Paris is one of the most expensive cities in Europe and the world. Every time I go back from cheaper countries, I gasp at the cost of everything. So finding cool ideas for a cheap date seems like mission: Impossible!
The dating scene in Paris is quite the contrary of frugal. People are stressed, have high paying job and want to ”enjoy” whatever little time they have left after work. It is not unusual to get off work around 930pm. You start by having $12 drinks, two or three to relax, then a $50 meal, and finish with another bar or club, and $15 cocktails. Cab your way back home, and you just spent $120 or more on your night, just for yourself!
While I do this once in a while with close friends that I am happy to see, I usually have dinner at people’s place, or a picnic in the park in summer, and I couldn’t afford three $120 dates a week!
For foreigners, there is a frugal dating spot in almost every corner of the city of lights. How about a picnic at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, or on top of Montmartre, with a panoramic view or Paris? But if you live in Paris, you may want to do that once a year at most.
My frugal options include:
Lesser known parks
Not the tourist spots, for example the Parc de Belleville has a stunning view overlooking the East of the city, I like Buttes-Chaumont too, or Parc André Citroën for a more modern feel by the river. I bring a good bottle of wine, cheese and a baguette, and I am all set!
Movies under the stars
La Villette offers movies on a giant screen outside, during the summer months. People gather with a blanket or a folding chair, it is as romantic as it gets. The movie selection is pretty good too. Movies are free, you can rent a chair if you didn’t bring your own.
Cycling tour of the city
I love to cycle, and I love Paris. I can combine both, with a cycling tour, if you don’t own a bike you can rent one in the hundreds of Velib stations for 1 euro a day.
You can use those bikes for 30 minutes and return them at any other station. Cycling tours usually end with coffee or a drink somewhere.
Free museums and concerts
I often check the calendar of the music schools, or the town’s events for a free concert, like on June 21st when there are concerts everywhere for the Fête de la musique, a celebration of music with famous artists as well as garage bands playing around the corner.
Many museums are free too, like the Modern Art Museum, the house of Victor Hugo or the Musée Carnavalet. Other are free on the first Sunday of every month, like the Louvre or the Musée of Orsay.
I like that they are free because I can’t spend hours in a museum, so I enjoy a lot of short visits.
Those options make for great first dates. After a while, I transition to dinners at home or meeting with friends! Apart from the food that you bring, they are free, and you also have the advantage that you can walk away from them at almost any time!
Do you have ideas for a frugal first date in a big city?