A trip to Paris usually has a noticeable impact on most people’s budget so if you are postponing your trip worrying about the costs check our list of places which, at least, will help you spend less on food.
For breakfast try my latest discovery in Marais, Comme a Lisbonne (37 Rue du Roi de Sicile), a tiny Portuguese coffee bar with the best custard tars I have ever had. Taste them once and you will come back every day. Espresso + cake for less than 2€ = one of the best bargains in Paris. But if you are one of those who need much more than a piece of cake to be able to face the day check the selection of fresh sandwiches and pastries in the nearby Saveurs de Pains boulangerie (32 Rue Vieille du Temple).
For me, on budget or not, nothing can beat lunch at Le Garde Robe (41 Rue de l’Arbre Sec). One of my favourite places in Paris and one of those that always makes me happy. Their 12€ daily lunch menu (fresh vegetable juice + starter + main course) is probably the best value for money in the city and is always prepared with what the chief finds that day in the market. For a bite between meals try their meat or cheese boards – really exceptional, especially the hazelnut cheese! Add to this a glass of great wine (after all Le Garde Robe is a wine bar) and I would be happy to spend a day there.
Le Loir dans La Theiere (3 Rue des Rosiers) has gained the reputation of the best brunch place in Paris, which unfortunately also means that it’s constantly full with lots of people queuing for their table outside. If you don’t mind waiting a bit it’s a great place for an inexpensive light lunch with a piece of cake. The menu is limited – few salads, 2 types of omelettes, lentils, sandwiches but at very affordable prices (around 8-10€ per dish). Their wonderful homemade cakes are displayed on a large table in the restaurant, just warning you, as it’s hard to leave without trying at least one of them.
On the other side of the river I like Le Comptoir du 5ème (1 Rue des Grands Degrés) – a tiny bar in a pretty street with a great view over Notre Dame and the islands. The cheapest lunch menu (starter + main course + dessert) is only 13€.
If you like African or Middle Eastern cuisine you will enjoy bars and restaurants at Marché des Enfants Rouges (39 Rue de Bretagne), one of the oldest markets in Paris. Big portions, great food and very affordable prices plus you can get some extra fresh groceries for cooking yourself or to eat at a picnic.
My favourite picnic spot in Paris is at the moment the area of Voie Georges-Pompidou (close to the Louis-Philippe bridge). Just buy what you need in the market or the little shops in Marais (i.e. sandwiches from a Saveurs de Pains boulangerie, cakes from a wonderful Korcarz patisserie at 29 rue des Rosiers and wine from Caves du Marais at 22 rue François Miron) and choose one of the wooden tables, benches or chairs provided to enjoy your meal with one of the best views over Île de la Cité. The banks of Seinne are full of similar great places so choose the one which suits you best and enjoy eating out in Paris.
The area of St Martin canals (metro stop la République) is another good place to find great food at quite affordable prices. It’s always full of students who eat their lunches sitting among the canals or in the small Jardin Villemin. I don’t yet know this area very well but I have seen there few interesting places, especially among rue Bichat so feel free to investigate more to find something you would like.
Those who are on gluten free diets will like Helmut Newcake patisserie (36 Rue Bichat) where everything is 100% GF. They offer simple lunch choices too, around 8 – 9€ per dish, but make sure you arrive early as they go very quickly.
Some useful tips:
- It is ok to drink tap water in Paris. It may not be the tastiest water you have ever had (it never is in any big city) but it will save you few euros. Simply ask for l’eau du robinet (direct translation) or better une carafe d’eau (carafe of water as opposite to bottle of water which is usually mineral water).
- A bottle of wine with your meal is always nice but it is usually the most expensive item of your lunch or dinner. House wine, vin de maison, is usually the cheapest option in most restaurants and you can always ask for demi-litre, half a litre carafe to save even more.
- Most of Parisian restaurants have daily menu options (menu du jour) – few choices of starters, main courses and often desserts at a set price. If you are on a budget but you still need a large meal to keep you going this is probably the best choice for you.
- Staying in a rented apartment and cooking for yourself is the cheapest option for Paris. There are plenty of great markets, local shops and supermarkets across the city where you will be able to find all ingredients you need. Check our previous posts about post to find some inspiration.
Some tips on what to do in Paris while on budget by Adrienne from the Rich Life on a Budget (PS. I also like falafels from rue des Rosiers – if only the queues were a bit shorter!)