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Budget for trip to France

Hi everyone!

Planning a trip for 2 to France for about 10 days in late March-early April. I am thinking we will spend 4 days in Paris (one day spent at Versailles), two days in the Loire valley (possibly Amboise?), 2 days on the Riviera (Marseille?) and the other two days I haven't nailed down yet. I'm wondering what a reasonable budget would be for this trip (not including air fare)? We would rather save on hotels and eat on the lighter side and invest more money in attractions and activities. We love history and want to see chateaux and museums, churches, architecture, etc. Obviously this will vary depending on the person and there is no concrete answer to this, but if anyone has suggestions or comments I would be appreciative!

Posted by
9249 posts

The French Riviera is Cannes, Nice, Antibes, Cap Ferat etc all way east of Marseille which is in Provence.
As far as planning your time, two nights= one day.

Posted by
223 posts

Well, I'm not a tourist and my interests differ from yours (I don't mind cheap hotels but seek out and will pay extra for good food and wine). However, I'll offer the following advice:

I would assume 330€ per day for the two of you, so for 10 days, I would set aside 3 500 €, plus airfare.

That amount is composed of the following costs for two people:

150€ hotel
20€ breakfast
40€ lunch
80€ dinner
40€ on average for various admission fees, taxis, or train fares

One can do better than that, and one can do worse. But as a useful budgeting guideline, I'd trust it. A lot of sights in France have no cost: towns and village squares, churches, ramparts, natural scenery. One can be very frugal if desired.

If you want to see "the Riviera," I would prefer Nice to Marseille. Go to Marseille for the history and the multicultural experience. Not for the Riviera experience.

Posted by
3797 posts

Sorry, OP, but you'll have to do your own budget math. We don't know your accommodation preferences ( how low will you tolerate), your dietary habits, what attractions you want to see, or how you plan to travel from place to place. And prices vary from place to place.

You can get hotel price estimates from looking at sites like for each of your cities/towns. For train prices, look at Most decent guidebooks will list the prices of attractions and tours. Google is always your friend for the most updated prices when booking activities.

Marseille really isnt part of the Riviera. You would likely want to stay somewhere around Nice ( we like Villefranche sur Mer). But if Marseille is your departure city (flying home from there), then exploring a bit of Provence might be a better idea.

Finally, I'd use those extra 2 days by adding an extra day to the Loire and on the final day to travel to your departure city ( where are you flying home from?)

Posted by
23143 posts

Traveling from the Loire Valley to Nice by train will likely require you to return to Paris before heading south. It will be a slog and is not practical if you only have 2 days, because you'd spend too much of that time in transit. France is a very large country. You can check travel times on the Deutsche Bahn (easier to use) or SNCF (needed if you also want to see fares) websites.

Posted by
2466 posts

The Riviera would probably be the most expensive location.
Paris would be next.
Stay in hostels or budget hotels - all are listed on

It all depends on how hungry and thirsty you are.
If you are on a tight budget, look for "formules" or "menus" in bakeries and cafes. These will be cheapest.

You can order a half baguette in bakeries.
Crepes are a good idea.
Order tap water in cafes, which is free if you buy something else.
Go to supermarkets and buy whatever you want, it will be cheaper than anything else.
If you have leftovers, put them in the mini-fridge or on a shady windowsill. This way, you will come out ahead.
If you drink alcohol, look for "happy hours" (sic) - but you will have to drink whatever the specials are.

Posted by
11466 posts

I hope you realize that the french Riveria in march or early April is still not beach weather . Why are you interested in going there ?

Posted by
21 posts

Hi pat,

Yes, I realize it will not be beach weather. I'm not a beach person myself, I am interested more in cultural activities and history. As I said originally, none of my plans are concrete yet, and I'd be open to exploring other ideas.

Posted by
15360 posts

Day 1. Land in Paris after overnight flight, sleep-deprived, jetlagged. Get through airport, find hotel, check in and drop bags (if you arrive early, chances are your room won't be ready, just leave your luggage and go out. Try to enjoy as much as you can, staying awake until at least early evening.
Day 2-4. 2 full days in Paris, 1 in Versaille.
Day 5. Train to Amboise. If you get a fairly early morning train, you'll be able to drop your bags at your hotel and head out by around noon.
Day 6. Full day in Loire Valley.
Day 7. Train to Riviera. Here's the rub. Marseille is a big city, second largest in France, and it isn't really on the Riviera. The Riviera is farther east, St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice. And it is far away. And from what I can see, there are no direct train routes from Amboise. It pretty much means going back to Paris from Amboise to transfer to a train to the coast. If your heart is set on the Loire Valley and the Riviera, you'll use all of Day 7 to get there.
Day 8. 1 full day on the Riviera.
Day 9. If you can fly home from Nice or Marseille, then you'll have 1 more full day on the Riviera. If not, you'll have to use this day to get back to Paris for your flight home on Day 10. It's 3-3.5 hours by train from Marseille, add about 2 hours more from Nice. That gives you the morning in the south or the afternoon in Paris.

You are planning a trip over Easter weekend. That's likely to increase room rates. I looked at K's budget, and it's way more than I'd pay as a budget traveler. You can get a double room ensuite in a hostel in a decent, central area for €100 or less (check out or in Paris. €40/pp will get you a good meal with house wine, but you don't have to do that every day. Grab snacks, salads, sandwiches, wine and soft drinks at supermarkets.

Posted by
21 posts


Thank you so much for the itinerary help! From what I'm hearing, maybe the Riviera isn't such a great idea. Would it be better to spend a few days in Provence (maybe Aix?) or in Normandy instead of trying to get all the way down to the coast?

Posted by
2916 posts

Since you're already heading to the Loire after Paris, and only have 3-4 days left after that, I think Normandy (or Brittany) is a much better idea than going to Provence or the Riviera.

Posted by
223 posts

Chani writes:

"I looked at K's budget, and it's way more than I'd pay as a budget
traveler. "

Not surprising, as it's not a budget traveler's budget. I must have missed where I suggested it was.

But it is a budget -- one that could be used for planning purposes. My philosophy is to budget high as safety measure to make sure that the money I've allocated for a trip lasts through the trip. And then I come in under. Works for me.

Of course one can save money. A baguette sandwich and bottle of water with an apple would work for a lunch here and there, but probably not every day, unless one's food tastes run toward monotony. Mine don't. As for lodging, I don't think my wife would be too keen on a hostel. You're welcome to them.

Posted by
21 posts


I appreciate the two different perspectives on the budget! I am sure we will land somewhere in the middle. I am pretty young (20) so I have a little more tolerance for a lower end hotel stay if it allows me to stay longer/do more activities. Thank you for your advice!

Posted by
2466 posts

There are two regions in Normandie - the upper and lower coasts. Large amount of ground to cover...
Are you interested in D-Day Beaches or someplace like Calvados, where you will find sandy - but freezing - beaches?
Google either "haute normandie tourisme" or "basse normandie tourisme" to see what's going on in either area. Some small hôtels might be closed for the off-season.

Posted by
1035 posts

Is your travel partner old enough to rent a car? You could do this more efficiently by car, once you leave Paris. Fly into Paris, do your Paris days, train to Versailles and back, then rent a car and drive wherever you want. It's difficult to get to some of the chateaux by train, and Normandy is best done by car, too. At this time of year, anywhere near the water is going to be chilly, so you'll need to have a reason to go besides the weather. I'd do Normandy any time of year, but the Riviera not so much. You should be doing a lot of research right now and start narrowing in on what your must-haves are, and how much time in transit you want to spend. You could do five days just in Paris, then another four in either the Loire or Normandy and not run out of things to do. We've been three times to different areas of France, a total of 25 days or so, and have only scratched the surface. I'd focus on at most three stops in 10 days (is it really 10 days on the ground or does getting there and back make it really only 8 or 9 days?).

Posted by
223 posts

tkg... unpronounceable name writes:

"I am pretty young (20) so I have a little more tolerance for a lower
end hotel stay..."

This is where I suggest you provide that kind of information in your original question so you can receive information targeted to your situation. My response was geared toward the typical Rick Steves tour member: older, of some means, financially...

You're atypical of that type, and it's natural that your standards and interests would vary.

Posted by
15360 posts

It looks like you have to return to Paris to get much of anywhere from Amboise. You might like to spend 3 nights in Strasbourg/Colmar. Alsace is a lovely area, much different from Paris or the Loire valley, with lots to explore by bus/train. You could go straight to Strasbourg from the airport (CDG) by train in 2-3 hours. Then on to Paris for a few days, then 2 nights in Amboise and back to Paris for your last night before flying home.

Posted by
4125 posts

Logistically, I think that Normandy is a somewhat better fit (with the Loire) than Provence. But, expect rain in early April. Anywhere in the north, actually, but especially near the Atlantic coast.

The great lure of Provence, given your interests, are the magnificent Roman antiquities. And although Normandy is easier, Provence is definitely within reach.

You might also hedge your bets and sketch out a Plan B in which you go to Lyon instead of Provence. It is a terrific city with its own Roman heritage and interesting Renaissance architecture. Plan B would be to assess the weather as you prepare to leave the Loire. If it looks truly bad, divert to Lyon.

This means traveling without reservations, but in April you can absolutely get away with this. Call ahead morning of arrival to locate a room (from your short list that you have already identified as attractive in advance).