PARIS — 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.
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.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, May 08, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 77 words Type of Material: Correction
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.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, May 11, 2008 Home Edition Travel Part L Page 3 Features Desk 2 inches; 72 words Type of Material: Correction
Paris: An April 27 article on 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.
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: Hotel 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; Hotel les Degres de Notre Dame, 10 Rue des Grands Degres, 011-33-1-55-42-88-88, www.lesdegreshotel.com, in the Latin Quarter, doubles from $173 including breakfast; and Hotel 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 Metro.
I prefer the Roissybus, which leaves from Terminals 1, 2 and 3. It costs about $13 and drops you off at L'Opera 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 Metro, but since last year, Paris has added a new mass transit system that's also worth trying out: Velib', a bicycle rental program aimed chiefly at getting cars, congestion and pollution out of the city.
Velib' allows people to pick up a bicycle at one location and return it to another. There are hundreds of Velib' 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 Velib' parking stations.
The rental is free for the first half-hour; the second half-hour costs $3; every half-hour after that costs $6. Rates are tabulated by the meters when you return the bike. For more information (in French), go to www .velib.paris.fr.
5. SEEING THE SIGHTS
The concentration of museums in Paris is astonishing, and you may find yourself visiting at least one a day, which can run into serious money. The Musee du Quai Branly costs about $13 a person and Versailles about $20. But 60 museums, including Branly and Versailles, are open to those who buy the official Paris Museum Pass, sold at tourist information bureaus, museums, monuments and online at www .parismuseumpass.com. The price for unlimited entry to participating sites is $45 for two days; $65 for four days; and $90 for six days .
Entrance is free at a handful of museums, including the Musee Carnavalet in the Marais and the Musee des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris on Avenue Winston Churchill.
6. A HOT DINNER TICKET
Having lunch, not dinner, at high-priced restaurants such as Taillevent and L'Ambrosie is a well-known tactic for saving money. But you won't do better at midday at Le Comptoir, a tiny, intensely popular bistro on the Left Bank overseen by chef Yves Camdeborde. That's because on weeknights Camdeborde prepares a set five-course menu with no choices for $68, probably less than you would spend for lunch at the city's ritziest restaurants. Mind you, weeknights at Le Comptoir are a hot ticket, so you must book far in advance. Le Comptoir, 011-33-1-43-29-12-05, 9 Carrefour de l'Odeon in the 6th arrondissement.
7. BLOGGERS HAVEN
If your hotel doesn't offer free Internet access, don't pay to hook up there. The rates are better at Milk, a chain of five Internet halls in prime tourist neighborhoods such as the Pantheon, St. Michel and Les Halles. Milk is not a cafe; it's for serious Internet use, open 24/7. A five-hour ticket (usable on repeat visits) costs about $18; rates are lower at night. Info: www.milklub.com.
8. BARGAIN BUYS