Recently, I spent a weekend in Paris visiting my friends who are there on Erasmus. Before I went to Paris, I told my friends that the only thing I wanted to do was see what their lives were actually like.
What follows are my observations on how students spend their weekends in Paris as opposed to Dublin:
The big night out of the week is a Saturday and we went to watch Ireland play Scotland in the Rugby World Cup. When there is a sporting event that Ireland is playing in - practically everyone makes the effort to go to see it. This felt so different to Dublin, where the nights out are usually during the week as so many people go home every weekend. We went to a fan village in the centre of Paris with huge screens, bars and food stalls, where fans can watch the games for free. Pints of wine were available to buy during the game, many were shared. These pints were, after Ireland’s victory, closely followed by a jubilant trip to an Irish bar.
Speaking of bars, this is where people choose to go on nights out. Paris does have a lot of clubs but they are pretty expensive to get into - most have an entry fee of at least €20. Bars have no entry fee and most have some form of dancing after a certain hour. Happy hour often lasts till 10pm to try and get people to arrive earlier for cheaper drinks, as Paris nightlife generally starts quite late. Wine is the drink of choice as it’s so cheap - half a bottle can be as little as €4.
If during the weekend people need to do work, they don’t go to their college library, as they probably would in Dublin. Some go to a ‘study cafe’ - a cafe where you pay around €5 an hour and get unlimited hot drinks and snacks. Others go to their accommodations’ study room. Most Irish people on Erasmus in Paris live in the Centre Culturel Irlandais (CCI). At the CCI, this room has charging points available and its own special WiFi.
The CCI is home to the Irish chaplaincy in Paris, with a chapel dedicated to St Patrick and an Irish Catholic Priest in residence. Mass — which is in English and Irish — is held every Sunday at 11:30 am. Many students on Erasmus, some who wouldn’t even consider themselves very religious, attend mass every Sunday. Quite a few people told me that they went as they found it comforting as well as social because so many people go.
Overall, my weekend in Paris was delightful, with more culture and cheaper drinks than my average weekends in Dublin. As my friends are only there for the semester or the year they are looking to make the most of their time and weekends feel pretty jam packed.