In Paris on Budget

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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.

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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.

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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.

More reading:
What to do in Paris in spring
Parisian restaurants open on Sunday
– Guides to Paris part I, II and III

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!)

Photo credits: Mr. Physics / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-NDGregory Bastien / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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Sans Gluten à Paris

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The French do like their baguettes and croissants but if you are on a strict gluten free diet you don’t have too worry too much that you will miss any fun when in Paris. I have checked many places in the French capital which either offer totally gluten free menus or have options acceptable for you. You don’t have to limit yourself to sans gluten restaurants only, many other places will be safe for you as well and you can enjoy what best and coolest in Paris now.

For lunch in Marais try Le Loir dans la Théière (3 Rue des Rosiers, 75004 Paris) – a cute little bistro where hip Parisians and tourists who know what’s going on meet for lunch or a cake. The menu is quite limited but there are few salads, omelettes and a great lentil dish (all changes slightly every day depending on what’s available in the season), which are fine for no gluten diets. The place gets quite busy, especially in the mornings and during lunch times, so be prepared for queuing or arrive early. I am sure you will like their laidback approach, unpretentious atmosphere and simple but delicious food.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to try any of their incredible desserts (they are, cruelly, displayed in the eating area) but don’t worry too much because we have found a gluten free heaven for you. Close to the St Martin canal, in a nicely renovated loft, Marie (gluten intolerant for over 20 years) and her husband Francois Tagliaferro run the first patisserie in Paris, Helmut Newcake (36 Rue Bichat, 75010 Paris), where everything is 100% gluten free. I am sure you will feel like all your dreams came true as you will be able to eat, without any worry, anything – lemon tarts, éclairs, cheesecakes, pistache rouge, chocolate fondants … Some desserts are even milk or sugar free.
During lunch hours on weekdays Helmut Newcake offer few plats du jour (all reasonably priced below 10€) and a nice big brunch on Sundays (booking necessary).

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There is another completely gluten free restaurant in Paris, called Noglu (16 passage des Panoramas- 75002 Paris), but I have to admit it didn’t win my heart. The food, created by three chefs, each one coming from a different continent, is great, their chocolate cake was one of the best I have had for ages but the place is overpriced, pretentious and not very welcoming. So despite being so gluten intolerance friendly I don’t think we will be coming again… Check yourself though, it may work for you. Make sure you make reservation, even during weekdays as Noglu is located close to a busy business area and gets full really quickly during lunch hours.

If you thought that because your allergies you will never be able to have a tasting menu at a fine dinning restaurant any more you should try my favourite place in Paris – Ze Kitchen (4 Rue des Grands Augustins, 75006 Paris). It’s very high end, a bit pricey (but absolutely worth it!) and serves the best combination of Asian flavours and French finesse. Their wasabi ice-cream is to die for, as are most of their dishes to be honest and the staff is not only polite but also very attentive and careful with all requests. Most food they serve is naturally gluten free and with the rest they will be happy to find a replacement. Even their teriyaki jus, one of the highlights of their early spring menu, was completely safe for people with gluten intolerance. Highly recommended, just make sure to explain what you can and can’t eat before you make your order.

L’Atelier Maître Albert (1 Rue Maître Albert  75005 Paris) is another fine dinning restaurant which we found to be gluten free friendly. Their roasted meats and chickens are served with simple sauces and a wonderfully creamy mash potatoes (my suspicion is that this mash is a very guilty pleasure though as there may be quite a lot of butter in it), all sans gluten. For dessert you can try their cheese but don’t forget to ask to have it served without any bread.

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For something simple and cheap I recommend Le Garde Robe (41 Rue de l’Arbre Sec, 75001 Paris), an incredibly friendly and slightly quirky bistro in the 1st arrondissement. The menu is very limited and sometimes, unfortunately their plats du jour may include gluten contaning options but their cheese plate is one of the best I have ever had and perfect for a nice nibble.
All food is made internally so don’t be worried to check with the staff if you can have it. And if you won’t find anything for you, don’t, at least don’t miss the chance to try Le Garde Robe’s wine – after all they came second on the list of my favourite wine bars in Europe.

Unfortunately, not many supermarkets in Paris or France have special ‘free from’ sections, gluten free bread is often stored in the general bakery section (it’s always properly protected though), cakes are among regular wheat stuff… If you can’t live without a piece of bread I would recommend to bring some with you, it’s also useful to take your own GF pasta or stock if you are planning to cook for yourself.
Hédonie (6 Rue de Mézières, 75006 Paris), an organic grocery shop in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, offers some sans gluten products, I especially liked their selection of savoury and sweet biscuits.

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For more information check:
–       HiP blog and their reviews of Noglu and Helmut Newcake
–       David Labovitz’s guide on how to survive on GF diet in Paris
–       Gluten free à Paris (French only) to learn about the latest GF discoveries from a local

You can also check our Gluten Free tag for recommendations in other European cities.
All cakes on the photos from this post are GF and can be bought at Helmut Newcake.

Where to eat in Paris on Sundays

Finding a good restaurant open on Sunday in Paris is not an easy job. We want to help you avoiding eating in places for tourists so we worked hard to prepare this list. You won’t be disappointed!

For lazy breakfast or an early lunch try Le Loir dans Théière (3 rue des Rosiers) – my latest discovery in Marias. It is named after the unfortunate dormouse from Alice in Wonderland which fell into in a teapot.
If my perfect bistro existed it would probably be very close to this ideal. Very unpretentious, with homely ambience, great food and wonderful homemade cakes it gives me a feeling that things must be fine in this world if places like this exist.
Come early as it’s become quite popular – last time I was in Paris I saw people queuing to get in even after 16:00!

Les emporte pieces (17 rue du pont Louis Philippe) has the same good energy as Le Loir. Opened very recently by two charming Parisian girls it is a perfect spot for breakfast or just a cake and coffee on a lazy morning.
Ma Bourgogne (19 Place Vosges) bistro has one of the best views in the whole Marais, over the beautiful Place Vosges and despite being located in such a popular tourist attraction serves surprisingly good food. A perfect place for a little breakfast on a sunny Sunday morning. Just buy your paper in a kiosk around the corner and read over un café or simply enjoy looking at tourists doing their morning walks and photo sessions or old ladies on their way to the church.

Continue reading about our Sunday places

Perfect weekend in Paris

Usually, I don’t want much more from life than spending a nice sunny weekend in Paris.

Below an ideal weekend in my favourite city.

Saturday

I would start with a little breakfast at Merci-Merci (open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 till 20:00)– a new concept store located at Boulevard Beamarche 111, close to the Saint-Sébastien – Froissart metro station.

Continue reading Perfect Weekend in Paris

Paris – part II

Time for more little pleasures in Paris.

It is very difficult to escape from the crowds of tourists in the centre of the city, even quieter months of autumn are busy nowadays. I remember, years ago, when I first discovered Marais it was a forgotten district with few cool men walking their little dogs, Jews in traditional clothes and random tourists lost somewhere between Notre Dame and Bastille.

Place des Vosges, my favourite square in Paris, used to be almost empty and now it’s hard to find a place to sit on the grass even!

At least Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine still seems to be passed over by tourists. This small square between Rue de Jarente and Rue d’Ormesson with few cute bistros is popular among locals who come here for their lunches. I ofetn choose Au Bistrot de la Place (at sa Terrasse)– with only a couple of tables inside and few more outside, simple food and fantastic view over the lazy city.

Another similar spot is hidden at the back of Saint-Gervais Saint-Protais church. The photo which we use as a header of Food and the City blog was taken there in a café called L’ Ebouillante. It reminds me a bit of Kolory in Krakow – the same bohemian atmosphere, old posters on the walls (I even found few posters about Polish exhibitions there) and similar laid back people… No wonder it is Marta’s favourite café in Paris.
I recommend it especially for a Sunday lunch (assuming that of course you are going to have a big dinner in the evening) outside or inside on a colder day.

For a walk try the main street of Île Saint-Louise – the smaller of the two natural Seine islands. The further you stroll away from the bridge connecting it with Île de la Cité (the bigger island) the quieter it gets.
Île Saint-Louise played in important role in the history of Poland, maybe this is why I like going there so much. Polish immigrants met in Hotel Lambert to support each other and preserve and promote Polish culture during XIX  century.
Maria Skłodowska-Curie lived at 36, quai de Béthune and she could see the university, where she worked, from her windows.

On the other side of the river, we love a Guy Savoy’s restaurant called Atelier Maitre Albert (it made to Monika’s top 5 restaurants list). This is a modern approach to traditional French roast – with elegant décor, open kitchen to enjoy the view (and smell) of your chicken being grilled and perfect location far from the tourist crowds.
The restaurant is open for lunch on Mondays and this is what won us over the first time we came here as most of good places in Paris are close down that time.

Jacques Cagna’s La Rotisserie d’en face (2 Rue Christine) is the only place I know which could compete with Guy Savoy’s roast. This is a traditional and smart bistro with perfect service and food you will talk about for ages!

If you are looking for something more casual try places in La cour du Commerce Saint-André, a hidden part of rue Saint-Andre des Arts with nice bistros, a pub, and the oldest restaurant of Paris.
I have to admit that even now, after visiting the place many times, I still get lost and miss the entrance located somewhere between a Spanish tapas bar and an Irish pub. Not very encouraging at first, I know, but you will definitely love it.

Le 24 (59/61, Rue Saint-Andre des Arts) is a restaurant, a bar and an epicerie. They claim to serve Sunday brunch between 11:30 and 16:00 but I have never seen them open during that time yet ;) A perfect place for an afternoon drink with friends, a small lunch or sharing a cheese board with someone special.

For a dessert try Le Jacobine (59/61, Rue Saint-Andre des Arts, just opposite to Le 24). I am sure you will not hesitate much after seeing the cakes on their window displays. I often come here for lunch after shopping in a near-by Polish bookshop in Boulevard Saint-Germains.

Le Procope (13 rue de l’Ancienne Comédie), whose back exits are located in Le cour du Commerce Saint-André, is supposed to be the oldest café in Paris and one of the oldest in the world. Today it is more a restaurant though, trying to define its role somewhere between a French institution and a tourist attraction.
It has hosted many notable guests including Rousseau, Diderot, Voltaire, George Sand to name only a view (you can find their portraits or autographs on the walls) and was used as a meeting point of the most influential figures during the French Revolution.

What could be more French than a piece of steak served with frites and a glass of red wine for lunch?
Le Relais de l’Entracote (20, rue Saint-Benoit)is the original of steak bistros  located across the world now (I have recommended it to you in London post as well).
The concept is very simple – steak and fries and you will be asked only three questions (so it’s good to master the answers in French before):

  1. How would you like your steak? (‘medium to well done’ is not an option in Paris and you may be ignored if you say well done too)
  2. What do you want for drink?
  3. And do you want any dessert?

Probably the only place in Paris where you can see people standing in a line as they don’t take bookings there.

I don’t mind answering ‘no’ to the 3rd question above. Pierre Hermé, my absolutely favourite patisserie chef, has his little shop (72 rue Bonaparte) 5 minutes walking from rue Saint-Benoit.
Everything there looks almost too good to eat. I usually buy my deuxmillefeuille (so much more than just a mille-fuille) and few macarons. It is difficult to resist the temptation of buying a piece of each pastry though.
I have to admit I eat my cakes just immediately I leave the shop – on a random bench outside Saint-Sulpice church :)

For nice walks in Saint-Germains I recommend little streets between Boulevard Saint-Germains and Rue des Saints-Peres. This is a really nice part of Paris, full of little shops, art galleries, bistros, cafés and posh Parisians walking their dogs and Luois Vitton bags…
I often visit a home interior store Flamant at 8 Place Furstenberg (a very nice square itself!).
And if you are keen on finding some good bargains check luxury second hand shops in rue Guisarde and its surroundings.

There is this funny time in Paris when it is too late for lunch and too early for dinner. As a tourist you don’t really know what to do… Check my photo story of quiet afternoons in Paris- It’s Oh So Quiet

 

Paris Part I
Paris part III

21/07/2012 – Sad news, Le 24 is closed for good… There is a new place opening there and I promise to check it for you soon!