To all readers: welcome to my new series, “Paris For Free”! While the city of love and light is always bustling with many things to do, it also manages to drain my wallet at lightening speed. Thus, I decided to start help you all out with saving in this city, whether you live here, or are just stopping by on a vacation. Also, writing these posts force me to get more creative as well with the things I go do in the city.
This series begins with last Saturday night, when me and the girls headed out into the city for La Nuit Blanche. Translated, “La Nuit Blanche” means all-nighter in English. The reason that every first Saturday night of October is called this is because for 24 hours, Paris stays open. Museums offer free entrance throughout the night, there are street exhibitions set up throughout the city, and food vendors as far as the eye can see. Paris becomes even more full of life than usual, as people flood into the center of the city to take advantage of this unique experience. Paris is even generous enough to run the metro between a few larger stations until the next morning (sarcasm, it is still unknown to me why one of the biggest and most visited cities in the world shuts down its entire underground system before 1AM). But the best part? You can make the night jam packed with cultural experiences, but completely free. Pretty awesome, huh? Read on to hear more about my night, and tips about what you should take advantage of if you’re ever in town for this all night party.
For me personally, money was spent during the first part of the night, but this was optional on my behalf. Us girls met up in the city, and after a long working week we wanted to treat ourselves to a nice dinner. We ended up choosing a bustling Thai restaurant called Aux 3 Elephants, situated in the jam packed dining area around Chatelet (2nd arrondissement). The service was quick, the venue was nice, and the food was to die for delicious at an affordable price. Highly recommend putting this unknown place on your itinerary. In general, I feel that the bustling restaurant scene in this area is a hidden gem (at least from the tourists). Filled with locals on weekend nights, this is the neighborhood to live out your French culinary dreams. This expense (+ the dessert expense after at Amorino for tiramisu, speculoos, and dark cherry gelato) was very well worth it. However, if you want to keep your night out completely free, consider just eating at home before coming into the city. Because the city stays open all night, don’t feel compelled to start your adventure before dinner. Enjoy a meal at home, and then head out. We didn’t even arrive into the city until 8:30, and that was pre-dinner!
And now let’s get to what makes the night truly special: free museum entrance for everyone!! The day of, be sure to research which places are open at which time, because hours vary from museum to museum. Upon finding out that the Centre Pompidou was open until 2AM, we decided to head over after dinner. It was a magical experience riding the elevators up the glass building at midnight. We saw the Eiffel Tower light up, and were afforded with a view of the city that’s rare to find at that time of night. Highly recommend taking advantage of this museum for the next Nuit Blanche. Also, you save a 15 Euro entrance fee! Score
We saw a modern art exhibit that played with light and funky shapes. Very interesting, and we ended up getting so drawn in that we stayed for an hour. Even if you have to pay now, I would recommend checking it out if you’re a fan of that kind of art. I loved it, and also have a new-found respect for a building I used to find so ugly. Inside it’s done beautifully, and, like I said, the view is spectacular.
Afterwards, we hit the streets and did a night wandering of Paris. It’s incredible to be out in Paris on a Saturday night, the atmosphere is unlike any other. The city is so full of energy and life, feelings that I never got from Los Angeles. Unless you want to stop in a bar or go to a club, this part of the night is free as well. Just enjoy the feeling of being out in the city!!
I do have to say, that there is one major thing that us girls did wrong: we did not research a proper way to get home. We ended up being stuck in night busses and taxis from 3-5AM, and it was not fun. When you go out for your Nuit Blanche, look up exactly which stations are open and when, as to not be stuck in the city. The night busses were packed, leading us to think that many people made the same mistake. Have a more laid back evening in the city knowing how to get home. That being said, the app City Mapper is what ended up saving our lives. Definitely one to download for visiting any new city, it gives you precise directions on how to get places (by foot, bus, metro, bike, etc.). A fuller post on this app and all the ones I use here a lot is coming soon.
^^A huge thank you to my fellow Au Pair and blogger Amy over at EnglishGirlTurningParisian for letting me photograph and be photographed on her point and shoot all night (and for letting me “borrow” several of her photographs). Go check out her blog, I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Thank you so much for reading! I really hoped you enjoyed my first installment of “Paris For Free”, and can’t wait to write more posts like this for you guys. If you enjoyed reading this, be sure to follow me via Bloglovin‘, or by entering your email to the right. I also have a Twitter and an Instagram.