -I found a way around reducing this cost to one of my least expensive budget item! How?

  •  Discover Airbnb ! You don’t spend a lot of time in your hotel room do you? Average nightly accommodation can range from $30 to $75 with Airbnb, depending on location, region and amenities,  while a 3-star hotel will  range $90- $150 a night. High seasons (Summer) are always more! I have listed all my tried and tested Airbnb places under each region. dsc03868
  • I have also stayed at hotels, a Chateaux, and B&Bs, all included under “Where to Stay” section of each region. All my experiences have been lovely and I hope yours will be too.

Site seeingunder each region’s blog page I have added Do Not Miss as well as plenty of links directly to museums sites or office of tourism so you can explore availability and cost. Tip: Sometimes if you do city passes it is easier and more economical.

Shopping and souvenirslearn the word Soldes (sales) when clothes shopping, January and July are the BEST times to shop. Don’t be afraid of shopping at the markets, small boutiques, or at outlets! Budgeting for this is a personal choice, but curb your temptations if possible, to avoid unplanned expenditures.