An estimated 10% of all Singaporeans have the Eiffel Tower on their Facebook cover page. Another 20% have photos of themselves beaming in front of a Parisian skyline. Of these people, 50% took their pics on a $10,000 wedding photoshoot.
If you missed the boat in your younger days, that doesn't mean you automatically have to get on that Chan Brothers tour with the rest of the aunties and uncles. You can totally do Paris as a romantic getaway on a modest budget. Here are a couple of tricks.
Despite the rising cost of virtually everything else, air ticket prices have stayed more or less constant over the years, especially now that we have the Internet to thank for websites like Kayak and Skyscanner. There are about a gazillion daily flights from Singapore to Paris, so book in advance and you'll be rewarded with tickets at $900++.
The locals might complain about the Metro system, but it's really the only form of transport you need. The stops in the centre are so close together you can easily walk from one to another without breaking a sweat. Try walking from Clementi to Jurong East instead and you'll feel the difference.
Most non-French speaking visitors, intimidated by the gruff ticket ladies at the Metro stations, meekly buy standard Metro tickets for 1.70 EUR (S$2.50) per ride. That's expensive if you just want to take a quick ride of one or two stops. Instead, buy a set of 10 tickets for 13.30 EUR (S$19.30).
The Paris Visite Passes are day passes that give you unlimited rides. A 1-day pass costs 12 EUR (S$17.40), 2-day pass 19.40 EUR (S$28.20) and a 3-day pass 26.50 EUR (S$38.50). Our honest opinion? Unless you're some rabid tourist on a whirlwind tour of 20 cities within 5 days or who insists on posing in front of every single monument with your selfie stick, stick with the set of 10 tickets, it'll cost you less in the long run.
We cannot stress the importance of avoiding high season, which goes from June to September. Not only will many hotels be fully booked, you'll also have the dubious honour of paying up to twice the low season price. If you insist on travelling during high season, book in advance.
Paris is such a romantic city because, well, it can actually cost more to sleep in a dingy hostel bed on your own than to book a decent double room for you and your paramour.
There are plenty of nice properties listed on Airbnb. Pick a central but relatively inexpensive area like Montmartre and you can get away with paying a very affordable S$60-$90 a night.
You can also book an inexpensive hotel room in a very central area for 60 EUR (S$87) a night or so, but the rooms will not be as nice and you might also have to contend with the horrors of having to pay 1 EUR (S$1.45) to 3 EUR (S$4.35) each time you wish to use the showers.
Paris isn't really the sort of place that's full of cheap eats, and French food takes a notorious amount of time and effort to prepare. Look out for fixed menus, especially at lunchtime, where for 10 EUR (S$14.50) to 15 EUR (S$21.80) you can enjoy a proper sit-down meal + wine.
You can enjoy a good meal at a mid-range eatery like Le Loup Blanc at 42 Rue Tinquetonne for a reasonable 20 EUR (S$30) to 30 EUR (S$43.60).
If you're really on a budget, yes, there's McDonald's.
Think shopping in Paris and most people get the mental image of Asian tourists rampaging through Louis Vuitton. But if your budget is a little more H&M then Hermes, don't despair, as there are some good bargains to be had.
European fast fashion brands like Zara, Mango, H&M and Kookai are cheaper in Paris than in Singapore, and the discounts during sales are more generous. The big summer and winter sales take place in January and July. Once upon a time, I bought a timeless Zara dress for 9 EUR (S$13.10) that I still wear now.
Check out the flea markets and vintage shops for unsual finds. The most famous flea market is by the Porte de Clingnancourt metro station. Vintage shops are generally not cheap but you'll find lots of designer discards that are a cut way above the usual Salvation Army discards.
As always, there's nothing romantic about getting into an accident amidst your whirlwind adventures and finding out you're not covered, so make sure you head on over to MoneySmart's Travel Insurance Comparison Page to make sure you get your travel insurance plan before you jet off for your getaway.
Image Credits: Adrian Scottow, Amy Dianna, Zylenia, Eddy Van 3000
This article first appeared in MoneySmart at http://blog.moneysmart.sg/travel/planning-a-romantic-trip-to-paris-here-are-some-tips-for-lowering-your-budget/.
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