How to explore Paris on a college budget

April 16, 2018

If you are studying abroad, Paris probably is at the top of your list of places to visit. Rightfully so but trust me, the French are not cheap. While it is worth every penny, I thought I would share some tips and tricks that helped me not miss any experience I wanted in this city, without depleting my entire bank account.


  • I don’t have a visa, but I have a government issued art and architecture university card which does the same thing. These two sources allow you to get into most museums and national monuments for free. Yes, Versailles, Louvre, and the Arc de Triumphe all are free if you show this card. This saved me so much money, but do your research- its not allowed at most small private museums.

A cafe is a lot different than a coffee shop

  • Cafe= small French shop that has the typical Parisian outdoor seating or small tables inside. You go there to smoke, read, talk QUIETLY with friends or sit and people watch. Oh, and have an espresso and croissant.
  • Coffee shop= coffee and wifi. The vibes in these coffee shops reminded me a lot of NYC coffee shops, and it was so refreshing. They come far, and few between so do your research because its unlikely you will stumble upon one. Also, do your research because some make you pay by the hour/day for using the space, and some you can buy a cup of coffee, and you’re all set for the day.
  • My Favorite’s
    • Strada cafe
    • Dose Dealer De Cafe
    • Lomi

Walk, then metro, THEN Uber

  • The French walk everywhere, and how could you not want to when you have such beautiful architecture surrounding every block.
  • If its raining or your walk would be 40 minutes + then metro, plug your destination into google maps, and then the metro is a piece of cake. I honestly like it more than the metro system in NYC
  • Uber is everywhere in France but expensive. Only use when its 3 AM and you’re are just trying to get home from a late night out with friends.

Do not eat in touristy areas

  • Avoid any food in touristy places. It is overpriced and bland. I know you’re hungry, but it is not worth it. Buy a crepe and then go to a less touristy area. Nothing is all that cheap anywhere in Paris, but at least you will get some more bang for your buck.

The spots you just can’t miss

  • Latin Quarter
    • Start at the Luxembourg Gardens, walk to the Pantheon and then walk through the Latin Quarter. It is full of cheap eats (a lot of French universities are in this area), good vibes and cute shops.
  • Art Museums
    • The Louvre, Picasso Museum, Petit Palais, Musee d’Orsay
  • Montmartre
    • My favorite area! Be ready for a long day of hills and stairs, but it’s worth it
    • Lots of artsy boutiques
    • Stop by Sacre Coeur the view from the top is my favorite of the city
      • Be prepared for 300 steps- this hurt, and I thought I was in decent shape
  • Le Marais
    • Lots of cool street art
    • It used to be an old Jewish neighborhood, but a lot of boutiques are starting to trickle in
  • Parks
    • Luxembourg gardens, Tuileries gardens,
  • Favorite arrondissements to walk around: 3, 7, 4, 18
  • I know you already know, but you have to go to the Eiffel tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, etc.
  • See a light show of the Eiffel tower they are at the start of every hour from 8/9- 1. So worth seeing- it’s magical.


Words you need to know

  • Hello- Bonjour/Bonsoir
  • Goodbye- Au revoir
  • Thank you- merci
  • Please-S’il vous plaît
  • Excuse me/sorry- pardon
  • Do you speak english?


Sustainability Pro-tip

  • Always bring around a water bottle and a reusable bag. Both you can be charged for so why not just save money and be kind to the earth.

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Cheryl Sheehy
    April 16, 2018 at 9:23 am

    Notice the doors!! They are gems!
    Eat dessert!
    Au revoir xo

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