Monday 6 May 2013

Paris: Cheap Eats

Knowing my love for Paris and France in general (I guess I can thank my Mother for naming me after one infamous French queen who was actually Austrian that probably influenced my love for anything French), I have often been asked for tips on the best way to see the city, where to eat, what transportation to take, etc. 

So, I thought I might as well make a series of blog posts on some of the tips I dispense to my loyal subjects, I mean, my family and friends. I already have an earlier post on how to get around Paris that you may want to check out. 

Cheap Eats:
If you’re staying in a hotel, forget about the breakfast they serve (unless it is included with your room rate then you have no choice). More often than not it will be expensive and the selection won’t be that good (unless you are staying at a 5-star hotel serving buffet breakfast).

You’re better off having breakfast at the neighborhood café. Ambience included! Or, the cheapest option the big K and I have tried is the breakfast at McDonalds. For around EUR6 you get a coffee, pancakes, egg Mcmuffin, orange juice and a yoghurt. More than enough to start the day. 

If you’re staying at an apartment like what we normally do, good for you! You get to experience living like a local even if only for a short while. Buy your bread from the local bakery (la boulangerie et patisserie). Freshly baked baguettes can be had for only EUR0.80 to 0.85 per piece. It’s good enough for two with leftovers for a lunch sandwich. For your dairy needs, the best option would be to buy your supplies at the local cremerie.

If you’re a coffee-person like me, you can get your coffee supply from the local grocery (Monoprix or Franprix). There is always one just around the corner. Or get your caffeine fix from the neighborhood café, sit at a table outside and people-watch the morning away.

By the way, most groceries/supermarkets/bakeries are closed on Sundays or open very late. So get your supplies the day before. Or visit one of several open-air fresh markets  you can find around the city.

For lunch and dinner on the go, there are a lot of Doner Kebab shops. These are the shops that sell mostly sandwiches, kebabs, shawarmas. The “Super Ass” short for “super assiettes” , which means “big plate”. You get a big helping of thin cut beef or roast chicken, fries, salad, rice or flat bread. This is a big meal, good after a long afternoon’s walk. Between EUR7 and EUR8, and another EUR2 for a drink. Good eats, and cheap! 


If you want to experience more authentic dining in a restaurant, café or bistro without the tourists prices, look for dining places that have more locals than tourists. These places are usually a block or two away from the nearest tourist attractions. Another tip, check the menu displayed outside, if the menu is translated in different languages you know they cater to tourists. 

Crepes, well, they’re not really cheap especially if you buy at the touristy areas but you’ve got to at least try one. Nutella with banana of course! The French are big with Nutella. If you want to be more adventurous, go for the Grand Marnier crepes.

The big K and I just had to have a Nutella crepe. You can find people cooking these on practically every street corner. No surprises here, we knew exactly what the thing would taste like (it's a crepe with Nutella on it, for heaven's sake!). But since everybody has it for a walking snack, might as well right? It was yummy, 'nuff said.

Next post: Paris: Ile de la Cite

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