If you haven’t read any of the prior expense reports from our trip, check them out below:
- Madrid, Spain
- Portugal (Porto, Caldas da Rainha, Lisbon, Lagos)
- Spain (Seville, Granada, Valencia, Barcelona)
Upon leaving Barcelona, we bid Whitney’s mom farewell as she headed back to the US and we were off to France. Whitney and I were both looking forward to exploring Paris and seeing some of the famous sites there! It certainly didn’t let us down. We really enjoyed Paris despite it being a huge and bustling city. All the cities we visited during this portion of the trip were very expensive. Despite Reims and Luxembourg city being smaller cities, they were just as expensive as Paris in terms of food and activities. Despite the high costs, we still took full advantage of each city and really felt like we got to experience the best of what each one had to offer. We spent a total of 10 days/nights in France and Luxembourg between the three cities we visited, broken down as follows:
- 4 days/nights in Paris
- 3 days/nights in Reims
- 3 days/nights in Luxembourg City
There was a heat wave in France and Luxembourg while we were there which made things a little more uncomfortable, especially considering most houses and apartments in Europe don’t have air conditioning. The worst of the heat wave was while we were in Reims, where each day was well over 90 degrees which made sleeping particularly difficult. Although not ideal, we made the best of it and were happy to be there!
Stay tuned for Whitney’s next post about all of our adventures on this part of the trip, but for now I’ll focus on the expenses incurred while traveling through France and Luxembourg. Keep in mind that all of the expenses that I’ll talk about below are my expenses only, since Whitney and I have quite different spending habits. We split all shared expenses evenly, so I calculate the numbers below with my half of the shared expenses and then my individual expenses.
Accommodations: We stayed at AirBnB’s (this is my referral link which you can use to get $55 off of your first stay!) in each place during this portion of the trip except for one free hotel night we redeemed in Paris. The hotel in Paris was The Intercontinental Paris Le Grand which we booked with a free annual IHG night for having the Chase IHG credit card (referral link to from my card). This is one of the few credit cards that I choose to keep and pay the annual fee due to the value of the free night always being more than worth it. This was a 5-star hotel, and it was amazing! It was beyond worth the $49 annual fee for the card we had to pay to get it, considering if we’d payed cash the hotel room would’ve cost somewhere between 500-900 euros! Talk about value!
Since all of the cities we stayed in were expensive, our AirBnB’s were more costly than normal (especially Luxembourg City and Paris, for the other nights besides our one 5-star hotel night) but still reasonable, especially compared to the cost of hotels nearby. All of these places were rooms in a house or apartment which is always a bit of a risk but a great way to meet locals and stay in an area for a lower price. We were fortunate that all three of our hosts were helpful and accommodating with no issues to speak of… besides the heat!
Our most expensive lodging was in Luxembourg City where my part of the cost was $29/night, and the cheapest was in Reims where my cost was only $14.50/night.
- Total for my expenses: $212
Food and drink: Everything in terms of food and drink in these cities is expensive! It was very difficult to find any sit down restaurants with menu items less than 15 euros even at the “cheaper” places. We ate at least one meal, if not two, per day using food we bought at the grocery store. Bread and deli meat, pre-made sandwiches, fruits and vegetables, and microwaved meals from Lidl were life savers. We luckily also found some lower cost delicious Turkish kebab takeout places where we ate some meals to save some money. Whitney made sure that we ate at least one nice meal at a sit down local restaurant in each city to get the full local experience, all of which were delicious and worth the extra cost!
Total for my expenses: $117
Transportation: The most expensive cost for transportation was our flight from Barcelona to Paris ($65). The distance was far enough that a bus or train didn’t make sense in terms of time spent traveling compared to the increased cost. I’m all for saving money on transportation, but if that means an extra 6+ hours of travel then it’s not worth it to me! Besides the flight, we took buses from Paris to Reims and from Reims to Luxembourg City. We got unlucky with our bus from Reims with it being over an hour late, but we’ve learned that things are never going to go perfectly during such a long trip and that we have to be flexible and do our best to avoid stressing in these situations. The cost of the buses is generally pretty low as well so we can’t be too mad about occasional delays.
In all of these cities we had to utilize public transportation due to long walks from our AirBnBs to the city centers. Once it the city center we did tons of walking, but getting there and back buses/metro/trams were essential. Luckily all of the public transportation costs were reasonable and easy to navigate, again, with the assistance of Google Maps. Luxembourg’s public transportation was particularly awesome. An unlimited day pass cost only 4 euros per person and included public transportation anywhere in the entire country! That meant that we were able to take an hour and a half trip on a train and bus to a castle in the northern part of the country for no additional cost.
- Total for my expenses: $127
Activities: We did “free” (tips based) walking tours in both Paris and Luxembourg City, but Reims was small enough that we just walked around to the main sites and read about the history ourselves. In Paris we took a day trip to the Palace of Versailles which was amazing and absolutely worth the cost of admission, as well as the cost of a train ticket there and back. While in Paris we also visited The Louvre which was unimaginably big and packed full of history. We walked over 5 miles INSIDE the museum over many hours and only saw about half of what was there! We couldn’t pass up seeing the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo in person and were very happy that we didn’t. We spent several hours hanging out in front of the Eiffel Tower including watching the light show at night while sipping Champagne.
In Reims we were extremely fortunate to be able to purchase spur of the moment tickets to the Women’s Soccer World Cup where Spain was playing the US. We had no idea the game was even going on there until the morning of, but somehow got nearly perfect seats for only 13 Euros each! With Reims being in the “Champagne region” of France, there was no way to talk Whitney out of a champagne cellar tour and tasting. At almost $25 per person for one hour, it was certainly overpriced and not worth the cost in my opinion, but we did get to try some expensive champagne that I never would have tried otherwise, so that was a good experience.
In Luxembourg City we went into the Casemates du Bock to see some tunnels underneath the old castle there. This cost about $8 but was interesting to explore and a great to get out of the heat in the cool tunnels during the hot part of one of our days there! As I mentioned above, we took advantage of our cheap unlimited public transportation day pass to go to the town of Vianden, which was effectively free since we would have had to pay for the pass either way. While there we got some great pictures of the Castle of Vianden although we chose to skip paying to go inside.
- Total for my expenses: $96
My total expenses for 10 days and 10 nights in France and Luxembourg including accommodations, transportation, activities, and food were approximately $552!
Running total for entire trip to this point (my expenses only): $1,999 ($48/day average)!
Stay tuned for our next posts about Belgium! Keep an eye on the Facebook page where we are posting much more frequently about the trip including our favorite pictures!