Eating Well on a Budget in Paris

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Do you love to travel and have dreams of going to Paris but hesitate when you read that it is one of the most expensive cities in the world?  Was Paris on your bucket list until you realized you could spend a fortune on a trip to the City of Light?   Don’t worry… you can enjoy all Paris has to offer without the fear of ending up in debtors prison.  It is possible…and very easy…to experience Paris, especially the food…on a budget.  Neighborhood PATISSERIES and BOULANGERIES offer overwhelming selections of beautiful pastries and breads at reasonable prices. Tiny grocery stores carry inexpensive foods of every kind.  Very drinkable wines start at €4 a bottle and there are hundreds to choose from.  Baguettes that practically  melt in  your mouth are €1 in most boulangeries. Great cheeses are affordable if you purchase small quantities…how is all this sounding so far?   When I go to Paris I am always on a tight food budget and I don’t suffer one bit.  I like to save as much money as I can so I can to go to E. DEHILLERIN and buy another copper pot to add to my collection.  In my journal of travel notes all my price notations are in euros and that is what I used in this post  Today one euro equals $1.28 American dollars.

Let’s start our tour at an outdoor food market…Marché Boulevard de Grenelle, located a few blocks southwest of rue Cler, our favorite neighborhood  where we  stay when we are in Paris.  The selection of wonderful things to eat is enormous and prices are very good.  This market is open Wednesdays and Sundays from 7:00 am to 12:30 pm.  If you plan to visit an outdoor market be sure to check the days and times it is open.  They all differ.

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We purchased a little basket of veggies and greens, along with olives,  tabbouleh, cheese, and a baguette.  I’m working on a post about this market and you will see how large it is and all the wonderful produce and prepared foods you can find there.

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The little grocery around the corner was a  good source of deli meats and wine.  All of this, wine included, was about €20 and was a generous dinner AND lunch for two.  Very reasonable in my opinion.

Paris Food Bargain

You will find cafes and bistros everywhere.  One of our favorite places to eat is Café du Marché in rue Cler.  They pride themselves on good food at great prices and they don’t disappoint.  The seating is crowded but comfortable and it’s a great place to do a little people watching.  Salads are fresh, creative and filling and are a fantastic value at around €12.  Our favorite is this BRICK SALAD, fresh pickled vegetables, couscous, and cheese and herb filled brick (a North African pastry similar to phyllo).  Chevre cheese is wrapped in brick pastry and fried until crispy, then served hot on top of the cold vegetables.  I swear,  I could eat this salad every day.

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I can’t imagine going to Paris and not eating at L’AS DU FALLAFEL…at least once.  The food is so, so, so good.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.    At 11:00 am it looks deserted.

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At 11:30 when the metal shutter goes up the crowd assembles in minutes.
I’ve seen the take-out line go clear down the block.

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In Paris there are different prices for different situations.   The above prices are for items bought at the take-out window.  If customers wish to be seated inside the restaurant items are several euros more.  34, rue des Rosiers (Métro: St. Paul); Closed Saturday. 

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I always order the fallafel plate at L’as du Fallafel.  Pickled red and white cabbage, grilled eggplant, cucumbers and tomatoes, hummus, baba ganouch and a large serving of crispy, hot fallafel.  €12.

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My son and daughter ordered the schawarma plate:  thinly sliced lamb instead of falaffel.
I’m having that next time.  €14.

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We visited the beautiful BASILICA of SACRE COEUR and browsed the streets of MONTMARTRE.  This happy vendor sold the most delicious spicy sausage on a roll for about €7.  So good and a great bargain.

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The lunch and dinner hours get very busy in most Parisian cafes.  They eat dinner late so we planned on around 6:00 pm most nights and didn’t have any problem finding a table.  

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Salads are on the menu in every cafe and, no matter what we ordered,  it was always delicious.
This hearty salad is a mix of crispy fried potatoes, bacon, sliced ham, tomatoes, lettuce and broiled Camembert cheese.

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The small cheese was cut in half, placed back into its little container and broiled until it was bubbly with a golden brown crust.  The melted cheese oozed out onto the potatoes and ham and made a delectable dressing for the greens.  €12.

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The ubiquitous CROQUE MONSIEUR was especially good here.  A generous sandwich with potatoes and salad was €10.

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If you are shopping in one of the large department stores such as GALERIES LAFAYETTE or PRINTEMPS  you will find little cafes with delicious and very inexpensive food.   Wonderful baguette sandwiches  are about €4 each with a selection of ham and cheese or vegetarian.  A French favorite is just ham and butter…but with their amazing breads and butter that’s all you need.

SPECIAL NOTE:  French butter is unlike anything we have here in the USA. It is so delicious and needs a post all of its own.  It has a definite tang and nutiness that is absent in butters found in most American supermarkets.  The main difference is the amount of butterfat used in its production.  We loved it so much that we spread it on our still warm baguettes and forgot about the cheese.  Just couldn’t get enough of it.  You will find French butter in Paris cheese shops.  If you would like to know more about French butter you can find information HERE.

Comments

    • says

      The options are endless, Monique. Fine dining is a wonderful experience and so is having a picnic at the Eiffel Tower. All the choices are part of what makes Paris such an exciting city. Just talking about it makes me want to go back for another visit.
      Cathy recently posted..Eating Well on a Budget in ParisMy Profile

  1. Kris says

    Oh my, that does look fabulous! The broiled cheese…..oozing out….so, so good! If I ever get to go to Paris, I am going to call you for ideas!!!
    xo Kris

  2. says

    I loved every delicious bite of this post Cathy. I’m keeping it for future reference for our next trip. I agree that their baguettes with butter are to die for.

    When we lived in the islands, we got Irish and Danish butter at a very reasonable price compared to Land of Lakes. The Bahamians are famous for their white bread loaves, but unfortunately no baguettes. Have you tried Kerry Gold? It’s available in the states now and is higher in butter fat than US brands and may be very similar to the French brands.
    Sam
    Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen recently posted..Red, White, and Blue Watermelon SaladMy Profile

  3. Pondside says

    You had me drooling over the keyboard, Cathy! What a treat! I know what you mean about French butter. When we go to Germany and France, the first thing I want is plain bread and butter – although there is nothing at all plain or ordinary about either!

  4. says

    I was so happy you decided to post more about your vacation and especially the food. This trip is definitely on my bucket list. This food is just how I want to eat.

    I found some butter called Plugra that I have grown fond of. I want to do a post about it. I think I could just stand at the fridge and smell it. It is pretty wonderful. It is not European, but it is a good substitute until I can get there.
    Madonna/aka/Ms. Lemon recently posted..Grilled Vegetable MélangeMy Profile

  5. says

    “I could ust stand by the fridge and smell it”~
    How cute is sthat?

    Cathy just wanted to say that you are so right..I find the more Jacques and I talk about our stay in France the more we want to go back..:)

    The yr we went and came back,right away he said let’s plan for next yr..I said really ? so soon?

    And well..we didn’t go.. but he was ready right away..Yet we are homenbodies:)

    But the memories travel back with you..the way a view took your breath away..the way a certain wine tasted on that day.. a cheese..a baguette.. the beautiful market day.. the singers at the markets:)
    Oh well just about every single thing.
    Monique recently posted..Lavender~My Profile

  6. Serena says

    Hi….
    Very informative post about Paris…..pls pls write/post more photos of Paris while you still there. I will be going in two weeks times …. Can’t wait!

    Thanks

  7. says

    Oh. Yum. Croque Monsieur is one of my favorite meals. Since discovering it on our first trip to Paris many years ago they have become a real family treat. Now I’m going to have to broil some Camembert and set it on top of my salad greens. This post is not good for my waistline. Makes you wonder why Parisian women don’t have to diet.

  8. says

    Okay, when I win the lottery, I will pay YOUR way, if you’ll promise to be my personal tour guide?
    You know all the good spots & are so experienced with France.
    I’ve been to Ireland, Scotland, England, Switzerland, Greece (including Crete) Turkey & Italy but never France. It is on my bucket list!!!

    Thank you for sharing & describing so beautifully all the things you experienced.
    Rettabug recently posted..Blue Cheese SpreadMy Profile

  9. says

    I love this post Cathy. Reminds me of my one and only trip to Paris in the 80s when the exchange rate was the worst in history for the dollar. We literally ate bread the entire trip! But I so enjoyed window wishing and drooling as the French have such a gift of presentation of their delicious pastries! I will save this post for the day that I ever am able to return to Paris! Thanks for sharing your wonderful experiences!!

    xo
    Roz
    Roz recently posted..Sugar Cookie Crusted Red, White & Blue Fruit PizzaMy Profile

  10. says

    Cathy, next time I’m in Paris I will be googling this post. I remember my daughter and I standing in the gardens near the Eifell Tower. I told her there was a wonderful kitchen shop I’d heard about (on your blog) but I didn’t know where it was or the name. We decided to check it out and went to your blog for the info on E. DEHILLERIN :) Thanks for this plethora of wonderful information!
    The Café Sucre Farine recently posted..Chilled Berries w/ White Hot Chocolate SauceMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Chris – I’m happy my post helped you find Dehillerin. I can’t imagine going to Paris without visiting my favorite store several times. The selection is overwhelming and I need 2 visits to take it all in.

  11. says

    You are so right Cathy. I had to smile at the picture of le Champ de Mars. I would love to eat there but the prices are so high. We found that the restaurant next door, Bistro Saint Dominique has wonderful food at a good price. We are back and I miss Paris already. Great informative post.
    Penny recently posted..Oradour sur Glane: RememberMy Profile

  12. says

    I’d love to try the food, but really hate traveling. Going to New Orleans, about 1 1/2 hours away from MS is about as far as I like to go.

    I’m too much of a home body.

    I’d love to try that french butter.

  13. says

    After having so many make recommendations about where to eat in Paris and reading even more, we decided that would be the only thing we wouldn’t plan and everything worked out just fine. As you mentioned, the boulangeries, little markets, and cafes were plentiful and the food very good! I’m still suffering from wanting to be back there. SIGH. Thanks for this fix!
    kelly recently posted..Paris Perspective: MontmartreMy Profile

  14. Julie says

    I may have missed the name but the restaurant with the lovely looking salad with potatoes, Camembert cheese and the other large sandwhich, what restaurant is it?!? It looks fabulous.

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