How to save money while living in Paris: A guide for 2024


Joe Baker
Joe Baker
Senior Copywriter
Joe is a Senior Copywriter working on reports, news and analysis. Previously, he worked as a B2B copywriter, journalist and editor covering a broad range of topics, including technology, transport,… Read more

Paris’s mix of culture and culinary delights continue to enthrall millions of expats from around the world, but it can be hard to save money while living there. Residing in Paris comes with a hefty price tag, which will only inflate as a swathe of international visitors arrive to celebrate the Olympic games this summer. 

Whether you are about to move to the City of Light for the first time, or you have been living in the capital a while, it’s always good to stay abreast of the latest money saving tips. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you save money in Paris in 2024. 

Use public transport where possible

To get around the city quickly, Paris’ extensive underground metro is your best friend, with 14 interconnected lines spanning over 133 miles of track. A single one-way ticket for metro, bus or RER within Paris is €2.15, or if you are going to be making several trips you can save money by purchasing a carnet of 10 tickets for €17.35. The latter option is accessible via the Navigo Easy pass, which you can install via an app on your phone to make contactless ticket purchases.

However, if you are planning to regularly use the metro in Paris, the Navigo Weekly Pass may be a better bet. The pass nets you unlimited travel on the network for seven days for €30.75 – which works out to just over 14 euros or two trips a day. There is also a monthly or annual version of the Navigo pass that costs up to a maximum of €86.40 and €950.40 respectively, depending on the number of zones you want the tickets to cover (see more info on the Régie autonome des transports parisiens (RATP) website). 

Bear in mind that prices are set to rise significantly during the Olympics – single tickets will rise to €4, while carnets of 10 tickets will be €32 euros. If you’ve got anyone coming to visit during the Games, let them know that tourists can buy a special flat rate pass for €70 a week.

Weave through the city on a Vélib bike

If you prefer to see the sights of Paris on two wheels, you’re in luck. Paris’ bike sharing network Vélib is one of the most extensive worldwide, with 1,400 docking points scattered around the city, as well as the option to use both traditional pedal bikes or electric bikes.

A single 45-minute ride costs €3, or you can get yourself a 24-hour pass (€5 for a pedal bike, €10 for an electric bike) or a 3-day pass for €20, making it perfect for a short trip when visitors come over. 

However, if you want to make cycling part of your regular commute, you can choose between Vélib’s subscription models. For €3.10 a month, you can get unlimited rides on a pedal bike up to 30 minutes long, but you can boost this to 60 minutes (or 45 minute rides with electric bikes) with a V-Max subscription costing €9.30. 

Save money on food and drink in Paris

Paris is famous for its food, but that quality comes with a price. Just like other European cities, you should avoid touristy areas if you are looking to eat out on a budget. Some of the biggest offenders in Paris are in areas around major sights, such as Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre museum and the Eiffel Tower. 

The city has a wealth of restaurants on side streets and back alleys, so don’t be afraid to explore. Websites like Tripadvisor can help you pick restaurants with a better price/quality ratio. You may also be able to save money if you eat earlier in the day, as some restaurants offer lunchtime set meals that let you enjoy the same food for less at lunchtime.

For groceries, a number of French supermarkets are known for offering high-quality produce at lower prices, including Carrefour, Intermarche, E.Leclerc, Auchan and Monoprix. You can also sample some of Paris’ lively and vibrant outdoor markets, such as March d’Aligre or Marche Bastille.

Make the most of loyalty schemes

Paris is a dream for shoppers, and as such many brands in the city are trying to entice buyers with loyalty programmes. 

Supermarkets scattered across the capital – including Monoprix, Carrefour and Intermarche – all offer loyalty card schemes that allow you to accrue points with every purchase, which you can then spend on products. It’s worth looking out for when these cards offer additional rewards – Carrefour’s MyClub card for example, sometimes offers extra cash back and double-point days. 

It's also worth looking out for seasonal sales in Paris, where shops across the capital drop their prices. This year’s summer sales run from 26 June to 23 July 2024, while the next winter sales are expected to extend from 8 January to 4 February 2025. 

Visit Paris’ free attractions

Like any other city, several of Paris’ top attractions fleece incoming tourists every year, and chances are you’ll have one-and-done these already. However, the city is still buzzing with free attractions to explore and visit if you have a weekend free but don’t fancy splashing cash.

The Musée d’Art Moderne (Museum of Modern Art), Notre-Dame cathedral, Luxembourg Gardens and the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre are all free to visit. A number of the most popular museums in the city are free on the first Sunday of the month, including the Louvre, Musée D’Orsay and the Centre Pompidou. The Paris Tourist Office has a full list of the city’s free attractions on its website. 

When you’re expecting visitors, get savvy about free ways to enjoy some of Paris’ biggest cultural landmarks. For example, the esplanade below the Eiffel Tower and nearby gardens are completely free to explore and a great place to have a picnic or watch the sun go down. 

Open a French bank account that works for your saving requirements

While there is no legal requirement to open a French bank account while living in France, you may be restricted from doing some things without one. It may, for example, be harder for you to receive wages, pay bills, set up a French mortgage or buy property (for more advice on this, see our guide to buying property in France). 

Opening a French bank account may also help you to avoid hefty international fees that come with transferring money across borders. Several banks are known to offer good services to expats who have moved to France, including BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and HSBC France. 

It’s important to compare the different costs involved when selecting a bank e.g. how much it might cost to make international transfers and cash withdrawals abroad. You should also look at whether banks offer specific benefits and features. For example, BNP Paribas offers a youth savings account (for individuals under 29 years old), which offers a better interest rate than the standard savings account. 

Use specialist money transfer providers to send money home

One cost you might not be expecting when moving abroad is foreign exchange fees for sending money back home. Depending on the bank you are using, you could end up paying considerably higher margins and fees when sending money back to family and friends than you should be. 

It can be incredibly frustrating when your hard earned cash is depleted by high fees before it can reach its final destination. The good news is that there are a number of specialist money transfer companies that will help you send money abroad at a much lower cost (and often much faster) than high street banks can manage. 

If you are looking to save money on your transfer from France to the UK today, take a look at our guide for doing this, or you can receive a quote for a transfer to other countries using the money transfer comparison tool on our homepage.

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