Best student cities: Paris
All EU citizens under 26 years old and anyone with a student ID gets free entry to Paris’ state museums, including the Le Petit Palais, the city’s fine arts museum; the Musée Carnavalet, which features the city’s history; and the eerie subterranean ossuary Les Catacombes, where the remains of skulls can be found. Art students receive ID cards from their universities that declare their area of study and act as a free pass to enter most art museums in the city, including the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Centre Pompidou. In addition, the Louvre, is free on Friday nights for those 26 and younger.
The Théâtre du Châtelet musical theatre venue offers free shows for students from time to time, and pricey-ticket venues like the national Ópera and the Theatre des Champs-Elysées shell out last minute, inexpensive tickets for same-day performances. They can be purchased at varying, but always significant, discounts at the Kiosque Place de la Madeleine in the 2nd arrondissement, Le Kiosque Montparnasse in the 14th.
With inexpensive train prices throughout the Parisian metropolitan area day trips outside of the city are very doable. At the top of the list is at least one visit to the opulent Le Château de Versailles, about a 30-minute train ride to the west of the city, to see where Marie Antoinette frolicked. Art students also make it a priority to visit Claude Monet’s hometown of Giverny, about 45 minutes by train from the capital, where visitors can enter his gardens and see the lily ponds he painted, as well as his house and the local museum. Many students also make it to the medieval town of Provins, about 80km or a little over an hour on train from Paris, to see the well-preserved historic sites, including the town’s surrounding fortifications, as well as to Saint-Denis 15 minutes on Métro or train, to visit the town’s impressive Gothic cathedral. A number of study-abroad programmes also schedule trips to the English channel beaches and regions Normandy , about one to two hours away by train, so their students can visit the WWII memorial, cemeteries and sites.
Travelling on a budget
The metro in Paris, which reaches across the city, is one of the most convenient methods of transport, and discounted passes are available for students. The most economical student transport card NaviGo Imagine R grants student cardholders unlimited rides on the metro, bus, tram and train. The year-long pass is 300 euros for the basic Parisian metro area zones, and month-long passes run 34 euros. Over weekends and university holidays, the card is “dezoned”, meaning students can travel throughout Paris’ suburbs and surrounding areas, such as to Disneyland Paris, regardless of which zones their ImagineR usually covers. The card carries other discount benefits as well, including certain cinemas and restaurants.
The city’s bike rental service Vélib offers student rates, and students can ride the regional French rail system, the SNCF for free on Sundays, or use a youth card, a discounted travel card for those 26 and younger, the rest of the week. For farther trips Easyjet and Ryanair are popular budget carriers and students often scour sites like flight aggregator Edreams to find the best airline deals.