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Cost of eating in France

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Hi, I’m new to these boards, I’ve recently been doing some online research that brought me here so I thought I’d post my question and see if anyone had any ideas or answers.

This coming September/October 2008 I’ll be spending a few weeks in France (Paris and Versailles are the only two places I’ve definitely decided to visit, I’m still planning the rest of my itinerary) and I was wondering how much money I should plan on spending a day for food? I may eat out somewhere moderately nice once or twice, but besides that I’m not planning on eating out often, and hope to save money by doing so.

How much is “average” food there? Just so I can get an idea. Today here at home (in Washington, USA) for lunch I’m eating a sandwich I made at home and drinking a Pepsi, yesterday I had a cup of noodles and water, the day before that a 1 serving instant Mac and Cheese bowl (and a Pepsi), etc. I’m not generally an upscale kind of eater if you get my drift, and I don't drink coffee. For breakfast a piece of toast or a small bowl of cereal or oatmeal works for me just fine.

So what – on average – should I expect to spend a day, for a small breakfast, medium lunch, and a decent sized dinner, with maybe one or two snacks (apple, granola bar) inbetween? You can tell me in Euros or US dollars, and ANY and all information would be very helpful and greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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  1. You won't find oatmeal in restaurants. It's available at some food shops (the kind you cook yourself), even instant, but I doubt that you'll have a microwave in your room.

    At Breakfast in America, I had a bowl of Special K, one banana, and a glass of fresh squeezed oj - that, in October cost me 9 euros, plus a 1 euro tip. 10 euros at today's exchange, about $16.00. So much for an inexpensive start to the day.

    Forget sodas, they're costly. Find a food shop, and stock up on bottled water, which you can carry with you. Lots of shops that sell sandwiches, pre-made. Can't tell you the price, as I only saw them, and didn't buy.

    Dinners, go for the tourist menus - wherever you are in Paris, the menus, both regular and tourist, if they have one, are always posted outside the restaurant, not like in the US.

    If you get my drift, it ain't gonna be cheap - it's Paris you're going to !!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: toitoi

      Ok I think I worded my post incorrectly, I wasn't saying I plan on eating oatmeal there, or Mac and Cheese or any of that, those were examples of what I eat at home, regular everyday food here. I have no idea what "everyday" food in France is like, maybe it's the exact same. I don't want to eat out, I just want to know how much it would be to go into a grocery store/shop, buy some bread and make my own sandwhich, maybe buy things premade but my experience is its cheaper to make things yourself. Maybe it's not that easy to buy your own food there, but what do people who live in Paris do? What do they eat? I'm assuming they just go to the store and buy food, and don't eat out every evening?

    2. From the way you phrased your plans, it sounds to me as though you plan to rent an apartment with a kitchen? In my opinion, that definitely is the way to go. Depending on where the apartment is, and where you chose to food shop, there can be wide variation in food prices.

      Is my assumption accurate and do you know where in Paris you want to stay? I am also assuming that you are just planning a day trip or two to Versailles?

      2 Replies
      1. re: souvenir

        As I said above I think I worded my post oddly or something, I don't plan on cooking (if I can help it), I don't have any particular place picked out in Paris, I was just trying to give examples of what I eat at home (so you would understand I don't plan on eating steak and lobster every evening).

        I work far away from where I live, so I don't eat breakfast or lunch at home, sometimes not dinner, and I can easily do that for under $25 dollars, like going to a deli and getting slices of ham is good enough for me, I can work with that. I'm just trying to get a feel for what it's like in France, I know it will be different everywhere I go but can anyone just hazard a rough number?

        1. re: tawnylyra

          I think you can find some other threads that talk a bit about the cost of food in France. It used to be the case before the Euro became so strong and the dollar so weak, that I felt that things ended up being kind of even. Some things were more expensive here, other things there. Now that is mostly not true- mostly much more expensive in France, with the exception of good baguettes and croissants which I pay more for in the US.

          Here are a couple of threads on the subject of food prices:
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/395712
          http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?s...

          That egullet thread lists a couple of online French supermarket sites. You could browse on those for some idea of prices.

          Even if you don't plan to cook, a fridge and microwave could cut your costs enormously. Pepsi, for example, in supermarkets if you buy them in multipacks of cans or plastic liters won't be in the cold section, but will be much, much less than if you buy them in any kind of bakery, deli or fast food place.

          There is also a chain of frozen foods:
          www.picard.fr. IMO, their frozen food is generally much higher quality than frozen US food at very good prices. There are stores all over Paris. If you have a microwave, you would be able to take advantage of their selection.

          Clearly, what I'm saying also reflects my preferences. I look forward to trips to France to experience good food there.

          No matter how short my trip, and even if I plan to mostly eat out, I still prefer some kitchen amenities so that for example I can have my morning croissant or pain au raisin (around 1 euro picked up that morning from a nearby bakery), recently squeezed orange juice (usually purchased from a greengrocer who has an orange squeezer (2-5 euros depending on size) and cafe au lait (10-15 euros, I buy 1/2-1 pound of coffee and milk and make it myself, so that number would be prorated over several days), yogurt (1-3 euros). And I want what I'm having on real dishes and glasses, not take out or plastic containers. If I tried to buy comparable quality in a cafe, it would be much more than what I spend. People there right now can correct my numbers with their current numbers.

          I think part of the difficulty in answering your question is that I, and I think most people who comment on chowhound, are focused on trying high quality foods while they are in Paris. So trying to answer with cost info has to take that into account.

      2. A foie gras sandwich at La Grande Epicerie at Bon Marche is 4 Euro 95--which I think is a bargain. Breakfast at a bistro--cafe, tartine or croissant, and juice will set you back 5 or 6 euro. With omelet, about 10 euro. Set menu lunches run between 12 and 15 euro. Dinner at a bistro between 25 and 40 euro. Of course the sky is the limit...

        Creperies, falafel stands and sandwich shops are the way to go to save money. The exchange rate is a killer right now.

        1 Reply
        1. re: whs

          Ok, thank you to everyone who replied :-) the links are also very helpful. and yes I agree about the exchange rate, it's very bad, and I'm afraid by September it will only be worse :-(

        2. I live in Paris and frequently have lunch away from the apartment (maybe 4 times a week). It is difficult to generalize, but most of the cafes I go to offer a lunch menu (formule) for between 12 and 25 euros, which would typically include two courses, and sometimes a beverage. If you prefer, say, a large salad, expect to pay between 8 euros and 15 euros. Or buy a sandwich at a bakery for about 5 euros. You can buy a six-pack of cans of soda for 3 euros at the grocery store. It is of course less expensive to buy the ingredients and prepare your salad or sandwich at home.