17 February 2012

Paris on a budget - Part Deux

Arc de Triomphe

Bonjour! Haven't been posting for a while because I was on holiday in the city of love, Paris! Well, as I promised in my last entry Paris on a budget, I will give details on my spending to fit into the EUR 1,300 budget to cover accommodation, food, transport and activities.  So here we go!

Accommodation :

Quality Hotel Malesherbes, Champ Elysees  EUR 530 for 4 nights

This hotel was perfect for our short stay.  It was within walking distance to Gallery Lafayette, Arc de Triomphe, L'Opera, Madeline and even Louvre.  We had a great view of the St Augustin Cathederal from our balcony which we didn't even use due to the cold weather but sitting on the arm chair gazing outside while sipping some coffee with macaron was just superb!

View from our window

Airport shuttle

For both ways : EUR 80 for 2 passengers
This is a door to door service that is very convenient as you don't have to worry about anything.  They'll come and fetch you at the terminal and drop you off at the hotel!

Food and beverages
I had a lot of fun researching for places to eat in Paris.  I came up with a list of places to eat but only managed to sample a few as we were on the run.  We had to grab lunch on the go or skipped lunch totally but took our time to have good dinner at a few restaurants.

Day 1

Breakfast : At the hotel  EUR 14 per person X 2 =  EUR 28

I am not a big breakfast person.  For me a slice of bread with a cup of coffee and I am done.  But Captain is different.  He likes his breakfast with yogurt, eggs, cereals and fruits, so buffet breakfast as this one at the hotel was perfect for him but uneconomical for a person like me.  I gathered this after the first day.  The days after, Captain would go down for breakfast while I took my time waking up and when he came back he brought up a croissant and I had my little breakfast in the room.  Not a bad deal, right?

Lunch : Cafe at the Louvre  EUR 15

We spent the whole day in Louvre and grabbed something quick to eat which included of 2 bad tasting cheese sandwiches, a coffee for Captain and a bottle of water for me. 

Dinner : Dinner for 2 EUR 32

Sunday is a dead day in Paris.  Most restaurants and shops were closed and we were lucky after going through my list of restaurants to find one that was open for dinner.  Armed with reservation we went to have a very satisfying 3 course dinner at a vegetarian restaurant Tien Hiang.  The owners of the restaurant are Malaysians from Penang and their menu has vast choices from all countries in Asia.  All the dishes in the restaurant are made from tofu even the beef , chicken and seafood.  The portions were generous, tasty and value for money.  I had Thai papaya salad, Malaysian curry laksa with tofu chicken and banana in coconut milk for desert.  Captain had Vietnamese rice paper roll, Vegetarian ragout with steamed rice and the same dessert.  The only down side, the place was small and packed.  Nevertheless, we had one of the best meals during this trip and would highly recommend this restaurant!


Don't be fooled by the exterior.  Asian gem in Paris.

Day 2

Breakfast : At the hotel EUR 14

Lunch : Brasserie near Notre Dame  EUR 14

Again, we had to grab something on the run.  We went to a cafe/brasserie near Notre Dame and had a quick coffee and sandwich.  Nothing special.

Dinner :  Saveurs Veget Halles Vegetarian/Vegan restaurant.  Dinner for 2 EUR 56

Another heaven for vegetarian/vegan!  We had to do quite a bit of walking trying to look for this place but it was worth every single step in those boots of mine!  The place was small and intimate and the menu was simply divine.  I had trouble choosing as I wanted to try everything.  I was contemplating between the vegetarian burger and protein soya steak but finally I settled with the burger since I couldn't remember the last time I had a burger to myself.   For starter I had the most wonderful seafood salad with seaweed and tofu shrimps, Captain had the medley of mushroom and olive pate with sautee onion and grilled vegetables.  The portion was huge and I recommend choosing one dish if you are not a big eater.  The salad filled me and I couldn't finished my burger which was sad.  It was truly the best guilt free burger I've ever tasted.  Captain had coffee and I was happy the way it was.


Vegetarian Burger with fries and salad

Day 3

Breakfast : At the hotel  EUR 14

Lunch : A restaurant next to D'Orsay museum  EUR 35 for 2

This restaurant has 2 seating areas with a bar separating the two.  The first area is for snack and light meal and the other is for full fledged meal.  We went to the first.  I had a dish of nicoise salad and Captain had a panini.  We both had hot chocolate to warm us up and boy, were they heavenly!

Dinner :  Prik Thai. Dinner for 2 EUR 40

It's Valentine's Day!  So to be as cliche as the rest of the world, we decided to have a very quiet dinner at a place that serves good food.  So, we decided on Prik Thai.  Prik Thai is the equivalent to italian 'tavola calda' serving thai food.  But the place was quiet, secluded and the food was good.  We called for reservation and the owner went to the extend of setting up a little romantic corner for us which was sweet.  There were roses, candles and table setting in red.  To eat we had vegetable spring rolls to start, a medley of thai dishes served with vegetable fried rice and a banana leaf wrapped coconut dessert to end the meal.  The owner was friendly and we really felt like eating in someones well set kitchen rather than a restaurant which on this occasion was perfect. 

Our little corner

Thai medley

Day 4

Breakfast :  At the hotel EUR 14

Random coffee and tea during the whole stay :  EUR 15


Both me and Captain, we are small time history buffs so we adore museums and architecture.  Paris was perfect for us as it is filled with all things we like.  On a short visit like this, nothing much can be covered but we wanted to do the major ones and do the rest when we return.

Louvre Museum :  EUR 12 x 2  = EUR 24

The entry fee for main exhibition hall of Louvre is EUR 10 but we had the tickets delivered to the hotel to avoid queueing; together with other tickets that we pre-ordered online.  We had to pay a small fee for this but it really saved us a lot of time and pain!      http://pariswebservices.com/


The red room that housed the French artists collection at the Louvre

My favourite - the statue of Nike the Goddess of Victory

D'Orsay Museum :  EUR 10 x 2 = EUR 20

If you decided to brace the long que outside the museum, the ticket costs EUR 8 but since we only have 4 days we paid EUR 4 extra to have the tickets delivered to our hotel, waiting for us when we arrived.

D'Orsay Museum

The famous Vincent Van Gogh's self portrait

Paris Open Tour Hop On/Off  bus - EUR 32 per person for 2 days = EUR 64

What better way to see Paris when you have only 4 days?  The answer is the Hop On/Off tour bus.  This service allows you to visit Paris as a whole at your own pace.  There are 3 lines available and you can get on/off as many times as you wish.  Plus, the audio tour provided using your very own disposable earphones was a huge help.  Basically we went around Paris using this bus and free mode of transportation called 'on foot'!

Boarding the bus at one of the 50 stops

Treasure of Notre Dame :  EUR 4 x 2 = EUR 8

There is no entry fee to Notre Dame but inside there is a section housing the treasures of Notre Dame and the fee is EUR 4 per adult. Children pay less.  Notre Dame is famous for its stain glass windows and the chandeliers.  They were spectacular!

In front of Notre Dame armed with an umbrella

The famous chandelier of Notre Dame

Eiffel Tower Tour :  EUR 40 per person x 2 = 80 

Since we were in town during the day of love, we thought lets go all the way cliche!  "Lets seal a kiss on top of the tower!"  The original plan was to go to the top but since it was February the 14th, it was fully booked.  We settled for the 2nd floor, instead.  No que needed for this package and together came a small city tour that goes to the major hot spots in Paris. True enough, when we arrived the tower, there were couples riding up to the top floors bearing roses and teddy bears, chocolates and what not..  well, I guess we didn't go all the way cliche, no flowers for us, no teddy bears or even chocolate.  We were more concern about the weather.  It was freezing cold and made us wonder what on earth were  we doing there?!  After 20 minutes and frozen cheeks and noses, and a frozen kiss to make it worth the climb, we decided we had enough Eiffel Tower to last us a life time. 

The famous steel structure of Paris, The Eiffel Tower.  A magnificent view indeed.

That's me, frozen.

Taxi :  EUR 90 plus tips

We walked a lot in Paris but after almost the whole day of going around, my wonderful tall boots were not so wonderful anymore.  They were painful!  So, cabs were used especially towards the end of the day and at night.  I didn't want to compromise 'fashion' during this trip but I had to swap tall boots with UGG boots a couple of days.. just made me wonder how does Victoria Beckham managed in those 5 inches day in and out?

Miscellaneous : EUR 50

This includes tips, mineral water from the mini bar and other small expenses.

Well, all in all we spent about EUR 1220 for this trip not including shopping and souvenirs.  Conclusion, EUR 1300 for 4 nights is so doable and if you choose your hotel,restaurants and activities properly you can even have the best vacation ever.  We had a lot of fun and learned many things from this experience.  While walking to D'Orsay,  we walked pass a lady who stopped us and asked if we lost a gold ring while showing us the ring in her hand.  I spotted the scam immediately and pulled Captain away from her.  This scam called the 'golden ring scam' or 'the golden bracelet scam' has been around for a while but I never thought that it would happen to me.  The scam works in such that soon you would realise that your wallets or even watches were missing!  So, beware of strangers picking up gold rings from the ground.. they are scammers. 

It is good to learn a few phrases in french.  I did and it was fun and I was proud of myself for doing quite good.  Captain was impressed too.  But the truth is Paris is a tourist city, most people speak english.  So, a 'Bonjour' , 'Parlez-vous anglais'  and you are set! 

Hope this small 'budget report' helps you in any way at all!

J'adore Paris!


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