What’s It Actually Like to Live and Study in Paris?

Ranked second in the QS Best Student Cities 2017, Paris has quite a reputation as a desirable student city, not least for its food, student nights, world-renowned universities and… diet.

Aside from the usual clichés, what’s it actually like to live and study in Paris?


1.  The lifestyle

Despite the stress of studying, deadlines and exams, the French pace of life does soothe the nerves. So after a hectic day spent in the bibliotheque it was nice to have a drink or two at our local brasserie, or a picnic in the park. Remember you are not only here to study but also to experience the culture.


2. Living on a budget

It is possible. Food is relatively cheap, especially if you go to a local marché for fruit and vegetables.

  • Going out: Knowing where to go is the best way to ensure a cheap night out. Student hotspots like Place Monge in the 5th, Parmentier in the 11th and Rue de Lappe near Bastille have plenty of bars offering decent happy hour deals, and free concerts. Event organisation Erasmus Paris also host parties every Thursday night at Mix Club, offering free entry before 12am. For live music pick up a copy of free listings magazine Lylo. And student Mark Thomson recommends becoming a regular at a pub.
  • Transport: If you’re going to be spending the full year in France then sign up for the student metro card. The Carte Imagin-R gives you unlimited travel in zones 1-2 in Paris for just €35 per month. Not only that, on weekends, bank holidays and school holidays you can travel to any zone within Ile-de-France for free! In addition to this, when you sign up you’ll also receive a Carte Bon Plans, an extra student card that gets you money off in shops, restaurants and cinemas. Pas mal!
  • Student Card: Top tip from Allison Lounes, American author of popular blog Paris Unravelled, is to “shamelessly present your student card everywhere and always ask for discounts!” Showing student ID, or ID that proves you’re under 26 years old, can get you free or discounted entry into museums, tourist sites, cinemas and more. Lounes told The Local that even some boulangeries do special student lunch menus. She offers more excellent advice in her book “How to save $40,000 studying in France.”
  • Talk is cheap: If you hunt around France can be relatively cheap for mobile phone and internet contracts. It’s worth knowing that all home internet boxes come with a phone line included. The monthly charge covers internet, TV and phonecalls abroad to landlines. To get the most for your money, use your landline for calling home and then just buy a cheap pay-as-you-go sim, from as little as €2 from FREE, and use that for contacting friends in France.


4. Integrating with French students:

It can be hard to make friends with French students, especially when they have already established their friendship groups. Some of my international friends spoke of the divide they felt between them and French students. But usually if you make an effort to mix – particularly by joining associations and sports clubs, then you will get to know lots of French students.


5. The classes:

French teachers – whatever the subject – love to make cultural and historical references. From the French Revolution to Charles De Gaulle, Jean-Luc Godard to the Marseillaise, so it helps to do some background research about the country, otherwise you’ll be in the dark.


Check Out the Blog of Vicky Fretcher, who traveled on her own to Paris on a student exchange program: 'How to Live Abroad in Paris as a Student'.


Source: The Local France, 2018, AGS edu, 2018, Top Universities, 2018

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