Today I want to tell you about the trip my husband and I took to celebrate our belated tenth wedding anniversary! The last few years we have spent our anniversary either in COVID lockdown or in the thick of parenting very young children, which we all know isn’t much fun at all. So it felt like a good idea to celebrate this milestone occasion with 4 days in Paris! I can’t wait to tell you all about our adventures on this low-budget, child-free vacation. This was our first visit to the French capital, and it felt like the perfect place to celebrate a milestone anniversary.
Before you all get started, I KNOW that 4 days is not much time in a city like Paris. When many people think “Paris”, they think of Moulin Rouge, Disneyland Paris, a Seine river cruise, the Paris opera scene, or other big-ticket attractions. But we talked about our goals for this trip before we chose a city, and we agreed that what we really wanted from our vacation was:
- Four full days away. Leaving young children at home meant we had limited time before we all got homesick for each other.
- A low-stress, low-budget experience.
- A restful itinerary with lots of time to just be together. This was for our anniversary, after all!
- A city on our bucket list.
If you put this all together, Paris was the obvious choice for us!
Planning Your Trip
Just like so many cities, there are many ways to “see” Paris. Keeping the cost down and getting a few days of true rest were nonnegotiable items on our itinerary list. We skipped many of the traditional Paris activities. We didn’t go to a single museum or gallery, and we stayed where we could either walk or take affordable transit everywhere we wanted to go.
While it would have been lovely to visit places like The Louvre museum, the Musée Rodin, the Musée de l’Orangerie, and the Musée d’Orsay (you get the idea) and see things like the Mona Lisa or works by van Gogh, a Paris museum pass is pricey and this just wasn’t that kind of trip. We didn’t take a single taxi. We took about 500 euros cash for spending money, and that included EVERYTHING (food, metro, tips for tour guides, souvenirs).
This doesn’t mean we were bored! It is possible to go to Paris with a budget and stick to it and still have a wonderful time. We were first-time visitors who were just there to experience Paris itself.
Flying to Paris from Canada
First, we managed to fly to Paris via Air Canada using points! Airfare can be a huge cost when taking a trip like this, so that was a great way to start. We purposefully avoided the high season of tourism in Paris so that things would be cheaper, and there would be fewer tourists like ourselves and not as many crowds. The summer months are much busier.
We also knew that accommodations would be the next big hurdle. So we did some careful research and ended up choosing the Hotel Eiffel Saint Charles. We stayed for three nights and the cost was $1400 after conversion and city taxes. Yes, it is possible to find cheaper hotels in Paris, but we chose this one for a couple of reasons. First, it was nice! Remember, we were there with no kids for an anniversary trip. It was just a little bit fancy and had incredible views of the city. Secondly, it was a short walk to many famous (and free) Paris sights and major attractions. Our plan to take no taxis wouldn’t work if we were too far away from all the things we wanted to see and do. Public transportation in Paris is affordable and the metro line can get you almost anywhere you want to go!
4 Days in Paris with a Budget of 500 Euros
It is a universal truth of travelling that it is impossible to see absolutely everything in any city, and this is particularly true in Paris. We set our expectations accordingly, took in what we could within our budget, and focused on rest and just being together. We found a balance that was perfect for us.
Where did you stay?
The hotel was just a few minutes from the Eiffel Tower, which is of course a must-do in Paris and completely free! The Tower is surrounded by a park called the Champ de Mars. It is an absolutely gorgeous green space with beautiful gardens where you can walk, picnic, relax, and just enjoy a true Parisian feel.
Did you do a tour?
Doing some tours of this beautiful city was a must. We did three FREE tours via Walkative, a professional guiding service operating in Paris. It was easy to book our time slot online and show up at the appointed meeting place. We did the City of Lights tour, a Latin Quarter tour, and a Historic Paris tour. A lot was learned, we had a very good time, and spent absolutely nothing!
I think awalking tour is a good general activity for someone who is on their first trip to Paris. Google maps was also a good tour guide. We were able to use it to get around and find places to eat and things like that.
What did you eat?
Paris has a very robust Muslim community. This means there is Halal food everywhere. We were able to find a good option for every meal without any hassle. Since we were on a budget, we didn’t indulge in fine dining and ate croissants, pastries, and quick and easy meals like pizza, pasta, shawarma, and burgers. Did I mention the croissants? We felt like we had a culinary experience even without the fine dining since food is very important to Parisians and even things that we in North America would consider fancy and special are very affordable and easily accessible there.
Were you jet-lagged?
Yes, very! We did an overnight flight and landed at 8 am, reached the hotel at 11, and then took a nap until late afternoon, around 3 pm. Then we went out until 11 pm because it was light out until quite late. Also, Paris is not called the City of Lights for nothing. We had no trouble finding our way home late in the evening. It was a tiring way to spend our first day but worth it to get turned around as quickly as possible.
So, that was our 4 days in Paris anniversary trip! A low-key, low-budget, but definitely memorable experience.
My biggest tip for a trip like this: pick one or two things that are important to you to splurge on and then spend as little as possible on the rest!
For us, our splurge items were our hotel, and…professional photos! We decided that you only celebrate 10 years of marriage in Paris once, and we wanted to remember it. So, we hired a photographer and got photos taken with the Eiffel Towel in the background, and I don’t regret it for one second! It was the perfect spot for a romantic photo shoot and keepsake for a lifetime.
Next stop: home and my kids. 4 days in Paris was enough and I really missed them. But my husband and I felt refreshed, recharged, reconnected to each other, and ready to return to real life.
Have you done a famous city on a budget? If you have any other tips and tricks for low-cost, memorable travel I would love to hear them! Tag me @mintcandydesigns or comment here!
You can read more about my travel adventures with and without my children here.
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