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Are There No Good, Inexpensive Places In Paris?

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After 3 days of searching here, it appears that every request for inexpensive food in Paris is met with responses about restaurants in the $50+ (30 Euros) per person range. Is that because there is no way to eat in Paris for less, or because the view of inexpensive on this particular part of Chowhound is so expensive?

In my book, inexpensive is around $8-$10 a person for breakfast, $10-$15 a person for lunch and $20-$30 a person for dinner. Anything above that is mid-range, and once you're getting into the 30 Euros per person range, you are getting up toward expensive.

I remember that the last time I was in Paris, it seemed to me that the only way to eat reasonably while there was to go to the bars for coffee and croissants or pastries for breakfast, bakeries and sandwich shops, and perhaps neighborhood eateries of which I did not know, for lunch or dinner, and to make heavy use of crepe stands/Tunisian Sandwich stands, as well.

Is that about right, or are there truly inexpensive and good places to eat in Paris?

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  1. i'm on a limited budget (and am paid in usd, no less) and i still manage to eat extremely well for not much money. there are plenty of good places with 20 euro prix fixe menus for dinner or a la carte options for less - in the past few weeks i've eaten at autour d'un verre (a wine based resto with an 18 euro menu), l'encrier (3 courses, 19 euro), cafe des musees (3 courses, i think it's 22), breizh (where a crepe will run 4 - 15 euro)... a lot of these are listed in other threads (I think you may be having a problem with your search function since in another thread you mentioned not finding any inexpensive paris threads for the past several years, but there have been 5 or 6 this year alone)

    1. You need to remember that expensive in Paris is €300 ($450) a head for dinner so €30+ a head is pretty inexpensive in comparison.

      Your strategy of a bar for breakfast with a coffee and croissant is good (and is what I do), I would try and eat lunch around the business districts (or main local shopping areas) as you will find a lot of the restaurants will do lunch menus that are priced to line up with the luncheon vouchers issued by companies (I believe legally French companies either need to have a on-site restaurant or give workers vouchers). The vouchers were valued at €7 so set three course lunches are often around €14 or €21. If you are around a tourist area you will pay more, as you do in any city.

      I think dinner at €30+ is very good value, especially for the standard of cooking and ingredients you get. Maybe that is because I am a European and so am used to a different cost of living - you should be thankful you don't need to pay for petrol over here - nearly $12 a gallon.

      It is also good to remember that the board is about finding good food, not just cheap food. So when we are recomending inexpensive food there is always an underpinning of quality. I would guess there is a economic price point were the rents/labour costs in Paris mean you can't do good/quality meals for less than a certain amount (apart from fast food like crepes/falafal). Also remember the prices are inclusive of service so you shouldn't need to tip on top of the bill, a Euro or two as a token of appreciation is all that is expected (although an American accent can alter this).

      11 Replies
      1. re: PhilD

        "I think dinner at €30+ is very good value, especially for the standard of cooking and ingredients you get."

        But good and inexpensive does not mean good value and expensive. So, at €30+ each, it had better be an awfully good meal, because you can get spectacular meals over here at that price. And, even if it is spectacular, it's just good value, not inexpensive.

        "you should be thankful you don't need to pay for petrol over here - nearly $12 a gallon."

        Yet. It's $5 a gallon here, and I just paid $85 to fill my tank today, which I have to do once a week just to commute to work and back (no decent public transport where I live).

        "It is also good to remember that the board is about finding good food, not just cheap food."

        Actually, the board is about finding good food cheap. I remember that from when I originally found it. At least, when I first came here a few years ago, the mission of the board distinguished between a Chowhound and a Foodie. A Foodie is about trendiness, while a Chowhound finds the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants, that, while not trendy, are inexpensive and have great food. The mission might have changed over the past few years, but I don't think so.

        The one other thing is that, when someone requests advice on inexpensive restaurants, the responses should give advice on inexpensive restaurants that have good food, not on expensive restaurants just because they have good food.

        1. re: Hoc

          Hoc - "inexpensive" is a relative term. Around €30 in Paris is quite inexpensive if you are getting a well cooked meal in one of the good bistro's like Chez L'ami Jean, Le Regalade, or Les Coccottes. You need to remember mid range in Paris is in the €60/70pp range (and these are prices without wine), and the top is €200 to €300pp.

          Patz has listed some of the very good places were you can get good food at a lower price, Cafe des Musees has a inexpensive dinner and even lower priced lunch, although there ALC is higher. The wine bars like Autour d'un Verre, Les Pappilles, or Cave de l'Os a Moelle are also inexpensive.
          At lunchtime it is perfectly easy to find good food that is inexpensive especially if you head for the salads in the popular cafe's.

          I am not sure where you got the "...Actually, the board is about finding good food cheap" idea from. Yes it is all about good food, but the cost of it is inmaterial. I understood the board to be simply about finding good food, and looking for the best food. It can be inexpensive food, or it can be top of the range, eye wateringly expensive, Michelin starred food....as long as it is good (and no expensive does not always mean good or better). Check the Manifesto to see why I say that.

          I used the petrol price to simply try an illustrate the relative costs of things in Europe compared to the US. My car cost about €125 ($190) to fill so £30 for a good meal is inexpensive..

          1. re: PhilD

            Please! Using the excuse of being European to talk about relative prices - of food or petrol - is absurd. Paris is Paris. I am American by passport, but am a mixture of European nationalities with many close relatives in Europe and have spent more than 12 years living and working in Europe. The average European cannot afford 30+Euro meals, much less 300+Euro meals...Paris is more like NYC, not even like France. Let up on the "you should be thankful..." whatever. There are ways to eat well, and you need not eat in the restaurants of famous chefs. Just stick to brasserie and one will do just fine in Paris. If you try to eat in any famous chef's restaurant in any of the world's cities, you'll be paying the prices only the elite can pay (or those willing to spend weeks of salary for one meal). Correc that the ingredients are fresh - which is the same whether in the bistro/brasserie, or in the resto of the major chefs. Idea/suggestion: Keep It Simple! You can do it!

            1. re: CzechMike

              Why is it absurb? I was simply trying to illustrate the different cost structures between countries. Eating out in the US is relatively inexpensive especially compared to Europe, but there are things in Europe that are relatively cheaper (health coverage for example). I didn't say the average European spent €300 on a meal I said that was an expensive meal.

              I am interested in hearing about the Parisian Brasserieies where you can eat a meal, especially an evening meal, for less than €30 - names and addresses would be especially useful.

              Obviously you can eat cheaply if you eat simply, obviously there are cheap restaurants in Paris. But as this is Chowhound the question is: are there good cheap restaurants in Paris? Not simply can you eat cheap food, you can, but unfortunately much of it isn't that good. As you say: "Paris is more like NYC, not even like France", it is true, it means Paris is an expensive city, thus if the food is cheap the chances are something will suffer and that is often the quality.

              I believe it is useful to make this point to visitors they will have a far better experience by focussing on a few good, realistically budgetted, meals during a visit (often lunch rather than dinner), and then picnicking/snacking on other days, rather than trying to eat cheaply every day: better a few high spots than a week of mediocrity.

              1. re: CzechMike

                Yes, where are those 30 € good meals in bistros or brasseries. In the past month have been to 7 or so of these places. Granted the food was wonderful. The wine was from carafé, and generally a dessert was shared. The range in prices was from 45 to 65 €. l am not complaining, but this was the price, more than NYC, probably a little less, but a lot better IMHO. Maybe many of the patrons were tourists, if so they sure spoke perfect French, and the places were stuffed with people.

                1. re: souphie

                  All very good points, re: 30 euros vs. 45 euros and up. In Paris, quite often, you get what you pay for, tourist or resident...One thing tourists do not realize, though, is that the portion sizes in most Parisian restos are nowadays huge! Splitting plates is simply
                  not done, though it's OK to share dessert, and doggie-bags don't happen here. If you want to economize, just order less! There is simply no good reason to fill up on
                  "entree-plat-dessert" at each meal. A starter and dessert, say, or a main dish and coffee - make these choices, and drink tap water and house wine, and you will have no problem eating well for less money.

                  1. re: manouche

                    We notice "portion creep" more and more in moderately priced places. Even humble Machon d'Henri has changed its dinner plates to what I would call a "charger" or chop plate: enormous. We used to be comfortable ordering a starter, entree and simple dessert here. No longer. Maybe split a starter and each have a main, pot of wine and coffee.

                    1. re: mangeur

                      Sans doute - you will live longer, and both you and your wallet will be happy
                      - and full! Pity the poor tourists who must eat out all the time, and who have been led to believe that the 3-to-5-course-French-meal is the only way to survive...so many more reasonable alternatives exist.

                2. re: CzechMike

                  Sure, many bistros make it possible to pay less that 30 euro for lunch, but these are some pretty unremarkable meals to the extent that I'd probably be indifferent between this and a sandwich grec.

              2. I am American and recently returned from a trip to France. What I tried to keep reminding myself is that the price of things wasnt inordinantly expensive. Its just that the dollar is so weak. If our dollar was not so weak 30 Euro wouldnt seem materially more expensive that in some of our larger cities here in the states. You cant really expect them to lower their prices because the US dollar is weak. 30 Euro is not mid-range.

                IMO I think it will be hard for you to eat in the $8 - $10 range. Perhaps 8 - 10 Euro.....but not dollars. I did not encounter any place with prices like that although they MAY exist.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Brunella

                  The dollar/Euro ratio is not that much different from when I was there in 2004. Then, it was about $1.49 to the Euro. Now, it's about $1.55. So, on a 30-Euro meal, that's only about $1.80 difference. So, the weak dollar really doesn't have much to do with it.

                  1. re: Hoc

                    actually, right now the dollar/euro ratio is close to the highest it's ever been. when we were in paris in sept 2004, it was close to $1.25 to 1 euro. it was close to $1.30 to 1 euro when we were there 2 years later. see the following link:


                    1. re: beantowntitletown

                      No point making the conversion. It is what it is, regardless of conversion. I just compare on par, always.

                  2. re: Brunella

                    " If our dollar was not so weak 30 Euro wouldnt seem materially more expensive that in some of our larger cities here in the states."

                    I don't think that many people, even in big cities in the U.S. consider a $45 per person lunch to be cheap. I have paid $200 a head for some very nice dinners in the U.S., and I know that there are places that charge more. But they are not cheap, and there are cheap but amazing options. Even New York City (one of the more expensive cities) has Gray's Papaya, where you get 2 hot dogs and a drink for $2.50, or some spectacular pizza or deli spots or ethnic restaurants where you can get a nice lunch for about $15. In fact, go into Katz's and share a pastrami sandwich and pickles, and you have one of the all-time great food experiences with amazing quality, and will leave unable to eat dinner, all at about $9 per person. So, most places where there is expensive food still have some amazing, inexpensive dining experiences. Even London -- one of the world meccas of high priced food -- has some great Pakistani or Indian restaurants with 15-pound dinners that are very nice.

                  3. Remember that the cost of living in the US is AMAZINGLY cheap compared to most of Europe - not just in terms of eating out, but in terms of rents/property prices, shopping in supermarkets and everything.
                    Paris is more expensive than the rest of France, and so things here aren't cheap. And they're getting more expensive very quickly, too, with the cost of basics increasing so much.
                    I'm British and the idea of being able to get a dinner for $20-30 (£10-15, €12-18) is pretty miraculous if you want to get more than one course and something to drink.
                    A sandwich and a coffee to takeaway in the UK will come to about £6/$12!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: chochotte

                      Oh and remember that you don't need to tip in French restaurants. So when your bill arrives for €30 that's it. No additional 15-20%.

                      Another little tip: don't get café crèmes (a white coffee) or a cup of tea in any café you take a break in. A 'café' or a noisette - both espresso-sized coffees - will cost you between €1-€2.50 depending on neighbourhood, whereas a café crème or a tea will cost something nearer €4!

                      1. re: chochotte

                        Not terribly on-topic, but FWIW: as an American who's lived in Europe since before the Euro, and has returned regularly to visit, I'll just say that this is no longer true WRT grocery store prices: last month in Atlanta grocery store prices were more expensive than what I pay here in Amsterdam (not an especially cheap European city).

                        1. re: chochotte

                          Ive lived in Most major U.S. cities-it isn't much different. The prices in Paris are on par- if you were in Chicago, If you eat at high priced bistros every night- you would have sticker shock too-I have found many decent , 10-16 euro prix fix meals here...

                        2. There is plenty of good, affordable food in Paris. This little corner of Chowhound is waaaay more "foodie" than the rest -- that's one aspect of it. You don't see a lot of discussions about the best kebab here, alas, unlike the endless taco discussions on the SF board.

                          The other is that Euro-denominated countries just suck for you Americans right now. You could get a nice lunch (entrée+plat or plat+dessert, sometimes a glass of wine) for 10-ish € back a few years ago and you can now. Back then that would have translated into $12, now it's $16. That change means that what used to be at the bottom of your price ranges is now at the top -- and things towards the top are hors du budget.

                          And then there's the fact that we're talking Paris here, and it *is* and expensive city. It's a bit like NYC that way -- if you stick to mid-town, your funeral if you're not rolling in it. But if you branch out to Harlem and Brooklyn you can find real gems. Same goes for the quartiers populaires and the banlieus.

                          Much to my horror one of my favorite places in my neighborhood was just mentioned here in another thread, which has a great lunch special for 9 or 10 € or so -- I never remember, just that it's a ticket restau plus a bit. Ask specific questions if you want better answers.

                          As for your approach, you get off to the right start. Breakfast for me usually means yoghurt and coffee at home, but if you're going out, a croissant a noisette sounds good.

                          For lunch, either seek out interesting lunch specials or hit up the markets. You never have to go too far to find one -- the little map-booklets by arrondissement usually list them. Of course you won't be buying a horse roast or dried beans or a pumpkin, but there are always seasonal fruits and veggies, fresh breads, cheese, wine, pâté, charcuterie, etc.

                          Go for lighter/less fancy meals for dinner, because things are more expensive then. That said, you ought to be able to find a great tagine, a bottle of acceptable wine, and really good desert in your price range.

                          There's no reason to suffer a grec-frites or a crummy crepe.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: tmso

                            Awesome post! Thanks. Spot-on!

                          2. "Is that because there is no way to eat in Paris for less, or because the view of inexpensive on this particular part of Chowhound is so expensive?"

                            So, it seems like it's a little of both. It apparently is very difficult to eat in Paris for less, and this particular part of Chowhound is a bit more "foodie" than "Chowhound."

                            Generally, when in Europe, I always make lunch my big meal, not in particular to save money, but because that is usually how the Europeans do it, and I like having my big meal in the middle of the day, when I still have time to walk it off. I have arranged it with my hotel that I will have a mini-fridge and a coffee maker in my room, so that I can shop at some of the open markets and make my own for a couple of meals. My guess is that I will do coffee and croissants for breakfast a lot, and maybe some yogurt. One or two big lunches, and then a couple of lunches from the markets, and then mostly light dinners or no dinners.

                            45 Replies
                            1. re: Hoc

                              if you plan on making lunch your main meal, it's very easy to eat for under 15 or 20 euro pp. people here do it everyday. i think part of the problem is that it's not very clear (to me at least) what exactly you are looking for and how much you want to spend - clarifying that would lead to a more fruitful discussion than just saying things are expensive.
                              renting an apartment instead of a hotel is also a good option for travelers (that way you can have breakfast at the apt, do shopping at the market; etc)

                              1. re: patz

                                Yes, lunch for about €12 is a good budget price to be aiming for. Most cafés/bistros will do a good lunch 'formule' for that: plat du jour, 1 other course (entrée ou dessert) and café/verre de vin, something along those lines, for around €12.

                                In the evening this sort of thing is much more expensive so eating more at lunch is definitely a good plan.

                                1. re: patz

                                  " i think part of the problem is that it's not very clear (to me at least) what exactly you are looking for and how much you want to spend - clarifying that would lead to a more fruitful discussion than just saying things are expensive."

                                  Good food of any kind at €6 to €8 for breakfast, €10-€15 for lunch, and €18-€22 for dinner.

                                  1. re: Hoc

                                    You'll be able to get breakfast nearly on-budget: a breakfast 'formule' of a croissant, coffee and orange juice will cost about €5/$10. But you can of course buy pastries and bring them back to your hotel room and make your own coffee and that'll only cost you about €1 per person!

                                    1. re: chochotte

                                      Also, I remember that some of the bars and coffee places were OK with you bringing in your own pastries, as long as you bought at least one croissant or pastry plus some coffee from them. That gives you the benefit of the sidewalk cafe/people watching without overspending on it.

                                      1. re: Hoc

                                        I wouldn't recomend bringing your own food into any cafe/bar in Paris. OK you may have found some places that let you but I am pretty certain 99% will not let you.

                                        1. re: PhilD

                                          It's pretty common to take a pastry to a café and order a coffee, then eat the pastry there. In fact, I even know people who do this with takeaway sandwiches. It's more acceptable in cafés that don't serve food OR at times of day when they're not serving food. But then you won't usually be able to take a table for a drink alone while food is being served anyway, if they have limited serving times: they'd rather keep the tables for people wanting to eat.

                                          1. re: chochotte

                                            I will bow to your experience. But I must say that in my years of living and working in Paris I never saw this happen. I am pretty certain that most of the cafes I went to did have food avaliable, even if it was simply a basket of croissants on the bar, so maybe I didn't go to ones were this happened.

                                        2. re: Hoc

                                          Or you could go "Dutch" and bring all your food for the visit in a suitcase, and then carry it around with you, or eat every meal in the hotel, and then spend your time and money (if you have to) visiting museums, and walking around.

                                        3. re: chochotte

                                          I am a huge proponent of this idea -- and if your hotel room has a minibar, you need never eat breakfast out. I always travel with Grape Nuts or granola, and I buy yogurt and milk and fruit sometimes cheese at local shops. If my hotel room comes with breakfast, I have as big a breakfast as I ever eat at home, and even if it doesn't, I can stretch a continental breakfast into breakfast and a snack (by saving the rolls/pastries for a snack later on.)

                                          As far as the "30 Euro is cheap for lunch" debate, the issue is what you expect for your 30 Euro, which is now the equivalent of about $45. When I was in Paris last week, we paid 72 Euros for steak frites, salad, one dessert, and a carafe of red wine for two people. That's more than 30 Euro each, but it was worth it.

                                          1. re: brendastarlet

                                            In my experience, minibars in hotel rooms can be ( and probably is) a lot more expensive than going out for a snack.

                                        4. re: Hoc

                                          Apartment rental definitely the way to go - if too late for Hoc, then for others. Croissants from best patisseries for breakfast. Lunch out - I have a list of 20 starred by Lebey Guide restaurants, and 68 not starred that have a two course lunch for under 20 euros. A few even include a glass of wine and coffee. For supper eat ethnic, or one dish, or delicious cheeses, or your own market buys at home and wander the streets or stay at home and recover with a great book (too depressing to spend an evening in a hotel but not in an apartment).

                                          1. re: Fuffy

                                            My room at the Hotel Napoleon cost me $500 for the week -- roughly 47 Euros a day. My guess is that an apartment rental near the Arc de Triomphe would have been much higher.

                                            That list sounds interesting -- any way to post it here?

                                            Meanwhile, I've already decided on doing a couple of evening picnics -- one at Luxembourg Gardens and one along the Seine. Perhaps a nice lunch or two, and mostly croissants, pastries, yogurt and coffee for breakfast, which is pretty close to what I eat at home, anyway. Maybe skip lunch or dinner on a day or two and plan on filling up on crepes and other things off the street stands, at least one Croque Monsieur from a bakery for lunch one day, all of which is certainly right up there with my everyday fare, anyway. We rarely eat three meals a day, even on vacation, so this should be interesting.

                                            I think we're going to the Bastille Market for lunch one day and will probably get some veggies/cheeses/charcuterie from the stalls, and bring them to the room for some al fresco dining over the week. Anyone have a recommendation on a quality wine store?

                                            1. re: Hoc

                                              Interesting discussion on what "expensive" and "moderate" mean in Paris, and how to order coffee. But I'll bet you'd just as soon hear about specific restaurants that have good food and are within your price limits.

                                              Alas, I haven't been to Paris for 5 years, so all my tips are out of date. But it wasn't all that hard, back then, to find a nice dinner for small amounts of money. It takes research, but it can be done! Sure, it's not to-die-for ultimate-gourmet food, but there are good, inexpensive places to be found. But most are in out-of-the-way non-tourist areas, so travel time can be a issue.

                                              For great tips, look for a copy of "Le Guide du Routard - Paris Restos & Bistros" - it was a good resource for inexpensive meals when I was last there.

                                              I also had good luck with Le Petit Fute - though I'm not sure if the restaurant guide is still as good. They have a web site with Paris addresses:

                                              Not everything listed there is cheap, but I saw an entry for a place that has a 17 € menu at dinner (Le Petit Bougnat in the 17th arr.). Caution: I've never been there, so I can't vouch for the quality of the food.


                                              And check out this 2005 article from L'Express article on the best bistros with meals under 30 €. It's possible that - even three years later - some are still good and still inexpensive.


                                              Bonne chance!

                                              1. re: Hoc

                                                Remember the Bastille market is only held on Thursday and Sunday mornings. Here is a good link for market tims and days:

                                                1. re: Hoc

                                                  Gosh that is cheap (though I myself would prefer the upper Marais or other districts to Arc de Triomphe). But I think an apartment is infinitely nicer for lounging between excursions, and good for shopping and eating - I prefer patisserie from best places to practically all restaurant deserts.
                                                  You don't need to read french to use the Lebey guide as "formules" 2 dishes and "menus" 3 are clearly signalled at the end of the write ups. Here are a few Lebey starred places with under 20 euro lunches during the week. Arrive before one to get in: Le Dome du Marais, Le Pre Verre, Bistrot Paul Bert, La Gazzetta (14e I think and near Aligre market) Avant Gout, Au Bascou, Repair de La Cartouche, Cafe Panique, Afaria, Beurre Noisette, L'os a Moelle, Stephan Martin, La Boulangerie. I haven't been to all of them so check prices.
                                                  Also Mon Vielle Ami has a lunch plat de jour for about 15 every day they are open. We had their (Sunday?) braised lamb the other week and it was copious and delicious. We couldn't eat more but Berthillon ice creams and a good patisserie are nearby for those than can.
                                                  I, too, would like some wine shop recommendations. I seem to remember that there was an enthusiastic recommendation for a wine shop in the Marais a few years ago.

                                                  1. re: Fuffy

                                                    i don't know if this is the wine shop in the Marais you heard about, but there's one in the upper marais that I really like - Julien Caviste, 50 rue Charlot in the 3rd. The owner is really friendly and helpful and carries a great selection of wines (I've also heard him speak english). the only catch is trying to show up when he's open - he closes for several hours in the afternoons (12 - around 3), and sometimes the store will be closed during their normal hours.
                                                    Hoc, if you're going to the market at the Bastille, there are a lot of wine producers and sellers (they're only there on sunday, not thursday) - in my experience, most of them are really friendly and sell great wine for a good price.

                                                    1. re: patz

                                                      Thank you so much. I'll try him.

                                                      1. re: Fuffy

                                                        Try Le Dernier Goutte in the 6th, a block or so in from Boulevard St. Germain -- 6 Bourbon Le Chateau (look for the bright yellow walls.)The owner, Juan Sanchez, is a Cuban-American, and most of his wines are 25 Euro or less (he does not believe you need to spend more than 20 for a good wine.)

                                                      2. re: patz

                                                        Thanks. We will arrive from London on the afternoon of July 19, so my plan was to go to the market the next morning. So, perhaps we'll pick up some nice wine there, too.

                                                        1. re: Hoc

                                                          Leave a message on my blog if you'd like to get in touch.

                                                        2. re: patz

                                                          We got a really nice Brouilly Beaujlais there. Also some nice olives and marinated peppers. Chicken smelled really good, and we wanted to eat it, but there appeared to be no tables anywhere nearby.

                                                        3. re: Fuffy

                                                          Thanks. My French is not great, but I'm pretty good with Spanish, so reading French is not impossible (both languages have latin roots, so many of the words are similar on paper). I do remember the time at a bistro in Vincennes (where nobody spoke any English) when I thought I had ordered Scallops crusted and seared with Foie Gras and served with a Caramel sauce, and instead got Seared Scallops OF Fois Gras and Caramel Sauce.

                                                        4. re: Hoc

                                                          If you are going to le Jardin du Luxembourg, you can find wonderful markets not too far from there. One is on Tuesday and Friday on Blvd Raspail and another on Edgar Quinet which I believe is on Wednesday and Saturday. Then there is the bio/organic market on Raspail on Sunday.

                                                          If you are staying near the Arch de Triomph there is a wonderful park not far from there in the 17th, Parc Monceau. That would be great for a picnic, too.

                                                        5. re: Fuffy

                                                          can you post or email your list? thanks

                                                          1. re: Lisamay

                                                            I'm sorry, I somehow didn't see or else I forgot your request to post my list of Lebey starred restaurants with a two course lunch for under 20 euros. Now I am in NY and don't have my list here. I'll try to post when I'm in Paris next Spring.

                                                        6. re: Hoc

                                                          finally (thank goodness!)... Re: last line of your statement. I suspect that this is what everyone is asking and searching for. Please provide a list of recommendations if you can! Your 18-20E for dinner is somewhat distanced from the 30E+ that I have read about so far.

                                                        7. re: patz

                                                          "renting an apartment instead of a hotel is also a good option for travelers (that way you can have breakfast at the apt, do shopping at the market; etc)"

                                                          We are at the Hotel Napoleon, near the Arc de Triomphe. No kitchen, But I have arranged with the concierge to clean out the minibar, so we can use the refrigerator, and to have a tray for making hot water and coffee in the room. So, that will take care of a lot of breakfasts, snacks and some sandwiches.

                                                          1. re: Hoc

                                                            If I were you, I would spend more on lunch than on dinner, and for dinner I would eat cheese, bread and wine. Even high-end cheese isn't all that expensive. You'll get more for your money in most restos at lunch than at dinner. As for eating ethnic, go to the 10th or the 11th, for starters. Even then, I think you'll have trouble at dinner. The Katz's of the world (personally, I much prefer Lahore or Nicky's Vietnamese sandwich shop, but the idea is the same) do not serve three course meals. The only thought I have along those lines is a Libyan takeout shop near Park Monceau that serves quite good sandwiches, including chicken liver, for five euros. Oh, and Kunitoraya on 47, Rue St. Anne, which serves damn good udon for, relatively, not a lot of money. Even there, though, lunch is a better deal and the duck curry udon is maybe 14 euro. (And worth every penny, I might add.)

                                                        8. re: Hoc

                                                          "Is that because there is no way to eat in Paris for less, or because the view of inexpensive on this particular part of Chowhound is so expensive?"

                                                          Not certain I agree with the replies to this question.

                                                          Yes, you can eat for less in Paris, but the problem is about finding good food for less. There are quite a lot of cheap/inexpensive restaurants in Paris but as you drop down the price scale the quality drops off very quickly. There are exceptions (like the ones Patz mentions) but you have to be quite careful because Paris has its fair share of poor restaurants.

                                                          Is the French board more foodie than elsewhere? Not from what I have observed, the opinions and recommendations are broadly based and the restaurants/shops recommended are reliable sources of very good food. I don't see the recommendations as being out of kilter with the what is available in Paris. Lots of traditional, established places as well as a few new finds, but refreshingly few trendy or hyped places.

                                                          In my experience the price point of the restaurants you see on the French board is very representative of the costs of eating out well in Paris. I don't believe we are ignoring the inexpensive sub section of the market, it is a simple fact that inexpensive is €30 for dinner.

                                                          "Generally, when in Europe, I always make lunch my big meal, not in particular to save money, but because that is usually how the Europeans do it"

                                                          Do we? I think not. The reason a lot of restaurants have good lunch deals is that it is often a lighter meal than the equivalent meal in the same restaurant in the evening. The lunch specials are pared back to offer a simple (yes inexpensive) meal, rather than a longer more involved meal. I do agree lunches are good value and a great tactic for eating well when on a budget as you will be able to eat in better restaurants for less.

                                                          1. re: Hoc

                                                            "Breakfast....if you're going out, a croissant a noisette sounds good."

                                                            Wouldn't you order "un creme" for breakfast rather than a noisette? Noisettes (and espresso with a shot of milk) are usually drunk later in the day or after a meal.

                                                            1. re: PhilD

                                                              I think that they were saying that Noisettes are a comparatively better value than a creme, because you are paying exponentially more for the milk in the creme. But yes, I definitely need some kind of milk or cream in my morning coffee (and particularly like Cafe Au Laits at breakfast)

                                                              1. re: Hoc

                                                                I wonder if this is a tourist thing. In my experience an express, noisette, or creme were all quite inexpensive. However, a Cafe au lait was usually (as you say) expodentially more expensive.

                                                                My observation (from living and working in Paris) was that a Cafe au Lait was generally ordered by toursists whilst the locals would go for a express, creme, or noisette...and thus they were priced much more competatively.

                                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                                  No, even in totally non-touristy parts of France the pricing works this way - sadly!
                                                                  In most places a café crème is exactly the same thing as a café au lait. Sometimes a café au lait, in the morning, will come in a bowl and be bigger, but usually they're the same thing.
                                                                  I speak French-French and my friend speaks Belgian-French so she says café au lait while I say café-crème. We each ordered our own way, recently, and the waitress said - "That's the same thing, you do know that?" before going to fetch us our identical coffees. She just wanted to check we knew what was going on!

                                                                  1. re: chochotte

                                                                    Interestingly I had different experiences to you. I generally found a cafe au lait was a lot larger, and more milky than a creme. However, as I tend not to like a lot of milk, I usually ordered a un cafe creme, and more often than not got the right balance between milk and coffee. I sometimes had a cafe au lait at breakfast when staying in hotels and got the larger more milky drink that was perfect for dunking a croiisant into.

                                                                    One obvious problem with coffee, the world over, is that it has very variable naming standards i.e. there is no "International Coffee Naming Standards Authority". So it is always good to understand the variations that are possible and be ready to adjust the order accordingly....!

                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                      And other than the fact that one is French, one Italian and one Spanish, outside of the countries themselves I have never found any difference in taste between a cafe au lait, caffe latte or cafe con leche. Since they are all coffee with milk, all have pretty strong coffee components, all have about the same ratio of coffee to milk, and the milk seems to be steamed but not particularly frothy in all of them.

                                                                      1. re: PhilD

                                                                        Chochotte is right - there is no difference between a café au lait and a café creme.

                                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                                          I think we are all correct.

                                                                          What I was trying to say in my last post was that there is no absolute 100% definition of coffee. In some places a cafe creme and a cafe au lait will be identical, in others the cafe au lait will be served in a larger cup/bowl with a higher ratio of milk to the cafe creme served in the same place. I usually used the term cafe creme because I consistently received what I wanted.

                                                                          To further confuse matters I was told by my French tutor that a Parisian (which she was) would generally use cafe au lait at home over the breakfast table, whilst they would use cafe creme whilst out in a cafe or bar.

                                                                          And of course noisette is really only a term used in Paris, you can get strange looks if you ask for a noisette elsewhere.

                                                                          1. re: PhilD

                                                                            There are two types of "café crème": The "petit crème" , and the "grand crème." For me the half pint size, and more expensive grand crème is too much. The petit crème is a little bit bigger than an Italian (not Starbucks) cappuccino, only costs about 20 cents more than an "express" (normal coffee), and hits the spot.
                                                                            The trouble is, in chicer establishments, places where they're after tourist trade, and places that are up their own arses, they often don't serve the humble petit crème. Infact, I find one test of the "genuineness" of an establishment is whether they do petit crèmes, or not.
                                                                            If your strapped for cash, bistro sandwiches are often a good deal - i like paté and cornichons. If this isn't enough, you can supplement it by asking the barman for a hard boiled egg on the side - very Parisian, and cheap. Great meal with a panaché - beer mixed with lemonade.
                                                                            If you get peckish in the afternoon, I find a "lait-fraise", cold milk with strawberry syrup, hits the spot.
                                                                            And remember, drink and eat at the bar : leaves more time for museums, and its much cheaper. Infact, certain restaurants, some of them very good, do a really good lunch-specials that you eat standing at the bar for between 8 and 10 euros.

                                                                            Good luck.

                                                                            1. re: vielleanglaise

                                                                              You are totally right about the bar.

                                                                              After a few months in Paris, I finally realized that the coffee (noisette, Petit creme, etc.) was costing me *double* if I sat down at a table. Get your express or noisette at standing the bar for 1.20 euro (more or less).

                                                                            2. re: PhilD

                                                                              Noisette is also a term used in Aix-en-Provence where I use to live.

                                                                            3. re: greedygirl

                                                                              Yes, there is. A cafe au lait is half milk and half coffee. A cafe creme is like a macciato -- it's espresso with milk stirred in.

                                                                              1. re: brendastarlet

                                                                                Just to continue this debate...

                                                                                I have never had a cafe creme which is like a macchiato. A macchiato is the same as a noisette (and, by the way, I have asked for a noisette in many parts of the Languedoc in southern France, including in very small villages, and everyone seems to know what it is).

                                                                                Cafe cremes are often between a noisette and a cafe au lait - but in some places a cafe creme is the same as a cafe au lait.

                                                                                I like the idea of asking for a petit creme, because I hate all the milk you get in a full-on cafe au lait - so I'll try that next time I'm there. Thanks for the tip.

                                                                          2. re: chochotte

                                                                            And let's not forget that in Geneva, it's a renversé. If you ask for a creme, people don't know what you are talking about...

                                                                      2. re: PhilD

                                                                        If you want all that milk for breakfast, yeah you would. Given that it's summer, you won't find me ordering any cremes for a while, though.

                                                                    2. a couple of responses, some of which repeat earlier information.

                                                                      -one thing to keep in mind is that a restaurant is responsible for the prices it sets, but not for the exchange rate. i found myself asking, 'would this be worth it in dollars?' and if yes, i just went for it and made sacrifices elsewhere. having lived in paris in 2001, this is my comeuppance, i guess.
                                                                      -i found that when i lived there, things balanced out and my life was around as expensive as living in philadelphia. (Not NYC, which was much more expensive). this was a happy discovery. some things were far cheaper (rent, notably); food out, and drinks out, were much more expensive. when you're visiting, this doesn't work.
                                                                      -the key to eating great food in paris for cheap is not eating it in restaurants. bread from bakeries, cheese from cheese shops, wine from wine shops, and maybe one of those roast chickens that you always smell as you're walking through the markets. mmmm... get some of that and sit out along the canal st martin or the seine and you get an experience that, for me, beats all but the best restaurants.
                                                                      -that said, there are some less expensive restaurants that i really do like. since i just got back, and am even looking at my receipts, i'm seeing 16E per person (sans vin) at Le Souk, which was awesome. Au Petit Cahoua, similar prices. a nice dinner for two with some wine at a place in the 6th called au pere louis, across the street from polidor which has similar prices and was just as good last time i went there.

                                                                      -some keys: leave the more common/upscale/touristy areas. look at restaurants and ask: if this place was horrible, would it still do good business because of its location? if the answer is yes, go elsewhere.

                                                                      just some thoughts...

                                                                      1. The 7th has the greatest number of good price/quality restaurants. But if you are averse to doing research, just don't eat in the 1st through 8th arr.. Remember, most cafes have a tiered pricing system; in the touristy areas there may be three tiers. The highest price will be at a tablecloth section, and the cheapest at the bar. They are required to post these prices somewhere. Good luck finding it!

                                                                        1. I had one of the best lunches of my life at the Cafe Didot on the outskirts near a flea market (can't remember the name now). I ordered a salad, and it came with a duck leg and pieces of duck, plus a huge slab of foie gras. The rest of the salad was delicious too. It was a considerably more substantial meal than I expected when i ordered a salad- so you might try doing that instead of the formule. As I remember, it was 10 euros. That was last January. The dollar has gone down and then up a bit since then.
                                                                          Also, don't forget about couscous.

                                                                          1. I guess I find this post slightly off the mark for many of the reasons listed below. Firstly taking exchange rate and cost of living into account 30 euros should really be considered 30 dollars and you can get plenty of good though, not exceptional, meals Paris at the 20-30 euro mark. Secondly tax and tip are included so by you calculation about 30 dollars before tax and tip is a minimum of around 24 dollars, bot much for a full dinner. Then you need to factor in drinks, are you expecting wine? I there are just too many variables but I feel like for the lunch and dinner prices you would need to up things by 5 to 10 dollars.

                                                                            1. I agree with you. I lived in Paris on a student budget for a long time so I understand the predicament!

                                                                              I presume you are staying in a hotel? If so, then breakfast is best bought from a bakery, not eaten in a cafe (often a huge mark up on croissants which are only a euro or two from the bakery).

                                                                              For lunch, remember this is the French main meal of the day. That's why prix fixe menus are usually for lunch, rather than dinner. My first advice for eating in Paris is to get off the tourist trail. Even if you are in the Notre Dame area, it is only a few metro stops to get out of the tourist area and eat somewhere decent.

                                                                              In my view, best Parisian areas for food and life in general are those which are never seen by tourists - the area around Bellville (in the 20th) has great bistros where food is cheap, and the area around Fauborg St Denis has a huge Indian and African community. As a result, Passage Brady on this street is full of Indian restaurants that offer cheapest lunches around (Sometimes 10 euoros for 3 courses). In this area, I loved the Passage to Pondicherry restaurant, which has some of the best southern Indian food I ever tasted.
                                                                              My husband who lived in India agrees with this.
                                                                              Whilst Indian food in Paris is not something you'd expect to have, don't forget that Paris is a mix of different cultures who have settled there and are now as much a part of Paris as the French.

                                                                              Most Parisian students live in tiny flats with no kitchen, so most I knew didn't bother to cook.

                                                                              1. OK; yesterday, three of us, one of whom is a famous food-writer-blogger, had a quite acceptable meal at Le Cul de Poule, 53 rue des Martyrs in the 9th,, closed Sundays and Mondays, which charges 20 € for 2 courses, 27 € for 3 at night and 14 € for 2 courses and 17 € for 3 at lunch; our bill was 86 Euros with a bottle and glass of wine and six coffees.

                                                                                John Talbott

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                  My girlfriend's uncle has a crêperie in Pontivy called Le Cul de Poule.
                                                                                  I was up in Paris this weekend, in the 13ème, I can't remember the name of the brasserie but I had a nice tournedo, with decent potatoes on the side. Not haute cuisine by any means but at 12 euros very reasonably priced. Unfortunately my pint of Kronenbourg was 8 euros!!!!

                                                                                2. How about this: 23 Clauzel at the same address in the 9th where 3 quite acceptable courses are 18.50 and a half-liter of acceptable Bordeaux was 14.50 E. Full report is at http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/...

                                                                                  John Talbott

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                    Or: at "the" place on the climb:
                                                                                    6.8 Le P'tit Caillou, 2 rue Maleville in the 8th,, closed weekends and Monday nights, with lunch formulas at 22 (2 courses) and 25 (for 3), a la carte 41-51 E
                                                                                    Trust me,

                                                                                    John Talbott

                                                                                  2. 50€ per person in Paris is a bargain to eat well. No Applebees here yet.

                                                                                    15 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: adrian

                                                                                      I think everyone here is just repeating what the OP said, clearly, in his/her first post. If 50 Euros is considered a bargain price for a decent meal, then it comes down to whether or not we find 50 Euros "expensive."
                                                                                      This will depend on how much money we make. Apparently, a lot of people on this board are quite wealthy. For some of us, our food/grocery budget is about 150 dollars per week, so 50 EUROS a person is, yes, quite expensive.

                                                                                      1. re: anakalia

                                                                                        "This will depend on how much money we make"

                                                                                        Also depends on the current exchange rate, for or against one. A restaurant could be holding its prices unchanged since the early 2000's and a dollar-spender would still have to put up with a near 50% hike.

                                                                                        1. re: anakalia

                                                                                          I thought a lot of the posts discussed the quality/price relationship. Isn't it useful to understand where the entry point for good food is in a city?

                                                                                          You can then budget accordingly, in a cheap city you can afford to eat well every night but if you have limited funds you need different tactics in Paris. Do you aim for every meal to be €30, fill up but miss out on great food? Or do you tactically splurge and have one or two meals that stretch the budget then picnic/snack for other meals? We always mix and match on our trips, usually a good place at least once a week, some cheap and cheerful other times, and if possible a bit of self catering.

                                                                                          Understanding the price dynamics of the city helps people develop their plans and strategies. I think it would be misleading to say you can find good inexpensive food in Paris (say under €30) for a dinner.

                                                                                          1. re: PhilD

                                                                                            I could be out of date, and prices may have increased, but I remember a couple of years ago that La Cerisaie had menus under 30 Euros, and it's great food. I've checked a few reviews and websites, but they seem to disagree with each other - some say that they have menus between 20 and 30 Euros (lunch from 19-23 and evenings around 27) and others say the cheapest menu at any time of day is around 35 rising to about 43. Does anyone know what the prices are?

                                                                                            1. re: Theresa

                                                                                              50 euros pp is the new 30 euros pp.

                                                                                              I can't get out of a place with a 30 euro menu for less than 50 in any case.

                                                                                              1. re: Theresa

                                                                                                They do have a menu at 23 euros and one at 32 euros; I don't recall why we ordered off the Carte. Busk is right on when you add in a decent bottle of wine.

                                                                                                1. re: Oakglen

                                                                                                  Our inexpensive evenings range from 95€ to 125€, coffee, wine and water included.

                                                                                                    1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                      My price point forever has been100 E for two with everything (but I'm talking lunches and no stars). I just picked up my Michelin 2010 today and was heartened to see a page full of Bibs in Paris of which 17 are N=new.

                                                                                                  1. re: Oakglen

                                                                                                    So it is possible to eat very well for under 30 euros. If there are two people, then I imagine a carafe of house wine or a bottle of the least expensive would still keep it to 30 Euros each. I was worried when we went to Paris a couple of years ago that we wouldn't be able to afford a good meal, but La Cerisaie delivered.

                                                                                                    Many of us can't entertain going to places where the prices are 100 euros+ a head, and even 50 euros is a struggle, so places like this are gems. La Cerisaie can't be the only one - or can it?

                                                                                                    1. re: Theresa

                                                                                                      Not at all
                                                                                                      For instance Charbon Rouge is 23.50, Aux Provinces 24, P'tit Caillou 25, Le Restaurant 18.

                                                                                                      1. re: Theresa

                                                                                                        Theresa, I thought Oakglen said the menu was now €32 with wine and coffee that is going to add at least another €15 a head getting it close to €50 which was Busk's number.

                                                                                                        John are your prices for lunch not dinner?

                                                                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                          Always lunch (and then I/we walk it off). I eat a light dinner at home.
                                                                                                          But yesterday, we had four Pierogies for 4E and today the meal was 20E total - each if one of us hadn't insisted on more extra unfiltered/bio/natural wine.
                                                                                                          So to answer the OP - there are inexpensive restos in town; good? what's the definition?
                                                                                                          Gory details and pix at JT's Paris.

                                                                                                          1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                            Phil - he said there was a 23 one too, and from the websites I've looked at, La Cerisaie seems to offer the same prices for their menus for both lunch and evening meals. That may not be the case anymore. Wine-wise, if each person only has a couple of glases or half a bottle, then they should be able to keep within 30 euros - coffee on top would spoil it a bit though!

                                                                                                            1. re: Theresa

                                                                                                              Via Michelin has the price of the menu at 32€/40€. Time Out has different prices for lunch and dinner menus but their prices seem out of date, so maybe the €23 is lunch.

                                                                                              2. A friend just asked me for recs for his budget-strapped son and I put together my experiences over the past one plus year. The following are the places I recommended - the prices are usually for a 2 or 3-course meal or prix fixe ”menu” and then what I paid for that at lunch plus wine and coffee at my last meal; numbers are theoretically from 0-10 but in practice from -1 to 8.5.:

                                                                                                7.0 Frenchie, 5, rue du Nil in the 2nd, 01 40 39 96 19, closed Sundays, Mondays and Tuesday lunch, “menus” at lunch at 16 for 2 dishes and 19 € for three - dinner menus for 27 or 33 €. (Bill = 31.20) Currently nigh impossible to get a rez.

                                                                                                6.8 Le P'tit Caillou, 2 rue Maleville in the 8th,, closed weekends and Monday nights, with lunch formulas at 22 (2 courses) and 25 (for 3), a la carte 41-51 E (Bill = 47.50 E)

                                                                                                6.5 Le Charbon Rouge, 25, rue Marbeuf in the 8th,, open 7/7 with a plat du jour at 15, forced, 3-course menu at 23,50 (salmon) and a la carte about 40-50 E (Bill = 43.30 E)

                                                                                                6.5 L'Agrume, 15, rue des Fosses Saint-Marcel in the 5th,, closed Sunday and Monday night, with a daily special costing 11, lunch formula at 16 and a la carte 35 (Bill = 30 E)

                                                                                                6.4 Chez Grenouille, 52, rue Blanche in the 9th,, closed Saturday lunch and Sundays, lunch menus at 15 and 25 and a 40 E carte. (Bill = 49.25 E)

                                                                                                6.2 Le Marcab, 225, rue de Vaugirard in the 15th,, open 7/7, has a confusing set of menus for 16, 25 and 35 € (Bill = 34.70 E)

                                                                                                6.0 Le Reminet, 3, rue des Grands-Degres in the 5th,, now open 7/7, lunch menu 14 € except weekends, a la carte 40-50 €, (Bill = 38.50 E)

                                                                                                5.8 Aux Provinces, 37, rue Cambronne in the 15th,, closed Saturday lunch and bottles of wine for a most reasonable price plus 8 E corkage, two dishes are 18 and three 24 E (Bill = 40 E)

                                                                                                5.8 Les Petits Plats, 39, rue des Plantes in the 14th,, closed Sundays, lunch formula 15 and evening 32, a la carte 25-35 € (Bill = 31.50 E)

                                                                                                5.8 Le Restaurant, 42-44 rue d'Assas in the 6th,, closed Saturday lunch and Sunday night, has a lunch menu at 18 and a la carte 30-35 €. (Bill = 43 E)

                                                                                                5.8 Le Bouchon et l'Assiette, 127, rue Cardinet in the 17th, closed Sunday and Mondays, has a 3-course "menu" at 33 E on weekdays but three courses anytime are only 36 E anyway. (Bill = 39 E)

                                                                                                5.5 Le Gaigne, 12, rue Pecquay in the 4th,, closed Tuesday, menus are 16 and 22 and wines begin at 14 €. (Bill = 42 €)

                                                                                                5.5 La Gazzetta, coordinates well-known, in the 12th, 5 courses for 38 and 7 for 50 € (16 and 19 € at lunch) (Bill = 35.75 E)

                                                                                                5.5 L'Alchimie, 34, rue Letellier in the 15th,, closed Sundays and Mondays, menus 23 and 28, a la carte 35 E (Bill = 40.50 E)

                                                                                                John Talbott, pix at

                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                  John, that's a smashing list! Thanks!

                                                                                                  1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                    I just logged on looking for a list such as yours...Voila! Merci John T..

                                                                                                    1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                      That is just perfect, thank you for the listing.

                                                                                                      1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                        Mr .Talbott,

                                                                                                        Where would you recommend for eating goose in Paris (or Giverny /Rouen)? To tie it into this thread, is there an inexpensive restaurant that serves goose [particularly well]?

                                                                                                        Thank you!


                                                                                                        1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                          John, thanks so much for your list. My wife and I had the 25 Euro 4 course formule lunch at Marcab today, and it was faultless. The table of 8 next to us had the 17 euro 3 course formule and it looked wonderful too. Tremendous value.

                                                                                                        2. My two cents after reading all this, is that like in any large city, you will find anything meeting any budget in Paris. But if what you are looking for is a meal that is out of the ordinary, something you will not find else zhere, if you are looking to have a great experience and not just feed your body, then yes, Paris (as London and NY) is an expensive city, even for Parisians. So no, you cannot find that sort of our wonderful experience until 30 euros for dinner. You'll find little bistrot with good enough steak frite or blanquette (make sure its made on site and site vacuume stuff industrially made), but its nothing to write home about. I rather save my little pennies and have one or two great meals... then sandwiches are wonderful too...

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: slincourt

                                                                                                            Under 30€ for lunch without wine though, yes

                                                                                                          2. One of our favorite places, L'Ambassade d'Auvergne, is offering a 28E prix fixe for dinner, including their fabulous lentil salad, three mains, two of which include the aligot potatoes for which I would rise from my death bed, and any dessert, which I assume includes their chocolate mousse which at least used to be offered as much as desired. Get thee hence. It's between the Marais and Les Halles at 22 rue du Grenier St. Lazare 75003. And there's a website in English.

                                                                                                            23 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: lemons

                                                                                                              I have mentioned L'Ambassade d'Auvergne before on this board. The warm lentil salad is sublime. You cannot eat better than that - though I am still not sure if aligot is a food or an arts and crafts project.

                                                                                                              Here is the thing with tourists in Paris: There is almost no such thing as a French restaurant in the US. Most menu selections at even humble places in France are vastly different than what you can find elsewhere. And since most tourists will only visit Paris and not the countryside, Paris is their only chance to eat real French food.

                                                                                                              If all you care about is deliciousness, than the smart option is to find yourself a place that is great and humble. It may not be the kind of place that Paris Chowhounds are into, but for the uninitiated it will be an eye-opening experience, with the warm lentil salad being a prime example. It's a simple item you might not find visiting a thousand French restaurants in the US.

                                                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                oh, aligot is a food -- what could possibly be wrong about mashed potatoes, garlic, butter and a truckload of melted cheese?

                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                  Maybe Steve was alluding to the way aligot is made in some places as a show-off food?

                                                                                                                  The idea is to put too much cheese in it so you can braid it into people's plates from a high-held spoon while the diners' eyes pop out of their heads, much as they did back in the 50s and 60s as the flames of flambés en salle reached the ceiling.
                                                                                                                  The problem with this kind of pyrotechnics is that the cheese gets cold before the potatoes do and stiffens in the plate, giving you the like of an old rubber tire to eat. (Which, besides, may also be a way of courting the Michelin inspectors.)

                                                                                                                  I'll give no names but I've seen that in a couple of famous places, the plague of the caoutchouc aligot - there should be a rather large proportion of potato, butter and cream so that the thing keeps warm a bit longer and is actually digestible, but then you can't braid it like Rapunzel's hair and raise oohs and aahs.

                                                                                                                  Or did Steve mean something else by "Arts and Crafts"?

                                                                                                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                                    I couldn't have said it better myself! That's exactly what I meant.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                      For aligot that is really aligot, i.e. a reasonably-dosed mix of potato, white tomme, butter, garlic and cream, try La Maison de la Lozère in the 6th. Call ahead, I think they serve it only on Thursdays and it gets sold out quickly that day. Not the Arts and Crafts version, the one you can actually eat.

                                                                                                                      There may be more than a few corner cafés, run by the ubiquitous Aveyronnais community in Paris, that serve aligot as a plat du jour. But you never know where you will find them.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                                        "There may be more than a few corner cafés, run by the ubiquitous Aveyronnais community in Paris, that serve aligot as a plat du jour. But you never know where you will find them." Le Bougnat, rue Saintonges, Fridays.

                                                                                                                2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                  Steve, I understand what you are saying, I like going to "Denny's in the US because I come from a country that doesn't have a breakfast diner culture. But that said I know where it sits in the relative quality stakes and would much prefer a US hound to direct me to the best breakfast option when I was in here town, and advise me that to experience a classic US breakfast I need to spend more, no matter how novel and cheap Denny's is for me as a visitor. And that is the same in Paris I would hope hounds look for quality not simply difference.

                                                                                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                    Your Denny's analogy only works if you think the food is sublime. Which I highly doubt.

                                                                                                                    I will put a well-executed warm lentil salad against anything for both deliciousness and delight for the tourist visiting Paris.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                      Not really, it illustrates the relativity of opinions and the need for experience. Yes, for me my Denny's breakfast could be relatively sublime if that is my first exposure to American breakfasts or if I came from a country that had lower standards. My lack of experience means I don't have the experience to understand I could eat far better breakfasts, have absolutely sublime experience. Thus I would hope a US hound would guide me to the holy grail of the American breakfast if I was in their town.

                                                                                                                      So the question is do we continue the deceit and humour the visitor by reassuring them they can eat good French food at low prices in Paris. Or do we try to lead them to a better, truly sublime experience? Note: a 90c baguette can be sublime, or a single dish can be inexpensive and sublime, but here I am commenting on a meal.

                                                                                                                      1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                        i have to agree: rarely do you find a better American breakfast than Denny's...and Paris has at least two popular places that cater to that notion...

                                                                                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                          Your fascination with Denny's is duly noted.

                                                                                                                          It's a simple concept: quotidian fare such as a well-executed lentil or tomato salad is as sublime as a 3-star restaurant meal. Experience has nothing to do with it. I only mention those items because when people travel they do so to see and experience things they can't in their own backyard.

                                                                                                                          I've had some very exclusive meals, and so have many friends of mine, but they can still be thrilled over a silky mapo tofu, a mound of chaat papri, or a juicy hamburger. The wonderful experience of a 3 star restaurant does not prevent them from the joy of a plump sabodet with choucroute in a true bistro.

                                                                                                                          For those who are looking for a high end meal, of course it is appropriate to answer in kind.

                                                                                                                          But for folks who are looking for cheap eats, who may actually get as much pleasure to eat that way, it seems to me that the appropriate response is: to suggest whatever you feel qualifies along those lines, or to pass on the question.

                                                                                                                          Not everyone has to feel the same way. If eating a smoked mackerel as a plat du jour in a bar is not your thing, doesn't send you, then let someone else respond. If a couscous royale, a gorgeous bowl of pho, or a yassa poulet can't ring your bell, then so be it. I had a galette with ham and mushroom cream in the Auvergne once that was a stunning experience. I couldn't tell where the crepe left off and the filling began. It was a textural masterpiece that sent me back only a few bucks.

                                                                                                                          To say you don't care for that type of experience may be true. To say it can't be done is outright misinformation.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                            Thank you for your well-phrased, logical point of view. It's refreshing (and I agree with you).

                                                                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                              Steve, I agree with what you say, and I agree that each of those dishes can be great and are not expensive (and I do enjoy eating in all sorts of places). But isn't the question is about an "inexpensive meal" and that is far more difficult to achieve in Paris yet still experience good quality cooking.

                                                                                                                              Obviously you can also eat relatively cheap non-French food, although I would argue that the price/quality equation is equally strong here i.e. a good Couscous based meal IIRC at somewhere with a strong reputation like Atlas whilst no expensive isn't cheap.

                                                                                                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                                All/both of you boys highlight the age old problem of restaurant recs. The best we can do is try to describe precisely and without editorial slant any food experience we've had. Let the reader decide if the plate or meal or dining room is what he's seeking.

                                                                                                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                                  From what I understand, you're right, it is getting harder and harder to find something inexpensive and worthwhile to eat in Paris.

                                                                                                                                  But.... if everyone who frequents this board can come up with a single suggestion, then we'll be able to make a nice little list for the budget traveler hoping for something good to eat.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                          wow steve have to disagree there- ive been to many french restaurants in the US, french natives who for whatever reasons either wanted to move or had to: and have done a fine job. Ive actually commented that some concentrate so hard on their homeland that they outfrench France, from winelist onward. And Paris is actually one of the last cities to go to for French food...but still: I can eat ANYTHING there and be gloriously happy

                                                                                                                          1. re: alaskanexile

                                                                                                                            I love your phrase "outfrench France". That's funny. But that could very well be part of the problem too. They become more of a cliche than anything.

                                                                                                                            Well, I am sure there are places you've been I haven't, so I do agree that it's hard to make blanket statements.

                                                                                                                            1. re: alaskanexile

                                                                                                                              "And Paris is actually one of the last cities to go to for French food..."

                                                                                                                              I am not sure. It all depends on your notion of "French food".

                                                                                                                              1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                                                my notion is somewhat of the traditional notion- most of which originated in provincial places outside the city...peasant food. isnt Lyon supposed to be the epicurial center of France?

                                                                                                                            2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                              I'm a latecomer to the aligot party but my wife and I visited L'Ambassade d'Auvergne last spring and it was quite a show, a bit like a taffy pull (and the spuds were mighty tasty). I totally agree with you about the lentil salad too, fabulous stuff.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Fummunda

                                                                                                                                Yes, fabulous. All reports are that the warm lentil salad is as good as ever.

                                                                                                                                Chowhound serves a valuable purpose. Go around clueless, and you will pay a lot of money for lousy food, even at so-called inexpensive places. There are two choices: you can seek out that rare rec which will get you some great food for the same amount of money, or you can follow the advice to spend more and have fabulous food. Even then you have to be careful.

                                                                                                                                My one low-priced rec is Domain de Lintillac for Gascogne cuisine. The confit de canard is something like 9E50 and comes with sensational pommes salardaise and some greens with a delicious dressing. A formidable plate of food. The cassoulet at 12E50 is better, though.

                                                                                                                                After that, I agree with others that in Paris you can easily spend a fortune and wish you cooked at home.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                  I LOVE Domain de Lintillac and recently dined there and ordered the works- aperitifs to digestifs- for shockingly little money (something like 60 euros for two!).

                                                                                                                          2. I forgot one of the best (and cheapest) culinary experiences...I stayed with my daughter at the Marriott Rive Gauche last January- if you are on the executive/concierge level ($150 euros for a good room) they included for free a nightime repast of wines (red and white), charcuterie, breads, deserts...seemingly endless for three hours. also included basic french items and coffee at breakfast...although we hit many brasseries, this value was also unbelievable.

                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: alaskanexile

                                                                                                                              Food quality is that good at that Marriott? Here in the states, it's typically poor, when we stayed at the Marriott in County Hall, London, it was an appreciable step up. Executive breakfast spread (open and free to Marriott gold customers) included a lot of protiens, eggs, sausage, salmon, etc. as well as fruit, baked goods, juice, yogurt. So, we could eat up for a day of sightseeing, but of course breakfast at a le pain quotidien would have been a step up. Was your Marriott experience similar, or do you think, a little better?

                                                                                                                              1. re: MCFAC

                                                                                                                                the rive-guache marriott...hmmm food quality? We use dthe executive club as a pre-sortie spot and it was endless varied bottles of wine, charcuterie, cheese, and deserts. Really didnt need to leave, but who stays in hotel in Paris at night? quality was good, wine was decent, and it was an incredible value. Ive also stayed on the executive level at the Marriott Marquis Times Square- was similar quality- except for the wine in France, and breakfast in NYC. In London, unfortunately (or otherwise) I had a local girlfriend- so never tried it there:) Stateside Marriotts have differentiated levels of service, right? I should mention I used to run restaurants at a Preferred Hotel...and I had zero problems with the quality or service. Friendly, too:)

                                                                                                                            2. My vote would be for L'Affriole in the 7th. It is more modern cuisine, but their dinner is 32-35E/person for a 3-course meal. Lunch might be too steep for you @ 29E a person, but dinner it quite reasonable and the cuisine is lovely.

                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: starshinesMonet

                                                                                                                                or do as *many* French people do - go for the lunch, then have something subdued for dinner -- a baguette sandwich, a salad composee, a roast chicken from a boucherie, bread and cheese and fruit.

                                                                                                                                It's pretty typical in Europe to eat the main meal for lunch and then a light supper (cheaper that way, too)

                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                  "cheaper that way" Not only that--it seems a lot of nutritionists try to discourage people from eating a heavy meal shortly before bedtime.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                    boy that sounds good: a baguette, roast chix, a bottle of wine...

                                                                                                                                2. It's been awhile since I had to really pinch pennies in Paris, but back in the day, Algerian restaurants had amazingly good food at low prices. Don't know if this is still the case. More recently, have had great Chinese at reasonable prices (and more authentic than what we get in the U.S.)

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                    (And yes, the neighborhood Maghrebi restaurants do still serve reasonably-priced food.)

                                                                                                                                  2. I eat lunch out regularly and I know plenty of places that offer a great lunch menu for under 20 euros. Café des Musées was already mentioned (18 euros, I believe?) but in the same neighborhood: Le Réparate, a charming restaurant at 64 rue Saint Sabin (in the 11th) has a great lunch menu, ditto La Vache Acrobate (St Sabin X rue Amelot), Café de l'Industrie (St Sabin), Le Clown Bar (rue Amelot), Le Progres (rue de Bretagne), Comptoir de Turenne (rue de Turenne), le Petit Fer a Cheval (rue du Temple) and on and on. Another great option for the Marais is the Marché des Enfants Rouge which is a covered market with many takeaway options (wonderful Japanese, Italian, Moroccan, for starters) and most of them have their own tables set up outside, some of which are actually in part of the market that is uncovered. It's a jolly place for lunch and rarely will you have to pay more than 20 euros. On the contrary, it is possible to eat well for 12-15. There's also café Charlot across the street (from the entrance) that is a bit too trendy for my taste but the food is decent and the scene is amusing. Bon appetit!

                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: haapi

                                                                                                                                      Absolutely agree with all of haapi's suggestions: good advice!!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Cosy Cool

                                                                                                                                        Lunch is usually the bargain in Paris compared to dinner, and these are good recs. But remember the OP wanted lunch at €7 to 10 so most of these recs are getting on for twice the requested budget.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                                          Lunch for E7, eh? I recommend Chez Franprix!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Cosy Cool

                                                                                                                                            you can get a baguette sandwich and a drink at nearly any boulangerie in the city for about E7...and sometimes you even get a pastry with it!

                                                                                                                                          2. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                                            Since we eat our major meal in the evening, since we enjoy munching on some kind of "you really shouldn't" during the day, since we always have a stash of cheese, pate and wine in our room for 5 o'clocks, we enjoy very modest lunches. I order by the gram at Asian traiteurs where my tab is seldom over 6€, love Maoz falafel that has been discussed here often = tab of around 6€, hit a salad bar on rue Montorguiel where tab is under 6€, or best of all make a collection of cheese and charcuterie at small shops, also discussed here.

                                                                                                                                            Note: The key to shopping is to order by weight (gram) remembering that 200 grams is around a half a pound! ,,,,,or slice (tranche) which you can designate by showing the size you want. Shopkeepers will always try to serve you more than you probably want or need and one needs to keep an eye on the slicing knife or the scoop. With a keen eye, two people can collect a lovely no-leftover picnic under 20 € if need be.

                                                                                                                                      2. Adding my experiences to this thread. My wife and I are in the middle of a 30 day dream trip to Paris. If you'd like more detail or just enjoy reading about young non-wealthy types enjoying Paris, check out our blog at 77bismonge.wordpress.com. Due to the length, the trip has a bit more of a real life feel than a vacation feel. Some days consist of little more than several hours reading or writing at a cafe. And, of course, we cannot eat out every night or anything of the sort. Nevertheless, 12 days into the trip I can honestly say we feel like we are eating like kings.

                                                                                                                                        Our apartment is on Rue Monge, in Quartier Latin, which is obviously the perfect spot for good eating with an aparment. We not only have the awesome Place Monge market three days a week, but the daily delights of Rue Mouffetard. Some highlights and prices:

                                                                                                                                        L'Ecurie: great stuart hangout for steak frites or any other kind of grilled meat avec frites. Under $20 for plats at dinner, and homemade aoili with good bread, a glass of sangria, and cognac chaser are all compliments of the house. This has been our only dinner out thusfar.

                                                                                                                                        For home cooking we get wine from franprix, which has good choices for under 8 eur.

                                                                                                                                        Cooked at home: moules from poissonerie monge, €5, steamed with shallots, wine, butter garlic...entire meal cost under 10€.

                                                                                                                                        Entrecôte from boucherie on Mouffetard...about 10€ for two person portion, cooked in butter with haricot verts (1.50€ at veggie stand)

                                                                                                                                        Chicken from place monge market with mushrooms and cream, again about 10€ for entire meal.

                                                                                                                                        Various nights eating pasta with olive oil and peccorino, mere pennies per meal, even with great peccorino from fromagerie at market.

                                                                                                                                        Snacks of pate, cheese, endless baguette...so very very delicious.

                                                                                                                                        Breakfast every morning is baguette and Brioche from a boulangerie...we like to try a new place every day...2€. Sometimes I make eggs, which cost 1.50€ from the market for half a dozen.

                                                                                                                                        Much of our splurging has been on pastry: la duree, Pierre Herme, Carl Marletti, the more local patisseries for yummy eclairs.

                                                                                                                                        We have a couple special meals in mind, but thusfar I am loving Paris at home. Today we picked up a chicken from the rotisserie downstairs and tore it apart in the privacy of our apt with some refreshing rose from Provence (11€ total)

                                                                                                                                        Btw, I love sandwich Grec and even a mediocre crepe stand crepe is a delight beyond reach back home on Maine. So maybe I am easy to please. It also doesn't hurt that my wife is a fantastic cook.

                                                                                                                                        Pierre Herme
                                                                                                                                        72 Rue Bonaparte, Paris, Île-de-France 75006, FR

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: tamerlanenj

                                                                                                                                          "Today we picked up a chicken from the rotisserie downstairs and tore it apart in the privacy of our apt with some refreshing rose from Provence"


                                                                                                                                        2. Hmmm, now if I could just find a good inexpensive place that will also be open all summer....

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: t19103

                                                                                                                                            This interesting link provides a good handful that should meed your specs. http://travelsort.com/blog/the-best-p...