Paris travel on a budget: How to eat, drink and work remote for $100

Can you still indulge in a city that embraces pleasure while sticking to a budget? I found out.

(Alan Berry Rhys/for The Washington Post)

Our new diary series explores working remotely on a budget in major cities. Read our first two entries in New York and London.

What it covered: Meals, drinks, transportation, postcards and a tip for a guitarist.

The working spaces: A co-working space, hostel common area, sidewalk cafe, friend’s apartment and park benches.

It feels embarrassing to say Paris is one of my favorite places in the world. It sounds so basic, cheugy even — the pumpkin spice latte of travel. But it’s not the Eiffel Tower, crepes and “Emily in Paris” version of the city that I love; it’s the neighborhood cheese shops, the walkability, the chic residents and the unrushed service at restaurants. It’s a city that embraces pleasure at every turn, from the fresh pastries to public displays of affection.

After nearly a dozen other visits, I returned to Paris last month. It wasn’t like the work trips that landed me in some of the city’s fanciest hotels, and not quite like the personal trips where I stayed in the cheapest Airbnbs possible. Instead, I embraced something in the middle, staying in a private room at a boutique hostel and sticking to a midrange budget. I documented two days of my attempt to balance the lifestyle of a bon vivant with the responsibilities of working on East Coast time.

11:43 a.m., a jet-lagged coffee in the sun

I should have woken up earlier, but I’m working on D.C. time while I’m in Paris. My late start means I missed the Caulaincourt Square hostel’s free coffee and pastries. This is by far the best hostel I have stayed in lately; infinitely nicer than my London stint and more private than the Jackson Hole dorm. I leave my fifth-floor walk-up room, sit at a sunny sidewalk cafe for a cafe noisette (an espresso with a little hot milk) and check my email.

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1:20 p.m., an eBike to the perfect sandwich

It’s sandwich-for-breakfast time. In one of his recent newsletters, chef, author and Paris resident David Lebovitz called Le Petit Vendôme his favorite sandwicherie. I rent a Lime eBike and go for a ham and Cantal cheese (plus butter) baguette for $7.50. I take it to the Jardin des Tuileries, a garden near the Louvre, and eat on a park bench. Both the sandwich and the setting are divine. I am in pork heaven.

Takeaway: Paris has so many ways to get around. The Paris Métro is one of the best public transportation systems; one-way tickets start around $2. You’ll find bike and moped rentals all over from vendors such as Uber, Lime, Vélib’ and Cityscoot.

2:30 p.m., an expensive lemonade

Paris may be teeming with cafes, but not many people use their laptops in them. I asked for advice from Meg Zimbeck, the founder and editor in chief of the restaurant review website and food tour company Paris by Mouth. She said remote work in public is becoming normalized and recommended a co-working spot called Anticafé.

I go, and the barista explains it’s about $6.50 an hour or $28 for the day. Rates covered whatever coffee, tea or soft drinks you wanted (if your coffee order exceeded the hourly or daily rate, you paid whatever was the highest). I got a lemonade and a table by a window. It was a productive setting, but the biggest perk was borrowing a phone charger from the barista. I stay three hours, costing €18. It’s the most expensive lemonade I’ve ever had.

Takeaway: A writer friend living in Paris told me that when she wants to work outside of her apartment, she goes to hotel lobbies that serve coffee or even a Starbucks location. It’s not as romantic, but there’s always WiFi.

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8 p.m., walking and working

After leaving Anticafé, I walked around and tackled emails from park benches — a sightseeing-working combo. I gave a guitarist by the Louvre a euro. My grandpa was a jazz drummer for 50 years and always told me to “tip the band.”

I meet a friend at Brasserie Bellanger, which he described as “super well loved” with “good food for cheap.” We linger over a glass of wine before ordering chicken liver mousse ($7.50) to start and steak tartare ($15). I knew I had a phone interview at 10:15 p.m., but I wasn’t considering the logistics.

By the time the tartare arrives, I have a half-hour before the call starts. I still need to eat, pay and get somewhere quiet. My friend offers his apartment as a spot, and we shovel our meal down. Not very French.

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With other calls to make and a story to work on, I leave my friend’s apartment and walk to my hostel. I buy a dozen postcards at a cheesy tourist shop along the way.

9:30 a.m., freebies at the hostel

It was easier to wake up at a reasonable hour (9 a.m.) after going to sleep at a reasonable hour (1:30 a.m.). I’m just in time for the free coffee and croissants downstairs. Over my breakfast, I work at a table with a leafy garden view. It’s lovely, but I miss people-watching — half of why I come to Paris.

Before I head to lunch, I go for a jog and pass iconic points of interest like the Sacré-Coeur (The Basilica of the Sacred Heart) and Le Clos Montmartre, a real vineyard in the middle of Montmartre.

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12:50 p.m., a splurge for lunch

It takes three tries to find a Lime eBike that works. By the time I get to Café les deux Gares, the friends I’m meeting have already ordered a couple of bottles of wine. My budget is doomed.

From the set menu, I order the appetizer and main combination for $21.50. FOMO (fear of missing out) hits immediately, and I switch to three courses for $25.75 to join the others. It’s not a big price difference and yet it feels much more extravagant. It’s not the extra course that will be my downfall; our beverages are running up the tab. I keep this internal battle to myself.

We order much more wine and feast on oysters, sardines, sausage, bread and cheese for dessert. Split between the five of us, our two-hour lunch is about $65 each.

Takeaway: What a place is called matters in France. Bistros tend to be more casual and inexpensive and are open for lunch and dinner; brasseries typically serve French food into the late night; cafes focus on drinks; and restaurants cover the rest.

3:30 p.m., Zoom meetings on a sidewalk

After my splurge lunch, I need to find a place to work now that the East Coast work day is in full swing.

Some awnings of cafes, brasseries and tabacs — places that sell tobacco but may also have a bar or cafe, too — have “WiFi” advertised alongside happy-hour times and what kind of food they serve. The server at one brasserie says it’s fine to work on my laptop, brings over the WiFi password and a glass of rosé — not that I need any more wine after lunch, but it’s one of the cheapest menu items. I take a Zoom meeting while a group of very cool youths chain-smoke at the table next to me.

6:13 p.m., a few euros for some fiber

The brasserie starts filling up, and I don’t want to overstay my welcome. It’s been an eternity since I have had any fruit, so I buy a banana ($2.15) at a produce stand and eat while I walk. Along the way I buy stamps for my postcards ($17).

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8:30 p.m., pâté at the kid’s table

More emails and walking. It’s technically dinnertime, and I’m close to a place I’ve wanted to try, Bistrot Paul Bert. Even though I’m not hungry, I go for it.

The server has a table for one available — a corner seat wedged between the bar and front window, tucked behind a load-bearing pole. It feels like I’m a child in timeout, but the spot does have a nice (semi-obstructed) view of the other diners.

The French words for “tap water” escape me, so I order water the other way I know: “une bouteille d’eau minérale, s’il vous plait” (a bottle of mineral water, please). The server brings me my bottle of designer water. My Evian is nearly as much as my meal — a plate of terrine de campagne maison (like a rustic pâté) with cornichons, some greens and a basket of crusty bread, plus a glass of wine.

10:30 p.m., nightcap in the red-light district

I take a seat at a sidewalk table at Le Royal Bar in Pigalle, a red-light district with lots of bars as well as the Moulin Rouge. The place is super cheap: $3.20 for a glass of Pastis, an anise-flavored spirit you dilute with water. I attempt to make it last longer but add way too much water. Ruined drink or not, I am happy writing my postcards and eavesdropping on French conversations I can’t understand.

After my nightcap, it’s back to the hostel for a little work before bed.

With my budget, I had plenty of money to have a decadent time in Paris. I could have been more mindful to be more frugal. Waking up late cost me a free breakfast. The co-working space wasn’t a good use of $19. Being too embarrassed to use English instead of French made me blow $6 on a bottle of water I didn’t want. C’est la vie.

The trickier lesson to learn was how to plan my work schedule realistically. I focused on whether time zones aligned for calls and meetings rather than where I should be for them. More often than not, I was scrambling to find quiet or WiFi. Give yourself plenty of time before important appointments in case you mess up transportation back to your hotel or if a meal out takes longer than expected. Packing as much as you can into a frenzied schedule is a rookie mistake for travelers, anyway.

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Canada COVID travel restrictions extended

The federal COVID-19 restrictions at the border are being extended until at least June 30, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada announced on Tuesday.

The federal government will continue to require foreign tourists to provide proof of being fully vaccinated.

Unvaccinated Canadian citizens or permanent residents are also still required to show proof of a molecular COVID-19 test taken prior to entering Canada and quarantine for 14 days.

All travellers coming to Canada, regardless of citizenship, must also continue to submit their health information through the ArriveCAN app prior to entry.

The announcement comes a day after a Conservative Party motion calling on the federal government to lift all remaining COVID-19 travel restrictions was the defeated in the House of Commons.

The Canadian Airports Council has blamed massive customs delays across the country on the pandemic measures and insufficient staff, which have led to lineups so long the airports can’t physically contain them in some cases.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra pointed out that some airports in Europe have also seen similar delays, despite having fewer travel restrictions. He said the federal government is consulting with experts and other jurisdictions on when the measures at the border should be lifted.

“There’s obviously a discussion to strike the right balance, to ensure that we maintain our eye on public health but also the fluidity of our economy,” Alghabra told The Canadian Press on his way into a cabinet meeting Tuesday. “That discussion is ongoing.”

With files from The Canadian Press. 

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Expect Memorial Day ‘flightmares,’ warns travel expert

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Travel experts warn that the first summer since pandemic restrictions have begun to lift will bring a surge in passenger numbers that could lead to delays, disruptions, postponements or even cancellations of flights.

Many restrictions introduced more than two years ago have been lifted, but with the lingering presence of Covid, airline, airport and hospitality industry workers are facing increased demand for their services in the face of staffing shortages.

Rose Ackermann, Executive Editor at Family Destinations Guide said the increased number of travelers will have an impact on waiting times between check-in counters, security screenings and baggage collection.

“While it is great news that travel has fully opened up and families can finally have proper vacations, the combination of increased demand and staff shortages have the potential to cause significant delays and an overall sub-par travel experience,” Ackermann said.

The cost of tickets has increased as well. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the average price of a domestic flight in Tennessee is currently $329.30, which is higher than the national average of $327.13.

The TSA reports air passenger traffic is also expected to be especially heavy in peak periods, either equal to or greater than in previous years, for the first time since the pandemic began.

According to Family Destinations Guide, here are 4 pieces of advice to consider before traveling this season:

  • Aim for flights that depart early in the day. This way, if your flight is canceled last minute, your chances of getting rebooked on the same day are significantly higher.
  • Anticipate delays and plan accordingly. Remember to leave extra time between stops on your itinerary so that major delays only upset a limited number of your plans.
  • Review your travel insurance policy. Since the travel industry is quite unpredictable in the face of the changing pandemic landscape, this is a more practical consideration than it already might have been.
  • Exercise patience with airport and airline staff. The processes may be slower than the last time you traveled, as the industry is still attempting to recover. Remember that you’re dealing with fellow humans, not robots.

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Prisma Health’s tips for summer first-aid travel kits

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Prisma Health's tips for summer first-aid travel kits

Red Cross

The summer travel season kicks off with Memorial Day weekend, and Prisma Health encourages everyone to create travel first-aid kits before heading out since even small injuries, if left untreated, can derail a vacation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 44% of Americans do not have first-aid kits even though having a well-stocked and maintained kit is essential in being prepared for accidents. 

“We all like to think that nothing bad is going to happen to us, but injuries can happen anywhere at any time and to anybody,” said Dr. Nathaniel Mann, a Prisma Health emergency medicine physician who is also fellowship-trained in wilderness medicine. “Being adequately prepared by having all vital medical products in one accessible location may reduce the severity of an injury, save your vacation or even help save a life.”

He suggested that people create their own kits instead of buying pre-packaged ones. Augment your kit with items specific to you and your family’s needs.

Mann recommended starting with these essentials:

  • Stop-the-Bleed kit, to include compression dressings or a tourniquet you’ve been trained to use
  • Even if you don’t have severe allergies to bees or wasps, consider carrying an EpiPen. Familiarize yourself with its use ahead of time.  
  • Include something sugary like gluose tablets or even gummy candies to treat episodes of low blood sugar
  • Adhesive bandages of assorted sizes to cover minor cuts and scrapes
  • Sterile gauze pads of various sizes
  • Medical adhesive tape to attach gauze pads to skin around wounds
  • Antiseptic wipes to disinfect wounds
  • Non-latex gloves
  • Pain relievers: ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol) and aspirin
  • Antihistamines to relieve allergies or itching
  • Dramamine or an anti-nausea medicine for motion sickness
  • Consider an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection in open wounds
  • Calamine lotion/hydrocortisone cream for bug bites or poison ivy
  • A list of emergency phone numbers and allergies of family members

“The more remote you plan on going, the more prepared you should be to handle minor injuries by yourself. Remember that some of these medications can do double duty – for example, you may not be prone to motion sickness in a car, but Dramamine could mitigate vertigo or dizziness from an unexpected sinus infection,” said Mann.

Not every sickness or injury can or should be treated at home, said Mann. “Get as much training as you can, but trust your gut and know when to seek help.”

Prisma Health offers On Demand Video Visits for around-the-clock urgent care for everything from suspected strains, minor burns and cuts, dizziness, fever and minor head injuries. Learn more at

For a complete list of first-aid kit supplies recommended by the American Red Cross, visit




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