Food, healthcare, transportation, entertainment… the cost of living in France can be fairly high, especially in Paris and the big cities. It's better to prepare your budget to avoid unpleasant surprises when you move here.
Opening a bank account in France
It can be very handy to open a bank account in France, in particular for paying bills (electricity, telephone, rent) and subscriptions (transportation, Internet). You will also be able to cash any wages you receive and it's easier to be reimbursed for healthcare expenses. A French payment card also lets you pay for most things so you don't have to carry large amounts of cash with you.
Owning a French bank account is a right recognised by French authorities. A foreign student can open a bank account in any bank in France. The different banks have branches in most cities; just open the door and make an appointment with a counsellor.
Compare what the different banks offer. The costs of the bank card, international transfers and cash withdrawals abroad may vary noticeably from one bank to another.
Three documents are needed to open a bank account: identification, proof of residence and an attestation of enrolment or a student card. If you still don't have any accommodation, you may be able to use the address of the service of international relations of your institution.
After you open a bank account, you will have the right to a bank card and a cheque book. With your Relevé d’Identité Bancaire (RIB - bank account information slip), you will be able to easily make the different monthly payments you have.
If you face difficulties to open an account, a process called "droit au compte" (right to account) can help you: the Banque de France will appoint a bank and force it to open an account for you. Details of this process, documents to provide and associations offering help are available on the Banque de France website.
Your food budget
In average, the French dedicate about 300€/month to food expenses. Of course, this value varies depending on the city you are living in, and your personal habits. Overall, everyday life cost is slightly more expensive in Paris.
Here are the average prices of a few base products:
- a baguette: 1 Euro;
- a croissant: 1.10 Euros;
- 1 kg of pasta: 1.50 Euros;
- 1 litre of milk: 1.20 Euros;
- 6 eggs: 1.50 Euros;
- a coffee in a bar or restaurant: 2 Euros;
- a meal in the university restaurant (RU): 3,25 Euros;
- a fastfood meal: 7 Euros;
- a meal in a restaurant: 10 to 20 Euros;
- a sandwich from a bakery with a drink: 5 to 8 Euros.
meal in a "restaurant universitaire" (RU, for university restaurant): 3.25 Euros;
Your healthcare budget
In France, doctors are free to apply the prices they want. To stay in control of your healthcare budget, we recommend "conventionnés de secteur 1" (sector 1) doctors, who charge an amount that is almost entirely reimbursed by Social Security. You will pay less and be better reimbursed. If you go to see a doctor at the university health center; check-ups are free.
Here are a few examples of how much medical visits costs under "conventionné secteur 1" pricing and the part reimbursed by Social Security:
check up with a GP: 25 Euros (16,50 Euros reimbursed);
- check up with a specialist: 25 Euros (16,50 Euros reimbursed);
- check up with a gynaecologist, ophthalmologist: 30 Euros (20 Euros reimbursed);
- checkup with a dentist: 30 Euros (the amount reimbursed depends on what is done).
Your transportation budget
If you live far from your host institute, your transportation budget can represent a significant part of your total budget. It is important to anticipate. Here are a few basic prices to help you prepare your transportation budget:
- an annual transit subscription in Paris at the student rate: 342 Euros;
- an annual transit subscription outside of Paris at the student rate: between 250 and 300 Euros;
- 1 litre of petrol: 1.40 Euros;
- 1 selfservice bicycle: the rates vary depending on the cities with yearly subscriptions available. In Paris, an annual self-service bicycle subscription at the student rate: 19 or 29 Euros;
- 1 ParisBarcelona return plane ticket: 150 Euros;
- 1 SNCF discount card for 1827-year-olds: 50 Euros per year;
- 1 ParisLondon return Eurostar ticket: 100 to 150 Euros;
- 1 ParisMarseille return TGV ticket: 140 Euros;
Students enjoy a number of transportation discounts. Don't hesitate to take advantage of them; they may save you a lot of money.
Your entertainment budget
The price of entertainment and cultural activities varies considerably. There's something for everyone and for every budget. You will often get discounts and special rates when you show your student card or if you are under 25. Here are a few examples to help you work out your entertainment budget:
- 1 cinema ticket at the under26 price: between 5 and 7.50 Euros;
- an unlimited subscription to the cinema: 30 Euros per month;
- 1 entry for a museum or national monument: free for all European Economic Area nationals under 26 or between 5 and 15 Euros;
- 1 discount entry for the swimming pool : between 1.50 and 3 Euros;
- 1 pocket book: between 5 and 10 Euros ;
- 1 theatre ticket: from 10 Euros;
- 1 daily national paper: between 2 and 3 Euros.
cinema unlimited subscription: 30 Euros/month