Perhaps unsurprisingly, Paris topped the rankings when it came to the cost of living, with university students in the City of Light having to cough up an average of €1,193 each month for living expenses, according to an annual study by France's main students' union, Unef.
This represents a general trend across France, where living costs for students are quickly rising. Earlier this week, Unef's president called the steep rise in living costs “alarming”, as the two percent rise amounted to three times the rate of inflation and more than double the rise seen in previous years.
The new study analyses living costs across France's 35 largest university cities, looking at rent – which accounted for half the monthly budget – transport, and a fixed allowance for all other costs.
So which are the best towns to consider if you want to study in France without breaking the bank?
Caen in northwestern France is a great option for British students, with a ferry terminal just 15km away. The university even has a British connection, having been founded by King Henry VI of England in the 15th century. But its reasonably priced rent and transport make it attractive to students of all nationalities, while Twisto, the funkily-named bus and tram network, transports you around the city quickly and cheaply.
- Living costs for students on the rise in France
- How to survive Paris on a student budget
9. Le Havre
Also in Normandy, port town Le Havre is another option for purse-friendly student living – in a Unesco World Heritage city. Transport is on the costly side, with an annual pass setting students back €279,30, but the town centre can easily be covered on foot and is home to cultural treasures including France's largest collection of Impressionist art outside Paris.
Moving inland, Orléans is located on the Loire river and is a beautiful location due to the many famous castles in the surrounding area. The university also offers plenty of partnerships with foreign universities, so studying here may be convenient as well as cheap.
One columnist for The Local has even claimed that this beautiful university city is the best place in all of France – partly due to the cheap price of a pint of beer. There are also plenty of music, theatre, and art festivals each year as well as a dynamic nightlife scene. Both rent and transport costs have risen dramatically over the past 12 months, by 5.12 percent and 3.63 percent respectively, but it still earned a place on the list of cheapest student cities.
Perpignan is located in southern France, close to the coast and Spanish border, so as well as cheap rent and transport, students can enjoy the Mediterranean climate and cheap day trips to the beach.
Angers is a bustling city in the north-west of the country, with great train links to most major cities. In addition to being budget-friendly it's also a very cultural city, with an impressive castle, plenty of museums, and lots to do throughout the year.
Situated between Toulouse and Lyon, the trams of Saint-Étienne are not only cheap to use but also historic – the trolleybus system has been in operation since the 1940s. Rents are also cheap in this city which is home to a total of six colleges and universities.
While rents in Limoges had seen a hefty increase of 7.6 percent year-on-year, annual transport passes here are among the cheapest in France, setting students back just €90. There's plenty to see in this historic city and the local airport is served by RyanAir, making it an even more attractive option for international students.
When it comes to student living on the cheap, Brest is (second) best. With a regional airport and ferry services to England and Ireland, it's handy for homesick students, as well as being near the beach. As a student city, there's a lively nightlife scene and of course delicious Breton seafood.
The picturesque student town of Poitiers came out on top for cost of living, with monthly expenditures adding up to just 60 percent of what Parisian students pay. It boasts the cheapest rent at just €323 per month, and further bonuses including free access to sports activities. The city is small and medieval and students should feel at home here, after all Poitiers has a higher proportion of students than any other town in France.