Saturday 20 June 2009: Being poor in Paris has a long and proud past: starving hoards driven to revolt for lack of a crust, Jacobite freedom-fighters and poets in draughty garrets, down-and-out George Orwell in the 1930s, even a rougish scurrying creature in Disney's Ratatouville. Today the hungry eyes peering longingly through the restaurant window are more likely to belong to distressed English tourists rather than a wine-sodden Scottish wordsmith.
With the GB pound close to parity with the euro the usual pleasures of Paris come at a hefty price. A simple coffee at Cafe les Editeurs on the left bank is now €4.50, internet access is €6 per hour and it's €1.80 to spend a penny in Jardin du Luxembourg. Poverty needn't mean misery so, for those on a budget, it's time to penny-pinch in Paris. The humble bagette's state controlled price is still less than a euro and a half-decent bottle of French wine can be had for less than €5; cheese, cold meats, pate, salad and fruit can also be inexpensive. But, for a city famed worldwide for pleasant fragrances it's a pity so many streets and the riverside smell of human piss, not all of it male.
But, Paris is a beautiful capital - city strolls and walks in parks and gardens are free, drinking-water fountains abound, Metro and double-decker RER tickets (4th mode of transport) are, compared with London, cheap . Entrance fees are not, the Eiffel Tower is €13 and Musee d'Orsay €8. Pere Lachaise cemetery is just the ticket, entrance is free and maps for just €2 are available from florists around the main gates. Alternatively you can search the 70,000 tombs yourself. One of Europe's most famous cemeteries, you can pay homage to writers and musicians like Chopin, Edith Piaf, Moliere, Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust and Jim Morrison (although you may have to provide your own music) 'This is the end . . .'
You can view my pictures by clicking Paris.