This Weekend in Paris: Journées du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days)

Bon lundi!

Have you ever walked around Paris and imagined what decadent interiors lie behind the walls of the buildings? I had always wondered this about Paris’ town hall, Hôtel de Ville. Until the weekend came when I no longer had to imagine the grandeur behind the normally closed-to-public doors and got the opportunity to go inside, for free.

That same special weekend is upon us (September 20-21, 2014): Journées du Patrimoine.

For one weekend, many museums, historical buildings, and points of interest open their doors to the general public and often do so free of charge. This weekend is part of the European Heritage Days. The idea to make certain buildings and monuments accessible to the public originated in France, and now it is a weekend observed throughout Europe. This means if you are not in Paris but elsewhere in France or Europe, see if there are any happenings going on where you are. It's a wonderful weekend of getting to see places that are part of the fabric of European heritage and history, open to all.

If you are lucky enough to be in Paris, there are countless sights to choose from so consult the official website ahead of time and make a plan of attack! 

Many sights and monuments that are already normally open to the public participate and offer free entry (such as Sainte-Chapelle or the towers of Notre-Dame). My personal preference would be to visit buildings only open to the public this one weekend out of the year. And I would start with the beautiful Hôtel de Ville:

Hôtel de Ville was so magnificent inside I want to go again this year!

More to follow on this, but for some immediate inspiration check out my past posts on two sights I saw last year, Hôtel de Ville and Musée des Arts Forains. Stay tuned! 

Paris Practicalities: 15 Ways to Maximize Your Budget in Paris

In the "Paris Practicalities" series, I lay out some basic advice for the foundation of a trip abroad for the well-informed and savvy traveler.

Paris has a reputation for being a notoriously expensive city to visit. While it is pricey - especially when compared to neighboring countries Spain, Italy, and Germany or even the rest of France - it doesn't have to be a ridiculously pricey destination. Here are 15 ways you can maximize your budget during your time in Paris:

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Walking along Berlin's East Side Gallery

Here's the final reveal of the week. One of my favorite sights in Berlin that I shared with you on Wednesday was the Reichstag. Preferably visited at sunset to see its glass dome lit up in brilliant reds, oranges, and purples, offering a great 360-degree view of Berlin. Now it's time to focus on the other highlight of my two-day trip to Berlin. Hint: it’s another wonderful free sight. And also offers a link to the history of the city, the spirit of Berlin, and its hopeful future. 

It’s a walk down Berlin’s East Side Gallery.

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Ten Free Activities in Paris: Summer 2014 Edition

Paris can be a notoriously pricey city to visit, but a visit doesn't have to break the bank. Here are some ideas of completely gratuit (free) events and activities available to enjoy this summer. Profitez! 

1. Enjoy a view from the terrace of the Institut du Monde Arabe. 

I asked on Monday for guesses on where a free terrace in Paris could be that offers a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower and a view of Notre Dame. The answer? At the Institut du Monde Arabe in the 5th. 

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The Official Start to Summer Approaches with a Fête!

Bon lundi!

The official start to summer is approaching on June 21st and if you happen to be in Paris, the whole city will be celebrating with La Fête de la Musique. This is the first of many free events and activities one can enjoy this summer. Such as the view from this terrace below, which offers a great view of the back of Notre Dame as well as a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower (see below). 

Any guesses where this free terrace view can be found? More to come this week on ways to enjoy Paris in the coming months without paying a single centime.

You can find more on La Fête de la Musique and other upcoming events on the What's on in Paris page!

Madrid on a Budget

Or how I saved € 50  in a day for two adults.

Traveling can be expensive, but there are plenty of ways to save money with a little planning. My recent trip to Madrid spanned five days but due to New Year's many sights had abbreviated hours or were closed for the holiday. Shortened hours were not going to stop me from seeing the sights though. I enacted a carefully concocted plan of whirlwind sightseeing on a Sunday to maximize what I could see free of charge.

This itinerary is for a Sunday in Madrid, but I've included tips on how to avoid entry fees for sights on other days as well. Michael and I enjoy walking everywhere so the only costs on this day were for food. Factor in a subway ride or two if you don't like walking as much as we do.

The Plan:

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