A week into Paris prices and you’ll be missing the warm embrace of the £1.90 college pint or £2 VK. How many bars are there in Paris and how can they all charge over €5 for a pint? Have they not heard of a Wetherspoons? A Yates? A college bar? Then again, I imagine a French Wetherspoons would have an art deco ceiling and themed nights like Macaron Mardiand Steak Frites Samedi. And no doubt, they’d still charge €5 for a pint.
You’ll convince yourself that this will make your tolerance weaker and your bank account stronger but instead of £7 formal wine, you’ll spend €20 a bottle to end up in the same position. As they say in France, c’est la vie.
Drinking in Paris is, well, like drinking in the UK: with apéritifs, the mandatory bottle of wine, and digestifs at dinner; it truly is a central part of the cultural experience. Go to any bar after 7 and it is packed with students, businessmen, and drunken messes alike. But navigating Paris on a budget is never easy – not when there are rooftop bars that can (and will) charge €10 for a pint. But this is where I, your resident alcohol-enthusiast, come in. Come drink your way across Paris with me.
Nouvel Institut / Le Viaduc
Their happy hour will be your new best friend. Their drinks won’t be. The one benefit that you can rely on with Paris drinks is that you’re definitely paying for alcohol. With some cocktail bars, you wonder if they’ve even opened a bottle of vodka in their vicinity. Not here. Here after one sip, you’ll turn to your friend to say, “ooh that’s strong”. After two, you’re giggly. You don’t attempt a third.
Locations: 5tharrondissement / 12tharrondissement
Closest Metros: Jussieu / Gare de Lyon
Pricing: €3 pints, €6 cocktails
The margaritas will hit you like a ton of bricks. In the 20-minute wait for a table, you'll naively start drinking. Tequila on an empty stomach is not a good idea, but in this warm, tiny box of a restaurant, it’ll seem like a great one. As you sway over to the counter to order some downright amazing tacos, you’ll confidently claim that you can drink another one and then be confused as to why you fell asleep on the metro home.
Closest Metro: Oberkampf
You say you’ll go for the food, promising yourself that you’ll eat before you drink this time. But you’re just too excited about seeing a pitcher again that you forget any and all idea of this until it’s a little too late. So, you’ll inevitably (and desperately) use the pop-up food stands to “sober” yourself up. But, despite this, the dichotomy between you (drunk on a pitcher of beer) and those who have clearly come from the office, wearing suits and sipping on wine, is stark.
Closest Metro: Gare de Lyon
Joe and Joe
You’re feeling bold and ready to venture out of real Paris into the banlieue. You’ll be proud of yourself for taking an RER for the first time ever and reward yourself thoroughly in this bobo(bourgeois bohême) cocktail bar. Between the beer wall and the aesthetic courtyard, you won’t feel like you’re in Paris anymore – a pleasant escape from its hectic reality. But with the RER train home, as cool as it was, you won’t venture out again.
Closest Metro: Gentilly
Pricing: €6 cocktails (but €6 pints)
And when worse comes to worst, when the Erasmus grant is running out, there’s always Carrefour.