When people decide to travel in western Europe, they typically don’t do so because it ain’t cheap. In fact, there are countless numbers of traveler who bypass western Europe simply because of the high cost.
While traveling in western Europe, particularly a country like France or a city like Paris, is certainly more expensive than other regions like Southeast Asia and Latin America, there are ways to do it without spending a fortune.
The advantages of renting
After the flight, accommodations are going to be the next largest cost on any trip. If you decide to go the hotel route in France, costs can add up quickly. In the height of summer, it’s difficult to find a hotel for under $100USD, and if you can find one, chances are the reviews are going to have you running for the hills. If you want a nice place to stay, expect to pay in the hundreds of dollars per night, particularly in Paris.
While hostels are an obvious option that is far less costly, not everyone is into the dorm room scene, and even if you can find a private room in a hostel, you are still going to have a tough time procuring anything decent for under $100USD.
One option that many don’t think about; however, is renting. Not only are rental companies popping up all over the world, but many local people are putting their properties up for rent while they go on holiday, resulting in a glut of apartments, condos, and houses available for travelers.
The price may be comparable to a hotel or hostel, but the extra amenities a rental provides can save in cost and have an impact on your experience. The owner of the property is an automatic “in” to local restaurants, bars, markets, and entertainment options. Many times these rentals are outside of the typical touristy areas, resulting in a more authentic experience for travelers.
If you are thinking about a trip to France on your next trip, check out the rental possibilities available to you, as you may be surprised.
Paris is the most-visited city in the world, and with good reason. It’s one of the most beautiful, picturesque, romantic cities in the world. Add in the amazing cuisine, history, size, location, culture, fashion, art, and attractions, and you will see why so many travelers flock to Paris year after year.
What to do
If this is your first time in Paris, then by all means hit up the major sites – they are popular for a reason. But what if this isn’t your first time in Paris, and you’ve already seen the Louvre and other famous museums in the city, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and taken a boat ride on Seine? Don’t worry as there are plenty of things to do and see that aren’t in your guidebook.
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For some unique experiences, try:
- Visiting the African quarter that is located near Montmarte.
- If you like shopping, check out the flea market at Clingancourt and the Aligre Market.
- If you want to do what the Parisians do, then go to Bercy Village on the weekends.
Price: When a city is as popular as Paris is, the prices are going to reflect that. But if you go the rental route, you can definitely save a few bucks on the rates alone, not to mention the money you can save by shopping at markets and preparing some of your own food. It’s possible to find studio apartments in the heart of Paris for as low as $55USD/night. If you’re traveling with family or a group, you can find affordable 2 and 3 bedroom apartments for anywhere from $125-$300USD/night.
Located on France’s Mediterranean coast, Nice is the largest city in the French Riviera. While it’s most popular as a summer resort town, there’s plenty to do year-round if you’re looking for a little different (and cheaper) escape during off-season months. Cannes and Monaco are equally, if not more, popular than Nice, but if you are looking for a more independent travel experience at a lesser cost, then basing yourself in Nice and taking day trips to the aforementioned towns is a good strategy to employ on your trip.
What to do
Nice is not the place to go if you’re looking for white-sand beaches (they tend to be more on the gravely side), but they are still beautiful, and strolling along the beaches or long boardwalk is about as peaceful as it gets. And while the beaches may not be top-notch, the water is. Cannes and Antibes, both nearby, offer better beaches and can easily be reached on a day trip from Nice. The parks in the middle of the city are also great for relaxing and taking a nice walk, and the trip up to Mont Boron gives you a great vantage point of the city.
If you want to take advantage of your rental in Nice, then head to the daily market in Vieux Nice for some super fresh, local produce. While the food in France is always top notch, you can often recreate similar meals in your own kitchen for a fraction of the cost, especially if you have a cook in your group.
Price: Despite the fact that it is a resort town with high prices, rentals in Nice can be had for as low as $55USD/night for a studio apartment. You can even find 2 or 3 bedroom places for around $150 a night and up. If you want to splurge and really make your experience memorable, then check out some of the larger villas that can fun upwards of $1500USD/night.
If you have come to France for wine and food, then Bordeaux is sure to be a stop on your itinerary. The wine here is considered among the best in the world, and with a large university in town, there is more to do than just sit back and sip wine all day long (though you’re more than welcome to do so).
What to do
For starters, drink wine. Plenty of it. Bordeaux is the second largest wine-growing region in the entire world, so touring the various vineyards and trying the various local wines can literally take days. There are many different tours available, or you can rent a car and do it independently, though driving is often frustrating in the city itself, and of course a DD would be necessary.
Outside of sampling wine, if you’re into sports, football (soccer) is very popular, and attending F.C. Girondins game is a cool cultural experience. If museums are more your thing, then check out Musee D’Art Contemporain for some great Modern Art.
Price: Believe it or not, Bordeaux can be a little more expensive than other cities in France, even Paris, when it comes to rentals. There isn’t nearly the same number of rental options in Bordeaux, making competition more fierce and prices a bit higher. That being said, you can still find a nice studio for a little more than $100USD/night. If you are wanting a little more quiet, there are various cottages and chateaus outside of Bordeaux for anywhere from $200-$500USD/night.
Flipkey is a great resource for finding rentals around the world. With over 4,500 properties in France, FlipKey has great local options for indie travelers. FlipKey puts you in touch with vacation rental owners who can provide excellent local information and tips – not to mention good deals on lodging. They also provide travel tips and news on the FlipKey Blog.