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Low Budget Vacations to France

eiffeltowerI have recently written about how much cheaper airfares to Europe are this summer. In fact, some of the fares have been so low, I’ve had a hard time not packing up my bag and heading for the land of cheese, croissants and wine myself. While summer was traditionally the time when my family would cross the Atlantic for vacations to France, I have not had the opportunity to return to France in the summer in quite some time. My bank account just couldn’t quite handle the expensive airfares to France (or the weak dollar or the expensive hotels). However, with the economy suffering, the dollar back up against the Euro and airlines and hotels rolling out plenty of specials to encourage us to travel, this summer and fall may be the ideal time to head to France.

Lufthansa is currently having a great sale on flights to many European cities—including Paris and Nice. In fact, flights to Paris from New York are as low as $331 each way. While you easily could and would have shelled out over a grand for the same flight a year ago, you’ll now be able to go round trip for less than $700. Being able to save a few hundred bucks on airfare means you’ll have more money for the good stuff—like booze and food.

For those that like to save the maximum amount of money for fun by saving on things like airfare and hotels, there are plenty of ways to see even an expensive city like Paris on the cheap. The Paris travel guide has plenty of great suggestions for things to do in Paris that are cheap or free—like people watching at a sidewalk café for hours or hanging out at the Luxembourg gardens for the afternoon.

If you are shoestringing it, a great option is to forgo staying in a hotel and opt for a hostel instead. If you are looking for a good time in addition to a place to sleep for cheap, check out the best hostels in Paris where you can meet fellow travelers and save your money for shopping and hard nights partying in the City of Lights.

If you aren’t so sure how you feel about dorm style accommodations and sharing a bathroom, but still want to keep you Paris budget down, you can also opt for one of the cheap hotels in Paris (cheap being relative of course, since Paris hotels do tend to be on the pricey side).

If you are tempted by all the cheap flights to Paris, but are nervous about sticking to a tight budget, there are plenty of ways to enjoy France on the cheap. Skip eating out most days and shop at markets and enjoy lunch and dinner picnics, stay in chamber d’hotes (bed and breakfast type accommodations), only shop during the soldes (government mandated sales in January and July) and find activities that cost little or nothing. Figuring out a daily food budget for Paris can also help give you an idea of how much money you’ll actually need once you get there.

eiffel tower photo