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How to Eat (Extremely Well) in Paris on a Budget

How to eat all the delicious Parisian delicacies you could want without breaking the bank!

a view of Paris from the top of Sacre Coeur

Paris gets a reputation as an expensive city, and it certainly can be if those are the kind of places you frequent. However, eating in Paris on budget is much easier than you think! It's entirely possible to eat -and eat Very Well- in Paris without blowing your savings. Here are some recommendations for places to find cheap and delicious eats in the heart of the City of Light!

1 - Petit Dejeuner

Pronounced peh-TEAT DEH-zhoo-neigh, this is simply the French word for “breakfast”. In most neighborhoods of Paris, you can toss a stick and it’ll land on a cafe that serves some variety of petit dejeuner. Sometimes it’ll be called just “petit dejeuner”, or “petit dejeuner complet” or "petit dejeuner Parisienne”, and it usually involves a coffee (boisson chaud), orange juice, and a croissant or chocolate croissant (viennoiserie). If you do some shopping around, you can usually find this combo for under 10 euro.

breakfast in Paris

You’ll definitely see prices higher than that, but read those menus because sometimes that means additional food. For instance, on one of my mornings in Paris I paid 16 euro for a petit dejeuner complet that included a fresh omelet along with the typical three items.

Just get up in the morning, go to whatever area you intend to sightsee in that day, and wander until you see a cafe with tables on the sidewalk and a menu stand that advertises a petit dejeuner for under 10 euro. I guarantee that one will not be hard to find.

It goes without saying that the farther you are from the tourist sites, the better the prices get, but don’t run yourself ragged trying to find a spot that’s far enough out of the way. Another morning on my trip, I stopped at a cafe that was clearly on the tourist trail in Montmartre (right up the stairs from Rue de Abesses on the way to Sacre Coeur). I was hungry and in desperate need of a coffee, so I hit up a tourist cafe. And you know what? It was still delicious. The OJ was still fresh, and the croissant was still fluffy and perfect, and it’s really hard to find bad espresso in Paris. Pick the cafe that works best for you and your day.

2 - Takeaway Crepe Shops

Oh Parisian crepes. Is there anything better? There’s nothing quite like watching a crepe get made fresh in front of you, giving the chef 5 euro (if that) and walking away with a little tasty delicacy. Most crepe shops will have both sweet and savory options, and believe me when I say a ham, egg, and cheese crepe is ABSOLUTELY hearty enough to serve as your lunch.

a buckwheat crepe in Paris

As with breakfast, the farther off the beaten tourist path you are, the better your crepes will be, but regardless, it’s pretty hard to go wrong. My favorite quick crepe shop was a little place called La Droguerie. It was near my hotel in the 2nd Arrondissement and I went there twice in four days.

Also, crepes in general tend to be reasonable meals, even at sit down restaurants. I had lunch at Creperie Little B- in the Latin Quarter, and even at such a gorgeous sit down cafe, my chevre and spinach crepe and my espresso came in under 15 euro. Do your research. Eat lots of crepes.

3 - Speaking of Research...

Just like any city, Paris has reasonable and authentic restaurants. You just have to look for them. It’s not like folks who live in Paris are constantly shelling out hundreds of euros to go out to eat. Ask locals for their recommendations. Pull up the area around your hotel on google maps and look at menus. The reasonable places may not be the first ones you see, but they are absolutely there. Here are the places I ate:

  1. Bouillon Chartier: This is The place in Paris for cheap French classics. It’s very popular with both locals and tourists, so go early or be prepared to wait in a long line. But don’t let the long line scare you away. The restaurant is huge and they’re good at turning over the tables.

  2. Zebra de Montmartre: this was my favorite stop in Montmartre. This cafe is gorgeous and reasonably priced, especially if you go for lunch.

  3. Le Relais de L’Entrecôte: While this place doesn’t exactly count as a budget restaurant, but the amount of food you get for the price is truly astounding. This is the kind of steak frites place where they don’t give you a menu when you sit down. They just ask you how you want your meat cooked. They’ll refill your plate multiple times. It’ll be delicious. This is another place that always has a line going out the door, but it’ll move fast.

4 - The Top Secret to Eating on a Budget in Paris...

Boulangeries! Boulangeries are specialty bread shops and they make for delicious, inexpensive meals. Need a quick takeaway breakfast? Hit up a boulangerie for a pastry. Many of them also serve coffee, but not all of them, so check your menus before you go.

Looking for a quick lunch to take and eat in the Champ de Mars? Most boulangeries will sell baguette sandwiches for about 5 euro. Sometimes less! And they’ll always always be delicious. I can personally recommend Le Grenier a Pain Abbesses in Montmartre!

Eating in Paris doesn’t have to break the bank! Go forth and eat baguettes!

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