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Budgeting advice for honeymoon in Paris

Hi all, my wife and I are taking a delayed honeymoon to Paris next May but, since we've never planned a major international trip by ourselves before, we feel a bit out of our depth. We've been to Paris before--about 10 years ago--but our memory of it is somewhat hazy. We would really appreciate it if you could give us some budgeting/itinerary advice so we can be sure we aren't overlooking or misjudging something.

The basics of the trip:

  • $7,500 budget
  • 12 days total
  • 2 overnight travel days (Houston to Paris/Paris to Houston)
  • 10 nights in Paris
  • 1 day trip to Versailles
  • 1 day trip to city/town outside Paris (we're not sure where yet): Rouen, Giverny, Chartes, Lyon, London, etc.
  • 1/2 day at the French Open tennis tournament

Our working budget:

  • Airfare (basic economy): $1,581 after using $900 in credit card rewards
  • Lodging: 10 nights at Hotel Le Placide Saint Germain des Pres: $2,538 (We would like to stay at a 4* but would be willing to stay in a 3* as well. We think that we could cut our lodging costs, if necessary, by as much as $600).
  • Shuttle from CDG to hotel/hotel to CDG: $110
  • 2 French Open show court tickets: $500
  • 2 Paris Museum Passes (6 days) (includes Versailles): $160
  • 2 Train tickets for day trip to Rouen/Lyon/London/etc.: $80-$300
  • 2 Paris Navigo weekly Travel Pass (replenish passes after 7 days): $100
  • Food (average of $15 for breakfast, $30 for lunch, $50 for dinner, and $25 for snacks/dessert): $1440

Total cost: $6459-$6679

Assuming the above budget is correct, that would leave $771-$991 for discretionary spending.

Our questions:

  1. Is there anything obvious we are missing from our budget?
  2. Does our budget seem reasonable and generally accurate?
  3. We know this might be a hard question to answer, but do we have enough discretionary spending for 10 days? My wife and I aren't particularly lavish spenders, but we'd probably buy some souvenirs and I'd definitely go hunting for an antique book or two.

We really appreciate any help you all can provide!

Posted by
7512 posts

Looks like you got everything covered. The flight and lodging are the biggest upfront expenses that could go up or down between now and May

Posted by
126 posts

I did the exact trip in 2017 (10 nights in Paris with my wife) and think your budget is a great start.

Hope you can get flights cheaper, and spend $2000 total ($1,100 after $900 credit). We just booked for next April/May for $1100 each in premium economy one way and economy plus the other from OKC to Paris and back from Madrid. There are deals to be had, just make sure when booking "basic economy" you are away of bag restrictions and fees.

As i'm sure you are aware, everything in Paris will be in Euros, not the US Dollar. So when you are looking at $110 for rides to and from CDG, it will actually be 110 euro, or roughly $121.75.

You can use your Navigo cards (We did this, so come prepared with a photo and purchase at the airport RER station. It is easy to obtain and recharge Monday's) to save money and use the RER to and from CDG.

You for sure can cut your lodging costs, but be flexible on where you want to stay (For our example, we knew we wanted to be in St. Germaine des Pres). For example, we were able to stay at Artus Hotel (4*) for 10 nights at $1,434.90 prepaid via This was a risk we were willing to take since we had also purchased travel insurance that would cover this costs if we couldn't make the trip (like our flights). This was for a March trip, so prices were a little cheaper than compared to your May trip, but there are deals to be found.

Train Tickets: buy right when they come out (normally 90 days before travel dates, but sometimes it is random) and they will be the cheapest. You will be set on a strict schedule though, so be prepared to know exactly when and where you will want to go.

Museum Pass: Good call. We did this and went to a lot of places. Make sure you review before hand what all is covered with it (some special exhibits are not covered) and when things are open/closed. Also it's fun just walking around and stumbling into places that are included in the pass but you hadn't planned.

Food: You will spend more :) I don't know how, but you will want to try a lot of things. This is the category that I find it is worth to go over.

Discretionary: You left no money for souvenirs, goodies, clothes, books, etc so I assume these would fall into this category. I think that is a decent amount since you said you weren't big spenders, but everything you can save via flights and lodging, I would add to food and discretionary.

Posted by
183 posts

I'd up the food budget by about 10-20 %. It-s your honeymoon.....splurge on a fancy romantic dinner and a nice bottle of wine! Also, you never know when the "random craving" for a croissant and espresso will hit you! Paris can be pretty walkable (and pretty to walk) so I'd also reconsider the Navigo pass and get 1 carnet of tickets for each of you instead. Giverny makes the perfect day trip! If you're going to daytrip anywhere that requires a reserved train, reserve it well in advance to hopefully get a good fare.

Posted by
186 posts

Looks good; I think you might get a better airfare in May if you get on low fare alerts and are a bit flexible with your dates. Seems like you should be able to find something under $1000.

Do you drink wine or any alcohol? If so, the dining budget is too low.

About $250/night is pretty good for a quality hotel. You would be able to cut some of the dining out costs if you rent an apt. for part of the time (eat breakfast in). You could consider splitting some of the time in an apt. in a different part of the city just for a little variety.

Re French Open: if you want to see a big match, then that sounds about right. But, you can also buy general day passes to one of the earlier rounds and see a lot of great tennis, enjoy the atmosphere, at a fraction of the cost. Just depends on your preferences.

Posted by
1524 posts


"1 day trip to city/town outside Paris (we're not sure where yet): Rouen, Giverny, Chartes, Lyon, London, etc."

You can also consider Reims in the Champagne region of France as a day trip option. It's less then 2 hours from Paris by TVG.

As far as budget for food is concern, you can do moms and pops restaurant in Paris which will be cheaper then most restaurants and look into the street food markets and you buy produce for your lunches.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for the advice everyone. Very good to hear that we're generally on the right track. I'll probably bump our food budget up a little bit.

@ebonecapone (or any others that can answer): How was it booking a hotel through a third-party like I've always heard it's risky to do so, especially for international trips, and that hotels are generally less willing to help customers who don't book directly with them. Because of that, I've been limiting my hotel search to direct bookings, even though it seems I can find cheaper prices through third-party agencies.

Posted by
503 posts

It's a minor point in the grand scheme of things, but the $100 line for the a weekly pass on a Navigo Découverte card is too high, unless you expect a massive swing in the exchange rate. It's €27.80 per person (€5 for card plus €22.80 for the week) or €55.60 in total. At the current exchange rate that'd run you about US$62.

Those dining prices look like they are for both of you together -- they sum up to $120 a day, and $1440/$120 = 12. Dividing by two and converting to euros at current (favorable to American) rates, per person that's about €7 for breakfast, €14 for lunch, €23 for dinner and €11 for snacks/desserts. Looking at it that way, I'd probably bump up the dinner budget, especially if you plan to drink.

Other thoughts -- will you be partaking in any sort of nightlife (bars/clubs/shows etc.)? If so, you probably want to budget for drinks and other entertainment costs, and possibly for taxis home if you will be out late.

Posted by
126 posts

I was a little worried about using, but i thought the risk was worth it. I didn't even contact the hotel prior to confirm, so i may have just gotten lucky.

We actually stayed in the same hotel this year we enjoyed it so much, and booked directly since it was cheaper than what we were able to find via 3rd party.

I think if i had to do it over again, I would do it if it can save $30 or more a night. If it isn't more than that, i would prob book direct for piece of mind.

@Andrew, i assume he is factoring in recharging it for another week, since 10 days is longer than a Monday to Sunday night. Great to mention nightlife. We don't "club", but I loved the bar/cafe scene on rue de buci, Mzzet bar, The Moose, Little Temple Bar, The Frog breweries/bars, Dilettantes Cave a Champagne, etc. That is where my food budget goes :)

Also i agree with visiting Reims if you like Champagne. It is a lovely town and an easy day trip. (did this on our 10 day trip as well)

Posted by
24063 posts

If you can have your main meal at lunch, your food budget will drop considerably. However, that might not be your preference, and it does cut into your sightseeing time.

This website has information about how French hotels are rated. Take a look to be sure you care enough about the 4-star requirements to pay the extra money. If it does matter to you, be sure the website you're looking at isn't making up its own rating system. I'd also check the reviews on (when available for hotels you're interested in). only allows people who have actually stayed in a hotel to review it. However, I have no idea whether the stars shown on are the official French ratings. I'm more a 2-star sort of traveler (but with air conditioning in the summer).

Posted by
3324 posts

I usually book directly with the hotel but I have used with great success, which for me means a better or the same room for less money. The last time that happened for me for a hotel room in Paris was in November 2016.
I think your budget is a good one. Frankly, I am surprised that the airfare is as high as it is for basic economy. I am putting together a trip for various family members who will be meeting in Paris in mid-June 2020. I am responsible for checking the prices of the airfares and I have seen roundtrip non-stop from Houston for around $2,000.
If your dates are set and you are getting trip insurance, you may be able to get that $600 cost reduction without lowering the quality of your hotel. I like your hotel choice. I have stayed nearby a couple of times at either Hotel Signature Saint Germain and some other properties in the area and I really enjoy that area. I just booked a room for relatives at a hotel near my apartment at a 21% discount because they are willing to get a non-refundable reservation. My relatives have trip insurance and their dates are set. If you are open to other areas of town, you may want to look at the Astotel hotel chain. As far as I know, they have no properties in the Left Bank, but they are very nice, good value properties.

Posted by
40 posts

Regarding day trips in May:
Giverny would be lovely, as would Chartes. I can also recommend Chantilly - nice grounds, beautiful chateau, sweet little village. Château de Fontainebleau is a great day trip as well, especially if you want to do some longer romantic walks.

Depending on where you stay, breakfast might be included. Usually it would be croissants, yogurts, coffee and juice. You can get the same at any boulangerie. Hopefully in May you'll get some delightful weather and you can grab a sandwich to go from the same boulangeries and eat in a park. Less expensive, and saves $$ for something else. You can also grab a baguette, some cheese and cold cuts, some fruit and have a picnic. Don't think all your meals need to be in a restaurant.

And have a wonderful honeymoon!

Posted by
327 posts

What does the $500 ($250 apiece) for the Open tix represent ? I’ve been the past 2 years and bought my ticket directly from the RG site in early March, both times selected Phillipe Chatrier court. Granted, I purchased cheapest ticket (about $70) but the seat was quite good >> was there entire day for 4 matches, which included seeing Djokovic, Nadal, and Clijsters.
So if you buy tix directly you can save big bucks.

Do some reading about Versailles to decide if that’s REALLY something you want to do/are interested in ... lines and crowds are murder in May.

I don’t recommend day trip to London ... you’ll spend about 6 hours traveling. I think it’s great that you’re spending most of trip in Paris — there’s So Much to see and do. I like the idea of 2 day trips to villages or small towns/small cities, for variety. There are dozens of lovely places less than 90 minutes from Paris. I suggest you first figure out what your top interests are (e.g. champagne/wine, chateaus, art, churches, food, history, scenery), and that will help you choose your day trip location.

Posted by
8628 posts

Very exciting to be planning a honeymoon in Paris! Congratulations on your impending wedding.

One note: there is no need to take a shuttle to your hotel. Paris has a fixed rate for taxis between the airport and the city — if you end up staying in St Germain, it will be 55€ for the two of you together to go direct (50€ if you end up staying on the Left Bank).

Be sure to follow the signs to the official taxi line — there will be people approaching you in the terminal trying to get you to take their taxi, but ignore them. Also it’s a good idea to have a card with “55€ tarif fixe” and the address of your hotel written on it to give to the driver.

As for a day trip, I think London is too far , but for May, Giverny should be very nice.

Posted by
2078 posts

hey hey agatlin
happy honeymoon, and what a place to celebrate, it's magical and so much to do, been a few times and just can't get enough
have you tried to look at an apartment rental? more space to move around in, buy food, snacks and drinks, small kitchen, have a meal at home that you can get pre-cooked at a market or prepare something, some have a balcony and washer which comes in handy, near metros. there are pros and cons about renting. check arrival and departure times for luggage storage, if not and too early where to put luggage, read reviews carefully, what floor, how many stairs/steps, elevator (europe-1st floor = usa 2nd floor), cash euros on arrival unless you make other arrangements, since crackdown on short term rentals make sure there is a 13 license registration number starting 75. we stayed out in the 14th arr, near parc montsouris, this past september. liked the apartment but too far out from the happenings.
stars mean different qualities in europe, the more amenities you have the higher the star. rooms are relatively smaller and more so bathrooms.
take a look at, under vacation rentals, if you find anything come back and ask the forum, they will give you good bad and ugly, when you have decided book early, since you will be going at a busy time, seems like no shoulder seasons anymore, people travel all year long. hope this gives you some ideas and remember, put your costs in euros since that's what you are paying. enjoy and have fun