From crois­sants to um­brel­las: Prac­ti­cal tips for stu­dent life in Paris

Find out how I've organised my life as an exchange student in Paris! In this post, I share my tips on finding accommodation, food shopping and getting around the city – lots of useful links included!

In the underground station. Finding your way around public transport here is definitely more complicated than in Berlin. Photo: private

Studying at Sciences Po had been a dream of mine for a long time. To me, this university, with its outstanding reputation in the humanities and social sciences, is the epitome of excellence and innovation. When I was accepted for the exchange place, I wanted to plan my stay meticulously to ensure that everything would go smoothly and that I could fully concentrate on my studies and my experience at this prestigious institution. In this blog post, I share my experience and tips with you.

Finding accommodation: use the university network!

Finding accommodation in Paris can be a real challenge – especially in a year when the Olympic Games are bringing extra life to the city. The housing market is extremely competitive, rents are high and unfortunately there are also a lot of fraudulent offers. When I started looking for an affordable flat, I was initially overwhelmed by the many neighbourhoods – 20 (twenty!) in total. All I really wanted was to live in Paris proper, and not in the banlieues, the suburbs. After an intensive search with up to 15 applications a day, I finally found a studio in the heart of the 14th arrondissement. I got it through Sciences Po's "Service ETUDIANTS" two days before my arrival in Paris. Yes, it was really only two days before my arrival, but at least I had found something. Sciences Po has partnerships with various student accommodation providers and a website with these other public and private portals and networks, which can be very helpful in the search. Once you have found a flat, you can also apply for housing assistance.

View from the new flat in Paris. (photo: private)

Shop mindfully and take advantage of scholarships!

Paris is not a cheap city, but with a few clever strategies you can keep the cost of living under control. For example, I discovered the lunch menus from CROUS (the French student union) for 3.30 euros. Also, I don't buy food in supermarkets like Carrefour and Monoprix, but at weekly markets in Paris. My favourite place to shop is the Marché Port Royal. It's easy on my budget and it's a great way to enjoy life in Paris.

Apart from these everyday strategies, there are a variety of scholarship opportunities that can make it easier for students to stay in Paris. Some examples are the Erasmus+ scholarship, which is available to students from the European Union, the CROUS scholarship, and the DAAD scholarship. It is worth finding out about these options as early as possible and applying to receive a grant. Personally, I am financing my semester here with Erasmus+ and the support of my parents.

Exploring Paris on foot - my form of meditation! Photo: private

Travelling in Paris: never without an umbrella!

The public transport system here is like a labyrinth of underground trains, buses and trams, and it's not always easy to keep track of everything. Nevertheless, I opted for the Navigo card to get me through the Parisian transport jungle. Students pay 80 euros a month or 380 euros for a whole year. But to be honest, I find it much more pleasant to simply walk and explore the city that way. I've discovered so many corners that aren't so touristy and have a very special charm. Strolling around is definitely one of my top pastimes here. It's also how I found my favourite boulangerie! (I'll tell you all about that in my Instagram Takeover.) I've also found that walking gives me time to think and reflect. It's almost like a meditative time-out in the middle of the bustling city. One thing to bear in mind, however, is the weather in Paris – it really is a science in itself! You never dare leave the house without your parapluie. Because even if it looks sunny, the weather can change in a matter of seconds!

Voilà – I hope these tips will help you in making the most of your semester in Paris and enjoying the city. Bonne chance!

My favourite boulangerie – I'll tell you which one it is on Instagram! Photo: private

(Veröffentlicht: 22.04.2024)