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Paris on a shoestring - Telegraph 4/18/10 7:27 PM

Paris on a shoestring
We highlight 25 great ways to enjoy the French capital for next to nothing.

Published: 8:00AM BST 18 Apr 2010

Cheap and cheerful: if you plan your visit to Paris carefully you could end up saving a small
fortune

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EATING OUT
1 Whoever said there was no such thing as a free dinner has never been to La Choppe on Friday and Saturday nights
from 8.30pm, when Samir, the honourable owner, serves lashings of flavourful Moroccan couscous (with all the trimmings)
to anyone who’s bought a drink (around €4/£3.50). It’s immensely popular so get there at least an hour in advance.

40 Rue de Clignancourt, 75018; 0033 1 4606 2010. Métro: Château Rouge.

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2 A stone’s throw from Les Halles (just north of the main red-light district), La Cordonnerie is a favourite with a young
crowd who fight for elbow room and listen to the occasional concert while tucking into free couscous and sauces, doled
out in large portions most Thursday and Saturday nights at 8.30pm. The beer is cheap, too.

142 Rue Saint-Denis, 75002; 4028 9535. Métro: Etienne Marcel.

3 The only thing that sets Ala Bière apart from any other corner brasserie is its unbeatable €14 fixed-price menu:
Lyonnaise sausage, tender steak, hand-cut frites and delicious chocolate mousse. Wash it down with a beer.

104 Ave Simon Bolivar, 75019; 4239 8325. Daily midday-3pm, 7pm-1.30am. Métro: Colonel Fabien.

4 In a part of town where nothing else is cheap, Brussels Café provides a breath of fresh air. But don’t head to the area
with tablecloths – head straight for the bar, where a few tables have been put aside for people to enjoy bar snacks,
including copious portions of moules-frites (mussels and fries) for €12.80 or sauerkraut, and an excellent €19 prix-fixe
menu. There are six types of beer on tap.

71 Blvd Exelmans, 75016; 4651 2433. Daily 11am-11pm. Métro: Michel-Ange Molitor.

5 The Franco-German Café Titon has East Berlin prices going for it – the currywurst (curry sausages and fries) at just
€5.50 won’t leave you with space for anything other than a beer at €3.50. On the French side, the excellent cheap lunch
menu (€10 for the plat du jour and a coffee) might include chicken Caesar salad or spare ribs with rice and stir-fried veg
and gooey chocolate moelleux for just €4.90 extra.

34 Rue Titon, 75011; 09 5317 9410; www.cafetiton.com (http://www.cafetiton.com) . Mon-Sat 8am-2am. Métro: Faidherbe-
Chaligny or Rue des Boulets.

ACCOMMODATION
6 The Centre International BVJ Paris-Louvre is a 207-bed hostel with modern amenities, run by the Bureau des Voyages
de la Jeunesse. Rooms are much cleaner than the average hostel and you can’t beat the location close to the Louvre.
Bedclothes are provided but not towels.

20 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 75001; 5300 9090; www.bvjhotel.com (http://www.bvjhotel.com) ; €31 double; €29 dorms (4-
10 beds). Rates include breakfast. Métro: Louvre-Rivoli.

7 St Christopher’s Inn is a British youth-hostel chain that has helped gentrify a stretch of the Canal de l’Ourcq, sprucing
up an old hangar with funky décor and offering unbeatable prices in its bar. It offers excellent marine-themed bedrooms
and dorms for an average of €26 per person. There are single-sex and mixed dorms, so stipulate when you book.

159 Rue de Crimée, 75019; 4034 3440; www.st-christophers.co.uk (http://www.st-christophers.co.uk) ; €12-€28 (occasional
special offers) dorm; €37.50-€50 double. Métro: Crimée.

8 Le Village Hostel is in a great location on the hip side of Montmartre. Some rooms have amazing views over the Sacré
Coeur. It lets you choose between standard dorms, bedrooms (doubles to quads) and studios with their own kitchen area.

20 Rue d’Orsel, 75018; 4264 2202; www.villagehostel.fr (http://www.villagehostel.fr) ; €28-€35 dorm for 3-8; €35-€45 double;
€32-€38 triple; €28-€30 quad; €35 studio. Métro: Anvers.

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9 Alcôve & Agapes is a b&b booking service with more than 100 addresses throughout central Paris, with a wide variety
of hosts, from bohemian artists and housewives to super-grannies and business folk who are away a lot.

4485 0605; www.bed-and-breakfast-in-paris.com (http://www.bed-and-breakfast-in-paris.com) . Doubles start at €79.

10 Eccentric and kitted out with flea market finds, funky Hôtel Eldorado is also a coveted address among locals who come
for the cheap Bistro des Dames and pretty, sheltered courtyard. The cheapest rooms share bathrooms and lavatories.

18 Rue des Dames, 75017; 4522 3521; www.eldoradohotel.fr (http://www.eldoradohotel.fr) ; €70-€80 double. Métro: Place de
Clichy.

11 The founders of Club Med opened Mama Shelter in 2008. It has décor by Philippe Starck and a hip location in the up-
and-coming St-Blaise quartier in the 20th. Each room has an iMac computer, CD and DVD player, and free Wi-Fi. Book a
saver rate online.

109 Rue de Bagnolet, 75020; 4348 4848; www.mamashelter.com (http://www.mamashelter.com) . Doubles from €90. Métro:
Alexandre Dumas or Porte de Bagnolet.

ENTERTAINMENT
12 Music lovers of all sorts meet over a swift bière or three at L’International, revered for its eclectic programme of live
music that includes chanson, rock, indie, pop, electro, hip hop and folk.

5/7 Rue Moret, 75011; 4929 7645.

€1 open-air film festival

13 Drive-ins are logistically not possible in Paris, but picnic-ins are. Between mid-July and mid-August, just €1 gets you
into the Parc de la Villette’s Cinema en Plein Air film festival, where cult movies are projected onto Europe’s biggest
inflatable movie screen and locals turn up in their thousands, picnic basket and blankets in hand.

Prairie du Triangle, 211 Ave Jean Jaurès, 75019.

HALF-PRICE THEATRE
14 Paris might not be Broadway or the West End, but it has a thriving theatre scene that sees everything from slapstick
French comedy to experimental dance, absurdist drama and classic vaudeville. Le Kiosque Théâtre, at place de la
Madeleine (75008), place des Ternes (75011) and in front of the Montparnasse train station (75014), sells half-price
tickets for same-night shows.

FREE DEBATE
15 Once a month at 9pm, France’s law courts open to the general public for live debates with French celebrities. Its
origins go back to the Revolution, but the subjects addressed are wholly modern and often flippant: “Does confidence
reign?”, for example. Arrive at least an hour beforehand to get a seat.

Conference Berryer au Palais de Justice, 4 Blvd du Palais, 75004; 4549 6760; www.laconference.typepad.fr
(http://www.laconference.typepad.fr) . Métro: Cité.

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FREE CLASSICAL MUSIC LUNCH


16 On Thursday lunchtimes the exquisite Petit Palais, which, apart from being a top-notch fine arts museum, holds free
lunchtime music concerts in conjunction with the Radio France programme D’Une Rive à l’Autre (12.30pm-1.30pm,
October-June).

Ave Winston Churchill, 75008; 5343 4000.

FREE BALLET
17 When in gai Paris, one must embrace the literati. Nowhere can you rub shoulders with more of them so enjoyably than
at the Opéra Garnier, the iconic 19th-century structure that inspired the tale of the Phantom of the Opera, the structure of
which is frequently likened to a wedding cake. While the upper crust pays for the top spots (around €80-€100), cheap
seats can be bought from €5.

Place de l’Opéra, 75009; 08 9289 9090.

FREE LECTURES
18 You won’t find a finer setting for your free lectures than the majestic College de France. Neither will you find a more
impressive crop of experts teaching the public subjects, including astrophysics, philosophy, maths and medieval literature.

11 Place Marcelin Berthelot, 75005; 4427 1211.

FREE DANCE CLASSES


19 From June to September the banks of the Seine below the Institut du Monde Arabe become an open-air dance floor
for wannabe dirty-dancers who come to learn salsa, Argentinian tango and rock-and-roll.

Square Tino Rossi, 75005; www.tangoargentin-eric.site.voila.fr (http://www.tangoargentin-eric.site.voila.fr) .

SPORT & WELLNESS


Free bike tour

20 Every Friday at 9.30pm, about 300 nighthawks gather in front of the Mairie de Paris on their bicycles for a three-hour
nocturnal sightseeing tour.

Hôtel de Ville, 75004; www.parisrandovelo.com (http://www.parisrandovelo.com) .

FREE WORK OUTS


21 Attractive is France’s first sports shop dedicated to women, but that doesn’t mean that men can’t take advantage of the
free hour-long mixed stretching, muscle-toning and running lessons held every Saturday (meet at 10.45am in the
boutique) in the Jardin du Luxembourg.

123 Rue de Rennes, 75006; 4222 1149; www.attractive.fr (http://www.attractive.fr) . Sat 10.45am. Métro: Saint-Placide or
Rennes.

FREE QI GONG
22 At 9am almost every day, Master Thoï Tin Cau gives free, hour-long Qi Gong lessons in the Parc des Buttes
Chaumont, next to the Café Weber (south of rue Botzaris), or a sheltered square elsewhere in the park if it’s raining. If the
Master thinks you’re good enough, you can stay on until 11am and practise t’ai chi.

Métro: Botzaris.

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FREE MEDITATION

23 Join about 30 devotees each week for an hour and a half of sweet vacuity at the Centre Kalachakra. A donation of
about €5 is appreciated.

Passage Delessert, 75010. 4005 0222; www.centre-kalachakra.com (http://www.centre-kalachakra.com) . Métro: Château-


Landon.

FREE MASSAGE

24 The L’Association de Décontraction à la Française practises “street massage” at the place de la Contrescarpe in the
5th and sometimes on the bridges around Notre Dame, for nothing. It couldn’t be simpler: on warm evenings, find them
(usually after 7pm), pull up a chair and spend 10 minutes in bliss. Tips appreciated.

Métro: Monge.

FREE PEDICURE

25 Phone plenty of time in advance if you want a free pedicure from a final-year student at the Ecole Superieure de
Masseurs-Kinésithérapeutes et Pedicures – it’s hugely popular. A €5 contribution is appreciated.

17 Rue de Liège, 75009; 4674 6287; www.ecoledanhierdekinesitherapie.fr (http://www.ecoledanhierdekinesitherapie.fr) . Métro:


Liège.

Best free concerts

Music-lovers of all sorts meet over a swift bière or three at L’International (5/7 rue Moret, 75011; 0033 1 4929 7645),
revered for its eclectic programme of live music that includes chanson, rock, indie, pop, electro, hip hop and folk. It’s a
welcome addition to the scene, with free entry and a host of exciting bands.

Best open-air film festival

Drive-ins are logistically not possible in Paris, but picnic-ins are. Between mid-July and mid-August, just €1 gets you into
the Parc de la Villette’s Cinema en Plein Air film festival (Prairie du Triangle, 211 ave Jean-Jaurès, 75019), where cult
movies are projected onto Europe’s biggest inflatable movie screen and locals turn up in their thousands, picnic basket
and blankets in hand.

Best place for half-price theatre tickets

Paris might not be Broadway or the West End, but it’s got a thriving theatre scene that sees everything from slapstick
French comedy to experimental dance, absurdist drama and classic vaudeville. Le Kiosque Théâtre, at place de la
Madeleine (75008), place des Ternes (75011) and in front of the Montparnasse train station (75014) sells half-price tickets
for same-night shows.

Best free jazz awards ceremony

Le Sunset-Sunside (60 Rue des Lombards, 75001; 4026 4660) has seen more great jazz musicians pass through its door
since 1983 than most Parisians have had hot croissants. In early September a few more of them – up-and-comers,
mostly – fight it out here over three free nights.

Best free radio gig

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Journalist Isabelle Dhordain invites three of France’s top popsters for a live radio show of mix 'n’ match chanson, pop and
rock. The Pont des Artistes is open to the public most Wednesdays and is a fine occasion to see .

Extracted from 'Frommer’s Paris Free & Dirt Cheap’ by Anna Brooke (John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 12.99), available from
Telegraph Books for £11.99 plus £1.25 postage; call 0844 871 1516 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk
(http://books.telegraph.co.uk/BerteShopWeb/viewProduct.do?ISBN=9780470683323) . Reprinted by permission of John Wiley &
Sons Ltd. All rights reserved.

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