When I first arrived in France, I could never figure out why people would ask me for my age every time I went to a movie theatre or a museum. Geez, French people sure are weird about their census information, I thought.
A few months later I realized that people under 25 have all kinds of discounts here. A lot of museums are free, movie tickets are about 4.50 euros each, and the metro in Toulouse is a quarter of the price of the regular metro pass. Talk about benefits. You can even sign up for a special discount card from the rail company (the SNCF).
Unfortunately, this situation has a rather unpleasant downside: when you are over 25, you pay full price for almost everything which can be quite a shock. When I started my PhD a couple years ago, I had just turned 26. I went down to the Tisseo (the name of the metro company here in Toulouse) office and, surprise, I couldn’t get the student price anymore because I was over 25. My stipend is the lowest salary legally acceptable for a PhD student in France, so this was a tough break. The yearly metro pass suddenly ballooned from around 100 euros to over 400 euros. Ouch.
Public transport here is still a great deal even paying a lot more and I’m awful glad to have it. I just wish I’d gone down and bought my pass a few weeks earlier when I was still 25.
The moral of this story is if you are less than 25 and living in France, live it up. There’s a lot of really great activities available at reduced prices for people of your age group.
For those over 25 (like me, just turned 28 a couple months ago), most museums in France are still really reasonably priced. There’s even some that are free, like in Cassis near Marseille on the Côte d’Azur. Plus, on the first Sunday of each month, all museums in France have free entry fees.