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How to Explore France on a Budget

By Aga Marchewka

Summary: Expats in France love to explore all of the wonderful destinations throughout the country, but it's expensive. Lyon-based blogger Aga Marchewka offers some great tips on how to soften the blow as you enjoy the sites and sounds of France!

Living in France - How to Explore France on a Budget

France is so beautiful! France is so expensive! So how can we visit this amazing place on a budget? I had this problem. I fell in love with France and always look to discover more and more of France whenever possible. So I want to travel, go on holidays, organize trips - it all sounds good but at the end of the day every trip is an additional expense. That is why whenever I explore new places I try to be very savvy. I have developed a set of rules that helps me organize trips and holidays in France on a budget - and I would love to share them with you!

Here are my Top Tips On How to Organize Holidays In France Cheaply and Wisely:

1. Search for the best offers to travel to France.

You can get to France by car, by air, by train and coach. Flights can be pretty expensive depending on your destination. What is interesting is you can more easily find a cheaper flight to Paris and very expensive flight to beautiful Lyon...so to get around this, you should look for the low cost airlines available and consider the nearby airport as your destination, they will offer more option on a economical travel. For other travel options I tend to use: VoyagesSNCF and well known Eurostar. I love the road trips as well, so whenever possible I travel by car. You can come to France by car as well. Just double check if your car insurance covers France, then find out about the road fees and you are ready to go! If you travel from England and cross the sea, you will come by Eurotunnel, which offers the most convenient way of getting your car to France! If you are 'adventurous' enough to spend hours and hours in the coaches, check Eurolines, together with National Express. They operate regular services within France and offer good prices.

2. Find the Cheapest Accommodation Deals

Don't bother to search a lot just use Airbnb. Even better, use Alltherooms, the very comprehensive hotel search engine I recently discovered. It offers the best, cheapest accommodation options from many many providers including Airbnb, Expedia, booking.com just to name a few. So it is really All in One!

3. Budget your holidays!

Recently, I started using a useful website called Budgetyourtrip. This site will help you get an idea of the costs and money you might spend on your holidays. It predicts the average spending, cost of transport, and food based on local prices. It's not ideal and 100% accurate, but at least it gives you a rough idea of what to expect.

4. Search for voucher codes and offers

Look on voucher code sites such as Reducavenue and local deals on Groupon. You can find discounts for shopping, restaurants, activities and entrance fees, as well as hotels and transport.

5. Do online researches before your holidays in France.

Visit review websites such as TripAdvisor, which is the most comprehensive and reliable source of information, recommendations and reviews. You will the find out the 'unofficial' gems of the local things, the good and the bad of the city and really honest opinions to prevent being disappointed when you arrive.

6. Visit Websites of Tourism Centers and Towns

You can find their free maps, brochures and read the news to help you learn what is worth visiting and if there are any events worth taking part in while you are there. Read some local blogs to get the personal and more practical information about the city. For example, you can get a list of free things to do, such as the one I wrote for my blog - 25 Top Free Things You Can Do In Lyon!

7. Discover France by car

Choose to road trip - either with your car or renting one in France. Why do I love it so much? Well it really gives you freedom to do things you want when you want to do them. It provides you with more luggage space, and that makes me happy. Maybe it's not always the most economical way of travelling, but at the end of the day you save when choosing the car. You save on time, on food that you can pack and not buy at each meal. You can discover more things on the road and feel the wind in your hair... ok maybe that's too much of my creativity ;-)

8. Organize Your Food and Plan Your Eating

Eat breakfast at the apartment and get yourself a few snacks for when traveling and driving the car. Pack the lunches and prepare picnics; stock your car with drinks. Use cooler bags to keep the food fresh and cold. Cook simple and easy and prepare quick dinners in the apartment.

9. If You Plan to Eat Out, Check For Local Restaurant Deals

See if you can get any vouchers for a decent dinner. Look for them on Groupon and read the local restaurant reviews at the The Fork, which provides you with the average cost and customers recommendations. This will help you find the price level, but also to help you decide if you want to go to a restaurant at all!

10. Visit Tourism Offices

Get your free maps, brochures and learn where the FREE toilets are! For example, ONLY Lyon provides free toilets in the center of the city and they are clean and good to use.

12. And Lastly...Save Money on Souvenirs

Take many photos - its free and enjoyable! Then get home, organize them and create the best, cheapest, and most compact and useful souvenir you can think of... create the Colorland Photobook. I always enjoy being creative there!

So how did you like it? Did you find the tips useful? Will you use any of them? Don't miss out on discovering new places and relaxing on holidays because it costs too much. Use my tips or maybe you have your own rules of travelling on a budget that you can share with me? I would love to hear about them! In the meantime have a look at my blog shopaholicfromhome.com. It helps you find out even more about how to discover France without spending too much money, and you can learn about my way of getting to know France and the French way of life.. which is always odd, interesting and useful!

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About the Author

Aga is a Pole who lived in London, UK for over 6 years. More then traveling, she loves exploring different cultures and differences & similarities between different nations. She has been traveling a bit and loves to be in the international environment. She has been gaining many observations about the French lifestyle, places to visit in France and wanted to share them with others while starting to learn this beautiful yet so difficult language while slowly settling in in France. Your Home is Where Your Heart Is... that is why J'adore Lyon by Shopaholicfromhome has been created. Because Aga, on top of the fact that she fell in love with Lyon and the French... she also and mostly loves shopping, especially savvy shopping!

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First Published: Sep 11, 2015

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