Paris for Students – Where to eat (for cheap)

Cheap eats in Paris

A typical meal out at a nice French restaurant will cost around 15€. This is pretty steep. But if you really want that typical French restaurant experience..

1. I recommend eating lunch out and staying in for dinner – lunch menus are generally cheaper than dinner. Plus it is usually less crowded!

2. Eating in the restaurant will cost more than getting things to go, too – unlike in North America, Parisian restaurants charge a premium for people to eat in, even in places like MacDonald’s. I think it makes sense, since there is limited space in the city but this is a good-to-know fact so you don’t get mad when you see the price difference.


Vous allez…(Are you going to)
Manger sur place – Eat here?
Prendre à porter – Take it to go?

3. My friend took me to the Vietnamese district around Place d’Italie (Metro stop: Place d’Italie, Line 5,6 and 7), on Avenue d’Ivry, which you get to after walking down Avenue de Choisy and passing the Parc de Choisy. If you are looking for an amazing pho place, I highly recommend Le Lotus on Avenue d’Ivry. A bowl of pho will be around 8€. And in case you were looking for some hard-to-find ingredients there are also a lot of Asian grocery stores in the the area.

Yummy beef noodle soup!

4. I’ve heard 13e arrondissement is China Town, but I never got around to exploring the neighbourhood. It’s the area around Place d’Italie, but it seemed more like a mini-Vietnam than a Chinatown.

Bonus Tangent!

French people don’t seem to know the difference between types of Asian people yet, so you see a lot of ‘Asian’ restaurants which are, upon closer inspection, not Chinese but Vietnamese. I’m not complaining because I love Vietnamese food, but after growing up in Vancouver, a very Asian influenced city, I know and appreciate the difference between Asian foods and don’t like to see them grouped together: Sushi ≠ Korean BBQ ≠ Pho ≠ Pad Thai ≠ Chow Mein, and should therefore NOT be generalized.

6. And if you’re starving near the Louvre, get some ramen at the mini-mini Japanese district on Rue Sainte-Anne (Metro stop: Pyramides, Line 7 and 14). I went to Sapporo Ramen, and it wasn’t too bad but it definitely wasn’t as good as anything I could get in Vancouver. Not bad for around 9€ though.

There’s usually a line going around the corner, but it goes fast!

7. If Asian food’s not your thing, shawarma/donair and crepe places are almost everywhere.

Oh crepe nutella, how I miss you so.

8. And finally, if you want French baked goods on the go, the popular bakery franchises that sell baguette sandwiches are Paul, Brioche d’Oree, and Pomme de Pain and they are always decently priced – around 4€ for a baguette sandwich. If you wanna be spectacularly French, eat that baguette while on the Metro gawking at gorgeous Parisians – t’es trop cool.

Went to this one at Charles de Gaulle everytime I got back from a weekend trip. Good sandwiches. Good times.


Bonus tangent: A little known fact: All European students can get into most museums in France for free! It worked with a one year international HEC Paris student card, anyway 🙂 You’ll read all over the internet that all the museums are free on the first Sunday of every month, but they will also be VERY crowded – and with a student discount, museums are usually between 5-15 euros. So skip the crowds and enjoy them properly!

Happy eating!

Shiv 🙂


Paris for Students – A Guide to (Cheap) Barhopping

In Paris, you are never too far from a bar. And every time of the day is the right time to enjoy a glass of wine, or as they say, prendre un verre.

But be warned: drinking in bars is not cheap. To give you a general idea about the price of drinks…

  • Glass of wine: around 4€
  • Drinks during happy hour (between 6-9pm): 6-8€
  • Drinks at normal price: 9-13€
A couple cool bar districts I would recommend are:

The area around the metro stop Place Monge (Metro stop: Place Monge, Line 7 and 10). Very underrated, and packed with French people. Yay locals!

The bars in the red light district in Montmartre (Metro stop: Blanche, Line 2) but be careful at night because it can get pretty seedy. Typically full of tourists too, and the Sandeman pub crawls circulate around here.
The Bastille area is also really popular with French youth (Metro stop: Bastille, Line 5,1, and 8). Another place that gets pretty sketchy late at night, but soooo many bars to choose from.
The Latin Quarter has some pretty cool watering holes that are normally priced. You will most likely find fellow foreigners too, and a million shwarma shops to feed you late at night. Yum! (Metro stop: Saint Michel-Notre Dame, Line 4 or RER B on the suburban trains)
A note on going clubbing

Paris nightclubs are pretty damn good, and can be open as late as 6am. But beware: the metro stops running at 2AM, and opens at 5AM so if you’re going to go out, plan to head home early or stay out all night because taxis are hard to come by and aren’t cheap.

Paris is beautiful at night, and nothing should stop you from enjoying it!

Shiv 🙂

Day 110: What I actually learned on exchange

Yes, it’s a big jump from Day 54 and I have more posts on what happened in between, but I’m almost done exchange! And between day trips to Paris, travelling on weekends and going to classes (and parties) on weekdays, I’m still wondering where  the last 3 months went.

Um, what just happened?

There is still so much I want to do here in Paris and more generally, in Europe. And God, how sad is it to think that the friends you’ve been living with, going to classes with and travelling with for the past 3 months will disappear from your life for years after next week.

But in the wise words of my eternal inspiration (the best TV show ever created: departures) <3:

Andre, Scott and Justin: You guys have no idea how much I love you.

The reality of always being on the road is that you are always saying goodbye. And for the first time of my life I finally grasp the meaning behind those words. Speaking of things I have grasped….

What I have (actually) learned on exchange in France:

1. Almost every stereotype I knew about French people has been proven while I’m on exchange. Not often enough to generalize them to every single French person, but yeah, it’s true: Parisians are super chic, smoke a lot, and they take it pretty easy.

But they don't wear berets...

2. Exchange students are the best people on earth.We’re open to new experiences, make the best of our time because we literally do not have much of it, and love starting our own parties. I wish I were on exchange forever

3. More about myself? This is so cliche, I know. But by entering a country and a campus where no one knows you and you have no family, you learn a lot about your ability to cope with loneliness, sketchy situations and balancing friends, classes and travel. I wouldn’t say I know 100% of myself, but I have a clearer picture on who I want to be in a couple years thanks to exchange.

4. A new appreciation of home. I would be the last person to say I get homesick, but it happened for the first time in my life. When things just get worse and worse, you crave nothing more than a hug and a good meal from your Mom. I bet this feeling will never go away until the day I die.

5. About a million other things that will benefit me in life. I learned how the French education system works, what the German model of a corporation is, what languages are spoken in Belgium, who founded the Impressionist movement, how to sing “Au bord de la riviere, Margot, Margot…” and a bunch of other things you could put in the category ‘General Knowledge’. You know, things people talk about and when you say you don’t know what they are talking about, they give you that “Are you serious?!” face? Yeah, that. I learned some more of that.

6. I don’t think there’s any better way to learn about the world other than travelling.

And this is why I travel.


Shiv 🙂

Day 54: Nice is nice, but…

So my train journey around the French Riviera continues! I was excited to go to the famous Nice, where the rich and privileged go for their vacations. And it’s gorgeous – the Cote d’Azur has this colour of water that’s unbelievable.

So tempting.

But other than the rocky beach, the flower market….

Wake up early to see the flowers in the flower market at their freshest!

And the old town…

Gorgeous buildings in the old part of town, Vieux Nice

There isn’t a lot to see in Nice. It sort of reminded me of a French version of Fort Lauderdale, Florida: pretty, sunny, popular with old people, very small and not a lot to do. So what do you do when you’re bored of a place?


Nice is really well connected to smaller towns around it – Antibes, the well known Cannes, Eze, Grasse, and Monaco. I went to Cannes and Antibes in a day and had a great time.

The lazy beaches of Cannes. Much better than Nice.

And I especially liked doing this in late October.

Lying on a beach in the French Riviera, reading 100 years of solitude and loving life.

But again….Cannes was very small,  even smaller than Nice! It wouldn’t take more than a half day to do, so I also went to the lesser known town of Antibes, on the way back to Nice. I was really pleasantly surprised, too. It’s a small town on these rocky cliffs, with cute stores, an outdoor market, and a breathtaking walk along the cliff.

I don’t regret going. I had a lot of fun, and I was travelling with a great group of girls, but I think 3 days was just a little too long.

Forward-lookingly yours,

Shiv 🙂

Day 50: Marseille vs. Paris

The reason I fell in love with France was because I did a two week exchange to a town about an hour away from MarseilleOrange, France. And ever since I glimpsed at the French lifestyle, I vowed I’d come back and stay longer.

Et voila! I’m studying and living in France for 4 months. Sure, it took 6 years to get here, but I’m finally here!

And I wouldn’t be this close to Paris if it weren’t for that town near Marseille. So I wanted to give my respects to the city (and my good friend) who did me such a big favour of showing me how awesome the French life is!

HOWEVER….when I asked my French friends what Marseille is like, they pulled the typical exasperated faces and told me it’s just like a petite Algerie, and that it’s dangerous and ugly. That’s a bit of a downer to hear just after you book train tickets.

Parc Borely at sunset. Marseille is ugly? Are you sure?

So when I got there and spent 4 glorious days with my Marseillaise friend, I asked her if it was true: Is Marseille ugly? And she said – “Well, yeah. But Paris just hates Marseille, and Marseille hates Paris too.” Like Toronto vs. Vancouver! Gotcha.

And with those oh-so-encouraging words, I set out on a mission to prove that Marseille is NOT ugly. Here’s what I found.

The beautiful docks with some funny graffiti!

Palais Longchamp! No tourists, you get the whole place - including pretty fields - to yourself and the Musee des Beaux Arts is right there.

Andale andale! From the top of Palais Longchamp.

Le Panier, a super old district of Marseille. Gorgeous. And it looks kind of like Greece...

Still think Marseille is ugly? I thought it was beautiful – a sun drenched, wind blown French Mediterranean city with a fun and safe atmosphere. If you still aren’t sure, wait until you see Notre Dame de la Garde, the cathedral on the hill overlooking the town. If the cathedral isn’t enough for you (and it is, because the inside is something I’ve never seen before in France – so colourful and gold!), the views will take your breath away. Have a look!

Love the inside, and it was hard to capture on my camera. Red, blue and gold inside a white building!


Still not convinced? Tough crowd, but I have one more argument in my arsenal.

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Marseillaise fine dining.

Aioli sauce, prawn, sea snails, some delicious salty white fish, and other goodies. I miss this.

And the Paris vs. Marseille is a battle that continues on. I love both cities dearly, and I have memories in both that won’t allow me to be objective enough to decide which is better. But MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Marseille is not ugly!!

Marseillaisely yours,

Shiv 🙂

Day 40: How to be a French student

It’s been 2 months since I’ve been on exchange at HEC Paris, and needless to say, French students are very different from Canadian students. So, without further ado:

Here’s how YOU TOO can be French – in the classroom!

  1. Don’t show up to class on time – there is always a 5-10 minute grace period of people arriving to class on time, and the professor’s need that extra time too to prepare for class. They don’t mind if you’re late, since they may be late too.
  2. Take an extra long coffee break – Sure, it’s supposed to only be 5 minutes long, but no one returns to the classroom for at least 10-15 minutes. You need time to drink a coffee and chat with your friends so your brain can keep working for another 1.5 hours.
  3. Don’t be surprised if participation is worth 30% of your mark, but your professor barely leaves space for you to get a word in. Participation is just another word for attendance. And on that note…
  4. Always always go to class, and do your homework. There isn’t even that much to do compared to the workload at Canadian universities, so you may as well take the time to do it.
  5. If you do address the professor, do so formally. French professors are happy to talk to students, but don’t expect them to meet you outside of class. If you have any questions about courses, email them or talk to them after class.
  6. Do not eat, sleep or even slouch during class. You need to take notes once in a while, understand the main concepts and do well on the assignments and exams and in order to do that, you need to be awake and at least look like you are listening.
  7. Don’t clap after presentations. No one claps in the classroom in France! When your peers give a presentation, the professor will thank them at them at the end and they go to their seat. And no one claps for the professor on the last day of classes, either.
  8. And finally, dress up for class. You are in France after all!

A small disclaimer: I have only seen one French university and spoken to French students about how students handle themselves in the classroom, so this list doesn’t necessarily hold true at every single French university. I didn’t think there would be so many differences between Canadian and French schools, but the culture and the structure are very different and fascinating. Gotta love culture shock!

Amusedly yours,

Shiv 🙂

Day 1: I buy Crack at the grocery store.

You know what’s AWESOME when you go abroad?


They definitely do it differently here in France. For example, selling liquor in the grocery store (to imagine it! Oh my goodness! And the prices!! :D). And go ahead and call me 4 years old, but Hot Curly Balls and Choco Crac greatly thrilled my friends and I, and guess what? I’m eating it for breakfast. Mmm.

Om nom nom

Oh baby!

I’ve spent most of the time setting up the basics, like internet, where to get food, exploring the campus etc. And I won’t bore you with the details. But today’s goal: Buy wine from the grocery store + other edibles and have a picnic francais at the golf course on campus, right outside this palatial building that only men in suits are allowed to go in. Pics to come!