If you stay in a hostel or in a showerless, toiletless room in a bottom-end hotel and have picnics rather than dining out, it is possible to stay in Paris for €50 a day per person. A couple staying in a two-star hotel and eating one cheap restaurant meal each day should count on spending at least €75 a day per person. Eating out frequently, ordering wine and treating yourself to any of the many luxuries on offer in Paris will increase these figures considerably.
If greater Paris were a country, its economy would rank as one of the world’s largest (in fact, placing at No 17). The 617,000 companies employing just over five million people in Île de France contribute to the region’s €415 billion GDP, which accounts for upwards of a third of the total for all of France. The service industries employ the most people – almost 82% of the workforce, of which 4% are in tourism. Not surprisingly, only 0.5% of Parisians are involved in the primary industries of agriculture, forestry or fishing.
Manufacturers – software developers, electronic industries, pharmaceuticals, publishers – employ about 18% of the workforce. As most industry is located outside the Périphérique, about the only factories you’re likely to see during your visit are those lining the highway from Charles de Gaulle airport. As a result, 50% of Parisians commute out of – rather than into – the city every day to work.
That is, those who have a job to commute to do. Unemployment is currently at a low of around 7.5% nationally, and the jobless rate for Paris is about half that figure. However, for youths living in the dire housing estates surrounding the city, the figure reaches more than 20%, one of the reasons that the banlieues (suburbs) erupted into violence at the end of 2005. Bids by the previous government to reduce the number of jobless youth through its controversial CPE plan were stymied early the following year when a million workers and students took to the streets in protest. They argued that the law, which would allow companies with more than 20 employees to fire workers under 26 within the first two years of employment with no severance pay, encouraged a regular turnover of cut-rate staff and did not allow young people to build careers. The French government decided to withdraw the CPE altogether later in 2006.
To a certain extent the government’s ability to boost employment through training and aid is crimped: it simply doesn’t have the money. First and foremost is the need to reduce debt, which stood at almost 67% of GDP in 2007. The country was also in danger of breaching EU rules regulating national debt – again – if it didn’t cut its spending. The national public deficit was expected to rise to over 3% of GDP in 2008, which is above the EU limit.
To fill the national coffers, France has raised billions of euros by selling stakes in state-owned companies. In late 2007 and early 2008 it sold a stake of 2.5% in the power company Électricité de France and one of 3.3% in Aéroports de Paris, the company that manages Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports. It’s not the first time that the government has flogged the family silver.
An hour’s car parking: from €1 (street), €2.40 (garage)
Average fair/good seat at the opera: €40/60
Cinema ticket: €5.90 to €9.90 (adult)
Copy of Le Monde newspaper: €1.30
Coffee at a café bar: from €1.20
Grand crème at Champs-Élysées café terrace: €4.50
Metro/bus ticket: €1.50 (€10 for 10)
Entry to the Louvre: €9 (adult)
Litre of bottled mineral water: from €0.70 (supermarket), €1 (corner shop)
Pint of local beer: from €6.50 (€5 at happy hour)
Pop music CD: €13 to €18
Street snack: from €2.50 (basic crêpe or galette)