Thursday, August 16, 2012

Where to eat in Paris... being budget minded of course

I was recently asked:
Hey there you happy traveller .. can you provide some recommendations on where to eat in Paris... being budget minded of course :)
IN PARIS there's no shortage of delicious cuisine to salivate over, remember and want to talk about months later. Almost everything is drenched in butter. Dinner can take hours to savor with a seemingly bottomless bottle of wine. Where to eat on a budget though? I'd have to say "look around the corner" Paris is like a labyrinth. You can wander her winding streets forever so I've marked some of my favorite finds below using interactive google maps.

When going to the Notre Dame be mindful that there are two lines, one for the front entrance and one on the side to go up to the top. During tourist season the line to the top can be a 1-2 hour wait. I felt it was worth it when my company in line was my good friend Jenn and we needed to plan our trip to Panama. It's a good oportunity to read guidebooks and make plans for your next days or chat with your neighbours in line. It's nice to be with another person so you're able to make a run to a nearby snack food store (Click on map below to see store and legend).

View Paris - Notre-Dame day in a larger map  

What's on this Fabulous Map I've made for you:
Three main attractions: Louvre, Notre-Dame and Pompidou center. Accompanying them are great places to eat, even on a budget, to satisfy your in-between sightseeing needs.

Notre-Dame 'to the top' line
This is the line to get to the top of the Notre-Dame. Do this when you have energy, NOT at the end of the day when you're tired. You have to climb up all the steps.

Snack food Store
A place to get cheaper snacks while you're waiting in line at the Notre-Dame. Worth the walk around the corner. Right in front of the line you'll be tempted to buy a 5€ Orngina or bottled coke but around the corner I spent 7€ on two freezies, two apples, two lollypops and a drink that lasted longer then the line.

One entrance to the Muse de Louvre, I love when this is the first view people get of the pyramids. Walking under the detailed marble archways then having the glass pyramids at the end makes for a wonderful 'aw' moment.

Tea by The
A cute little place to have a nice cup of tea and tiny snack before you hit the Louvre or after when you need a boost.

DELYAN restaurant
This is a great little place for lunch. They have awesome salads, and a meal for every budget. They make tasty iced tea and have a tarrece on a street that's so small it's not even on google street view. On nice days I would get my lunch and eat it at the park. You can look at trees and have birds chirping even though you're in the middle of the city.

Eat a packed lunch
This is Parc de la Tour Saint-Jacques. It's a nice little park where you can lay on the grass and enjoy a packed lunch. Have a cat nap if you're feeling tired.

Grocery Store
If you're willing to walk up a bit from the park most grocery stores have a myriad of prepared foods that are sure to help you stay within a budget. The main grocery stores are:

Centre Georges Pompidou
Costs 3€ to get to the top where you can enjoy the view. You can have a very expensive coffee or a meal or just hang around and enjoy the gift shop books. If you're running out of time or gumption it's nice to just got to the top even if you don't have time to look at the museum of modern art. There are escalators so you can save it for when you're tired.

Pain Vin Fromages
A place to break the bank (save 40-80€ for two to really splurge here) and enjoy that you're in Paris. You can order a plate of cheese by region with honey and nuts. Its a great place to stuff yourself with bread, wine and cheese. There are other things on the menu for every appetite. Call ahead if you can to make sure you get a table or just stop in, ask for a table and wander the streets or admire the pompidou until your time.

A Guarantee
This place is open when other restaurants are not. It's easy to find if it starts to pour rain as it's on a main street. It's more expensive, you'll see service at its most cliche but you'll get good food. A rule of thumb, Croque monsieur (fancy version of grilled cheese with ham) is usually the cheapest thing on ever menu and usually comes with a salad.

There are a lot of these tourist ready restaurants. The rule is medium filled restaurants are best. I've been taught by Parisians that you don't go in if it's full, don't go in if it's empty, get a vibe and a feeling then take a look at the menu and the specials.

If you have a microwave available to you and all that's on the brain is sleep, not finding food, then hit up a Picard early on for some healthy frozen meals. Once you know what to look for they're in most arrondissements. Check here: for locations. It's not a bad idea to stock up if you have access to a freezer and want to save money for other things.

There are also a lot of places to get a sandwich and fast food for only a couple euro. It might not be as satisfying to eat there unless following a crazy night out. Kebab places have awesome crepes though. Ranging from 3-5€ you can pick between savory and sweet. I'd recommend eating these close to the end of your trip because they're highly addictive.

Keep your eye out for small bakeries or boulangeries. You might think they only have pastries but they are usually the best place to stop for a quick tasty lunch. Small independent places with their own charm and specialties. Make it your mission to try all the mille feuilles or lemon meringue tarts and you wont be disappointed. These places also have their own mini sandwiches or pre-made salads that are only made to last that day, so supplies are low. It can be worth it to wait in line, it can mean it's a popular place.

Make sure you say: "Bonjour" and "Merci" and if you really want to practice French a "esque je peux prendre" & "s'il vous plait" is always very appreciated before ordering or pointing. Listen to the sentence here. You can even play it from your smartphone just before you order!

Hope you have a wonderful trip Kat! Can't wait to hear all about it!

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