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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Paris for your Year Abroad





C CAFES, Cinemas, theatre, dance, AND MORE!







FINDING ACCOMMODATION: Trouver un logement Helpful places to look were,,, notices put up at the American Church in Paris, and adverts on agency windows around Paris. Try CROUS Paris too, or this EXCELLENT WEBSITE: or

Emergency accommodation in Paris: 

It is possible that you may be asked to pay council tax and you should take advice from these websites:

Modèle de lettre (à adapter):

How to calculate costs of 1st month of living in rented accommodation:

B.   WORK EXPERIENCE/Language Courses

The Year Abroad Office can provide you with a convention de stage for your work placement.

Since September 2015:

  • Stagiaires must now receive a minimum of 3.9 Euros per hour.
  • Stagiaires are now entitled to "tickets restaurant", which, at a value of around 6/7 Euro, essentially provide you with a free lunch.
  • Stagiaires can take 2 days of paid holiday leave per month,
  • Transport costs can also be partially reimbursed.

If you really want total immersion, at minimal cost, either before or during or after your main taking on your main job or start your university courses, here is a great tip: do some volunteering work in one the many French Charities (L’Arche, Emmaus ( Spending a few weeks working for one of these organisations will go a long way in improving your French at the speed of light. Try also this website: Basically, you are no longer a “foreigner” but a “bénévole”, a member of a big family, and this is total immersion at its best. Never pay more than 100 euros per week or do charity work via private companies, they will rip you off! Try the Mairies of the places where you will be staying, checking their “bénévolat” section. You’ll be teaching English to motivated students of all ages and walks of life, or learn crafts that could prove useful later in life, or simply learn from people from all walks of life. You will feel like a native French person straightaway.

Language courses: If you wish to brush up your written French and knowledge of French culture, before or during your stay in Paris, why not do one of these courses?

The perfect school remains the Cours de Civilisation de la Sorbonne,

The feedback on this course is always terrific and it is good value for money.

Another excellent course:

and for a complete list of good schools/universities teaching French for foreign students:

This site is also useful:

C.   MUSEUMS/SITES OF CULTURE/bookshopsCinema/Theatre

Get a laissez-passer card to get one year of free exhibits at Pompidou Centre, the ventre de Paris and the place where all things start. Top library as well! And top bookshop!

Visit the small museums such as Musée Delacroix, du romantisme, Jaquemart André, Marmottan, Cluny, Arts modernes de la ville de Paris,

For a full list and exhibitions, check Officiel des spectacles:

Paris is the world capital for books, cinema and theatre.

Check films in the hundreds of amazing cinemas, in Officiel des Spectacles:

You cannot live in Paris without going to the cinema, a proper cinema d’art et essai Mk2 Quai de Seine, L”entrepot, those in the 5th and 6th districts, Le Brady, L’archipel (10e), Le Max Linder, literally dozens of splendid cinemas, and always affordable if you get a UGC card, or MK2 card etc....

For theatre: why not experience an incredible avant-garde show, by going to

Or the other amazing theatres: Bouffes du Nord, Amandiers, l’Atelier?

Browse books in wonderful second hand bookshops or literary bookshops:

Chez Tschann, Colette, Compagnie, the horrible but very well stocked Gibert next to the Sorbonne, and the bouquinistes of course...


Check books such as Paris méconnu.éconnu-Ratton-Jacques-Garance/dp/2361950162

Websites such as Paris pittoresque:


A fairy tale castled tucked in central Paris: Château de la Reine blanche...

Tour Jean Sans Peur

Villa moderniste Tristan Tzara

Marché Chateau Rouge

Marché des Enfants Rouges

La goutte d’or, setting of L’Assommoir!

Max Dormoy area

Rosa Luxembourg Gardens

ALL THE PASSAGES IN 9th, 10th districts: du Verdeau,  Vivienne, Colbert, du Désir, du Paradis, et oui, c’est Paris!

Make sure you explore the banlieue, Saint-Denis, Nanterre, the “red belt” where an incredible popular culture developed in the 1930s but is becoming vibrant again today. Make sure you do so with French friends who will take pride in showing the places where Modern France is shaping up. Go to Fontainebleau, cycle to La Villette, the velib’ is truly amazing, particularly during the weekend when the city is empty and  literally, all yours, à vos pieds! The future is not in the centres anymore, but in the peripheries, contrary to what some journalists are intimating. Youth Culture is going through a renaissance in France, but it is not well known outside national boundaries. Singers like Cristine and the queens are really worth listening to. You are the explorers of the 21st century, and certainly not tourists!

Some hot tips from REAL PARISIANS

Les caves populaires, rue des Dames, dans le 17è, métro Place de Clichy: c'est un petit café très sympathique où les gens du quartier viennent jouer aux cartes ou discuter le dimanche après midi. Le café est à un euro (très rare à Paris), généralement servi avec un bâton de cannelle. Je n'ai jamais vu de touriste dans ce café, ce serait donc pour vos étudiants une expérience authentiquement parisienne!

Le Cyrano, un bar très beau et très calme dans le 17è également, métro place de Clichy, on peut y discuter entouré de belles mosaïques et miroirs mais ce n'est pas non plus trop chic.

La Cantine, un bar- restaurant métro Belleville, très spacieux avec une bonne ambiance et une très grande terrasse chauffée et abritée l'hiver.

Le Comptoir Général, quai de Jemmapes dans le 10è, très spacieux avec une ambiance unique: le jour, c'est un musée de la culture africaine, le soir c'est un bar/restaurant avec cuisine africaine, parfois des concerts, et une courette avec de la végétation tropicale. Les étudiants de Cambridge en échange à l'ENS y allaient souvent et s'y plaisaient. Par contre il faut y aller vers 18h sinon il y a de la queue pour entrer.

A la Bellevilloise il y a souvent des concerts, et le lieu est chouette, même si un peu cher.

Les cafés BOBO: Café des Anges, Café Prune, Café de l’industrie.

Les cafés Concept et autres:

Bar Merci Blvd Beaumarchais

Delaville Café (why, you ‘ll discover why...)

Cosi, best place to eat ...Cosi unique food, Rue de Seine, cheap and sublimely tasty, never crowded, opera music played all day....Cosiez-vous vite!

Café solidaire de la place de la République, génial et pas cher, géré par la Mairie!

Bar de l’Ourq

Viennoiserie opposite Sorbonne Nouvelle

Café next to Balzar brasserie and Champolion Cinema, 5eme.

Best Vietnamese food in Paris, Buttery prices:

The list is infinite, each district has many amazingly affordable cafés (where you can work of course!) even the posh ones (but trickier to find a decent place there alas), all good places are in the Paris pas cher


Tips and experiences from those currently experiencing student life in Paris

  • I am currently living in private accommodation, as ENS Paris doesn’t rent out rooms to Erasmus students. My rent is €550/mois charges incluses.
  • The bureaucracy here really is as bad as I’d heard it to be, so be prepared for several weeks of confusion where no one really seems to know what to do, where to go, who to contact, etc.
  • Try lots of classes at the beginning and see what suits you - the ENS students don’t have to sign up to their modules officially until November so it gives you an idea of the length of the trial period here! Having said that, to validate your credits, you can’t miss more than 2 or 3 lessons per term, so if you join a class at the end of October or beginning of November, you might already have missed too many to be able to validate them, so keep that in mind.
  • Try something new! I’m only taking one literature paper here, and my other modules are 3 geopolitics papers, Biblical culture, Arabic and Spanish (to keep up my Spanish, which is my other language in Cambridge). I’ve never studied geopolitics before and I was worried that I would feel really out of my depth, but it’s been so interesting and whilst I may have felt challenged, I’ve not felt overwhelmed.
  • Remember that there are two campuses for the ENS in Paris - one (Ulm) in the 5th arrondissement, and another (Jourdan) in the 14th. If you want to do social sciences you might want to bear the fact that social sciences are taught in the Jourdan campus (14th arrondissement) in mind when looking for a flat.
  • Making friends - You really do have to go for it, but also think about what kind of environment works for you and be creative in the way you want to meet people. A lot of people say that you really have to go on the crazy ‘weekend d’intégration’ called the ‘Mega’ to meet French people, but I knew that the partying atmosphere really wasn’t my thing. That’s not to say that the Mega is awful and you should avoid it at all costs - lots of people go and have a good time. I just knew that that wouldn’t be the case for me. So instead, I went on a weekend away with a French church, on a geography field trip with the Geography department here, etc and I met so many really nice people through that.
  • Another thing about making French friends - during their equivalent of Freshers Week, try to speak French even when with other English speaking students, because if not, from the French people’s perspective, you seem really cliquey and difficult to approach - a group of foreign students in a huddle speaking in a foreign language is going to seem rather exclusive!
  • The ENS told me that, since I was an Erasmus student, I wouldn't get lodging at the ENS so I had to go private. It was a NIGHTMARE trying to find somewhere reasonably priced, comfortable and close to the ENS. I almost got scammed. I tried web sites like but mostly got answers from creepy middle-aged men asking if we could share a bed since there was no heating. Ended up in this dodgy collocation full of Brits with a semi-psychopathic Russian landlord. Paid 650 euros a month for what was essentially an unfinished scrapheap challenge in the middle of Montparnasse.
  • I did some great courses! I did French law, International law, German and Chinese. Studying law in French was fascinating and I got a lot of support from my French law professor who even asked me to edit his book (that he wrote in English). Chinese was also pretty good. It was a very intensive course but I learnt lots and really enjoyed the challenge of learning a completely different language.
  • Student ''life'' was interesting but not always great. The Friday-night 'discos'' were essentially held in some dingy basement room with décor that looked like it belonged in a bad US high school drama from the 1970s. The students are really nice though! The Fresher's weekend offered involves a 10 hour coach journey to the middle of nowhere (eek!) but I enjoyed it because I met lots of new people from all over the place. Everyone was really welcoming.
  • I was working in Paris for six months so living privately; I found a small studio for 800 euros a month through an agency. This wasn’t ideal and very expensive but fortunately I was eligible for CAF which gave me about 200 euros off a month - this is definitely worth applying for even though it is a massive hassle and takes a long time. Since Paris accommodation is a bit of a nightmare, I would recommend the rooms in the ENS - I had friends there and the rooms were basic, but inexpensive and very well located.
  • L'ENS à Paris ne donne pas de logement aux étudiants étrangers qui participent à un projet Erasmus. Je ne sais pas si la fac en est au courant mais j'ai dû m'adresser à l'ENS indépendamment pour le découvrir.
  • J'ai donc trouvé un logement privé dans un bâtiment consacré à des appartements pour étudiants (Campuséa). Je l'ai trouvé grâce à Je le recommande assez vivement aux futurs étudiants Erasmus, vu que comme ça au moins ils auront d'autres étudiants comme voisins. Le prix était assez élevé par contre: ~€680/mois pour une chambre 12m² dans un studio pour trois. Il faudrait aussi remarquer que les locataires n'étaient pas seulement français mais on y trouvait également beaucoup d'Américains; danger pour ceux qui auraient un peu peur de parler français.
  • J'ai juste pris des cours de Sciences Cognitives à l'ENS de Paris.
  • Il faut avouer que l'ENS est moins bien organisée que Cambridge. Ils ont perdu mon dossier au début de l'année et j'ai dû écrire à tous les professeurs des différents modules pour demander si je pouvais assister à leurs séminaires.
  • Si j'avais un conseil à donner aux futurs étudiants d'échange, ce serait d'être patient avec tous les processus administratifs. La meilleure chose serait de trouver de bons amis dans son cours parce que les professeurs ne semblent pas toujours savoir à qui envoyer les courriels avec les informations sur le cours (je n'avais pas reçu un courriel qui informait les étudiants que l'examen de Neuranatomie allait être aussi l'examen de Neurobiologie; un module que je n'avais pas préparé en anticipation d'un examen séparé).
  • I'm living in private accommodation in the 5ème (so a 10-minute walk from the ENS!). I'm sharing a flat (75m2) with another Cambridge student, and we're each paying €770 excluding charges (so an addition €30-40/month approximately). It is a really lovely flat & our landlord is really helpful/amazing! 
  • I'm taking classes at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (actually, I'm doing more ECTS here than I am at the ENS...) but I have to say it was kind of difficult to arrange simply because I wanted to validate my classes/ECTS here. 
  • No other tips really, but just so you know, ENS Paris doesn't provide rooms for Erasmus students (they just provide rooms for those on exchange), so basically if we are at the ENS with Erasmus, we have to rent privately. 

AND FINALLY, never hesitate to talk to other French Erasmus students who are staying in Cambridge every year or talk to your DoS in French, or contact Chris and Hugo for other tips on the Year Abroad.

“Et c’est à vingt ans qu’on est le roi du monde” is a line from a famous French song. Looking at Notre Dame from the Pont des arts, on a lazy Sunday morning, you’ll feel on top of the world!