Paris France, being one of the diverse places in the world, encompassing medieval cities, alpine villages, mountains, and Mediterranean beaches, there are just so many things and you can’t get enough of it!
On top of this, one of the world’s icons is in Paris; The Eiffel Tower. Besides hopping around the city, tourist love heading to the wineries for wine tasting and study the productions of exquisite wine.
Having traveled across France for about 1 month, I can share with you my experiences and some tips you would need to take note of while on the road!
Our Road trip started in Chamonix, France. I love this place. The weather, the mountains and the township were beautiful. The way the towns and shops have been designed are unique and different from the other towns we have been to. After Chamonix, we drove to the South of France: Monaco, Nice , Cannes and after that, we made it up to Paris and headed back to Marseille.
I wouldn’t suggest taking our route. We had no choice as we wanted to join our mom in Paris, France. It would be good to leave from Paris and explore the other places like Brittany, Loire Valley, and Versailles before flying back to your home country. That will make it a complete French experience.
Top Places to Visit in France:
2. South of France: Nice, Monaco, Cannes, Marseille
3. Loire Valley
5. French Alps
France Travel Guide:
It is relatively easy finding a place to stay or rest for the night in France, whether you are traveling on the road, taking a van, car, bus or train! There are tons of it around and finding a budget-friendly accommodation is possible.
Of course, when it comes to the apartments/hotels within the city, it can get expensive and costly. (Depending on the hotel name/brand you are picking.)
A comfortable hotel in France would range about €180 – €500 per night for 2 people in the city center like Paris, Monaco, Nice, and Cannes. Fortunately, there are cheaper ones available near the outskirts of the city ranging about €30 to €100 per night for 2 people.
In cities like Paris, we stayed in budget chain hotels which only cost about €25++ per person per night. It was at Porte d’Orleans and it is a 20 to 30 minutes train to the City center. It was very convenient and finding a parking space around here was simple for us. We stayed in IBIS Budget Hotel, Porte D’orleans.
We went there in August and the metered parking showed on the screen “Free Parking in August!” We were so delighted as we were intending to leave on the 01/09/2018. It was free parking for us!
Besides IBIS, you can look out for other budget chain hotels like Campanile, B&B Hotels, Formule 1, and many more!
==> Use Hotel points to earn and redeem:
The application that I enjoy using is booking.com and hotels.com. They offer a wide range of hotels where you can search, filter, book, earn and redeem! Some booking sites give amazing deals like buy 10 get one free night deal. This is the case for Hotels.com! Click here to find out why I enjoy Hotels.com Perks!
However, although hotels.com have got amazing perks, the range of hotels and apartments can be somewhat limited. I prefer searching it up on booking.com as it is one of the biggest hotels booking platforms where you can find hostels, hotels, apartments and many more with whatever price range you input!
I love booking with Airbnb. Everything that you need is there. Whether you are staying in the city center or away, it will range about €20 to €100 per person per night. It depends on the type of apartment, how many people you are staying with, and its location. Click here to find out why I love booking with Airbnb.
Besides the comfortability of feeling like home, you get to save even more money by cooking, doing the laundry, and having a living room area. You do not need to eat out so often and get to save more money!
If you book early, especially those within the city areas, you get to secure a wonderful home with spectacular views. For example, when we were doing our Airbnb search for an apartment in Paris, we saw a home for only SGD 200 ++ that could accommodate 6 people and had beautiful views of the Eiffel Tower.
Sadly, we couldn’t confirm the dates and number of people and someone else booked this apartment after that. It would be nice staying at a place where we could see the Eiffel Tower! Click here to find out more now. — THIS LINKS TO THE HOTEL / AIRBNB GUIDE IN PARIS.
To Note: If you are traveling in a car, it is crucial you check for their parking options. In Paris, it is advisable not to drive there. It can be a tedious process finding an available parking lot. The roads are small and narrow as well.
Besides Airbnb, there are other booking sites like HomeAway..etc, I have tried some of these but they are not as user-friendly as Airbnb. In addition to that, the prices on the other apartment booking sites seem to be more expensive than the ones on Airbnb.
Staying in Hostels is perfect for solo travelers! The prices of hostels range about €15 to €40 per night for shared accommodation. The prices vary on the place that you are staying at.
One of the cheapest way to stay as you can literally camp anywhere you want! Campsite prices range from €10 to €50, depending on your vehicle size, number of people, and the type of camping style.
Camping is perfect for those who are going on long trips traveling from place to place across France. You get to stay on highways without needing to find proper accommodation. You save money on that as well. It is free, €0.
Of course, highways would require you to pay tolls while traveling across France but you still pay €0 for accommodations. This option is available for motorhomes and campervans, not too much so for pitching of a tent.
If you are intending to stay along the highways during your travels, you need to search it up first. Some petrol stations or rest stops do not allow overnight stay. Read the signs properly and you can use iOverlander and Camping info to help you in your research. These sites are available on the app store for download as well. It is easy to use and very clear!
We hired a van to travel from Switzerland to France for our tour. We stayed everywhere! In the middle of the French Alps, highways, roadside on the outskirts of Paris and many more! It helped us to save a ton of money cause most of these were €0!
If we felt dirty, we would take a shower in the petrol stations shower rooms located along the highway. It only costs €2 for 1 shower room. 2 people can shower in it as it is big enough!
To be honest, we did not have any idea about the charges for the shower rooms until a bit later. As blur foreigners, we walked straight into the shower rooms to check if the toilets were available. Fortunate enough, there was always 1 that was unlocked. We just did our thing and headed out of the toilet, unknowingly.
The second time, we went to another petrol station for a shower. It wasn’t locked again and we cleaned ourselves thoroughly. A little later, Diana (my sister) saw a truck driver unlocking the shower rooms door with a key. We later realized that these showers were not free. Haha! Well, we learned from there that it was only €2 for one room!
These highway showers are really good. Toilets are huge and there is hot water! Of course, you would need to bring your own shampoo and body soap! Nonetheless, it was a good thing we found showers along the highway. We could stay and sleep along the highway. It was safe and secured there.
To Note: If you are traveling on a campervan or motorhome and hate strong heat, do research on the weather before booking your trip. It can get really hot as you head to the South of France, along the Mediterranean Sea.
1.1 Eating Out:
You can find budget eats to expensive eats in France! They have got a whole range of it. Eating out at a restaurant can range about €10 to €100 per person. It depends on what you are ordering.
If you are ordering seafood, steaks, and dining at a high-end restaurant, expect to pay higher prices. For the average restaurants, you pay the standard prices of €10 to €40 per person. It can be a pizza, pasta or main course meals. They are affordable as compared to Switzerland!
In Nice, we found cheap eats in our favorite Chinese restaurants. Honestly, we were sick and tired of eating western food all day long. We craved for Chinese meals so much. We found lots of it and they were not expensive at all. One dish can cost about €6 to €10! It was not expensive!
We ordered a lot of food for 7 people and the entire meal would cost about €80! Plus, it was superb and delicious!! The restaurant that I would recommend eating in Nice for Sichuan Food is Panda Chine. Click here to find out more. Since then, I fell in love with Sichuan Food and their Mala paste. It tasted so good on their Mala Tofu. As I am writing about it now, I am getting hungry!
1.2 Groceries Shopping
Besides eating out, I would suggest you buy food at a local supermarket and cook at home! It does help you to save a ton of money. For us, we always bought bread and made tea and coffee in our own Airbnb Kitchen. It was easy and cheap!
We also bought vegetables and fruits from supermarkets like intermarche, supermarche, Franprix, Monprix, and Auchan! These supermarkets are found everywhere except for Auchan. Auchan is a big retail store which you can find in Paris!
The cheapest supermarket is Franprix and they offer a huge range of foods that you can choose from. I have shopped several times in Intermarche as well and it can’t get cheaper. I can look at my entire list of grocery in shock and pay only €20 for everything that I have bought. Eg. fruits, eggs, sugar, milk, bread..etc.
Bread can cost up to €0.45 per piece! Milk will cost less than €1.00. It was so affordable!
To Note: Bring your own bags when you head to the supermarket. The supermarkets do not provide plastic bags as they are going green. I needed to buy €0.65 recyclable bags or €0.10 plastic bags several times as I forgot to bring my own bag. It was stupid since it was not necessary in Singapore .
In major cities like Paris, you can find packaged deals like The Paris Pass or the Museum Pass that can help you save a ton of money. Click here.
Museum visiting all around France can range from €6 to €15 per person. There are some exceptions according to each specific place. For example, in Paris, Museums are free to enter on the 1st Sunday of every month. Just be prepared for long queues since it is €0!
Youth and students get a discount price as well of €1 to €3 less. Do remember to bring your student pass upon entry!
If you are visiting some of the national parks in France, it is free of entry unlike National parks in the USA! When we were touring around the French Alps, Calanques National Park and Gorges du Verdun, attractions and overlooks were all free of charge! We paid €0 for these attractions!
Hence, it is important to plan your trip ahead of time, find out the prices of the various attractions if you intend to go on a budget savvy trip.
1. Private Hire Cars
Private hire cars would include Chauffeur Prive or Uber that are typically found only in the city. They travel for short distances from one point to another and do not typically provide transport for long distances from one city to another.
Traveling with these transportation methods have made it easier. We used Chauffeur Prive a lot during our vacation in Paris. A new user has 6 for €5 OFF rides! It was very worth it especially when we had a total of 3-4 people sitting in the car. Our rides were in fact much cheaper than riding the trains. Click here to sign up now and start saving!
I don’t usually flag a taxi these days. They are expensive and especially for metered fares, the driver can trick you and bring you rounds to get a higher fare from you. However, I saw many Taxi(s) traveling within the city and across France! This can be an option for you if the trains are too slow and you are in a hurry.
3. Rental Cars
Rental cars can be rented at the airports, dropped off at another location or rented in the city! It can be more expensive about renting a car and traveling within the city area. If you are traveling away from the city, hopping from one state to another and going on a big group, it can be cheaper than taking a train. Do research on it and budget it well before going!
However, in addition to renting a car, you need to input insurance cover, petrol prices, car rental basic cost, toll charges, underage fee and many more! It can cost up to €130 per day with everything inclusive for a small and basic car.
Do your calculations in advance before booking. If you are traveling in a big group, sleeping along the highways..etc, the total cost of your hired car can be way cheaper than taking a train and paying for extra public transport fees to go from one place to another.
To note: Driving in France can be costly especially its toll charges. Download ViaMichelin on your phone to calculate the total cost of traveling from one place to another before booking! Click here now.
Photo Credit to Michelin.co.uk
Trains are efficient and reliable to travel on throughout France. You can travel from Paris to Nice, Paris to Versailles, Marseille to Cannes or Monaco without an issue. Plus, it only takes about 4 hours to travel from Paris to Marseille. If you drive, it will take about 8 hours without rest.
There are various train services that you can use like TGV, Intercities, TER, Ouigo, SNCF, and Eurostar.
Do book your tickets early to secure a good price and seats. A standard ticket can cost about €125. However, if you book early, the website can show you a starting price of €25 if you are lucky!
To Note: If you have lots of baggage in hand, you are required to pay for extra baggage fees. Click here to find out more.
For short distances and Train services within the city, you can find lower prices on bulk train tickets. For example, in Paris, they have 10 T+ Tickets that can be used for metros, buses and most of the transport lines in Paris. We bought these tickets during our vacation in Paris. Original price of the ticket would cost about €1.90. With the T+ Tickets, it costs €14.90 for 10 tickets.
Buses are another form of travel that is cheaper than train travel. Prices can start from €18 to €30 per person from Paris to Marseille! It is that cheap for an 8 hours journey. This is subjected to traffic conditions and slower than a train with no toilets on board.
D) Tours to Consider
Looking for a good wine tasting tour to enjoy France to its fullest? How about a Paragliding experience? Or an exclusive private boat tour for a day of relaxation?
Tours are good for those who are not confident of exploring France on their own or for those who intend to maximize their vacation to its fullest!
Below are some of the tours you can consider during your trip to France! Some tours can be expensive, but if you choose those with rare experiences, it is worth a try.
E) Essential Daypack & Weather Preparations
Expect rain and showers from time to time! Bring an umbrella with you so that you will not get stuck in the rain for long. Check the weather update before visiting a sight! It is always better to view amazing views than to see the dark and moody clouds. 🙂
SIM cards are affordable in France ranging about €15 to €25 for 1GB, calls, and messages. For us, we used our Pokefi, portable hotspot and it has been very useful especially when we are traveling for a long distance! Click here to find out more now!
G) Ensure you have your Visa before arrival
Traveling to the European states may not be as simple for some countries. For Singaporeans, we do not need to apply for any visa. We are granted a visa of 3 Months upon arrival. However, for most, you do need to have a valid Schengen visa. Click here to check your visa requirements before traveling or planning.
Applying a Schengen visa can take 5 days to 3 weeks. It is best to apply early before the date of travel to avoid any last minute problems and changes.
Do note that the United Kingdom is not under the Schengen states and a stopover/Layover is only allowed for Type D Visa(s). Do check and call up the relevant agencies before purchasing your flight ticket. If not, you will be rejected at the airport for boarding and you would have wasted a lot of money.