5 ways to eat cheaply - and well - in Paris
Having recently had a whole week in Paris during which we ate out every day we obviously had to watch what we spent. Had we gone to one of the three star temples of gastronomy we could have easily blown our budget in a night.
Obviously some of these tips apply to other cities as well but they’re particularly relevant to Paris. The great thing is you know what you’re spending in France given that service is always included in the bill.
Have your main meal at lunchtime
Which is what the French traditionally used to do. Obviously this is harder if you’re working but even then there’s no reason not to pop into a local restaurant and have a plat du jour (dish of the day).
Practically all restaurants, even Michelin starred ones, will have a lunchtime menu that is about a third cheaper than it is in the evening. See the three lunches we had at Paris hotspots Heimat, Servan and Yard.
Don’t eat à la carte
Your best bet is to go for a 2 course deal: entrée/plat (starter/main course) or plat/dessert.
Hit a wine bar in the evening
There are lots of nice little bars where you can order a glass of wine and a couple of small dishes. (Obviously the trick is not to over-order if you want to keep the cost down. Hefty baskets of sourdough should keep hunger at bay.) Our favourite haunts on our recent trip were Au Passage and its new offshoot Bar Martin on the edge of the Marais. La Buvette de Camille up in rue St Maur is also fun at the weekend (note the slightly random opening hours)
Eat on the outskirts of town
Stands to reason that a restaurant up near the Gard du Nord or Gare de l’Est, for example, will be cheaper than one off the Champs Elysées or in the fashionable 16e. Like Yard (above) and our regular favourite Le Baratin. Don’t be afraid to take the metro a couple of extra stops.
Choose restaurants that are not being talked about or have been open for a while.
One of the reasons they’ve stood the test of time is that they don’t overcharge their regulars. Near where we stay in the Marais there is the totally unreconstructed Chez Nenesse, the kind of old-fashioned French bistro you thought had vanished with the '80s. Or the Paul Bert where the lunchtime deal is still an amazing 19€*. Avoid gaudy tourist traps and restaurants run by big-name chefs.
Do you have a favourite Paris restaurant that you think offers amazing value?
* could be 20€ by now, I guess
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