Overall, we had a wonderful time in Paris. We spent 7 weeks and these were our costs. The 1 bedroom apartment was $135 per day going through VRBO. Had we gone direct through Claude at Home-rental.com, it would have been about $105 plus the $3 per person per night Paris tax. We actually ate at home a lot, spending about $125 a week for groceries including paper supplies. We did purchase a lot of partially prepared meals, pastries, etc. We only ate out 6 times with a low of a crepe dinner for $30 and high of 3 courses at Mollards for $77 for 2: total $274—neither groceries or eating out included what we spent on alcohol. If we were out for several hours, we would stop to have coffee, coke, etc. and split a sweet—so that ran about $8-10 per occasion. We spent $240 on metro tickets and $168 on museum tickets. Also $57 for our covid tests to come back to the US. So overall, we thought our costs very reasonable. Bear in mind we have been to Paris many times before, so especially museum and entry costs would be much higher if you want to do Eiffel tower, Seine boat tour, Opera Garnier, etc.
Home-rental.com---Claude has been in business since 90s and also rents (30 days minimum) in other parts of France, Spain, and French Polynesia. Our experience was excellent.
2nd Arrondisement: We had stayed before for 3 months, and 1 month, in the 11th and were somewhat hesitant about branching out. But we loved the 2nd. We were close to two metro stations and only a mile walk to the Louvre and the Seine. Yes, the St. Denis area was once notorious for street walkers, and there are still a few, but as we visited many parts of Paris we noticed that areas that used to be “no go” have been gentrified over the last 10 years. City property is so expensive and so desirable that a slum is really hard to find. The 2nd has tourists but also many, many French working folks who live in this “fashion” district.
Restaurants: We have always had trouble in the past finding places to eat quality food at reasonable prices. No longer. Before we relied on guidebooks—with guidebooks come too many tourists and often a rise in price and a drop in quality. This time we wanted to eat at the many art nouveau boullion restaurants. We tried 3 and loved Mollard, Boullion Racine and Julien. We also liked Bofinger, which we had been to in the past, but it is more touristy and a little more expensive. We also found neighborhood restaurants where the menus are in French and the tables full, were a good bet. Usually the young waitstaff spoke English, so ordering was not a problem. (We do not speak French.) And certainly in medium price places, we found that the old cliché of nasty, snotty waitstaff is completely out of date.
Museums: Most have pretty steep entrance fees. The first Sunday of the month many are free but then are crowded. Even with timed tickets the wait at the Pompidou was almost an hour. We were in Paris two free Sundays and also in September is the Europe-wide Heritage weekend when many museums are free or have reduced entries. I also joined the French Friends of the Louvre (much cheaper than the American Friends). A year was 80 Euros and you can bring a guest free on Saturdays (or an additional member is 40 Euros). Membership also gives you a much shorter, special entrance line. Regular entrance is 17 E. We went 4 times, each 3-4 hours, so much better than trying to do marathon days. Below I will try to give you some additional museum tips.
Be sure to check out what special exhibitions are on—we went to a fabulous exhibit of Botticelli at the Jaquemart-Andre, which also has a lovely permanent collection in an interesting mansion (hotel in French.)
Carnavelet: free, city of Paris Museum. We went twice; it is huge. Don't miss the art nouveau room in the 20th century section. This museum is a good orientation to Paris.
Louvre: Also has some Impressionism in a special collection, Helene and Victor Lyon room, which is easy to miss--in case you don't have time to go to the D'Orsay or if you love impressionism.
Orangerie: Famous for its Monet water lilies but it has wonderful impressionism pieces in the basement.
Markets: St. Denis is a huge, non touristy market. Lots of cheap clothing, but also produce etc. Combine with a visit to the famous cathedral. We also enjoyed the paid part of the cathedral where all the French kings were buried, but you need to be a fan of French history, etc. to enjoy it.
Clignancourt: Can be very crowded. Many different sections. We liked the indoor multi-floor area with lots of unique stores—button and trims, gas station antiques, antique clothes, toys. Also the regular side street with all the mucho expensive Empire furniture, art, etc.
Vanves: Really good—a few cheap clothes, no produce—lots of brick a brac; jewelry, fun stuff to look at and perhaps buy since much would fit in your suitcase.
Aligre: Brick a brac, small antiques, produce, plus inside market. In town so not a huge time commitment.
Market streets: Rue Cler is Rick Steves famous and mucho touristry. Much better is Rue Montorgueuil near Les Halles in the 1st and 2nd.
Department Stores: You won't be buying anything except food or hardware, but these are must visits. Samartine for the look inside and out. BHV (Bazaar de Hotel de Ville), go to the basement—it is amazing. Across from Galeries Lafayette is its food hall building—the Galeries Lafayette Gourmet, best anywhere. And don't miss the stained glass dome in the rotunda building of Galeries Lafayette.
Concerts, opera, etc.: Check out what might be going on while you will be there. Mark went to the symphony which was performing Wagner's Valkyrie in oratorio. Said it was the best concert he has ever attended.
Finally, what we love most is walking the streets in the old city, within about 1-2 miles of the center. You will get a crook in your neck looking up: every block has amazing buildings. We have been to 55 countries—no city is as beautiful nor interesting as Paris. We will be back as often as we can.