Generally, life as a student means a fair bit of free time, and we’re (usually) at the perfect age for some adventure. J1-ing and inter-railing are popular choices for students in their second, third and final years of college, but for some of us, they could be just slightly out of our price range. I am one such student – though I do still manage to travel quite a bit. I’m recently back from a week in Paris, which is generally considered to be one of the world’s most expensive cities. I, however, found it easy enough to do on a budget…provided you’re aware that haute cuisine in the famous French restaurants is out of the question!
Accommodation – For students, hotels in Paris are out of the question. From extensive Internet searching, I discovered that it’s next nigh to impossible to find anything less for about one hundred euro a night…so what alternatives are there? Paris has a thriving hostel culture, with many situated right in the heart of the city. These offer dorms for next to nothing per head, and private rooms (for those on romantic breaks!) for about thirty five. Not feeling the idea of a hostel? I love Airbnb, a service which allows homeowners to rent out their spare rooms or apartments to holidaymakers. The upside of Airbnb is the option to self-cater, and it’s often much cheaper (and nicer!) than a hostel. Keep an eye on reviews on TripAdvisor, Airbnb itself and places like hostelbookers.com - it’s well worth it!
Food – eating will be the most expensive aspect of the Parisian experience. Go to a supermarket and stock up, and stick to set menus and early birds if you’re eating out. Many restaurants in the city are expensive – but lunch is generally reasonable. So if you want to get a meal out, make it lunch and stick a pot of spaghetti on if you can at home! If not, go for pizza and pasta places, as many restaurants expect you to order a three course meal. Coffee, much as it is part of the French experience, is deathly expensive, especially if you want milk, as I discovered to my horror…
Sightseeing – for members of the EU under 26, many of the most interesting Parisian experiences are free, or heavily discounted. The Louvre, the Invalides museum and Versailles are all free, as well as many other museums around the city. Places like the catacombs and the Monteparnasse and Eiffel towers are heavily discounted. So keep your Garda ID or passport on you at all times! In terms of other discounts, bus tours around the city are very expensive, around 30 euro for a one day ticket. However, it’s about 35 for a two day one, so if you’re keen on bus tours, it’s much better value to buy a two day one! For those of you less enamoured with them but still desirous to see the city, boat tours are about 10 euro for those under 25. You won’t get the same views, but who’s going to turn down a guided river cruise on the Seine for a tenner?!
Getting around – Paris relies pretty heavily on the metro, an underground transport system. It’s good value for money – a single trip will set you back the princely sum of €1.70. However, for a 3 day pass, it’s about 25 euro – perfect if you want to explore the city quickly and easily. The tickets are consecutive but they’re valid for the first three Parisian “zones”, where the vast majority of the tourist attractions are. The metro is fast, reliable and accessible. And it’s so much more exotic than the bus!
These are just a few starter ideas for how to do Paris on a budget. Got any more tips? Give us a shout below!