Living cheaply while travelling or staying in a foreign country as a student can be done almost anywhere, but often requires a lot of forethought. Your biggest expense is likely to be accommodation, unless you’re lucky enough to find a friend to put you up. Hostels are a great alternative to more expensive hotels or holiday apartments; they provide an excellent opportunity to meet new people and give you a little more freedom than some hotels do. However, you don’t want to sacrifice too much on quality in order to save a few bucks. The hostels below have been chosen as the best in their city based on price, location, facilities and guest ratings.
Note: All prices (correct at time of research) are per person, per night.
Paris – Le Village Boutique Hostel
20 Rue d’Orsel, 75018 Paris
Prices: Dorms from €19.95 ($28.72), private from €31.65 ($45.56)
Key features: Free breakfast, Wi-Fi, luggage storage, cell phone chargers. Cafe, bar, kitchen, library, common room, cable TV, bedding included.
Naturally, accommodation in France’s capital is more expensive than elsewhere, but it’s still possible to find a hostel in a good location that won’t bankrupt you. Le Village Boutique Hostel is located in trendy Montmartre, just a fifteen-minute walk from Gare du Nord or a ten-minute ride on the Metro. The staff can also arrange airport transfer for you too, if you’re struggling with your luggage.
If you’re studying in Paris you’ll be close enough to the main academic institutions, including the American University of Paris. A 35 minute walk or 20 minute subway ride will take you into the centre of the city – the Louvre, Pompidou Centre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and Champs-Élysées.
Marseille – Vertigo Vieux-Port
38 Rue Fort Notre Dame, Marseille
Prices: Dorms from €25 ($35.99), private from €32.50 ($46.78)
Location: The Old Port area, walking distance from the central market, beaches, bars and clubs.
Key features: Free breakfast, Wi-Fi, bed linen. Kitchen, common room, cable TV, lockers.
This hostel in France’s second largest city was voted the best hostel in the country by Hostelworld in 2012. Close by is the Notre-Dame de la Garde church (not the Parisian cathedral!), which is the site of an annual pilgrimage on the Catholic holiday of Assumption. The hostel has been recently renovated and the building mixes vintage-looking exposed brick with a colourful, modern touch.
Though more expensive than the Paris hostel (options are limited for hostels in Marseille), Vertigo Vieux-Port still comes with plenty of free add-ons and it’s not too costly to upgrade from an 8 bed mixed dorm to a private twin. Staff are multilingual and available at all times and each room is decorated by local artists, giving the place a unique and quirky look.
Lyon – Cool & Bed
32 Quai Arloing, Lyon
Prices: Dorms from €20 ($28.79)
Location: 15 minute walk from the city centre
Key features: Breakfast included, free Wi-Fi. Bar, restaurant, kitchen, lockers, common room, laundry facilities.
Lyon’s first backpacker hostel lives up to its name – it looks cool and it’s an affordable, comfortable place to bed down for the night. This hostel has a very modern look, with lots of bright spaces and shiny, colourful fixtures. Its bar is one of the cheapest in Lyon and if drinking is your thing, they hold a pub crawl every Thursday. Not to worry if it isn’t though, they also have poker nights, city visits and discounts on trips to ski or adventure parks, depending on the season.
Situated by the river, you’re sure to see some lovely views. You also won’t be far from several key academic institutions, including the Conservatoire National Supérieur Musique et Danse, which is practically on the doorstep. Just five minutes from the subway station, you will have the rest of Lyon at your fingertips.
Nice – Villa Saint Exupery Beach
6 Rue Sacha Guitry, Nice
Prices: Dorms from €14.95 ($21.52), private from €20 ($28.79)
Location: 20 meters (22 yards) from the beach, main square and old town
Key features: Free breakfast and dinner, Wi-Fi, computer use, tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Bar, restaurant, gym, lockers, common room, washing machine, cable TV, bedding and towels included.
This hostel has the seemingly impossible combination of great reviews, a central location, excellent facilities and low cost. With dorm accommodation and beds in private rooms at extremely reasonable prices, the plethora of free add-ons on offer is astounding. All rooms, including the dorms, are ensuite, the location is central (and you can get a free walking tour of the area) and it’s even a nice building to look at. There’s just about everything you could ask for, down to somewhere to store your bicycle.
The hostel has been said to be more like a hotel (note the missing ‘S’). If you’re looking for something to do there’s everything from yoga classes to scuba diving, sailing and skiing trips. And if you want to explore even further, the staff will provide you with information about day trips to other parts of France, Italy and Monaco.
Many hostels in France will have English speaking staff, but you may not be able to rely on there being an English speaker available. Whether you’ll be studying or vacationing in France, you’ll endear yourself to the locals if you pick up some of the language. To get yourself started, make a quick enquiry about learning French in your area. Have you stayed at any of these hostels before? Or would you recommend any others?