Like many major cities throughout the world, Paris is known for not being the cheapest student place to live. Especially with all of the ever-so-tempting culinary, shopping, and regional travel opportunities, living the City of Light can lighten your wallet quite considerably.
With that being said, it certainly doesn’t have to be that way — there are also endless ways to live well, have fun, and take full advantage of your study in Paris experience without going completely broke!
Be strategic about what credit and debit cards you bring
It might seem like a small detail, but if you’re being charged a percentage or flat fee every time you use your card or take money out of an ATM, it really adds up over the course of a semester in Paris. A couple of months before leaving your home country, research and apply for a credit and/or debit card that doesn’t charge international fees. Your bank account will start thanking you right away!
Take advantage of discounts for students and young people
These are far more common than you might think. For example, don’t miss out on the Carte Imagine R, an unlimited monthly transportation pass for students under 26 years old that gets you a 50% discount on the normal cost of an adult pass. You’ll also get free transportation within the greater area of Paris on weekends and select holidays, so you can travel around Paris to visit as much as you can. Now that’s a deal!
If you’re looking to save money on food, Crous Restaurants are another excellent option offered only to students. With locations throughout the city, this chain of student restaurants and cafeterias in Paris offer complete, nutritious meals for just a few Euros. Two Crous restaurants are located within a short distance of the Campus Cluster Paris Innovation allowing international students enrolled at PSB Paris School of Business to enjoy affordable meals.
Stick to lower-cost drinking holes
While it can be tempting to daydream about rubbing elbows with the beautiful Parisian jetset in the city’s most upscale clubs every weekend, your bank account may not agree. But not to worry — you don’t have to sit at home watching TV either! A great option is to take advantage of the endless happy hour options and cheaper bars throughout many popular student neighborhoods. You never know — some of your best memories in Paris might very well come from those simple, relaxed nights chatting and laughing with friends over glasses of French wine at a cozy café.
Just bike it
If the unlimited monthly transportation pass still isn’t cheap enough for you, good news — you can go even cheaper! For cycling enthusiasts, there exists the Vélib’ card, which for just €29 gets you a full year of access to the city’s public bicycle program. In recent years Paris has become one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities, so take advantage and improve your health, your commute, and your budget in one shot.
Stay updated on free and low-cost events and activities throughout the city
Despite the common conception that Paris is an expensive place to visit and live in, there are actually a great deal of cheap or free things to do all year round. When you first arrive, consider taking a free tour of the city to get your bearings and check the main tourist attractions off your list. Then, schedule your museum visits for the first Sunday of the month, when these museums are free and open to the public! There are also many museums that are run by the city that are always free.
You can even partake in Paris’ famous cultural offerings for an extremely reduced price at renowned theaters like the Palais Garnier opera house or the Opéra Bastille by looking for last-minute ticket sales or getting there early on standing room discount days.
If you’re in Paris during the summertime, you’ll be able to take advantage of one of the most unique events of the year: the Paris Plages. These “beaches” are built by the city each summer with sand trucked in and deposited on the banks of the Seine, offering games, sprinklers, dance and sports activities, boat rentals, musical events, and more. Come beat the summer heat on your own mini stay-cation right in the heart of Paris!
Channel your inner chef and cook at home
Even if you’re controlling your other spending, eating out can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet. Instead, try focusing on cooking at home, which will not only help you stick to your budget, but also give you a chance to experiment with local French ingredients and flavors in your very own kitchen. And even on those days when you don’t feel like cooking, do as the locals do: pick up some fresh baguettes, meats, cheeses, and a bottle of wine, and head to one of the city’s many parks for a lovely, low-cost Parisian picnic!