Image by Cimm
Paris is not often associated with budget travel. Known as the epitome of luxury and style, where the bourgeois elite only ever dine on miniscule servings of haute cuisine and dainty designer macarons, the French capital just screams ‘expensive!’ But is this really the case?
It doesn’t have to be; you just need to know where to go. In a city where a soft drink costs more than a glass of wine and endless tourist traps lure you with over-priced snacks, working out where to eat in Paris can be a tricky business; this, combined with the currency conversion and language barrier makes it even more compliqué.
Unless you want to survive solely on wine and cheese (come to think of it that isn’t such a bad idea…) here are five ways you can eat on a budget in Paris.
Crepes: Pancakes but Better
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There is just no question; the French can do food. Top-class culinary precision and divine execution of flavour combinations even filters down to street food, the most striking example of which being the crepe, found in every neighbourhood. Think wafer-thin dough, oozing melted cheese and thick-cut ham, garnished with crunchy fresh salad and cracked black pepper. If you have a sweet tooth, go for nutella and banana; a simple but satisfying classic. Quality of crepe varies from vendor to vendor, so hang back and check out what other hungry patrons are getting for their money before you hand over your euros.
Price: €3 – €9
That’s a Load of Falafel
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It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think ‘French cuisine’, but falafel is one of the most popular street snacks in Paris. These middle-eastern pita parcels of delectable deliciousness are stuffed with all sorts of tasty ingredients; from the scrumptious fried aubergine, pickles, tahini and hot sauce, to the chickpea falafel balls themselves, this feast of flavours is one not to be missed.
Falafel is a great option for non-meat eaters, as the French don’t seem to cater for, or in fact understand, vegetarianism at all. L’As du Fallafel on Rue des Rosiers (in the Marais, the Jewish quarter of the city), is known as one of the greatest places to eat falafel in Paris, so prepare for queues; we guarantee it’ll be worth the wait.
Price: €5 – €8
Have a Mosey in the Markets
Markets are a quintessential aspect of French life; the fresh produce and lively atmospheres found in Parisian market places make for top browsing conditions, and whether you’re looking to cook your purchases in your hostel kitchen, or grab something warming as you wander, you can be sure to find some bargains along the way. Marché Richard Lenoir, a stone’s throw from Place de la Bastille, is a people-watcher’s paradise; locals scrutinise the wares displayed at colourful stalls as curious tourists observe and imitate. Pencil in a morning on the itinerary so you can take your time; check paris.fr for opening times.
Price: Depends how hungry you are!
Dining out in Paris is a Picnic
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The weather in Paris can be unpredictable, but if it’s dry, you just can’t beat a picnic in one of the city’s many parks and gardens. In the summer months, head to the Sacre Coeur via a boulangerie to feast on warm baguette with creamy cheeses, artisan charcuterie and a bottle of Beaujolais as you watch the sun set over the iconic Parisian horizon. Fruit and vegetables are very reasonably priced in Paris and the dairy section of the supermarket is often the largest in the whole shop; a quick whizz around Monoprix and voila! You’re ready to faire un pique-nique.
Price: Wine €2+ Picnic for Two: €10+
Image by Fil.Al
If you simply must sample some of the restaurants in Paris, we recommend swinging by Rue Mouffetard, in the 5th arrondissement, for some tantalising menus with prices to match. Wander the narrow cobbled street and browse the offerings chalked onto the ‘prix fixe’ menus in swirling handwriting outside each restaurant. You can feast on a three course dinner and wine for under €20; menus include French classics such as soupe a l’oignon, boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin and escargot (yes, snails).
Price: €10 – €20+