When you're a student, it's often trickier than anticipated to find a good, interesting, and inexpensive watering hole in the French capital. The criteria for entry into certain bars and clubs can seem arbitrary, with bouncers sometimes turning people away with little or no explanation. And even when you’ve managed to get past the doors, prices for a standard drink can leave you with sticker shock—and make for a short night. For students and young travelers on a budget, this state of affairs leaves much to be desired.
If you’re on the hunt for a good time that’s both affordable and accommodating, look no further. Read on for our specially curated list of the best student-friendly bars in Paris, packing inexpensive drinks with a cool ambiance. Whether you're more in the mood for a grungy, laid-back atmosphere, sports bars, or a place that puts on the ritz without the expense, there's something here for most tastes.
Boasting a large basement and dance floor for live music, a piano for any brave souls looking to strike the keys, and a crowd of young, vibrant patrons, Rue Amelot’s Pop In has quickly become a regular for the indie crowd in Paris. The attitude manages to remain relatively unpretentious, though. Everyone here seems to be more interested in sharing a casual evening with their friends over a few, reasonably priced brews than projecting “cool” (although the card-carrying hipsters do tend to crowd the dance floor after midnight). Good music and even better company make Pop In the place to be.
Address: 105 rue Amelot, 11th arrondissement
This popular Australian-owned Paris chain offers a taste of the land Down Under, boasting a wide selection of Aussie beers, to be enjoyed in a setting with some heavy-handed but fun Aboriginal decor. You’ll almost certainly have to wait in line to get in, and there is a cover charge, but the price is worthwhile on most nights. Expect to hear the DJs dust off jams from the early-2000s for a wall-to-wall crowd ready to dance until dawn. If you ever feel like your night is slowing down, a trip over here will pick you up in no time.
- 18 rue Saint-Denis, 2nd arrondissement (Metro: Chatelet)
- 8 Blvd. Montmartre, 9th arrondissement (Metro: Grands Boulevards)
- Place Denfert-Rochereau, 14th arrondissement (Metro: Denfert-Rochereau)
Part flea market and part bistro, this quirky hangout near the Belleville and Menilmontant neighborhoods has all the makings of an unconventional evening. An odd assortment of knick-knacks hanging on the walls (yes, you can buy them) does well to complement a unique clientele of art dealers and up-and-coming artists. While tight corners will prevent you from bringing a large group, grab a friend or two and you’ll soon find yourself cozied up in one of the city's most stimulating, not to mention quirky, locales. Finish up with a nightcap near the steep Rue Menilmontant at places like La Bellevilloise, where you can hear some great live music.
Address: 5 rue d’Eupatoria, 20th arrondissement
Housed in an old wine cellar, Chez Georges offers an authentic Parisian nightlife experience that's become difficult to find. Space is a little tight, but it only makes the night all the better, because when the wine starts flowing, the people get going! Old-school swing rules the playlists, stirring the spirited masses into an elbow-knocking good time, straight from the days of writer Ernest Hemingway and his friends. Stone walls and a moody ambiance set the scene. Chez Georges is definitely one of the city’s don’t-miss locations, in this reviewer's book.
Address: 111 rue des Canettes, 6th arrondissement
Featuring their own “Wall Lager” for next to nothing, rock’n’roll tribute bar The Wall (named for the 1979 Pink Floyd album) is one of the city’s choice venues for any expat student on a Friday night. The Wall is proud of its popularity among the international set, with an assortment of flags hanging from the ceiling to complement their otherwise grungy decor. If you’re ever feeling out of place in Paris, swing by this Latin Quarter hotspot and enjoy a drink with some fellow foreigners.
Address: 51 rue Lacépède, 5th arrondissement
Metro: Place Monge
Welcome to the jungle. Step inside this buzzing Bastille locale to get the experience of a rowdy, American bar with an aggressive selection of tunes, an amped-up, Anglophone crowd, and an exotic, tropical canopy all working to bring out the animal in you. Yellow Mad Monkey isn’t messing around when it comes to a good time. While some may be turned off by its in-your-face ambiance, there seems to be no shortage of partygoers who will gladly take on the challenge.
Address: 8 rue Lappe, 11th arrondissement
Adjacent to the beloved concert hall La Cigale (meaning “The Cicada”), La Fourmi (“The Ant”) is an intimate and understated hipster den set in the somewhat seedy (but generally safe) Pigalle neighborhood. The contrast works well. While the red-light district may burn brightly outside, La Fourmi offers a smoky, vintage vibe for the evening crowd, doing well to complement their spacious interior with a keen sense of design. It feels more Berlin here than it does Paris. Head over on the weekends when the bar stays open until 4 a.m., and with drinks priced as low as €2.80, you’ll find you won’t have any trouble getting comfortable here. They also do a very decent weekend brunch here.
Address: 74 rue des Martyrs, 18th arrondissement
A British-style pub in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Frog & Princess is the Left Bank haven for fans of rugby, American football, and soccer looking to nurse a pint (or a hangover) while cheering on their side. Brunch is a popular option as well, much like Paris’s other Frog Pubs, with a tasty selection of authentic English fare available on Saturday and Sundays from noon to 2:30 p.m. Get a crew together here for a relaxing weekend afternoon.
Address: 9 rue Princesse, 6th arrondissement.