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How much should I budget for food in Paris?

We will be going to Paris in September and will be renting an apartment (20-day trip). While we will likely take advantage of the boulangeries, fromageries, charcuteries, and markets to "eat in" some of the time, we would like to plan as if we will be "eating out" all of the time so we can safely estimate how much to budget for this. We will not be looking for meals at any Michelin-starred restaurants, preferring the little local places away from the tourist crowds. What would be a good estimate of daily expense per person? I started with a round $100/day but I think I am over-estimating...but would hate to be doing the reverse. I haven't been to Paris since 2005 so my own personal experience is of little help. Thank you in advance for the advice.

Posted by
161 posts

Yes, I think it would be a push to eat restaurant meals for lunch and dinner, every day. I think a reasonable estimate is 5 euros for breakfast (pastries and a coffee or juice, to go), 20 euros for lunch, and 35 euros for supper (these amounts don't include wine). So 60 euros, or about $70/ day, I think is plenty. And if you eat lunch on the go, you can subtract 10 euros for lunch.

Posted by
13455 posts

Surprisingly, an Egg McMuffin and a coffee is less expensive in Paris than it is in Green Bay, and the coffee is way better.

Posted by
2331 posts

I would probably spend less by eating only in restaurants. I'm sure I would way over buy in the markets!

Without skimping too much, and without splurging too much, we spend from 60-100 Euro daily.

Posted by
8014 posts

I do the budgeting for our travels and plan €100 per day for the two of us even when we have an apartment. Then I am pleased when we eat a few meals in and come out about €75-80/day average. We always have wine with dinner (and sometimes with lunch), espresso and a pastry late morning when we walk a lot, but try to have either lunch or dinner in the apartment.

Posted by
565 posts

I like to remind people who will be visiting Paris that they have unbelievably good Vietnamese food too, that runs the gamut from fine dining to banh mi stands. I don't know about you but after about a week of meat and cheese I must take a break and eat something light and/or vegetarian. After a dinner of veggie rice-paper wrapped spring rolls and peanut salad, I feel much better!

Posted by
2466 posts

You don't have to order a full 3-course meal every time. You can choose an entree (appetizer) and plat (main dish) or even just "le plat direct" if you aren't too hungry.
You can also ask for doggy bags, though some restaurants might not have anything suitable. I usually bring my own plastic box.
Entrees run about 8 - 10 €
Plats about 12 - 18 €
Look for "menus" which are usually 2 or 3 courses for a reduced price, beverages not included. Tax is always included.

Posted by
3377 posts

We liked to stop in sidewalk cafes around lunchtime, sit outside, and have a cheese plate (assiette de fromage) with wine or coffee depending on our plans for the afternoon. Not a good idea to sit inside where you're taking up a lunch table if the place is busy.

Another to-go option is the ubiquitous "Traitteur Asiatique," which means not a Asian who betrays his country but a place that sells dumplings, noodles, and other delights to take back to the apartment and reheat. Nice light dinner and you could even make it vegetarian if you want.

And of course the park bench lunch -- baguette plus cheese plus a beverage -- if the weather's nice.

As usual, Chexbres has good info on prices, though you could spend a lot more in a high-end place.

Posted by
3932 posts

I'm sorry, but the question is entirely variable based on your needs. You can certainly go lower cost by shopping for basic items and preparing for yourself, or go to the other end of the spectrum by eating in Michelin starred restaurants every night, and toss in lunch as well.

If you went to the low side, for two, you might be able to do it for 20 to 30 euro, but lets face it, you are in Paris! I would plan as much as my budget allows, and if I get by for less, Bonus! Go for the $100/day that gives you plenty of flexibility for a basic cafe coffee and pastries, maybe a decent lunch, then a good sit down decent evening meal. Maybe planning it out you can scrimp, then do a fantastic meal every three nights. Even good cheese, bread and meat will cost you, but still better than in the US.

Posted by
39 posts

My husband and I could be considered budget Travelers. We are headed to Paris in two weeks (and have also been to England a number of times) for our third trip and have found an interesting formula. We budget similarly to what we would spend in the United States taking the difference in currency into consideration. For instance if you can get a sandwich for $8 in the US you can get one for eight euros in France or 8 GBP's. in England. On our last trip to Paris a few years ago we budgeted 100 euros a day for both of us and it was plenty . this trip we budgeted 150 Euros per day just so we could have a little bit of a cushion. I cannot imagine that 75 euros a day would not be plenty for one person but it really depends on what you plan to do. When I say 100 euros a day I'm referring to two people all food, transportation, museums Etc, and I might comment that we are not big Museum people but we love touring chateaus and Gardens. Also we recently found something called navigo where you can get a ticket to get you on trains and buses for around 20 euros for a week and considering it cost half that just to take the train from the airport to your apartment or hotel it is well worth it. I hope you have a fantastic trip and feel free to email me if you have any more questions

Posted by
72 posts

Thank you all for your insights. At home, we generally eat 2 real meals a day and a snack of some sort. It sounds like if we plan 70-100€ per day, we should be good to go. If anyone has a favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant or great picnic tip, please share.

Posted by
2466 posts

If it's a sunny day, lots of people head down to the lower quais of the Seine. Either Right or Left Bank will have grass and/or benches and trees.

Posted by
2466 posts

And you are permitted to drink alcohol in public, as long as you are discreet about it.
But you can't drink alcohol if you are anywhere near a kiddie playground.

Posted by
21 posts

Superb crèperie: the Breizh Café at 109 RUE VIEILLE DU TEMPLE in the 3rd (the Marais).

Very popular, so there may be a line.

We're going back next year and we'll go back to this place for sure.

Posted by
1 posts

This is incredibly helpful information. My wife and I will be in Paris end of Sept/early Oct...after a stop in Vevey to visit the new Charlie Chaplin Museum. So thank you all for your thoughts, insights, suggestions on where/how to eat in Paris.

Posted by
21 posts

I second the comment about the helpful info. I'm heading to Paris tomorrow with my 85 year-old mom (her first visit to the city), and I'm glad to have confirmation that I've budgeted appropriately. Thanks to everyone who participates in these forums -- your insights are incredibly valuable!

Posted by
1044 posts

Here's another thanks. My wife and I will be in Paris in October. I'm expecting it to be like Florence or Siena. We're both on a diet so we eat light anyway. We may splurge and have a mid-level dinner one night. This is a business trip for her so she gets a generous per diem that should suffice for the two of us.

Posted by
10698 posts

A very typical Parisian lunch is a sandwich. You can buy tehm ready-made from any boulangerie or charcuterie (as well as any of the Franprix or Monoprix stores) for around 2,60 euro. Get a drink to go with it (another 2 or 3 euro) and walk to the nearest park. The French word for sandwich is sandwich (pronounced roughly sahn-weech). You can scale back at times with these if you're pushing the limit of your budget.

Next step up might be a gyro or crepe. Buckwheat crepes (savory as opposed to sweet) come with various pizza/breakfast type fillings. If it's a good place, the line can be long at certain parts of the day. With a drink, I'd guess you will pay a little under ten euro, depending on what you order.

Look for fixed priced menus at cafes. They can be a good deal. At lunch, I usually find a range around 15 euros, add a couple euro for a drink. At dinner, I normally stop if it's 25 euro or less per meal. I always look for a brisk local (rather than tourist) business to determine if the place is worth trying and arrive at the early part of dinner when they still have seats.