Saving money in Lyon.
March 13, 2008 5:16 PM   Subscribe

How can I save money and still have fun while in Lyon for a month?

I'm going to Lyon for a month this summer as part of a university program to improve my french. Yay! I'll be going with 19 other students from my university.

The details are that I'll be living in the Guillotières neighbourhood, "5 minutes by foot" from the Université Lumière Lyon 2 (the Université's "why Lyon is amazing" page). Airfare, rent, and half of tuition are all being taken care of. The rooms all have kitchenettes, and there's going to be free breakfast every morning (but I don't know if there's a limit on how much you can have).

At most, for food AND fun, I'll have $500CAD. More likely is $200CAD. I really, really do want to have fun, as I'm living at home and really don't have the opportunity to do whatever I want. This will be amazing. So I ask: how much will food cost? How can I get cheap food (and where)? What are some cheap places to have visit, or go drinking?

Bonus points if the 'fun' places are weird, or have to do with art (just about any type, but I love medieval art and post-1900 art the most) or architecture.

I live at home, and have barely left the cities I've lived in (Edmonton/Ottawa), so I'm a real newbie about every aspect of this. It's all very overwhelming, and I'm completely at a loss of how much to expect things to cost in a foreign country, so any help would be appreciated.
posted by flibbertigibbet to Travel & Transportation around Lyon, France (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: That's really not very much money. I'm sorry to sound negative, but you can spend that much money in a week in France without blinking an eye, and Lyon is one of the more expensive cities in France.

I wouldn't plan on eating out or drinking out very often, though this doesn't mean you can't go out with friends. Just get one drink, and set a limit. You could maybe try giving English lessons or something if you meet any French kids while you're there?

If you've only got $200CAD that is roughly...135 euros. You could stretch that for 2 weeks but I'm not seeing how you'll get by for 4 weeks. It can be done but...yeah. Be extremely vigilant with how you spend your money.

As for food, France has the highest TAV in Western Europe, and I've heard it's the highest country for consumer goods. Fruits and vegetables won't set you back too much but packaged goods, cheese, etc. can get pretty expensive. If you shop at the outdoor market and ONLY buy fruits and vegetables (what I try to do) and cook for yourself, you can get by on 10 euros a week. However, your meals WILL consist of eating a sweet potato for lunch and shit like that (oh to be a poor student!). If you're buying groceries at a place like Monoprix and you like the packaged stuff, expect to spend more like 30 euros/week...conservatively.

Cheap stuff to eat? Kebabs are around 5 euros and are extremely filling, but I wouldn't eat them regularly. There's some other fast food but I find restaurants generally expensive.

Is there any way you can get a job now and save up in preparation? 135 euros for a month of food in France is nothing. Honestly. Nothing. Add drinking to that and, well, it's not looking too good.
posted by nonmerci at 6:05 PM on March 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, and forgot to mention: shoot me a MeFi mail if you need any advice. Additionally, I have a French friend who is doing his M2 in Lyon right now and I think he'd be happy to give you advice. If you'd like I can ask him if he'd be willing to get in contact with you. He will have more relevant advice on fun, weird spots than I will!
posted by nonmerci at 6:12 PM on March 13, 2008

Response by poster: OK, so I'm fighting and saving money up for $500 CAD. If I can get $500, would it be possible to still have fun and such?
posted by flibbertigibbet at 6:20 PM on March 13, 2008

Credit card! or get a loan.... It's worth it, i promise :)
posted by Planet F at 6:20 PM on March 13, 2008

Seconding Planet F. Really, it is worth it.
posted by nonmerci at 6:23 PM on March 13, 2008

Best answer: Well, that's a tight budget, but totally doable :)
When I lived in Lyon, my friends and I would go to the market on the Quai de Tilsit about 11.30-12.30 on Sunday, just before they close, and get a kilo of zucchini, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes for 1 or 2 euros each (works best if you can share, otherwise you're eating two things that week!). The cheapest grocery store, we found, was Leader Price: there's one at (I think) the Bachut stop on T2. I didn't really eat out at all, except that you should definitely splash out at one of the bouchons in Vieux Lyon (~15euro).
I can't at the moment remember anything I did there except go to pubs/bars, but I know there was other stuff. I also have some french friends still living there who would probably be happy to meet you and tell you somewhere to go, if you'd like to get in touch.
Here's a group on facebook, which links to other relevant Lyon groups as well.
posted by jacalata at 6:38 PM on March 13, 2008

Best answer: When you get to Lyon, if not before, I'd suggest picking up a copy of the Guide du Routard for Lyon (if your French is up to reading a guidebook in French). It has recommendations for every budget and several good suggestions for walking tours that are free. When you're there, you should also find a copy of the Petit Paumé, a Lyon guidebook written by students for students. (The French is more colloquial than the Routard, though, to say nothing of other guidebooks.)

If you're trying to eat on a limited budget, and you have kitchen facilities, visit the Halles de Lyon and pick up bread, cheese, and whatever you want to cook. You can get food more cheaply elsewhere but it's worth at least wandering through the Halles to see what Lyon has to offer. Given where you'll be, you can also get good prices on food by strolling or taking the tramway over to the commercial center at Part-Dieu, where there's a Carrefour (big supermarket).

If you eat at home you'll save money for going out in the evening to some of the boats moored along the Rhône that have been turned into cafés and bars. Definitely worth checking out on a summer evening. You can walk up and down the left bank of the Rhône, on the university side, watching people, taking a chair in a café and relaxing, etc.

And you should definitely set aside 30-50 Euros for a splurge in one of Lyon's restaurants, at least once. You won't get Paul Bocuse at that price, but you can eat very well. I had a good meal at Le Gailleton, on the place du docteur Gailleton (just across the river from the Guillotière quarter) that cost about 30 Euros and was well worth the price. Just remember to reserve, and avoid the tourist traps. (The Petit Paumé is indispensable for identifying them.)

Have fun!
posted by brianogilvie at 6:42 PM on March 13, 2008

Response by poster: Planet F should know more about my situation than to suggest credit. :P (We actually do know each other in real life).

I'll see what I can do, but it's pretty unlikely. Barring some sort of evidence that credit is the only way to keep my money safe while traveling (and Planet F and I both know that safety-pinning it to your underwear is another, more interesting, way :P), I'll have no cosigner.

Jacalata: That's exactly the kind of information that I need. Thankyouthankyou!
posted by flibbertigibbet at 6:45 PM on March 13, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks brianolgivie! I forgot to mention that, yeah, my French is pretty good, at least for reading: about half of my courses each semester are history courses given in French.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 6:46 PM on March 13, 2008

Best answer: I lived for two years in France (and Lyon for 6 months) on $175 month + rent and metro pass [total], and not a penny more. You can see a lot of things in Lyon, but you're going to have to stick with cheap. Get a metro pass, you'll save a lot of money on transportation. Check out the tourist offices, see everything you can. I can't really give you specifics because I wasn't there as a tourist.

If you have access to a kitchen you can shop somewhere like Norma, and if you're prepared to eat only the basics, you could live off of 10 euros/week (my record is 7 euros for two people for one week) but you won't enjoy the food or ever want to do it again.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:44 PM on March 13, 2008

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