Paris – Cool Culture & Cuisine

When you think of Paris, I imagine you think of romantic walks on the Seine or freezing your ‘proverbials’ off going up the Eiffel Tower. I certainly did, but as I discovered, the ‘City of Love’ has so much more to offer – especially to those on a tight budget.

Whether you’re looking to soak up some culture or enjoy some top quality food and drink, Paris has it all and at a price that you will find surprisingly affordable. Young Academic have outlined two of the most interesting locations and tell you where to go for an affordable but buzzing night out.

The Louvre, one of the world’s largest museums and the most visited museum in the world, is perhaps the central landmark of Paris. Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century are exhibited making The Louvre an absolutely essential destination.

With the trademark glass pyramid greeting you before you even enter the building, the scene is immediately set for a breathtaking cultural experience.

As with any Parisian exhibition, the museum is free to any E.U citizen under the age of 25. Visitors can see a range of articles from Roman and Greek statues to the Venus de Milo and of course, the Mona Lisa.

Set out in colour coded areas according to theme, one could spend all day admiring the wonders the museum has to offer and for a modest €5, you can tour the building with the aid of a multimedia guide that explains every last object in detail.

Situated on the River Seine and just of the Champs Elysees, The Louvre is in an ideal spot for tourists and is well sign posted around the city.

The Arc De Triomphe, a monument that stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle is also known as the ‘Place de l’Étoile’. The triumphal arch honours those who fought for France, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars.

The view from below is again quite breathtaking but is nothing compared to the view once you reach the top. Before you embark on your journey up the Arc, make sure you are prepared for the ascent up the narrow spiral staircase – I would recommend a few cans of Red Bull beforehand as I (a keen sportsman) was absolutely shattered after my 264 foot climb.

The endurance test is well worth it. From the top of the Arc De Triomphe you can see the majority of central Paris with many of the large avenues (including the Champs Elysees) leading from the monument in star-like fashion. It was a joy to behold, even on a wet, grey and windy November afternoon.

Be careful when approaching the famous arch, however, as cars hurtle around the roundabout the monument is situated on in chaotic fashion. The Arc De Triomphe is at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, so again in an easily reachable part of the city.

Once you have soaked up all the art and history Paris has to offer, no doubt you will be ready for some relaxation in the form of great food and drink.

Look no further than the Latin Quarter in the city’s Saint-Michel region. Although it is Paris’ own version of the west-end, the quality of food, drink and atmosphere are far superior.

With ‘happy hours’ that run from 3pm-7pm, during which you can buy an ice cold pint of Heineken or large glass of fine wine for just €3, in a party atmosphere without the loutish behaviour you are no doubt used to in Britain, you can unwind and soak up the vibe with out demolishing your student loan.

Once you have drunk enough beer or wine to work up a real hunger, you can then make your way to one of the many typically French restaurants offering three courses for just €15. The food is far better than anything you would get in the UK for half the price and the deal often includes a free glass of the house wine.

Not too keen on French cuisine? The Latin Quarter also has restaurants offering Indian, Thai, Chinese, Greek, Turkish and Italian food at similar prices.

If, after your day of sightseeing and evening of copious drinking and eating, you are still not ready for bed then you can always make your way to the Notre Dame Cathedral – just minutes from the Latin Quarter.

Possibly the most famous church in the world, entry is obviously free and the architecture is breathtaking to say the least. Services are held throughout the day and evening which showcase the incredible acoustics with in the building and, if appropriately religious, could provide the ultimate worship experience.

All of the above really skims the surface of what is available in France’s amazing capital city but gives you a feel for the atmosphere. With loads of other museums, churches and exhibitions available, a culture-curious tourist could spend weeks exploring the city.

The Eiffel Tower is the only landmark that requires payment regardless of age with a fee of €8 to go half way up or €15 to ascend the full way. It is definitely worth the money, giving you the chance to go even higher than the Arc De Triomphe and get the best possible few of an immense city.

If art, history, architecture, some of the worlds finest wine and cuisine and saving money are what you are looking for during your gap year, then Paris is definitely for you. Flights are as cheap as £20 from major British terminals to Paris Charles de Gaulle if you book in advance, so what’s stopping you!

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