Paris, France

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Paris Guide - Spend Less, Do More

Eiffel tower sunsetYou have taken a picture of the Eiffel Tower, seen the Mona Lisa at the Louvre and driven by the Arc de Triomphe. But some of the best Paris experiences are found away from the crowds and can be very affordable.

You won't believe it's free!

For authentic Parisian shopping, look no further than the classic covered passages of the Galerie Vivienne, just north of the Palais Royal in Paris' second arrondissement or administrative district. Originating in the 1800s, these passages covered in ceilings of glass and wrought iron were Paris' first malls and today feature French designers, antique book sellers, art galleries and even quirky toy shops. You don't even have to spend a cent to appreciate the fabulous architecture of this uniquely Parisian shopping region.

The previously abandoned Canal St. Martin now thrives courtesy of bobo (bourgeois bohemian) hipsters who have revolutionized the area with cafés and hip boutiques, particularly along the Rue Beaurepaire. Settle at a sidewalk table at the main drawcard, Chez Prune, and take in the picturesque iron footbridges and tree-shaded quays that were featured in the Academy Award nominated blockbuster, Amelie.

Cheaper than a pub meal

Paris arc de triompheWalking through the sewers might not be your first idea for a fun activity but the Les égouts de Paris tour takes a fascinating look at the underground of Paris from the 1800s to the present day. Take a stroll through the works of Belgrand, the engineer who developed the current sewers, and learn about the history of Paris in a new way.

If you'd rather take in Paris' culture in a more conventional way, why not go to one of Paris' many smaller museums instead of wasting time in the queues for the Louvre or Musée D'Orsay,. The Musée Marmottan has many of the famous works you've been dying to see, including more Monets than any other museum, without the hordes of tourists.

Once you've seen all the artistic, musical and literary culture of Paris, you'll want to bring a little slice of it back for your families and friends. But, it can be hard to avoid the usual mass-produced gimmicks when trying to find the perfect souvenir for loved ones. Head to the Les Bouquinestes or booksellers on the River Seine for some of Paris' most authentic souvenirs, marked out by their customary green boxes.

After a long day wandering the streets of Paris, a stop by the charming little island of Ile St Louis is just the way to wind down. Don't forget to try the famous Berthillon ice-cream with its original shop on this quaint island in the heart of Paris.

You saved heaps on your hotel, so go a bit upmarket

Avoid the crowds of the Moulin Rouge and go where the locals go for a quality cabaret performance at Crazy Horse. Located in the wealthy, chic 8th district, Crazy Horse offers a complete night out with fine wine and food and a cabaret show that has been constantly reinventing itself for over 60 years. It may be expensive but it is one of those only-in-Paris experiences that will stay with you long after your trip.

If you want to travel further afield, hire a car and drive a little over an hour from Paris to the small World Heritage town of Provins. Provins offers a glimpse into life in the middle ages with its 12th Century Caesar's Tower, 13th Century wall ramparts and the 13th Century Tithe barn used for the iconic Fairs of Champagne. Be sure to also check out the Museum of Provins with its extensive collection of medieval artifacts along with the more touristy activities such as the Medieval parades and food tastings.

Spend Less, Do More

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