Tuesday, March 18, 2008


1) What would you consider to be a sufficient amount of money one should bring to Aix in order to pay for: please consider that 1 euro = $1.55
- leisure travel (surrounding countries)
- food
- school books
- laundry
- buses

2) How do you set up a bank account in France?

3) Is the dorm residence worth the price or are apartments (more expensive) actually worth the added expense?

4) What are some good savings tips that you guys might have for entering Aix "08-09" students?

5) Is the price for a simple café or coke in Aix approximately 6 euros?

6) Is is true that there are NO free refills on drinks in restaurants in and around Aix?


Jane said...

1. Leisure travel--it really depends on where you want to go and how far you book your tickets in advance. With ryanair and easyjet, you can usually get roundtrip tickets to major european capitals for about 80 euro.
Food--I spend about 25 euro a week on food (sometimes more; it depends).
Laundry--It'll cost you about five euro to wash and dry your clothing
Buses--A bus ticket is 1.10 euro if you buy it on the bus. If you go to the office of tourism, you can get a packet of 10 tickets for 7.70 euro, or you can get a 20 euro monthly bus pass that'll let you ride the bus as much as you want for that month
-school books--Depends on what kind of classes you'll be taking. Since I'm taking only literature classes, I was able to find a lot of my books at used bookstores, so I ended up only paying about 20 euro this semester for all my books.

2. The program will help you set up a bank account with LCL, a national french bank. The program will organize a special meeting with the student section of the bank, and everything will be taken care of from there. All you'll need to bring with you from America to set it up is a passport, a birth certificate, and the piece of paper verifying that you'll be studying at a French university (you need to have all of this stuff with you anyway to get your carte de séjour). You'll also need an attestation du logement, but you'll be able to get that from the dorm or your landlord in France.

3. I personally think it's better to live at the dorms. It can be inconvenient to live there sometimes--it does get dirty, there aren't ovens, and it's a bit of a walk from the center of town. But if you want to save a ton of money and if you want to meet more francophone people, then you might want to consider staying at the dorms.

4. When you come to France, go to the SNCF station and get the 12-25 card. It'll get you crazy discounts on train and TGV tickets. It costs 50 euro, but it essentially pays for itself after one or two trips.

If you're at a restaurant and you want water, ask for a carafe d'eau. If you ask for just water, they'll give you a mineral water that you'll have to pay for. A carafe d'eau, however, is just a pitcher of tap water, so it won't cost you anything.

5. No way! A can of coke will cost you between 1 euro and 1.80. If you buy a can in one of the little Proxi quick-stop grocery stores, it should cost about 1 euro. If you buy it at a sandwich stand, it'll be around 1.80.

As far as coffee goes, an espresso costs between 1.60 and 1.90--it really depends on the place you go. A café crème, the closest thing France has to a latte, generally costs about 2.20 or 2.30 euro. If you want American style coffee, ask for a café allongé. I'm not sure how much those cost though, since I never order them.

6. Not sure, I only ever get water.

Nicole said...

Jane already answered most of these...but:

3) It really depends on what you want. I like my apartment, and I don't think I'd have enjoyed myself in the dorms. I just don't like them, but I knew that going in. Plus, I've got a washing machine, so I can do my laundry for free and we don't have to pay for heat because it was included. And I've got a tv. So, it's nice and convenient, but the dorms have their benefits, too - more foreigners, MUCH cheaper, etc.

But like I said, I think it's really a personal choice/depends on your budget.

5. No. That's insane...and while the prices are still a bit steeper than they'd be in the US, they're not that ridiculous. A simple cafe is like 2 euro at most, a coke at a cafe is usually between 3,50 and 4. You can get them for cheaper at stores, etc. Hot chocolate is typically the same as a coke at a cafe...

6. True. If you get a coke at a restaurant, drink it slowly or be prepared to buy a second. Your carafe d'eau will be refilled, but anything else, you're going to have to pay for - even at Subway, Quick, or McDonald's. Matter of fact, I was in line once at a Quick (this is Belgium/Europe's idea of McDonald's) where a guy dropped his Coke on the floor right next to the register - instead of getting a free refill for something that couldn't be helped, he had to pay for a second drink.

Sally said...

2. I found it really helpful that Bank of America has a partnership with BNP. It allowed me to withdrawl money from my Bank of America checking account at any BNP and at a great rate, with no fee at all. I suggest you check to see if your bank has any partnerships in France and if not maybe consider opening an account with Bank of America.