PARIS: START HERE

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The Independent Travel
"Paris isn't a place, it's a passion", I was solemnly assured this week by an expatriate Brit in the French capital. But if this is the case, the city risks pricing itself beyond our affections. Our ardour for the City of Light is being dampened by the depressed and depressing state of Sterling. A generation of travellers brought up to believe that there are, and always will be, 10 francs to pounds 1, is having to come to terms with the idea that nowadays you only get seven and a bit to a pound. The pounds 3 cup of coffee (or, worse in every sense, tea) is no longer a cause for heated discussion on the ferry home - it is the norm.

Yet while prices in Paris are going through the toit, travelling to the French capital has never been better value. My bus trip from London to Paris and back cost pounds 29; if I had splashed out on a flight, I could have paid as little as pounds 62 return. To boost bookings to the French capital, Air France Holidays has been offering inclusive weekends for the astonishing price of pounds 99 - all of which have been snapped up by bargain-hungry Brits. The problem, as Liz Murray discovered (opposite), is that you can easily spend as much again when you get there. So this guide to budget Paris shows you how to enjoy the city without risking bankruptcy.

Simon Calder

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