paris, travel guide, travel

Student travel guide to… Paris!

Last February, I travelled to Paris for a 2-night city break and I managed to do it without breaking the bank. I still had a nice time and did all the touristy things too. 

My first tip would be to plan when you go carefully. I found that travelling on weekdays was quite a bit cheaper than going on weekends.

It may sound funny but I actually found my trip on EasyJet Holidays. It might come with no frills but, hey, when you’re on a budget who needs all the extras? I have to admit the holiday was really good, the hotel was lovely, in a decent location and there were no problems with flights either… unless you count all the screaming kid on their way to Disneyland!

I flew from Luton Airport, which means it might cost quite a bit to get there if you live in the East Midlands, like me. However, coaches cost less than £30 one way or you may be able to persuade a kind parent or friend to give you a lift.

I stayed at the New Hotel Lafayette which is located in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, so it’s not exactly central but it is easily accessible to all the sights via the underground system and is also close to loads of restaurants and patisseries. The New Hotel Lafayette is a 3-star hotel and is rated 4.5/5 on booking.com. The famous Montmartre (Paris’ highest hill) and Sacre Coeur are nearby. Admission to the Sacre Coeur is free.

Travelling around by train is the best and easiest way and there is the option of buying a tourist travel card, which allows unlimited travel up to 3 days, for 50-something euros. But what you might not know is that you can purchase the citizen’s version for 27 Euros and it’s exactly the same thing.

The Eiffel Tower is a must see. The view from the top is stunning and, if you visit at night, you can see the magnificent structure lit up. Entry for adults is 16-25 Euros, but if you really wanted to save you could opt to pay 10 euros and walk the 328 steps to the top of the tower. Be wary of pick-pocketers though, as it is a busy area. But whatever you do, avoid the Eiffel Tower café as it is super expensive! Trust me, the restaurants on the ground are just as good!

The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower

Another must see is the Louvre and it is actually free to enter on the first Sunday of every month, as are quite a few museums. The Louvre, which is even the title of a Lorde song, is home to many a masterpiece. It is visually very pleasing to look at and even more pleasing once you venture in and look around. It is a very popular tourist destination. Originally a royal palace, it is now the world’s most famous museum. The collections are so vast and impressive that no one could blame you if you didn’t know where to start, but it is an art lover’s dream. The Mona Lisa painting is unmissable and can be found close to the Portes des Lions entrance, which is usually less crowded and therefore easier to get through.

The Louvre, Photo credit: parispass.com

Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris is another attraction and is free. It is of Gothic style and is still in use today for concerts, state funerals, organ recitals and religious services. There are 422 steps to the top of the tower and, if you are willing to do so, walking up them will lead to a breathtaking view of Paris. It costs 10 Euros to walk to the top.

The Zenith Paris is an excellent music venue and has hosted bands such as Bastille, Maroon 5 and Radiohead. Ticket prices are an average of 50 euros. The main reason I had travelled to Paris was to see Bastille play at the Zenith. I am a huge fan and missed their UK gigs so I figured it wasn’t too far to go to catch one of their shows and also visit a dream destination at the same time. The actual venue is in the middle of a park which was a bit confusing. We didn’t really know how to get there from the underground station so asked some friendly locals, who even showed us a shortcut.

The gig was amazing. Bastille were promoting their new album ‘Wild World’ and the songs were really upbeat with strangely depressing lyrics. The band had loads of visuals in the background and also saxophone players on tour with them so it was loads of fun.

Bastille playing the Zenith Paris venue. Photo credit: @bastilledan on Twitter

If rocking out to your favourite band isn’t your thing, there are plenty of cafes and patisseries to visit. One such café is where ‘Amelie’ was filmed. Café de Deux Moulins in Montmartre. The perfect place to take a good book and while away the hours. Or even some coursework, if one is feeling particularly dedicated to their studies.

A more modern attraction in Paris is the make-up lover’s heaven; Sephora. There isn’t a Sephora in the UK yet so it might be worth visiting the store to stock up on goodies, but there are rumours that the first English Sephora might be opening in Nottingham soon (and, with it, taking all of our student loan money!) so keep your eyes peeled. Talking of beauty, my sister and I were super cheesy and decided to get French manicures while we were in France. It cost 30 Euros each and, as we were a little exhausted from travelling, it was a nice way to be pampered and relax.

Paris has so much to offer. The architecture is absolutely stunning. It is also full of quirky characters. I even spotted men in suits riding scooters or skateboards, which was unusual and quite amusing. Paris is a beautiful city, very scenic and lovely to visit.  They even have macaroons in their Maccy D’s which are super nice, especially if you’re feeling a bit peckish!

By Narzra Ahmed

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