One of the biggest downsides to being a parisienne is, of course, the cost of living. From high rent, to expensive restaurants, to transportation costs, to the ever-dreaded taxes, it can seem like your bank account is draining before your very eyes.
That said, over the past few years I’ve discovered ways to trim costs that make being a young worker living alone in the pricey French capital a lot more bearable – almost comfortable! I decided to share them here, in the hopes it’ll help others looking to give their pouvoir d’achat a boost.
Frequent open-air markets and discount supermarkets
Every day of the week, you can find an open-air market open somewhere in Paris. While some items can be more expensive than their supermarket counterparts, like olives, dried fruits, nuts, and spreads, staples like fruits, vegetables, and bread tend to be quite a bit cheaper.
Going towards the end of the market’s opening hours can bring things down even further, as the vendors tend to do last-minute deals in an effort to clear out their stalls.
Another tip for saving money on groceries is going to the cheaper supermarkets and taking advantage of specials. In Paris, not all shops are equal: In my experience, I find U Express, Casino, Aldi, and Lidl to be the least expensive of the bunch.
It’s also worth getting the various supermarket cards, so that you’re eligible for discounts and specials (you’ll frequently find flyers in your mailbox advertising just that!).
Buy and sell used clothing instead of buying new
Want some new clothing, or looking to clear out your wardrobe and make some extra money? Look into going to a vide-dressing. You can either sell your clothes, shoes, and bags by paying for table space at an event, or go shopping at one of the many hosted around the city throughout the year. Violette Sauvage is among the most popular and a good place to start if you’re interested in attending one.
If you’d rather have an online option, I strongly recommend Vinted, which I am unashamedly addicted to. Putting an item up for sale is as simple as taking a few photos and listing some details, and shipping is made easy via Mondial Relay. The shopping is good there, too, with many nice items available for a petit prix.
Look into secondhand options
In need of a new bed frame, side table, chess set, book, or whatever else you might think of? Before going to IKEA or FNAC to buy brand-new, take a look at Leboncoin or Facebook Marketplace. There, you’ll find just about anything for a fraction of the price it would retail brand new, often in very good condition.
Also keep an eye out for flyers advertising neighbourhood brocantes or vide-greniers, or check the website that has daily updates of all the ones happening across the city. The French equivalent of an American yard sale or British car boot sale, there people frequently put out unwanted furniture, appliances, clothes, books, children’s toys, and more for very, very cheap.
Not only can you score treasures – at the last I attended I purchased a leather belt, ceramic vase, and cashmere cardigan for a grand total of 3€ – but they give you the opportunity to chat with and get to know your neighbours.
Pack your own food
When it comes to lunchtime at the office, Parisians love food delivery services like Deliveroo and Frichti, or stopping by the nearby boulangerie for a formule midi. While nice for the occasional treat, if you do this every day of the work week, costs will really start adding up.
Instead, I recommend preparing your own food at home and bringing a packed lunch. Some of my favourites that are cheap, easy, and healthy include: pesto pasta with cherry tomatoes and peas; hummus with baguette and vegetables; and quinoa salads with diced chicken breast and cucumber.
Opt for picnics and dinner parties
Apéro at the local bar and dinners out are nice, but can give your wallet a beating if you indulge in them too often. Instead, think to host dinner parties at home, and when the weather is nice, have afterwork drinks with colleagues or picnics with friends at one of Paris’ many iconic locations, including the quais of the Seine, the esplanade des Invalides, or the Champ de Mars. Not only will it be cheaper, but it’ll give you a nicer view!
Visit free museums
Paris has some of the best museums in the world – and many you can visit for free! On the first Sunday of every month, a huge number offer free admission all day. But if you missed it, rather than waiting a whole month, visit one of the many that are free year-round, like the permanent collection at the Petit Palais, the Musée d’Art Moderne, the Maison de Victor Hugo, and the Musée Curie.
Give your CB a rest
While not Paris-specific, this is a money-saving tip that has really kept me in check, budget-wise. Instead of mindlessly swiping my debit card, I opt to take out money at the beginning of each month from an ATM. Seeing the money helps me be more mindful of how much I’m spending on a daily basis, and makes me spread it out throughout the weeks in a more logical way so as to ensure I don’t run out.
Just what I needed now that I’m living in France… great tips thank you!
Happy that they are of help, Alice!