8 things to do in Marseille on a limited budget, France

Going to France on a tight budget: tips and tricks

The Eiffel Tower, the sandy beaches of Saint-Tropez, delicious wine and delicious cheese… These are just some of the amazing things that put France at the top of the list as a desirable tourist destination. However, many travelers do not come, believing that France is too expensive.

Of course, France is not Cambodia or Vietnam in terms of prices, and it is famous for luxury hotels and trendy restaurants, among other things. Especially the capital, Paris, has a reputation as one of the most expensive cities in the world. However, there are a few tips and tricks that are sure to save you money and help you visit France on a tight budget. Let’s get started:

Inexpensive lodging in France.

As I said, there are many well-known luxury hotels in France, but they probably won’t be your option if you’re planning to visit France on a tight budget. Instead, we’ll discuss the many different low-cost lodging options France has to offer. Some of them are:

Gîtes de France provides lists of different types of low-cost accommodations. Most of them are what the French call Chambres d’hotes, which is the equivalent of a bed and breakfast. Some of these places allow visitors to rent an entire apartment or house, and it also allows you to save a few extra dollars.

Logis is a chain of 2,000+ hotel-restaurants in France. The places that make up this network are mostly small hotels, and they are relatively cheap. However, most of them are in small towns and villages. If you like to eat good and plenty of food, this is a great way to taste delicious French cuisine, as most establishments already include food.

Bienvenue à la Ferme is a program supported by the French government that allows travelers to stay on farms. There are a variety of accommodation options, from camping without electricity to bed and breakfast. This, too, is a great option for food lovers. You’ll be able to sample homemade food made from fresh produce from your own farms.

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Hostels and couchsurfing are always a great option to save a few dollars and meet lots of new friends, and let’s not forget the house swap when you swap your home with vacationers from the country you are visiting.

Cheap Transportation in France.

France has excellent infrastructure and a very well-developed rail line, and this is good news for all tourists who want to visit on a tight budget. So frugal travelers have many ways to save their money when traveling around the country.

Buses are also a cheap and convenient alternative. The bus system in France is very extensive and there are almost no places that cannot be reached by bus, whether local or regional transport. If you plan to visit more places in France, buses are a good option, since you can buy tickets for short trips for only a few euros. However, as always: when something is this extensive, it can be a little difficult to understand. So make sure you plan ahead, and make sure you check the schedule of the local bus system.

In my opinion, rail passes are the best option for long distance travel. You can buy a monthly pass for $202 and travel wherever you want, and if you are 27 or under, you can get a 20% discount. This ticket also includes a discount on ferry crossings from Cherbourg to Rosslare, Ireland. You can also use the ticket to go to Mannheim, Nuremberg, and Prague. A rail pass is a good choice if you want to explore France in detail and plan to stay longer.

If you are thinking of just covering a few cities and taking a couple of day trips through the big cities, opt for a bus or car. However, if you want to travel deeper, from lavender fields through the Alps to charming little villages, a rail pass is the way to go.

France TGV.

If you have a busy schedule and just want to visit a few tourist spots, the best way to get there is by plane. For domestic flights, the best discount airlines are Ryanair and EasyJet. Surprisingly, often the fairs run by these companies can even be cheaper than a train ticket. However, don’t forget about the major airlines as well.

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For example, I just came across Qatar Airways’ Discover the World program at a low price, which has flights all over the world. Some of these flights are even cheaper than the prices offered by budget airlines! If you’re looking for a cheap flight to or from France, be sure to check it out. On the other hand, if you travel in France by train, you can get good discounts on Trainline.

Cheap Food in France.

Cuisine is definitely one of the main reasons to visit France, a country that is known as a foodie’s paradise. France has some of the best chefs in the world, and French restaurants are known around the world. However, the exquisite food served in some of these restaurants usually comes with an exorbitant check. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try French cuisine if you’re on a tight budget.

Let’s start with breakfast. Oulangerie (bakery) and patisserie (patisserie) are not only part of a typical French day, but also part of French culture. Be prepared for a demonstration that is pleasing to the eye and tastes even better than it looks. A typical breakfast of croissant/biscuit and coffee will cost you about 5-6 euros. Another option for a cheap morning meal are the local markets, where you can find plenty of fresh, locally produced fruit.

The rest of the time you can combine a hearty meal with a couple of snacks. If the locals can do it, so can you. If you want to eat at a fancy restaurant, I suggest you go there for lunch instead of dinner. The reason: to avoid the tourist frenzy. Also consider a picnic. It’s a great way to have a great meal for less than 10 euros. It’s really cheap if you buy all the ingredients at the market and there’s nothing like a picnic on the banks of the Seine.

Always ask for the prix fixe menu.

Another tip for people who want to visit France on a tight budget is to always ask for a fixed prix fixe menu. The prix fixe offers a combination of appetizers, main courses, and desserts at a fixed price. It’s always much cheaper than ordering à la carte. And don’t miss the house wine, which may be cheap but is as good as bottled in most countries. A glass of this wine will cost you even less than ordering a Coke. Needless to say, there is homemade wine to almost every meal you can imagine.

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Attractions on a tight budget

If you’re in one of the larger cities, get a 2 or 3-day pass that allows you to use public transportation for free. Another advantage of a pass is free admission to museums and tourist attractions. You can buy the pass at local tourist offices and even in some hotels. France also has many stunning cathedrals, and the best part is that admission to most of them is free, which again is great for people who are planning to visit France on a tight budget. If you don’t spend much time in the city, a sightseeing tour covering most of the city’s attractions might be a good idea.

You may still think that France is an expensive country, but you can actually get a lot of discounts in France. The first thing that comes to mind are the daily open-air markets. You can find them in every big city and small town. Go there, explore the markets, buy fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, basic bread products and have a picnic. Many locals do this too.

Lille France.

Almost every city has a brocante or flea market. These are bright, colorful places where you can find a lot of inexpensive souvenirs and real unusual gifts. The most famous brocante in the country is probably Lille and the island town of L’Ile-sur-la-Sorgue.

As in any European country, France has many free walking tours to the most popular tourist destinations. Aix-en-Provence, Lille, Nice, Marseille, Bordeaux, Bezier, Nimes, Montpellier, Strasbourg, Paris. All of these places offer free walking tours of the most popular local attractions.

I know you might think that most of these cities are expensive, especially in the spring and summer, but as I mentioned, traveling on a tight budget is quite possible.

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