Letizia, our new Administrator at iQ Shoreditch in London, gives us the low-down on what to do as a student in Paris...
Have you ever heard the quote "Paris is always a good idea"? Well, it is indeed!
A two-hour trip with the Eurostar will land you in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. From all of iQ Student Accommodation's London sites, you can easily access Saint Pancras International train station; where the Eurostar departs. And the good thing about living in a student hall is that you can take your housemates with you. Exams are almost finished, so plan yourself a rewarding weekend in the City of Love!
There are so many things to do in Paris. However, if you plan it well, you can actually discover Paris in two days.
When you arrive in Paris, head straight to Angelina, rue de Rivoli, where you will taste the best hot chocolate and breakfast ever. They use an old recipe and serve the hot chocolate with Chantilly cream: it is simply divine. The pastries are extremely good too, and the pretty tea room is decorated in the XIXth century style. You'll definitely fall in love with Angelina!
Once you’re done with breakfast, take a walk on the rue de Rivoli, one of Paris' most famous streets. It follows the Jardin des Tuileries, which used to be the garden of The French Emperor (Napolean I) and French Empress (Naopelean’s wife Josephine). Enter the garden and you will find what looks like heaven in the heart of Paris.
From the Jardin des Tuileries, you're not very far from the Musee du Louvre by foot. Museums can easily be boring, but I can assure you that the Louvre isn't! You will see the most beautiful pieces of art including the Mona Lisa! "La Joconde", as we say in French. Painted by Leonard de Vinci during the French Renaissance, it really does look like she is smiling at you. Take a walk around the museum, there are plenty of other treasures.
Did you know that, before becoming a museum, the Louvre was the residence of Louis the 14th, "le Roi Soleil"? Louis the 14th is one of my favourite historical figures, and you will hear a lot about him once in Paris! He lived at the Musee du Louvres before moving to the Chateau de Versailles. And you simply must see the Chateau de Versailles! My advice would then be to have a small lunch in a typical French brasserie near the Musee du Louvre, just in front of the Comedie Francaise, which is called the "Café de la Comedie". Then take the tube (the station is "Palais Royal – Musee du Louvre") to the Gare Saint-Lazare where you can catch a train to Versailles. It is a very close - only a half an hour trip.
The Chateau de Versailles is a marvel of taste and in keeping with the "folie des grandeurs" of Louis the 14th. In its time, it has been the site of many betrayals and conspiracies, and you will love hearing the fascinating stories of the Cour de Versailles. I would advise you to stay a few hours at Versailles, visiting the Chateau, savouring an ice-cream in the gardens, and taking a tour at the "Trianon". The Trianon was the residence of the Queen Marie-Antoinette.
After this very cultural day, take the train back to Paris and then go have a drink and dinner at Saint-Germain des Pres. You can choose between some very famous places, including the Café de Flore, formerly the gathering point of every artist and poet in 20th century Paris. The artsy ambiance remains today and if you feel like reading poetry, this is the right place for you; Guillaume Apollinaire, one of France's most famous poets, was once the founder of the Café de Flore. My favourite collection from him is “Alcools”. You should read it, even if you don’t understand French, the musicality of the language is so beautiful that you won’t notice it is not in your mother- tongue!
After dinner, if you feel like dancing, I can recommend two places: if you are a nostalgic of the eighties and you prefer small clubs and intimate atmospheres, you should go at the "Chai Antoine", rue Princesse. It is actually in the neighbourhood of Saint-Germain des Pres, 5 minutes' walk from the Café de Flore. If you are into bigger parties and 'places to be', you should go at "Chez Regine", rue du Colisee, near the Champs Elysees. The whole of the Parisian youth gather here on Friday and Saturday nights. It is very trendy, and you will for sure have a very good time!
Wake up, it’s your last day! The most important thing to do in Paris on a Sunday is to have a brunch. One of the liveliest neighbourhoods in Paris on Sundays is the "Marais". At Marais, all shops and restaurants are open on Sunday. Take the tube to the "Hotel de Ville" station: you will get to see the City Hall of Paris, which is a very nice monument, and then enter the small pedestrian streets and I am sure you will just find the right restaurant to have your brunch. Afterwards, take a walk around the trendy shops, because Paris is also renowned for its fashion! You will find all the famous Parisian brands.
The Marais is just a few minutes from the banks of the Seine River. Once your brunch and your shopping session are done, take a walk along the Seine heading towards the Pont Alexandre III. Here you will find a very trendy place to spend the afternoon: Rosa Bonheur, a boat that only opens for spring and summer. It is one of the Parisians’ favourite places to have a drink under the sun on Sunday afternoons. Enjoy!
Et maintenant, bon retour a Londres … !
I hope this article made you want to go to Paris, which is a beautiful city. If you're worried about the price, here are some tips for student budgets...
Paris on a budget
- The Eurostar can be very expensive, so try to book in advance. However, they do offer a youth fare that lets you get a return ticket to Paris for just £69 if you're under 26.
- You can also take a cheap flight to Paris with EasyJet from Luton or Gatwick. There are easyBuses you can take from many locations in London to get to the airport for only £2-£5 each way!
- Life is not more expensive in Paris than in London, and the rate of the euro has fallen so now the exchange is actually quite good!
- There are many charming hotels in Paris, costing from around €70 per night. If you want to spend less, you can rent a flat on airbnb, you will find some treasures!
- French food is extremely good. If you don’t want to spend too much on food, just go in a bistro or a brasserie, and have a croque-monsieur with French fries for about €8! It will be very good and the atmosphere is great. Don’t forget to drink your coffee at the end of the meal!
- Transport is fairly cheap compared to London. A one-way trip on the tube is only €1.70 euros, and you can buy a card for the day which is approximately €7-€9.
- Don’t forget to bring your student ID card, which can be helpful in museums and monuments, as most of them offer student discounts.
Now it’s time to book your tickets and go discover the magical Paris!