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Paris for 4 days

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Ok, I am going to be in Paris with my lady friend for only 4 days/nights and we are college students so our budget is unfortunately tight.

Will obviously be sightseeing and doing other touristy things, so any food places near popular tourist spots is welcomed.

The question though is, Where do we eat??

I doubt we can afford any serious meals that come to much over $30 a person, so $60 in total is around the max and only for dinner. Breakfast/Lunches have got to be cheaper.

With that in mind, I personally love French Bistro food in the U.S. but am open to try any and everything. As long as its French and its tasty, I am game.

I love French Onion Soup and Escargot so I def want to try them in their country of origin. Need breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night snack places.

Any place with an online menu is also a good thing.
We are also English speakers if that matters. Extremely limited French abilities.

Any recommendations for Street food to try also?

I have no idea where we are staying yet, most likely some Hostel.

Any help is much obliged.

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  1. Picnics! Lots and lots of picnics.....

    I hate to be pessimistic but with the dollar at 1.60 and your budget of $30 per person, you going to have tough going. Several years ago Rachel Ray could only do it on $40 a day. And that was before the dollar tanked.

    With that kind of exchange rate even Museum entrance fees are alot. I recommend a Rick Steves guide as he give many cost cutting tips and lower budget advice.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Brunella

      here is the cheapest of the cheap 3 couse lunches:

      1. Find Place de la Concorde
      2. Walk up Rue Royale towards the Madeleine
      3. When you get to Madeleine walk down the right hand side of the church at ground level until you are about half way down its length
      4. Look for a doorway to the Foyer de la Madeleine

      In the Foyer the church ladies from the Madeleine serve a 3 course sit down lunch to support their charaties. It has been about 3 years since I stopped in last, used to cost about 7e. Water is on the tables for free, soft drinks and airplane size wines cost about 1.5e. It tends to be packed with office workers from the area.

    2. Hello FoodDude2. I just came back from Paris with my teenage daughter. We stayed in, and primarily ate in, the 4th district, The Marais. I can't recommend this area highly enough for anyone, especially young people. It is really fun and energetic, and still feels very "old Paris", has a lot to see, is close to everything, and has a wide variety of eating and drinking opportunities at every price range. I don't have a first hand hostel recommendation, but have heard good things about MIJE Hotel des Jeunes, mije.com.

      Breakfast and lunch do not need to cost a lot of money. Pop into any bakery in the morning for a baguette, a croissant, or any other bread/pastry that floats your boat, and a caffeine containing breakfast beverage. For lunch, put together picnics from the bakery, the cheese shop, the deli, the fruit stands. You will literally trip over them all over Paris. If want something simple and pre-made, it seemed to me that most bakeries have a delivery of various sandwiches dropped off every day. I noticed office workers running around munching on them as they ran errands.

      You will do very well in cafes for your main meal at the budget you suggest. Try to stay away from the ones located right next to a major attraction, and you should be happy with both food and price. I ate at La Tartine on rue de Rivioi and Le Pick Clops on Vielle du Temple and enjoyed both. Also, don't miss L'as du Falafal on rue des Rosiers.

      If you want a restaurant/brasserie/bistrot, you should think about having your main meal at lunch, and doing the picnic thing for dinner. Try to find a "prix fixe" that you like, and you will save a lot over a la carte. Or, have 2 courses in the restaurant and dessert from a bakery or ice cream stand. Another thought is to check out the many ethnic places in the Latin Quarter.

      Don't sweat over the language thing. Learn the polite words, and download the menu glossary from Patricia Wells website. You will find it easier to figure things out than you think.

      For my very detailed thoughts on eating in Paris, my report, titled "What I Ate in Paris, March 2008" is not too far down the board. My less expensive options are towards the bottom.

      Finally, try a crepe from a street vendor. It may a touristy, but I really liked mine!

      1 Reply
      1. re: samsmom1127

        Yes, it is going to be a bit tight, but I might suggest having one meal at a reasonably priced bistro (tons noted on this sight), and then eating from a bakery/street markets the other times. We were in Paris last year and found we could eat fairly reasonably throughout the day. I agree on the picnic suggestion - Paris is beautiful, Jardin du Luxembourg being one of many amazing options for outdoor picnic. You could also go to Place du Vosges, after grabbing some amazing breads or pastries from Au Levain du Marais.

        We stayed in the 5th when we were there and I recall seeing some reasonably priced places along Rue Des Ecoles (for example, I saw a place called something like American Cafe that advertised a very low priced breakfast/lunch. I never went there so I can't speak for or against, but it might be an option).

        Budget saving tips: Stay away from soft drinks - they are brutally expensive in Paris. Also, make sure you bring little things you might need (like Band-Aids) to avoid buying them in the city - save your money for a nice French onion soup somewhere! And, don't eat at the cafe in the Louvre - quite expensive and it sucks.

      2. A few rules for students: in the cafes, eat and drink at the bar; prices are lower. If you sit down, you pay more. Don't stay in the 1st to 8th arr.; too expensive. See the tourist attractions; just don't eat or drink there. When hungry, only order the prix-fixe meals; they offer a discount of 30% to 50% over the a la carte prices. Your big meal of the day should be at lunch; much cheaper. Check out John Talbott's stuff on another site. You will be fine.

        1. Have your big meal at lunch. Check out La Grande Epicerie for take-out--high quality at good prices. Don't eat escargots--very expensive. (Little rubber erasers in garlic and butter sauce.) If you want a good steak frites, go to le Relais de Venise--3 courses for 23 euro.