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Paris

by , SmarterTravel Staff
With blooming flowers, pleasant weather, and fewer visitors, spring is a lovely time to visit the "City of Light." You can explore the city like a local, and since it's not yet high season, you can also experience it on a budget. 

The first step to visiting Paris this spring is booking a plane ticket, and here are a few simple tips on how to do exactly that. (Photo: Paris Tourist Office/Amelie Dupont)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on February 16, 2009. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Anaheim, arts and culture, beach, Cancun, culinary travel, destination, Disneyland, family travel, Jessica Labrencis, Laguna Beach, Lake Tahoe, low-cost airline, low season, Newport Beach, New Zealand, Paris, shoulder season, Southwest, theme park, Virgin America.

Would you love Paris in the springtime? This is the year to find out. The dollar has gained close to 20 percent against the euro in the past year, so your travel dollars will go further in France than in previous years. With the U.S.'s tanking economy, fewer Americans are heading to Europe, and hotels have lowered prices to give travelers more incentive to go. By traveling in spring, you can take advantage of shoulder-season prices and save even more money on airfare and accommodations.

In fact, when comparing vacation package prices in spring and summer, I found a whopping $400 difference. If your travel dates are flexible, you can easily do the same. See the chart below for specifics.

Package Provider Off-Peak Rate Peak Rate
Airfare from Chicago, seven nights' hotel Expedia $971 (May 4 to 12) $1,279 (July 27 to August 4)
Airfare from Los Angeles, six nights' hotel go-today.com $1,009 (March 26 to May 24) $1,339 (June 22 to 30, August 25 to September 2)
Airfare from New York City, four nights' hotel Gate 1 Travel $749 (April 22 and 29, May 6 and 13) $1,149 (July 29 and August 5, 12,19, and 26)
Airfare from Washington, D.C., four nights' hotel Virgin Vacations $819 (March 26 to May 24) $1,119 (July 1 to August 24)

Prices are per person based on double occupancy and most include taxes and fees.

No matter what time of year you visit Paris, you'll never lack for activities and attractions. As the city shakes off winter, several notable events make spring a particularly good time to visit. May 16 is Free Museum Night in Paris, when museums around the city (and Europe) open their doors free of charge from around 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Participating museums are announced in the weeks prior to the event.

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Sports lovers may consider timing a visit to Paris to coincide with the French Open, which runs from May 19 to June 7. The cheapest tickets cost €15 (about $19; see XE.com for current exchange rates) although prices go up to €85.

The always-lively Left Bank (Rive Gauche) presents two big events in spring. The St. Germain-de-Pres Jazz Festival brings local and international jazz musicians together for several days of live music. Specific dates and line-ups have yet to be announced. From June 4 to 7, the streets of the 7th arrondissement are lined with red carpets and flowers in honor of the annual Le Carre Rive Gauche. More than 100 antiques dealers congregate to sell jewelry, art, furniture, and other antiques.

The Paris convention and visitors bureau offers a wealth of information about Paris accommodations, events, and more. Our Paris Vacation Guide is also a good resource for money-saving tips.

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