Aeuro was worth $1.25 when I moved to Paris in 2004. Now it's more like $1.60. So, am I happy I don't live here anymore? Not at all, but I'm much more careful with my money when I pass through.
FOR THE RECORD:
Paris: An article in the Travel section on April 27 about money-saving approaches to visiting the City of Light said that arriving passengers at Charles de Gaulle International Airport must take a shuttle bus to reach the RER train into central Paris. A new, automated, electric light-rail line began operating in April 2007 at the Paris airport. The free system operates 24/7 and links all three terminals, the RER and TGV train stations and long-term parking lots. —
When I returned for a visit at the end of last year, I remembered 10 ways to stretch a euro in the City of Light.
1. CONSIDER A FLAT
For stays of a week or more, rent an apartment. Given the expensive hotel rates and lodging tax, an apartment rental can be cost effective. Lots of established agencies specialize in places suitable for vacationers, including www.rothray.com, www.rentalfrance.com and www.parisaddress.com.
In December, I stayed in a small but well-equipped one-bedroom apartment near the Pompidou Centre in the 4th arrondisement; its rate is less than $200 a night year-round.
In an apartment, you'll usually get more space than in a hotel room, and you can avoid $20 breakfasts by having them at home -- in bed, if you wish.
2. A LESS-STEEP SLEEP
If you don't want an apartment, find a good, moderately priced hotel and book ahead. Here are a few: Hôtel Langlois, 63 Rue St.-Lazare, 011-33-1-48-74-78-24, www.hotel-langlois.com, on the Right Bank near Gare St.-Lazare, with doubles from $210; Hôtel les Degrés de Notre Dame, 10 Rue des Grands Degrés, 011-33-1-55-42-88-88, www.lesdegreshotel.com, in the Latin Quarter, doubles from $173 including breakfast; and Hôtel du Dragon, 36 Rue du Dragon, 011-33-1-45-48-51-05, www.hoteldudragon.com, in St. Germain, doubles $173.
3. FROM THE AIRPORT
A cab from Charles de Gaulle Airport to central Paris can cost as much as $75. The RER B Line train goes from De Gaulle airport to six subway stations in Paris for about $12 one way, but you'll have to take a shuttle bus from the arrival terminals to the RER station at the airport, and it's not easy to take your luggage on the Métro.
I prefer the Roissybus, which leaves from Terminals 1, 2 and 3. It costs about $13 and drops you off at L'Opéra Garnier, near the American Express office at 11 Rue Scribe. A cab from there to most places in the heart of the city shouldn't cost more than $10.
Of course, getting to and from Orly Airport is easier and cheaper (about $30 to $40) because it's slightly closer to the city than De Gaulle. Orly handles mostly short-haul flights and is worth remembering if you plan to travel within the European Union.
4. PEDAL POWER
Everyone knows how efficient and cost effective it is to use the Métro, but since last year, Paris has added a new mass transit system that's also worth trying out: Vélib', a bicycle rental program aimed chiefly at getting cars, congestion and pollution out of the city.
Vélib' allows people to pick up a bicycle at one location and return it to another. There are hundreds of Vélib' stations around the city (with more than 20,000 bikes), not to mention about 230 miles of bike lanes.
Riders must buy a one-day access card (about $1.50) or a seven-day pass (about $7.50) from meters in the Vélib' parking stations.