You don’t need a trust fund to travel like royalty. What you need is a smart plan (and good shoes).
Oh, Paris! Cobblestones and Café de Flore. Avenue Montaigne and macarons. Exploring the Louvre and looking for love… Between consuming Colette on the Left Bank and storming the shops on the Right, every moment in the City Of Light is an occasion to flaunt your oui’s, merci’s and Chloé’s like you’re Blair Waldorf high on Pierre Hermé. Mon dieu, is there anywhere else better to live it up in style?
But okay, let’s be real: while someone like B only likes it haute, most of us are likely to be hunting for hot deals instead. And there’s absolutely no shame in that. Life is not an Upper East Side fairy tale complete with carte blanche for all and sundry, but there’s no reason why you can’t amble down George V on a budget and still be trés chic.
Whip out your Moleskine notebook, mes chéres, because we have here a tried-and-tested checklist on how you can do Paris like Queen B without burning hole in your Isabel Marant pocket. And don’t worry, no one needs to know — because it’s a secret we’ll never tell. xoxo
You’ve Got Miles
If you don’t already own one, apply for a frequent flyer credit card, bientôt. Just think about it: Every time you swipe your card, you’re a little closer to a free ticket — or better yet, an upgrade to Business Class — to Paris.
Granted, it’s no private jet, but hey, a little champagne and extra wiggle room can go a long way in making you feel like a million bucks when you land. Just don’t forget to pack your Crème de la Mer and Karen Walkers.
Total spend: S$0
Recommended cards: DBS Altitude Visa Signature, UOB PRVI Miles Platinum, and ANZ Travel Visa Signature.
Wouldn’t it be dreamy if you could check into the spanking new Ritz Paris (and the world’s first Chanel spa while you’re there) and vacay like a modern-day Marie Antoinette? Of course, in that dream, you’d also have loose change of S$2,000 per night to spare.
In reality, the budget traveller should just forget about big hotel chains. (How much time do you actually spend in the hotel room, right?) It’s possible to snag a decent room in a boutique hotel for just over S$100 a night if you (1) book well in advance, especially if you’re travelling during high season; and (2) are not fussy about the arrondissement of the hotel and the size of your room.
But TBH, we’d rather Airbnb it. With the same amount of money, you can quite easily score a whole apartment to yourself. (It feeds your fantasy of being a Parisian, too.) The choices are delightfully mind-boggling.
The only catch: Be prepared to set aside a lot of time to scroll through the options, and read the host reviews. At last check, we found this little gem — all yours for less than S$200 per night; half that if you bring a friend to split the cost. C’est, c’est bon.
Total spend: S$100/night
A Taste Of Luxury
So, a suite at the Ritz or Le Royal Monceau is out of your league, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still treat yourself to an afternoon of five-star hospitality at these hotels — for but a fraction of le room rate.
Book yourself and your petit ami high-tea at the Ritz’s Salon Proust or the one Michelin-starred brunch at Le Royal Monceau’s Restaurant La Cuisine for €120 per person (S$180) as you watch the comings and goings of some of the most glamorous jet-setters, and take in the couture-filled atmosphere.
Can’t get enough? By all means, buy yourself two more glorious hours at the swanky Spa My Blend by Clarins for about €200.
Total spend: From S$180 (A small price for a taste of Parisian heaven!)
Free and Easy
On the other end of the spectrum, it is possible to go a whole day in Paris without paying for more than a café crème or two, and maybe a pain au chocolat. There is a plethora of things you can do for free. Ready? Repettos on, let’s go.
- Museum-hop: Stand before your favourite Manet painting, a la Blair, at the Musée d’Orsay. Plan this for the first Sunday of the month when admission is — gasp! — free. Other museums offering the same treat includes the Pompidou Centre and Musée d’Art Moderne. And if you’re under 26, the Louvre is pretty much your oyster — yes, for free — all year round!
- Pick an arrondissement — Le Marais in the 3rd/4th, Saint Germain in the 6th or Oberkampf in the 11th — and explore on foot. We could do this for days.
- Bring a book to the Jardin des Tuileries, Jardin du Luxembourg, or the Champ de Mars, pick a bench and make a day of devouring classics and croissant.
- Open-air cinema: Set aside one evening for a (free) movie in the park. Parc de la Villette holds screenings through summer in July and August. Monogrammed towels and your personal Dorota (you know, to fan you) not included.
Total spend: S$30
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By Karman Tse
Karman Tse is the founder and editor-in-chief of WearOhWhere.com. She is a believer of the Bradshaw-ist philosophy of personal finance — specifically: “I like my money where I can see it: Hanging in my closet.