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Thirteen of the best cheap bars in Paris

Paris - beautiful, cool, endlessly exciting but also eye-wateringly expensive. For anyone who has ever found themselves blinking in disbelief at bar prices, Paris student Francesca Halliwell has put together a list of the best budget bars in the city.

Thirteen of the best cheap bars in Paris
Go to the wrong bar in Paris and a beer and a bowl of peanuts can really dent your wallet. Photo: AFP

“It is a good thing to go to Paris for a few days if you have had a lot of trouble, and that is my advice to everyone.” Everyone but students or those attempting to live on a budget, Scottish writer Muriel Spark neglected to add. 

Paris is expensive. Average rent for a studio apartment is over €1,000 a month, and a monthly travel pass will set you back €75. Even supermarket shopping drains your wallet; a litre of milk at my local Franprix costs almost €2. 

So for people on a budget – students in particular – things can be tough. The decision of where to go for drinks, therefore, is an important one when merely breathing seems to cost you €5 in some of the city's more snooty bars. 

Many a disgruntled conversation and disappointing drink later, I have compiled a list of the best bars for students in Paris. Some make the cut for their surprisingly inexpensive prices, others for their stand-out décor and lively ambience. Either way, an evening at any of them is guaranteed to leave you satisfied with every centime you spent. 


There are some extremely expensive bars in Paris, but also plenty that offer cheap drinks and good deals. Photo: AFP

Chez Georges – 11 rue des Canettes, 75006

If you are looking for an old-fashioned Parisian bar, where drinks are dirt cheap and the clientele laid-back, Chez Georges is the place for you.

The décor may be shabby, and you may be approached by someone from the quartier in search of a “profound” conversation (my friend was called a “flower in the desert” by one charming local), but the vibe is wholesome and good-natured. And what with the mismatched 1950s décor and ‘80s tunes in the background, it’s all too easy to lose your sense of time dancing in the vaulted wine cellar after midnight. 

The BRKLYN – 58 rue Quincampoix, 75004

If you're in search of an old-school American bar, with generous Happy Hour deals, friendly barmen and a cool aesthetic, The BRKLYN is the bar for you.

Tucked away down an unassuming street in Paris’ most arty neighbourhood, this intimate hideout attracts students after a low-key drink with friends. Its Happy Hour deals are pretty decent too – what’s not to love about two glasses of wine and a cheese board for €14?

Au Bureau – 66 rue Pierre Charron, 75008

Au Bureau on rue Pierre Charron is, in a nutshell, an upmarket Wetherspoons. Beer and wine are relatively cheap, especially during Happy Hour, and what with its half a dozen TVs screening football matches in the background, this bar is most commonly found teeming with Paris’ most laid-back, undemanding residents.

It all feels a bit British inside, with walls replete with posters of English sportsmen and walking boots in cabinets, making it the perfect homesickness cure for British folk missing their home turf.  

Café Noir – 65 rue Montmartre, 75002

Escape the hustle and bustle of rue Montorgueil in this hidden gem of a bar, where the high ceilings and vintage Parisian decor make a charming backdrop.

The menu offers an extensive selection of wines and cocktails, all pretty reasonably priced given the central location. Boasting an extensive outdoor terrace and plentiful indoor space, Café Noir is a popular hotspot for locals all year round. 

Maison Sauvage – 5 rue de Buci, 75006

With flowers and foliage blooming from the second terrace, Maison Sauvage captures the magic of famed Parisian cafés to a T.

In the heart of the Odéon district, it is one of the city’s most popular student haunts for brunch as well as drinks, and given their great reputation and charming aesthetic, the menu is pretty reasonably priced.

Although this may not be your go-to on nights out, what with the long waiting times and usual plethora of tourists, Maison Sauvage is without doubt a must before you leave. Their signature cocktail, Le Mojito Sauvage, is pretty good too.

Look out for Happy Hour deals that also include nibbles. Photo: Depositphotos

The Long Hop – 25 rue Frédéric Sauton, 75005

When it comes to getting your student fix, The Long Hop has you covered.

Offering outrageous Happy Hour deals from 5pm til 9pm and to-die-for mozzarella sticks, the bar is brimming with students on a regular basis. Dying to lose yourself on the dancefloor without being judged by critical Parisians? Then The Long Hop is the place for you. 

La Rotonde Saint Honoré – 10 rue des Pyramides, 75001

This ostentatious bar is one for the city’s more cosmopolitan students prepared to splash the cash on a tasteful soirée.

Stylish yet welcoming, with an impressive cocktail selection, La Rotonde Saint Honoré is the place to go when your Erasmus grant comes in. That said, its Happy Hour deals aren’t actually too bad – if you can justify spending €5.50 on a glass of wine, that is.

Le Petit Gaston – 3 Place de la Contrescarpe, 75005

Place de la Contrescarpe is one of the city’s most well-known drinking spots, popular for its buzzing atmosphere and plethora of bars.

The best of the bunch is without doubt Le Petit Gaston, located slap bang in the square’s centre. Coming from someone who lived in Italy for five months last year, their Aperol Spritzes are truly sublime. Soak up the sun on their outdoor terrace before heading around the corner to the sensational creperie Au P’tit Grec for din

Nouvel Institut – 1 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75005

This is arguably the most popular student bar in Paris, and with 1€ cocktails and 3€ pints during Happy Hour, it’s not hard to see why. Students flock here in droves on weeknights and weekends, whether for a laid-back game of pool or pre-drink before a night out. It can get quite overcrowded indoors during the summer, so be sure to get there early if you’re hoping to bag a seat outside. 

Washington Poste – 3 rue Washington, 75008

A stone’s throw away from the Champs-Elysées, this bar is a favourite among the most stylish of Parisians.

The mirror-lined walls, exposed brick and projections of high-end fashion shows attract students who prioritise aesthetics over ambience. Part of the appeal is that it all feels very French, with its large concentration of pontificators and sophisticated smokers gazing wondrously into the distance.

It does, however, welcome a spendthrift clientele too, for it famously offers the cheapest Happy Hour prices in the neighbourhood. 

Bistro 27 – 27 rue de Bruxelles, 75009

This unassuming Parisian brasserie isn’t for the faint hearted. It may be shabby and inundated with students, but with pints as cheap as 2,50€ and cocktails from 5€, it would be rude not to show your face. Plus bar staff are smiley, and in an area as gloomy and uninspiring as Clichy, this doesn’t go unappreciated. Be sure to order one of their delicious pizzas to help stomach the drink, those mojitos are definitely more rum than soda. 

Some of Paris' smaller bars have the best atmosphere. Photo: AFP

Paris Beaubourg – 23 rue Saint Merri, Place Igor Stravinsky, 75004

Paris Beaubourg, situated right in the heart of one of Paris’ most expensive districts for drinks, is an affordable find for all those keen to soak up the Parisian culture before their time in the city is up.

Not only is it located directly opposite the Centre Pompidou, but also just next door to the famous Café Beaubourg, long-time hotspot for renowned art critics and writers alike. Happy Hour prices are generous too, with a large array of cocktails priced at just €6 each. 

Le Comptoir Général – 80 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010

Tucked away behind a street-art mural along the Canal Saint-Martin, this Franco-African bar is not an easy find.

It is, however, one of the most popular student haunts the city has to offer. Spanning the entirety of three large rooms, the bar boasts ample space for dancing and meeting people, and meet people you will. Their cocktails are spectacular – be sure to try La Secousse – and their reggae DJ sets never fail to disappoint.

Palm trees, chandeliers and upside-down sharks (yes, really) provide an eclectic backdrop. 

Member comments

  1. I think 75 euros for a monthly pass is not expensive, what country is the comparison to? Plus if you are a student, you get a discount. Also, milk for 2 euros????? It is not more then 1 euro per litar.

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Reader question: Exactly how many different types of cheese are there in France?

One thing everyone can agree on is that France has a lot of cheese - but exactly how many French fromages exist?

Reader question: Exactly how many different types of cheese are there in France?

Question: I often see a quote from Charles de Gaulle talking about ‘246 different types of cheese’, but other articles say there are 600 or even 1,000 different types of cheese and some people say there are just eight types – how many different cheeses are there in France?

A great question on a subject dear to French hearts – cheese.

But it’s one that doesn’t have a simple answer.

Charles de Gaulle did indeed famously say “How can anyone govern a country with 246 different types of cheese”, but even in 1962 when he uttered the exasperated phrase, it was probably an under-estimate.

READ ALSO 7 tips for buying cheese in France

The issue is how you define ‘different’ types of cheese, and unsurprisingly France has a complicated system for designating cheeses.

Let’s start with the eight – there are indeed eight cheese ‘families’ and all of France’s many cheeses can be categorised as one of;

  • Fresh cheese, such as cottage cheese or the soft white fromage blanc
  • Soft ripened cheese, such as Camembert or Brie
  • Soft ripened cheese with a washed rind, such as l’Epoisses or Pont l’Eveque
  • Unpasturised hard cheese such as Reblochon or saint Nectaire
  • Pasturised hard cheese such as Emmental or Comté
  • Blue cheese such as Roquefort 
  • Goat’s cheese
  • Melted or mixed cheese such as Cancaillot

But there are lots of different types of, for example, goat’s cheese.

And here’s where it gets complicated, for two reasons.

The first is that new varieties of cheese are constantly being invented by enterprising cheesemakers (including some which come about by accident, such as le confiné which was created in 2020).

The second is about labelling, geography and protected status.

France operates a system known as Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC or its European equivalent AOP) to designate food products that can only be made in a certain area.

As cheese is an artisan product, quite a lot of different cheese are covered by this – for example a blue sheep’s milk cheese is only Roquefort if it’s been aged in the caves in the village of Roquefort.

There are 63 listed AOC cheeses in France, but many more varieties that don’t have this protected status.

These include generic cheese types such as BabyBel and other cheeses that are foreign in origin but made in France (such as Emmental).

But sometimes there are both AOC and non-AOC versions of a single cheese – a good example of this is Camembert.

AOC Camembert must be made in Normandy by farmers who have to abide by strict rules covering location, milk type and even what their cows eat.

Factory-produced Camembert, however, doesn’t stick to these rules and therefore doesn’t have the AOC label. Is it therefore the same cheese? They’re both called Camembert but the artisan producers of Normandy will tell you – at some length if you let them – that their product is a totally different thing to the mass-produced offering.

There are also examples of local cheeses that are made to essentially the same recipe but have different names depending on where they are produced – sometimes even being on opposite sides of the same Alpine valley is enough to make it two nominally different cheeses.

All of which is to say that guessing is difficult!

Most estimates range from between 600 to 1,600, with cheese experts generally saying there are about 1,000 different varieties. 

So bonne dégustation!