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Importance of Grades / Coming from a different country

Hi Everyone!

I have read several things and opinions on the subject but I'm still going to ask as this question has several angles.

I'm currently preparing an application for a couple of PhDs, after a 4-year break from academic work. I graduated with a B.A in Philosophy, then an MPhil in Philosophy, then a Masters in Communications (part-time apprenticeship in a group of research centres and uni), all that in France.
I'm at the point where I'm going to have to have my grades translated and realised (maybe a bit late) that the equivalences are not in my favor.
From what I've read, my grades (average) would be equivalent to a low 2.2.
My frustration is, these equivalences don't do justice to my actual academic career so far. Where I was, it was already very hard to obtain this, and very few of my classmates graduated with a 2.1 or above. They say this would be taken into consideration to some extent, but still, the advisor I'm in touch with said a 2.1 was a "firm requirement" for the university (Exeter and UCL).
My Philosophy years were at Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne and my Communications degree was at Paris Diderot University. These were selective degrees (i.e, although these are public institutions you normally can get in after obtaining your baccalaureate, you had to apply for these specific disciplines and were only accepted on selective criteria and after interviews). In addition, our thesis/dissertation grades were separate from the "average" calculated for the diploma (even more frustrating given that I received honors for one of my thesis - I had to write one for each year of MPhil).

I know this is all very specific and I hope I didn't bore you, but I'm just wondering, as all this won't be reflected on the transcript, only my average grades, is it worth applying? As you all know, a PhD application is a lot of work, and I'm really passionate about my subject, but I also work full time (and in a low-income position) and this would occasion a lot of expenses, so as sad as it is, I also have to be practical and take all that into consideration.

Looking forward to hearing your advice!