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Paris Food Budget

We will be in Paris for 8 days in December. How much should I budget for food each day for two adults? We would like to eat as cheaply as possible but still feel like we are on a Paris vacation. Does anyone have suggestions on stretching your food dollar?

Posted by
565 posts

Cafes. Ethnic restaurants. France had many colonies. Many of those inhabitants of former colonies make a delicious, inexpensive, filling meal. One or two "nice restaurant meals" should be enough to brag about to the fam back home. Nowhere on the Champs Elysses. Keep an open mind. An innocuous looking cafe next to Gare St. Lazare cooked one of the best meals I ate in Paris-a rich salmon lasagna. Street crepes. Baguettes and cheese from neighborhood shops. I followed all of these rules on my 8 day Paris vacation and never felt deprived.

Posted by
2916 posts

The amount for someone to budget is totally personal, so I can't give any advice as to that. As to keeping costs down, Emily has great advice. I'd add the open air markets to the list. That's where the people who live in Paris shop. You can get picnic foods (cheese and charcuterie), fruit, and other items to make a meal (although al fresco dining might be tough in December). Another way to keep food costs down is rent an apartment, and then have your "picnics" there, complete with wine.

Posted by
1068 posts

Emily has given you GREAT advice, and Robert has added more excellent information! I will add: Monoprix. The larger Monoprix generally have great ions of picnic items - baguettes and amazing mustards and wonderful cheese and charcuterie and so forth, including fresh produce. And many also have serve-yourself salad bars/deli areas with cold food, plus hot entrees. You can pick up yoghurt, juice (much much less expensive when purchased at Monoprix!), some bread or pastry, "lunch meat" and have a picnic (or take the meal back to your apartment) for a really good price. Beer and wine is also mind-bogglingly cheap. And yes, even at a supermarket you will feel like you are on a Paris vacation! Because you can't get things like this at home. :-) At cafes, sit inside. Sitting outside is fab for people-watching, but much more expensive. And yes! to street crepes. Also - socca. Mmmmmmmm.... hot and gorgeous and filling, and really cheap. Freebies are also available. At la Pinte (13 carrefour de l'Odéon) the bartender generally tempts us with a few slices of AMAZING saucisson-on the house-when we order a pint or two. At the Highlander (8 Rue de Nevers-our favorite pub) the cocktail nuts and pretzels are free-flowing. Another place (sorry, forget name) we ordered a beer and got freshly fried potato chips (!) and a plate of picholine olives. As for an actual amount of money? Gosh. You could get by on 30 Euros a day, I suppose, if you did all picnic-style and didn't go crazy on alcohol. Last winter I remember spending 2 Euros 38 for a bottle of decent red wine, between 80 cents and 1 Euro 20 for a hot fresh baguette, about 3 Euros for a nice link of garlic saucisson, some nice sliced jambon for about 4 Euros, and a couple of amazing roasted duck thighs and garlic-roasted new potatoes for 8 Euros. http://courses.monoprix.fr/RIDA/Alimentation-Boissons-6543255

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you for the suggestions. We have an apartment in the 4e Arrondissement. I would like to keep food under 50-75 euros a day for both of us (less if possible)and then also have one splurge night. Is that doable?

Posted by
1068 posts

TOTALLY do-able, especially since you have an apartment and will be able to cook! At 50 Euros a day, you can eat out every night! Not fancy eat out, but eat out.

Posted by
14 posts

Just to be clear, I mean 50-75 total per day for both of us (not each of us).

Posted by
2399 posts

Since you have an apartment, yes you can do this on your budget. Breakfast at apartment, lunch, cheese, baguettes for picnic. A couple of nights we went to a Chinese restaurant and were able to fill, over fill a take out container for less than ten euro and fed two of us. We ate frugally and then two nights "splurged". I seem to remember something about getting water at restaurant that is expensive but someone else can help you with that.

Posted by
10366 posts

Also look for Franprix. Those are supermarkets found in every neighborhood. The choice isn't as nice as in the Monoprix, but these markets are everywhere.

Posted by
56 posts

Also check out Pickard. I think that is the spelling. They are all over Paris, kinda like a big Schwan's. Good frozen dishes, and very reasonable. Wife and I ate a couple of meals from there for 10e total for both of us. Easy to prepare, either boil in bags or microwave oven. There are all kinda of like gourmet deli places good food, remember the price on the signs is per kilo, aka 2.2 lbs.so to get a container of something for two is about half the price on the sign. We also found a big Monoprix and they have very good prepared food, probably like Dillons or Albertson's in Joplin.

Posted by
20478 posts

Yes, with an apartment you're golden. We shopped at our local Franprix and found good bottles of wine for 3 to 5 Eu and a good selection of meat, cheese, and produce. Also, department store cafeterias have very good budget meals, as well as pricier fare. Check out Printemps, Gallerias Lafayette, and Bazaar L'Hotel de Ville. You can find excellent restaurants with a price of 100 Eu for 2 with wine if you scout around for a splurge.

Posted by
5688 posts

In particular, the Sunday market along Richard Lenoir (near Bastille) is huge and has many choices for prepared food that you can buy and take back to your flat. David Lebovitz is a an American food writer who has a blog with many tips for eating in Paris. Below is one of his posts on the Richard Lenoir market. www.davidlebovitz.com/2006/02/the-sunday-mark/ Also, many bakeries have nice options like quiche.

Posted by
2349 posts

Most of the bakeries will have baguettes filled with cheese or ham or chicken. They'll also have lovely quiches and chocolate tarts. But here's the thing-if you wait until you're hungry, suddenly you can't find a bakery. You end up going into the nearest cafe and spending more than you need to. My advice-when you see that nice bakery at 10 or 11 am, go in and buy your lunch. Tuck it into your bag and find a park bench later and eat. Don't try to cheapen out too much. I always love eating breakfast out, so rather than try to save a few euros, I'd eat in a cafe. That was part of the Parisian experience, and well worth the money.

Posted by
199 posts

Hi Kimberly, G20 stores carry a lot of food that is very reasonably priced. Type "G20 stores paris in 4th arrondissement" into Google Maps for locations. There are 2 in the 4th at: 115 Rue Saint-Antoine 75004 Paris, France 76 Rue Vieille du Temple
75003 Paris, France

Posted by
2916 posts

Loads of good advice. Yes, ethnic restaurants are a great choice; there is a whole district full of them on the left bank in a little enclave off St. Germain de Pres. I forget the street names, but I'm sure you can get info about it. One thing to avoid is getting drinks at tourist cafes like Cafe du Flore. That can destroy a day's budget. And here are some pictures from the Thursday market not far from Canal St. Martin and the Richard Lenoir market. You can buy the whole pig's head pictured here and feast all week:-)
http://www.mainelywinenews.blogspot.com/2012/04/finishing-up-in-paris.html

Posted by
11507 posts

If eating out and trying to save money, do not order a soda( buy a six pack for the apartment instead) as sodas often cost as much as an alcoholic drink. We often go for a pitcher of the house red, universally decent and cheap. Also, do not need to order bottled water, ask for "une carafe d"eau", tap water, its absolutely fine and free if you order food. Make an eat out meal lunch instead of dinner, just as good and often cheaper. Its not bad to eat in for the evening after a long tiring day of touring anyways. I find a "salad compossee" is a meal, its a green salad with assorted cold veggies , corn , green beans, hard boiled egg( sometimes) etc. on top. Filling and meal sized for me. I can eat out for 10-15 euros minus booze easily. You can of course spend alot more. By law all restaurants and cafes must display their menu outside , so easy to check out prices and offering before you go in.

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you all for great suggestions and help.

Posted by
11294 posts

Just two additions to all the wonderful money-saving suggestions you've gotten. If you are going to a cafe, don't go to one on a main street or at a major intersection. Go around the corner, to a cafe on a side street; the prices will be lower. If you want a quick drink, don't sit down at a cafe; order at the counter. There are two prices, and since the sit-down price includes sitting for as long as you like, it's higher.

Posted by
1530 posts

Another suggestion I didn't see but may have missed. We spent 9 days in Paris in 2010. Near our hotel we found a traiteur, sort of a deli, which had a variety of cooked vegetables, meats, and other dishes, as well as small bottles of wine. We also found a shop selling rotisserie chicken and other meats, and another with cooked seafood, as well as a bakery and pastry shop. We ended up buying 8 of 9 dinners at these shops as our hotel allowed guests to eat in the breakfast room. We were able to sample a variety of French food and as the shops were mostly frequented by Parisians we felt we got an authentic look at life in Paris. An added bonus was that we generally spent around 25Euro for healthful dinners each night.

Posted by
42 posts

Wow! These are some of the most helpful posts I've read for my future trip. I will be watching my Euros closely next summer when I take my wife and two teenagers to Paris. Thanks. Any other suggestions?

Posted by
2399 posts

We did the same as previous poster said but were in Amsterdam and then in Edinburgh. We found small, very small markets with a deli counter and were able to pick and choose meals for take-out and went back to apartment and had great meals for only about five euro each. In Edinburgh we found a Chinese restaurant which had a similar arrangement and we were able to fill container to the brim with our choice of food and four of us ate out of the two containers and were full for only a few pounds.

Posted by
262 posts

I just returned from a 2 week stay in Paris. I would say that the food is always hit or miss. We do have our favorites, which can be hit or miss too. You are always safe with an omelette or salad. My very favorite thing to do is to go the market and explore, try things that you may not find at home. We do stay in apartments to allow for cooking. I get get sick of eating out 3 meals a day. As for cost, one can eat cheaply with a little effort. Lots of good suggestions here. I think Paris can be very expensive for lousy food. I don't mind paying if it's good, but I had several meals that were $50 US for 2,that I would not feed my dog!
Always good are roasted chickens with potatoes throughout Paris for about $15, yummy! Happy Travels!!

Posted by
3050 posts

Good advice here in general - really good! More in depth with the ethnic food suggestion, since I live where there's not good ethnic food (unless you consider "Swabian" an ethnicity) I tend to seek out other cusienes when I'm in large European cities, and Paris has some great finds, and best of all this food is usually a great deal. My last trip to Paris was the cheapest yet but we ate the best of any trip. Les Pates Vivantes is a Chinese noodle restaurant with two locations, one not too far from the Opera, and the other in St. Germain. I only ate at the first, but it was amazing. I still dream of those noodles. Lunch for two with a 1/2 liter of the house white wine was 20 euro. I think dinner pricing is the same as lunch. There are a lot of Japanese and Korean joints behind the Lourve walking towards the Opera, some are better than others, but most are quite cheap. There's even a little standing-only Takoyaki joint (a great Japanese "fast food" of fried dough balls with filling - quite hard to find outside of Japan). They also serve okonomiyaki (omlette/pancake, totally original and delicious Japanese street food) I can't remember the neighborhood now but we got great Vietnamese sandwiches at a place called "Bahn Mi" (the name of the sandwich) just as good as anything I'd had in the SF Bay Area, 3.50 euro for the sandwich! Truly delicious and spicy! For a "splurge" meal that doesn't break the bank, "La Cabane à Huitres" near Montparnasse is great. Fresh oysters plus a first course of duck, foie gras, or salmon, a bottle of wine, and dessert was 50 euro even for two people.

Posted by
3050 posts

Also in general the less touristy the neighborhood, the better value the food. You can easily spend too much on mediocre food in Paris, but there's a lot more interesting budget options away from tourist attractions and train stations. We happend on the Cafe Pasteur just because we happened to be staying across the street from it in a more residential area of Paris (cheap hotel room). It was great, full of locals, reasonable prices (dinner maybe 30 euro including a glass of house wine each). I suspect there are places like it all over Paris, so explore your neighborhood or a random metro stop nearby away from the Eiffel Tower/Latin Quarter/the Islands/etc and you'll probably find good deals for nice sit down dinners.