Eating budget in Paris-what should I expect to pay in markets?
I will be in Paris for 2 weeks (May 4-21), and am composing a food budget. I already have reservations at numerous restaurants and bistrot and so I have an idea of what that will cost me.
My question is: What should I expect to pay for goodies such as cheese, bread, pastries, fruits and vegetables, meats etc.. at the local markets? I will be staying in the Quartier Latin and plan to visit Maubert Mutualite, among others. I have consulted guides, but would prefer to get up to date information from fellow hounds.
Any advice/words of wisdom much appreciated.
I was pleasantly surprised by how reasonable French mini-markets are. For example, I was able to get a packet of four small yogurts for under one Euro, and a six-pack of Vittel liter-sized bottles of water for less than two. As far as patisseries, you can get a baguette for a Euro or less, and croissants about the same. A good whole-grain bread roll will run you about 0.80 Euro, maybe less. Pastries are a little more, depending on where you go: I stayed across the street from an Eric Kayser shop on the Rue de L'Ancienne Comedie, near where you will be (Odeon metro) and think I paid 2 Euro 40 for a fantastic small raspberry tart that I can still taste.
It's hard to tell on cheese because I don't know what kind you like, but I bought a small round fresh goat cheese, the best I've ever eaten, for 3 Euro 90 in the Rue Cler in the 7th. It lasted me about three days. As far as fruits and veggies, nothing seemed too expensive bought individually. The most I ever paid for something was 5 Euro for a basket of amazing raspberries, but that was a special treat.
Just for fun, visit the Grand Epicerie in Bon Marche. You will find NO bargains here, but an enormous selection and a feast for the eyes. They have a couple of lovely cafes where you can get a coffee or a lemonade and just soak it all in.
There are a number of small markets on the rue St. Jacques where I've never had any trouble finding reasonably priced foodstuffs... even "takeout!"
FWIW, I think you'll like the market on the rue Mouffetard better than Maubert Mutualite, but maybe that's changed?????
How long is a piece of string...? Like any town you can shop in budget shops or you can go up-market. The staples like bread and milk are quite consistent so €0.80 or 0.90 for a baguette is pretty much the norm.
The markets in Paris are very seasonal and thus prices do change from week to week. If it is in season it will be cheap, if it is out of season it can be very expensive.
The one thing you will find with most produce is that there is a tremendous range. Take chicken for example, you can buy a humble chicken or go for a pedigree "Bresse" bird - the later costing anything up to €40 for a bird for three. Beef is he same with some butchers selling cuts from named, award winning beasts (i.e. I am not certain all the ones that come to Paris for the agricultural show make it home). And of course cheese ranges enormously from factory produced brie and camembert to artisan cheeses sold in perfect condition at specialist shops.
My advice is not to focus to much on budget but seek out the best produce that is in season (it won't be that expensive), this will give you the true French experience and allow you to try things you won't try a home. Find local specialist shops, buy small portions and simply enjoy.
Couple of other tips. Bon Marche is not as expensive as it seems. OK you can buy expensive Caviar, Foie Gras and exotic fruits. But the basics are competitively priced and I always found I got cheaper and better meat from the butchery counter than from some of my local shops. It just seems expensive because you are surrounded by so many luxury products.
It is also sensible to only buy for the next meal - for example a good cheese shop will ask you when you want to eat the cheese - for supper, or lunch the next day? And then sell you a cheese that is "ready" for that meal.
Advice posted by the other Chowhounds is good. I would like to add that my experience in small Paris shops has been delightful. Food is a religion in Paris, and shop owners are proud of what they do. One who greets the proprietor upon entering, the usual Bonjour, will be treated royally.
I entered a small mom-and-pop fromagerie near my hotel recently, seeking a piece of goat cheese and a bottle of modest French white wine. Both items sell like hotcakes in Paris, and the owner was delighted when I asked for a recommendation. He generously offered a taste of his best chevre, and refused to cut a piece until I indicated the exact size I wanted.
It's not about money, prices are much the same. These individuals are proud to be in the food business. If you take your time and stroll a given neighborhood, you will find countless wonderful shops, and return from your trip with a wealth of wonderful experiences, especially the memory of wonderful food.
re: Greg in Chicago
Oh, that's for sure, but don't overlook the supermarkets - some of the better ones have extensive lines of regional specialities - and you can calculate exactly what you will be spending on fresh cheeses (as opposed to well-aged ones, better purchased in speciality shops) and staples.
While some deprived areas might have a poorer choice, I found a remarkably good choice at the public market in Montreuil, a suburb at the eastern edge of Paris - traditionally working-class but with a considerable contingent of artists and such, including the friends I was staying with. I bought lovely goat's cheese and items that in many countries would be the apanage of very tony districts.
I love markets - delibertely live near Marché Jean-Talon here - and strive to find places to stay where I can do at least some simple food preparation, such as making a salad or cooking artisanal sausages. But there are also nice prepared foods on offer, such as roast chickens and all manner of savouries and salads.