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A Walk along the Seine

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I'll be staying in the Opera district next week and plan to spend a good deal of time walking, from the Arc de Triomphe to, say, Place des Vosges. Now, here's the challenge. I have noted that some of you define an "inexpensive" meal as "no more than EUR 70 per person." Bless your hearts, but I don't want to hear from you. I want to hear from those of you who have discovered delightful places to eat that cost EUR 10 or less. I don't care about ambience or service, nor do I care how many Michelin stars have been awarded. Tell me I can walk into a local farmers' market, buy some bread and meat, a little cheese, a piece of fresh fruit perhaps, take it to Parc Monceau for a picnic, and I will be thrilled. In short, where can I get really tasty, really cheap, distinctly French food in this area? It absolutely must be within walking distance of the Opera district.

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  1. Absolutely, you'll enjoy great food at the Bastille Market. Everything you can think of:
    Bastille Market
    Bd Richard Lenoir between rue Amelot and rue Saint-Sabin.
    Thursday & Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.
    Metro : Bastille

    Close by, we had the best Falaffel in a really neat Jewish Neighborhood, fun shops: (this place is famous if you goodle them) loads of crowds waiting for a falaffel. L’As du Falaffel - 34 rue des Rosiers (metro stop - St. Paul)

    We stayed just north of this area and found this fabulous market with an excellent coucous booth and this wonderful sandwich guy that makes unbelievable sandwiches for only 4e (he's just totally disorganized and you have to bare with him but his sandwiches are phenominal with local ingredients). This is in the 3rd just north of Marais. It's a market close to the corner of rue de bretegne and rue charlot. Beautiful park close by to eat - Square Lycee du Duperre Temple (metro - Arts et Metiers)

    We dined too but found fabulous places for 17e each, 25e, 32e, etc. My son just moved here in March so he has had time to scope it out and weed out the tourist traps where you spend a fortune without value.

    1. Good advice from "lexpatti".

      At €10 or less you are in the takeaway zone rather than restaurants. Even a set lunch at a neighbourhood restaurant is going to be in the €15 to 20 range, the lowest cost option would be a salad - Comptoir De L'Arc near the Etoile (sorry can't remember the street) does very good ones. The bakery chain "Paul" does good simple lunches between €10 and 20 (or you can take out quiche etc). However, I suspect you may struggle to get dinner under €10 - although you could picnic on the "Pont Des Arts" the footbridge over the Seine at the eastern end of the Louvre (lots of locals do this).

      There is a small market on Avenue des Ternes, which is a short walk from the Etolie and near Parc Monceau; another small market is Marche St Honore convenient for Rue St Honore. And then for the Tour Eiffel and Invalides there is Rue Cler, which has good food shops.

      Maybe a good idea is to plan your walks by market - the markets are generally only open on specific days so check out this web site and work out where they are and when they are open - http://www.v1.paris.fr/en/Living/mark...

      1. I agree with Phil D's post. Other than takeaway, crepes or ethnic places, it is nearly impossible to eat well or even decently for 10 EUR in a restaurant. I've stayed in Marais, the 5th, the 6th, 7th and 11th and any decent place will charge about 12EUR for a main course. Paris is not an inexpensive city for food.

        1. Agree with the other posters...a meal where a server brings your meal while you sit at a table for 10 EUR is out. But no matter. You can picnic very well from the outdoor markets on a park bench. In this area, you might want to pay a visit to the patisserie Stohrer, at 51 rue Montorgueil 2e and get a little something sweet for the end. The shop has lovely decorations from the mid 19th century. You might also check out Rose Bakery at 46 rue des Martyrs 9e, which has a number of nice take out options both sweet and savory.

          1. While I am a big fan of picking up wonderful offerings at markets and merchants in Paris, there are small restaurants that serve meals for under 10 EUR. For example, there is a little place on the rue St. Antoine, across the street from and near the St. Paul metro stop (in the Marais) that serves a variety of mussel dishes. Its not much to look at -- at first I thought it was a bar -- but 7-8 EUR gets you a generous helping of mussels and bread. I suspect that there are plenty of similar places, and a caraf of wine may cause you to go slightly beyond your budget, but it can be done.

            1. OK - Here is the cheapest of the cheap sit down places, but not really a restaurant. Locate the Madeleine, easy to do, stand at Place de la Concorde and look down Rue Royale. If you are staying near Opera, walk down Blvd Madeleine from Opera and you will run into it. It it a huge Greek temple looking church. About half way down the length of the right side of the building is a doorway called the Foyer de la Madeleine. Each day the church ladies from the Madeleine cook and serve a 3 course lunch to support their charaties. I have not been there since 2004 when the price was about 7e. Tap water to drink is free, the sell bottled soft drinks and airplane size wines for about 1.5e.

              It is usually packed with local office workers. Definitely non gastronomic, but not bad either for 7e. I think this is about the ONLY place in Paris you will find a sit down lunch for less than 10e.

              2 Replies
              1. re: f2dat06

                I think there is a small fee to join--but the meal is still very inexpensive and quite tasty.

                1. re: faijay

                  Foyer de la Madeleine is what is called a "restaurant associatif" also known as "resto associatif" - a community association, church or charitable restaurant. That does not mean the free or almost places that feed destitute people - those are a soupe populaire or restaurant du coeur (the latter were founded by the late comedian Coluche who wanted a nicer place for the down-and-out to eat. Some of these restaurants provide job training for people with special needs. I ate at a nice one that funded a project in Africa, in northeastern Paris, but don't remember the name - must try to find it, though there is no guarantee it even exists any more. I also ate lunch at a nice one in the 10th arrondissement - must look up the coordinates for that one.

                  At the "restaurants associatifs" where I have eaten, at lunch it is mostly office workers, in the evening, a more alternative, artsy crowd. There are quite a few but they vary a lot in quality and in permanence. Many, like La Madeleine, fund a charitable or social mission. At this one, the modest meals office workers eat fund free meals for the destitute.

              2. Thanks, guys. These are some great suggestions, and colorful, too. I especially like the idea of planning a walking tour according to the locations of the markets. Let's call it the market-based approach to dining. This Bastille Market you mention -- is it the same one I have seen called "Marche de Alligre"?

                3 Replies
                1. re: Lettuce Eat

                  One further thought - prompted by the 'market based approach".

                  It is important to recognize that the Paris restaurant scene is highly competitive and therefore in most cases you get what you pay for. Yes there are over hyped places and tourist traps that do not provide value, but in the majority the price of the meal will typically reflect the quality of the dining experience/food.

                  Yes you can eat at some very cheap places in Paris, and a few are good value (many mentioned already by other posters), but many are not that good and will give you a very poor impression of French food.

                  Paris may not be inexpensive but that does not mean it is not good value. The quality of food and cooking is generally very good for the price you pay. I really recommend that you save up some euros and at least have one meal in a restaurant like "Spring" (http://springparis.blogspot.com/) - Daniel does a sublime €34 meal that is well worth the price (water and wine will add to the bill but his wine list is great value as well). You do need to book well in advance, and there is no choice as he cooks based on what is good in the market (he is from the US so ringing up for a table is not a linguistic challenge). Another one to try is "L'Ami Jean" (in the 7eme) which again has a good set menu at approx. €35 - and booking is also essential.

                  You won't get this standard of cooking, at this price, in many other cities, so don't miss your chance and have a least one good quality meal.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    Absolutely agree with PhilD, we didn't break the bank but had some fabulous meals with chefs that used fresh ingredients, presentation was excellent and service impeccable. My favorite was Le Clos des Gourmets (32e) and only a few blocks from the eiffel tower so when your wonderful dinner is done you can walk over and watch it light up & shimmer. You can also keep costs down by doing these wonderful places for lunch, maybe 17e per person or maybe 20e. We had an unbelievable lunch at Le Pre Verre in the Latin Quarters. And Au trou normand does a fabulous lunch up the Rebulique.

                    At least do one nice meal in Paris.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      Agree with Phil. The French respect the concept of good value for a good price. You are better off saving your pennies by skipping your hotel breakfast (unless included) in favor of breakfast in a boulangerie, taking simple lunches of sandwich stuff from the outdoor markets, and then enjoying your savings at some of the good value set menu places that emphasize what was good in the market that day.

                      There are quite a few traditional bistros within walking distance where you can get a very nice meal for around 35 EUR (often including a glass of wine) which would be a challenge to match in any large city in the states. For example, you could try L'Arpent or Le Coude a Coude in the 1e, L'Abordage or Entre Nous in the 8e. The "menu" or "formule" is your friend here - this is the fixed price menu. If you can only do one, take Phil's advice - those are both excellent choices.

                      The food culture in France is famous for a reason. It would be a shame to miss it.