Paris as a College Student
One of the best times to visit Paris is during your college years. A true Parisian at heart, Ernest Hemingway once said “if you’re lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young (wo)man, wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you. For Paris is a moveable feast.”
Hemingway was onto something when he put it this way; visiting Paris as a college student is really a special experience. You’re young enough to really enjoy the city to its fullest, but old enough to appreciate the art, history, and culture behind it.
And not to mention, Paris has one of the largest student populations in the world – there’s always something to do in this city! So whether you’re here for a weekend, a semester, a year, or more, here’s your guide to Paris as a college student.
Going out in Paris as a College Student – Bars
Going out for a night on the town is a rite of passage as a college student in Paris. The city is really diverse and there are plenty of options no matter your budget!
Paris and its nightlife are best explored simply by cruising around a neighborhood and going wherever your heart desires. There are a few areas in Paris known for being full of students, which tend to have generous happy hour offerings and lively young crowds.
The Latin Quarter is especially popular with college students in Paris, particularly those with smaller budgets. The many bars and pubs surrounding Rue Mouffetard are great if you want to enjoy a few pints in a chill locale without breaking the bank. The trendy Belleville, Ménilmontant, Grands Bouelvards and Oberkampf nieghborhoods are also a great place to spend a student night out.
If you’re the kind of college student that would rather discover a chic wine bar or sip drinks with the locals on a café terrace, head to the more sophisticated areas like Saint-Germain, the Marais or the 1st arrondissement. You’ll find less rowdy students and a more Parisian experience.
Going out in Paris as a College Student – Nightclubs
Now you know about which areas are great for bar-hopping in Paris, but what about nightclubs? Well, there are just as many options as there are different neighborhoods in Paris, though most of the famous nightclubs are located near the Champs-Elysées.
If you want a glitzy Parisian night out, head to the clubs near the Champs-Elysées. Here, you’ll have to dress to impress, and drinks aren’t cheap. But to make up for that, the venues are gorgeous, the music is good and the crowds are really international. Check out our article on the most luxurious Parisian nightclubs for more ideas!
Though if you’re into a more low key night or prefer to see some of the city’s best electro clubs, you’ll want to concentrate on a different part of town. The formerly-industrial 12th arrondissement is home to a fair number of underground style electro clubs, and full-on outdoor venues. Wanderlust is a favorite with college students in Paris, – their multi-level indoor/outdoor setup has a few stages with various kinds of music!
Sightseeing in Paris as a College Student
One of the best things about Paris is the diversity: in Paris, you’ll find classic bourgeois glamour and designer boutiques just as you’ll find gritty corners and impeccable street art. Basically, there’s a lot to see and do here – especially as a college student!
Paris is a city spread out in a spiral over 20 arrondissements, or districts. And each of these individual areas has its very own vibe and personality. The best way to truly discover Paris is on foot. Join one of our guided tours, or simply let yourself wander and explore a new neighborhood. This is how I’ve found some of my absolute favorite spots in the city.
If you’re planning a solo walk, I would suggest starting out in the lesser-known parts of the city like Belleville, Canal Saint-Martin, or the Sentier area. You won’t be overwhelmed by tourist crowds and you’ll have a chance to experience Paris like a local.
Of course, when you’re in Paris as a college student, you can’t miss doing at least a little official sightseeing. And, you’re lucky to be sightseeing in Paris as a college student, since most monuments like Arc de Triomphe offer free entry to those under 26 (residents of the E.U., so this works if you’re a student). And while a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower will cost you, the stairs are a much cheaper option if you’re not afraid of a little workout.
Visiting Museums in Paris as a College Student
One of the best things to do in Paris as a college student is to discover the city’s many museums. Paris is a city that wears many hats, and an exceptional array of world-class museums is one of them. And not just massive ones like the Louvre, either (although it’s incredible, free for college students and I definitely recommend a visit). There are actually more than 130 museums in Paris; one for every interest!
While you shouldn’t miss the classic favorites like the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay and Musée Rodin, the lesser-known museums are worth checking out as well. There’s a museum dedicated to hunting and nature (Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature), the Parisian sewers (Égouts de Paris), Middle Ages Paris (Cluny Museum), and that’s just the beginning. And since the vast majority of public museums are free to those under 26, why not take advantage!
Plus, many of the larger museums are free to the public on the first Saturday or Sunday of the month.
Food in Paris as a College Student
People are always shocked when I tell them that eating out in Paris can actually be quite affordable – you just need to know where to go. Enjoying a meal out is an important part of the French culture, and definitely something you should experience in Paris as a college student. There’s a ton of variety, you can find cuisine from all over the world! But what should you try first?
Bakeries or boulangeries are one of the most affordable options if you’re on a student budget in Paris. Contrary to what the movies would have us beleive, Parisians don’t eat a croissant or pain au chocolat every day for breakfast, but they do enjoy them from time to time. Head to your closest bakery in the morning and try a new kind of breakfast. Oh, and don’t forget a baguette (usually €1.20) for later!
But if you want to experience the local culture, I think one of the best ways to enjoy Paris is with a picnic. Grab baguette, some snacks and a bottle of wine and you’re set. Head to the riverbanks, the Champs de Mars or one of the city’s many parks like Buttes-Chaumont to enjoy your picnic. Here’s a guide to the best picnic spots in Paris!
Street food is one of the mainstays in Paris as a college student. There’s nothing quite like a late-night crêpe made before your eyes, or a hearty falafel after a day exploring the Marais. You’ll be able to eat for €5 or less at these kinds of places. Not to mention, you can find street food just about anywhere in Paris, and many shops are open until the wee hours of the morning.
Dining out in Paris as a College Student
For real dining out options, there are plenty of classic French restaurants where you can enjoy a great meal for next to nothing. Generally, the further away from the center you go, the lower prices drop. Italian delights are found at trendy, yet affordable spots like Libertino and Popolare.
Places like Bouillon Chartier or Bouillon Julien are both great options if you want to experience a typical French bistro. They’ve got all the French food specialities you can imagine, and you’ll feel like you’ve travelled back in time – Belle Epoque glamour surrounds you here.
And if you’re really ready to go all-out, have a look at my guide to Michelin-starred retaurants that won’t break the bank.
Shopping in Paris as a College Student
At this point, you know where go enjoy a meal out or a night on the town in Paris as a college student. You even know where to go sightseeing and maybe you’ve even narrowed down which museums to check out. But your time in the ville lumière wouldn’t be complete without doing some shopping – for souvenirs or for yourself!
Historically, Paris has always been recognized as being fashion-forward, and one of the world’s most prestigious shopping destinations. Nowadays, the city still holds the title for one of the world’s best places to shop, but for entirely different reasons. Whether you’re a bargain hunter, a vintage junkie, or prefer to sip champagne while shopping, Paris caters to that. A fabulous blend of no-name brands, luxurious department stores and high street labels all come together in this fashon capital.
Flea Markets and Secondhand
For those vintage lovers and bargain hunters, be sure to check out the flea markets, or Marché aux Puces. There are two on the outskirts of Paris, so it’s a bit of a trek to get there, though the selection makes up for it. Clothing, home furnishings, records, decor; you’ll find a little bit of everything at Les Puces de Saint-Ouen.
For cool secondhand garb, be sure to check out the various vintage shops and friperies. You can find everything from designer labels to bargain bins – it just depends where you shop. If you’re looking for high-end stuff, go to Thanx God I’m a VIP or Valois Vintage. Bargain hunters should head to Free’P’Star in the Marais or one of the city’s many brocantes.
Paris is home to several impressive department stores which are well-worth a visit. Head to the Bon Marché in the 7th for a true taste of Parisian glamour. There’s a vast collection of beauty products, couture, shoes and homewares stretching across 4 floors! And sixty percent of their merchandise is store-exclusive, so you know you’re getting something unique.
And if you’re shopping in Paris, you won’t want to miss the impressive Galeries Lafayette department store – known for its astounding selection displayed under a glass dome and their decadent Christmas displays. Plus, there’s a panormaic view over Paris from the rooftop, and it’s free for anyone to access!
So if you’re in the Marais, BHV is also worth a visit. The basement floor is a complete hardware store, while the upper levels house clothing, homewares and pretty much everything in between. The BHV is definitely worth a stop.
Another one of the city’s must-sees is concept store Merci. Located in the super trendy Haut Marais, Merci is the Parisian’s concept store. At Merci, you’ll find everthing from the coolest sneakers to the latest kitchen gadgets, and there’s even a bookstore/café inside if you need a break from all the shopping.
Well, now you know my recommendations for visiting Paris as a college student! I hope this article has been helpful to you.
See you soon in Paris!