France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Money-Saving Travel Tips - France
Here are some tips to make your money go farther on your trip to France.



Tipping - No!

A service charge is included in all hotel, restaurant and café prices in France, so tipping/gratuity is not necessary.

Don't tip!

No one expects you to. If you do, you're wasting your money. More...

Save in Café-Bars

In a café-bar, if it's not the ambience but only the drink that you want—a quick cup of coffee or tea, a cooling soft drink, a warming glass of wine or beer—have it while standing at the counter/bar. It costs more to have a drink at a table rather than at the counter.

Take a Picnic!

Plan to picnic sometimes for lunch or dinner. French cheeses, terrines, quiches, bread and wine are superb, and cheaper if you buy them in a shop rather than in a café or restaurant. More...

Formule or Menu!

For lunch and dinner in a restaurant, order one of the formules or menus, set-price meals of two or three courses at a fixed price; or have just the plat du jour (daily special plate).

These offerings are invariably fresh and delicious, and come to you at the best possible price, much cheaper than if you ordered them à la carte. More...

Le Pichet Magique

—Many restaurants offer inexpensive but drinkable house wine (vin ordinaire or vin de table)—even if it's not on the list of drinks.

If you don't want a varietal, appellation or vintage wine from the drinks list, just ask for un verre de vin blanc or vin rouge or vin rosé. (A glass is usually 12cl to 14cl [4 to 5 US fluid ounces].)

More than one glass? Ask for un pichet (a pitcher, carafe). They come in sizes of 25cl (2 glasses), 46 to 50cl (2/3 bottle) or 1 liter (1.33 bottle). Some cafés and restaurants offer a tulipe, a larger glass of 22cl, slightly less than two normal (24-28cl) glasses.

Train Tickets

Shop for transportation online. French railroads use airline-style yield management techniques, which means that several passengers sitting in a train car may have paid very different prices for exactly the same seats. Shop around, try different departure days and times if possible—just as with the airlines—and see if you can reduce the price of your travel.

Also, it's a good idea to buy your train tickets in advance. At the station, with the train about to leave, your credit card may not work, the ticket line may be long, etc. If you can print from the computer you're using, you can take a paper ticket. Otherwise, you can download your ticket onto your smartphone; or buy at the station the day before you plan to travel.

Métro Tickets

In Paris, buy Métro tickets (which are also good on buses) by the carnet (10 tickets) to reduce the price per ticket by nearly 20%. There are also weekly transit passes. More...

Euro Exchange Rates

Computer Chip Credit Cards

Money for Travel in France

Travel Costs in Paris

Finding Your Way in Paris

About Paris

Paris Transportation


Paris Girls Secret Society, a novel by Tom Brosnahan


Chip Cards Only

If your credit card doesn't have a computer chip in it—or even if it does, it may not be accepted in France. More...