Ten Places To Eat Cheap(er) in Paris

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France on Friday

Big Ben Bar, Gare de Lyon, Train Bleu

Ken and I just could not keep within our budget if we ate at the fancy restaurants that we would have liked to in Paris. For example, I would love to have tried the restaurant at the Eiffel Tower, Le Jules Verne. The Eiffel Tower restaurant used to have a bad rep, but now is run by Alain Ducasse-trained workers and the food is reputedly as spectacular as the view. But when the price is over 100 Euros per person, without wine…..well, we made some different choices. (An album of pictures below)

1. Creperie Saint Andre des Artes, in the Latin Quarter. I had read that creperies are a cheap alternative for eating in Paris. Just remember that crepes are generally desserts, but creperies serve gallettes which are main dishes in a folded crepe. I actually had a seafood stew at this tiny friendly place, and Ken had a salad.  Price for everything  €22.10

Cafe Mollien, the Louvre

2. Cafe Mollien at the Louvre. We missed the food court with the McDonald’s located in the glass pyramid–both enrage some people– but on the first floor up, before you enter the galleries, there are some quick-serve sandwich counters. Eat early or late, because the mobs around noon filled all the seats. Hoping for something a little better we went up another floor to Cafe Mollien, which is best in good weather when you can sit out on a terrace and take in the view. It was raining, so we stood in a lengthy line and sat with a view of an ornate stairwell–quite spectacular. We were disappointed to find their fare was pretty much the same as downstairs, packaged sandwiches and limited drinks. Price for 2 sandwiches and water and iced tea: €15.20.

3. Illy Coffee Shop. We were riding the sight seeing hop-on and off bus, and hopped off on the edge of Montmarte when we were hungry. Illy has a striking red and white modern design which I loved and a limited buffet of small dishes in addition to their mainstay, coffee. Price for two very tasty  lunches and water: €22.70

4.Restaurant at the D’Orsay Museum. The D’Orsay is cleverly constructed in a grand old railroad station, and the restaurant inhabits one of the fancy ballroom/meeting rooms decorated in high Gilded Age style with lots of chandeliers and gold paint. We sat next to a high window looking out on the museum plaza and the Museum of the Legion of Honor. Lovely restaurant, lovely service and very good food. Price for two plats du jour and water: €32.70.

5. Chez nous. Of course if you have an apartment, you eat at home sometimes. We shopped at the Franprix grocery store just down the street a block where our first stock-up of tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, fruit, ham, eggs and water cost €13.11. That served for a couple of salad dinners, hearty breakfasts (supplemented with pastries from Paul), and a picnic at Luxembourg Gardens.

Menu, napkin and placemat

6. Paul Boulangerie and Patisserie.  I was a bit disappointed that there were so few boulangeries and patisseries nearby, so we were happy to find Paul, with its lively sidewalk cafe, charming interior and extensive sales counter. (Turns out it is a chain and we even saw one in the Amsterdam airport! However it is a 121-year-old establishment.) We sat outside the one in St. Germain de Pres with our netbook, sipped our tea, and later picked up pieces of pizza to take back to the apartment to eat with a homemade salad. Pizza price: 2 big pieces €6.20.

7. Le Bistrot Mazarin (French site). Another thing about staying in an apartment is that you quickly adopt “your” neighborhood bistro. This was ours…just steps from our front door. We ate there more than once, notably when we were killing time waiting for an electrician to fix the front door so the key card would work and we could get in! We took our time over two hot chocolates, and then nibbled tomatoes and mozzarella and a dish of the world’s BEST French Fries. Our real dinner there: two salads and two cups of tea cost €31.20

8. Cafe Med. If I get back to Paris, I would love to stay on Ile St. Louis. This tiny charming island in the Seine reeks with history and sports adorable shops and eateries. This elbow-to-elbow place with a delightful waitress gave us one plat du jour (which included a ganache and then a chocolate crepe for dessert and a salad for one of us, plus cups of tea). Price: €31.01.

Metal “tea cozy” and cup at Mariage Freres

9. Mariage Freres. (Click on the Rive Gauche location menu!)  Tea can count as a meal if it is high tea and if you are not extremely hungry.  On the day that we were waiting for the electrician, our first stop, at our landlord’s suggestion, was the nearby tea room. Turns out that in this country where not very many people drink tea, Mariage Freres produces the absolute best. The brothers Mariage started trading back in the 17th century, and are still at it. The building is quaint, the service impeccable and the varieties of tea astounding. Price for two pots of tea and one complete plate of snacks: €20.00. This was absolutely one of the high points of Paris for me.

10. Big Ben Bar, at Le Train Bleu in the Gare de Lyon. (Trust me–Follow that link!) This meal was as close as we came to a splurge.  I wanted to eat at Train Bleu, or at least to SEE the gilded age glory of this train station restaurant from the late 1800’s. We inadvertently did it right. Because we did not have reservations and were there an hour before they opened for dinner (at 7:00 p.m.) we were served dinner in the bar–really just an extension of the dining room. So we got the great view of the decor. Fabulous food, and paid much less. We walked over from the Place Bastille after visiting Victor Hugo’s House, and had 4 iced teas (in France you cannot get plain iced tea–just bottled, overly sweet, fruit-flavored. AND no free refills!). We ate two great dinners and had one dessert. Price: €86.00.

Do not feel sorry for us because we missed the haute cuisine of Paris. The food we ate was almost always terrific, and when we left Paris, we were privileged to eat in not one, but TWO Michelin one-star restaurants, as well as have more culinary adventures.

All photographs are taken by Ken or Vera Marie Badertscher and all rights are reserved. We hope you enjoy them, but do not re- use without asking.

How important are eating experiences to you when you travel? Do you just want to refuel, or is the cultural experience of foreign dining something you look for?

UPDATE ( 2011) Now you can take it with you. We’ve published an e-book with an enlarged version of this post. Get it at  Barnes and Noble for your Nook.

About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She writes frequently for Reel Life With Jane and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

33 thoughts on “Ten Places To Eat Cheap(er) in Paris

  1. I don’t think spammers are going to share a real opinion about a French restaurant with you, so maybe you’re actually a bit of crazy-oid ;) If you’re in Paris, have a meal in this restaurant, you’ll give me my link back and maybe draw an advertisement for my tartiflette recipe :D

  2. No problem, that was not an attempt to spam you and my “tartiflette recipe” website is in French because I am too ! The restaurant I mentionned is worth the comment ;)
    The link was not the goal although I’m sure it helps the website
    Have a good night

    1. I understand that you are French, but when a blog gets as much spam as I do, and much of it comes from other languages, I can’t help being a little paranoid! (Or perhaps fou?)

    1. Sorry, but since your website consists of only one page, and it is in French,(most of the readers here speak English) it looks like an attempt to spam my readers. I have reinstated the post, without the website addresss. If you think that is an unfair judgement, you can e-mail me at vmb@atravelerslibrary.com

  3. I’m French and I lived in Paris for almost ten years. My favorite restaurant was called “Le gros caillou”, it’s in the “7eme arrondissement” (sorry for the bad English, I hope you understand me).
    Here the food is very very good and you can eat a full menu for 18 euros (well, it was 18 euros when I left two years ago).
    I advice you to try it, it is in the “rue de Grenelle”
    I hope it helps you, have a nice day

  4. nobody seems to have come across my favourite cheapy Parisian restaurant with tons of atmosphere and history. Chartier.
    you can see daily their new menu – restaurant-chartier.com
    Today they are offering crevetttes roses mayonnaise 3.70 euros
    and confit de canard pommes grenailles 9.70 euros. Their house
    wine has to be the cheapest in Paris, and very drinkable. You
    might have to queue, share a table – but it’s a unique experience.

  5. nobody seems to have come across my favourite cheapy Parisian restaurant with tons of antomosphere and history. Chartier.
    you can see daily their new menu – restaurant-chartier.com
    Today they are offering crevetttes roses mayonnaise 3.70 euros
    and confit de canard pommes grenailles 9.70 euros. Their house
    wine has to be the cheapest in Paris, and very drinkable. You
    might have to queue, share a table – but it’s a unique experience.

  6. Was thinking about you today because when I arrived in Paris from the Eaurostar, I went to the Train Bleu and had lunch! Lovely – Gigot with Dauphinoise Potatoes with Fourme d,Ambert cheese through it. Delicious!, Next typical Parisian dessert – Floating Islands. – not cheap but an experience.
    Have now arrived in lovely little hidden hotel in Avignon known for it’s good food —
    Diets difficult ici!,
    Marie.

  7. It’s quite funny how you ate salads all the time, and nothing else really, that is not dining in paris, that is scrounging

    1. Well, we do eat salads frequently, but “nothing else”? I only see two instances where salad was our only meal–and in one of those it was the only thing for ONE of us, but not the other. As to scrounging–guilty as charged, but we never felt hungry or deprived. Fortunately, our taste runs to light meals anyhow, so that helps in an expensive place like Paris. But in Normandy and Bordeaux where restaurants are not quite as expensive, we sampled plenty of the local specialties.

      1. The trick is to have a meal at lunchtime which is what the French do. The restaurants all have the “Plat du Jour” and will do 3 course menus at very cheap prices – these are for the workers at lunchtime so the restaurants are all full providing very good value for money. I recently had a 3 course meal at lunchtime up in Savoie and this included wine and cost €13.50 Euros!!At night prices are a lot more and buying food in the local markets is a good way to survive on a low budget.
        If you buy snacks, Coke or gateaux etc you would then pay as much as a lunchtime meal so it is best to eat well and cheaply – go to the streets behind the boulevards to find the little gems which the French will use. Touristy places are expensive traps!!Eating out in French restaurants where French people eat isa wonderful experience and good fun! A bientot!
        Marie.

  8. For a really cheap exotic experience (good food guaranteed)in Paris I would recommend you venture outside the tourist trail – to Fbg. St.Denis or in St. Chappelle where you can have a truly filling vegetarian meal for 3 euros or a generous serving of Moroccan couscous for less than 6 euros. For the French experience, mid-price would be the grand brasseries Wepler, Bofinger or La Coupole.

    1. Food prices in Paris have gone up quite a bit recently but as Michael says – keep away from touristy places and food chains – go down little streets parrallel to main ones and look down alley ways as well, as you will always find someting interesting and look out for places where the Parisian business men eat! That will be a sign of good food! The “Menu du Jour” each day in restaurants is for Parisian workers at good prices and these are usually 2 or 3 courses!
      For a treat – go to Cafe de la Paix and have dinner inside – not in the glass exterior part — that is an experience!!!— to be repeated!!

  9. Nice selection – I adore the Mariage Frères teas, especially Le Roi Soleil. Very tempted to try their tearoom snacks next summer when I’m back there.
    Really cheap is possible when the weather is fair. I’ve spent so many nights watching the barges pass on the banks of the Seine with a savoury crêpe, a falafel (Maoz, St Michel), or a baguette and a camembert, together with a bottle of wine.

  10. This is one to bookmark for the next Paris trip.

    The days of really cheap food in France seem to be gone :( but then comparing like with like – French food is on a different plane (I speak from across the Channel, in the last of stodge) to what is available here.

    I recall eating in a motorway cafe en route to Paris and thinking how much better the food tasted than a ‘good’ restaurant in England…..

  11. There are so many restaurants in Paris which provide wonderful food on very cheap rate.I got to know this on my hop on hop off paris bus tour last week.

    1. We took a Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour in Paris, compliments of France Made Easy (THANKS!) That is how we discovered the Lily coffee shop which was right beside a bus stop.
      Unfortunately, the post by “Mimi” is a disguised commercial advertisement, so I removed the link. It was one of the more clever attempts to get free advertising on A Traveler’s Library, but I don’t think ads disguised as comments serve the readers well.

  12. I wrote down Le Train Bleu and the D’Orsay, in case I get back to Paris some time soon. Had heard about Le Train Bleu but never ate there. Thanks for these tips!

  13. Wow….my mouth is watering. When we traveled in France (we’ve taken 3 trips there), we ate mostly cheaper food and were amazed by how delicious it was nonetheless. Everything was a culinary delight. Just amazing. Thanks for this trip down memory lane….even though I haven’t been to the places you describe, it still evokes all those memories.

  14. D’Orsay Museum is my favorite in Paris. It IS hard to stay within a food budget in Paris. I know when I was a college student we would buy fresh rolls, cheese and fruit for lunch and eat in the park, people watching. This was in Vienna, but I found that some grocery stores had restaurants tucked inside.

    1. I am hoping to add a couple of pictures–one of Ken munching away in Luxembourg Gardens. We have a fold up thermos lunch bag that we stick in our suitcase when we think we’ll be needing it, and it shows up in the picture.
      The D’Orsay was frustrating because the top two floors with all the good Monets is closed for restoration. So the restaurant was really the best experience. I much preferred the Orangerie across the river.
      We ate at a restaurant in a grocery store in Ireland, too.

    1. Sorry to tell you, Stephanie, but travel writers are in the business of creating longing in the heart (hopefully not breaking) and so if I made you feel that visceral pull–I did my job. But then, when I read your blog, I tend to feel a tug toward the kitchen, so we’re even.

  15. Enjoyed this review of Parisian dining under 100 euros. We still found the best omlettes,etc. in several little unassuming street cafes around town. For a big deal meal Le Procope, with its claim as the oldest cafe in town, does well with hardy food and historical ambience galore. Ben Franklin recommended it.

    1. Hi travelersbro: We did not eat at Procope, but certainly enjoyed walking through and wandering the little cobblestone street behind. Did you happen upon the haven/heaven for writers in the stationer’s shop on that block behind the Procope?

  16. I am keeping your article for if I ever get to Paris again. When we were there we didn’t know where to eat.
    Great info! Thanks so much! Love the pictures!

  17. what glorious meals!! i love renting a place because then you can cook your own – when we were in ireland, we went to several farmer’s markets – fresh veggies, fish, and more. YUM! i love your top ten here – amazing places!!

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