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Apr 10, 2010 05:33 PM

On the Cheap in Paris

My husband and I will be traveling to Paris for a week in September. We will be on a very, very tight budget and probably will plan on just one nice lunch. We will be staying on Rue Cadet in the 9th, and I'd appreciate suggestions on how to eat well with almost no money. Would love to hear suggestions for bakeries, markets, cheese shops, ethnic eats, creperies, street food, etc. as well as the best place for a nice, budget friendly lunch and where to buy wine.

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  1. The following are places I would recommend (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)

    4.5 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. (Bill = 28.15)

    John Talbott's Paris

    8 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott

      John, thanks for the restaurant recommendations. These sound great for our one special lunch. Any one with any suggestions for basically putting together picnic-type meals and street food? I might add that we're staying at a residence hotel with a kitchenette. Also, we love Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, African and anything spicy.

      1. re: John Talbott

        John, as one of the volcano refugees stuck in Paris for the last week, I was very grateful for your suggestions. Bad news was, didn't get very much sympathy at home for my plight. Go figure.

        Some personal feedback:
        Le Bouchon et L'Assiette: fantastic find, best meal I had all week and surprisingly quiet. First time I'd ever had radish cream on persille de porc but it was great.

        Le Reminet: very solid and I'd return even though they didn't have any outdoor seating on a beautiful April afternoon. Veal cheeks were great.

        Le Charbon Rouge: pretty disappointing to be honest. More expensive than I expected (probably due to location) and looked very much like something I can find anywhere in DC, London or New York. Wouldn't put it on this list.

        Am going back next month and will definitely try some of the others.

        Thanks again!

        1. re: kriscolby

          Volcano refugee… sounds so glamorous, like a very decadent Pompeii escapee.
          If I may paraphrase the Casablanca réplique, JT's recs ought to take the sting out of being stranded.

          1. re: Parigi

            Yah well my getting stuck for 3 hours in the Madrid airport hardly qualifies as hardship since I had an incredible jamon iberica sandwich as compensation.

          2. re: kriscolby

            Sorry about Charbon Rouge; it is just a steak house for sure but just to be sure I didn't mislead you too far I went back and read my 6.5/10 review and E. Rubin's 7/10 one; just goes to show something.

            1. re: John Talbott

              I really appreciate everyone's wonderful recommendations. I would also love to hear suggestions for an uber art nouveau venue in which to enjoy delicious wine and a selection of cheese. The primary goal is an amazing nouveau atmosphere, but would be overjoyed to hear of something with amazing wine and cheese too.

          3. re: John Talbott

            Hi John,

            Been compiling your tips for Paris from all over the board. Thanks!

            Just wanted to ask if your rating refers to good value or good meal (or both). I'm trying to shortlist a couple of places from other boards haha

            1. re: dumplingdiaries

              My ratings are for food period.
              When I do prix-qualite it's usually in a Sunday Summary.

              Sorry for the delay, I'm out of town this weekj.

          4. Fortunately, you are staying in cheapskates heaven! Rue Cadet runs into rue Rochechouart which is home to excellent cheese, bakeries, ethnic shops and inexpensive eateries. There is good Vietnamese and Lebonese on the street and a great Turkish gyro shop around the corner. We also love les Anges Gourmand, a sandwich and take out storefront that is very reasonable. Just take a stroll and fill your shopping basket. You will be eating well without thinking twice about your budget.

            1. May i suggest that you read this thread from a previous question on chowhound...

              My own thoughts are that it is very hard to have a bad meal in Paris. The trick is to have a great meal for very little...and that is possible. The tread above has some great suggestions.

              1 Reply
              1. re: hychka

                I don't eat anywhere in Paris that isn't recommended by someone, or I know. If forced, I may try to look through the windows at what's on peoples' plates to see if it looks doable. I can spot a steak cooked properly and served at the correct temperature or a decent salad gourmande from 5 meters. I have been known to give N. African places a chance randomly where your odds of having a palatable meal improve.

                Eating at home, if you have a kitchen, is a way better idea. 100 euros spent on wine and ingredients can make you an amazing meal for 4-6, about a third what it costs to get in the same vacinity at a restaurant, roughly.

              2. It's actually very easy to have a bad meal in Paris -- just stop randomly and the chances are high. What is almost certain however, is that, good or bad, the meal will be expensive.

                If you have very little money in Paris (and God knows I know that situation) -- DON'T EAT OUT! And if you must eat far from home, get something from a good bakery. (I have a map of some of them on my blog at . In you neighborhood there's a great grenier à pain on rue du faubourg Poissonière, Seurre and Delmontel on rue des Martyrs, and even Saint Preux a few meters away on rue de Rochechouart is not bad.

                Coffees are almost twice as expensive if you seat at a table than they are at the bar or to go.

                Mangeur, as always, is exactly right: rue Rochechouart, and rue des Martyrs, have a lot of great food shops where you'll get awesome bread, cheese, candies, meat... You can also find bad crepes going down the rue Montmartre close to the boulevard. That's what students who need a lot of food and have little money do. But all the ones I tried were kind of disgusting. Montparnasse is better for that. On the bd though, there are Churros to be had from trucks, with nutella dips.

                Chartier is a budget friendly, sitdown, spectacular and not even bad option for a meal. And it's very close.

                I Golosi has great Italian wines to go but I don't know how their prices are, given as I don't buy wine myself.

                My budget is tight but I still prefer to focus on simple food at home most of the time and save for a lunch at Ledoyen or Le Cinq every once in a while. Price is slightly north of twice what John lists and, in my opinion, way more than twice of thrice better.

                4 Replies
                1. re: souphie

                  "My budget is tight but I still prefer to focus on simple food at home most of the time and save for a lunch at Ledoyen or Le Cinq every once in a while."

                  Exactly how I operate.

                  I would just add a couple of addresses to Soup's magnum opus:

                  - on 18 rue Cadet is Maison Plecq, a good charcutier-traiteur.
                  - nearby on 3 rue Rochechouart is a wonderful pastry shop called Aurore Capucine, very inventive stuff, while Seurre, recommended by Soup and which is also my fave, is more classic virtuoso.
                  - Further up on 36 Rue Rochechouart is Ferme Saint Hubert, one of the best fromageries of Paris. Try its beurre Bordier aux Algues

                  And yes do eat out at least once in a good bistro. It would be regrettable not to have such an experience once in Paris. Think Le Reminet or Les Papilles or, my fave, chez L'Ami jean. And when you go to the restaurant you save up for, don't think budget that evening. Just think pleasure…

                  As for 23 Clauzel recommended by John, it has an added attraction. On Saturday nights the wonderful American jazz pianist Joe Macolm plays there, offering all the standards at a volume that is most user-friendly.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    "nearby on 3 rue Rochechouart is a wonderful pastry shop called Aurore Capucine"

                    You need to poke your nose into this tiny shop in any event. Eccentric doesn't do it justice. Rose and lavender and violet as well as rosemary and thyme sables. Cakes in non-cake shapes frosted in non-cake-frosting colors make Alice's looking-glass pastries look as ordinary as Twinkies.

                    1. re: Parigi

                      I agree entirely with souphie about how easy it is to have a bad & expensive meal in Paris. But first, I have to thank all you parisien/ne chowhounds for having discovered you! Now I know where to get advice for our next b-day dinner...

                      - I strongly second Parigi about the Ferme St. Hubert- skip the supermarket for all but cheap chevre; their prices work out to about the same for all the standard, cut in-store cheeses. And it is THE most beautiful shop in Paris- I have not seen the like in the 7eme, 8eme, or 16eme.

                      - The market on Square Anvers is Friday evening, from about 4-8pm. It is not cheap, for that you should go to the Barbes-Rochechouart market under the tracks of the metro stop, line 2, weds. & sats. But try to find the N.African (Algerian?) guys selling olives & pastes/dips at Anvers: their white fish paste is out of this world, and a turn through the market with a stop for a 'tradition' at the boulangerie at Place Turgot, the corner of rue Condorcet & rue Rochechouart (the best in the 'hood), will do you just fine for munchy dinner.

                      - full disclosure: I live b/w the boulangerie and the fromagerie. If stuck on a desert island, I would bring both shops and their employees with me.

                      - I may get slack from experienced parisian chowhounds for the following, but your best bet for a fab art nouveau experience is Chez Julien on rue faubourg St. Denis in the 10eme. Yes, it is now part of the big Flo restaurant group, but if you are going mostly for the atmosphere, it is incontestably the best place in Paris. Make a reservation in advance and be SURE to ask for a table in the back, not near the windows. Do not buckle under the attitude of the waiters; it is part of the experience. Cheap trick: they have a deal after 10.30 (maybe only on Sundays?). Maybe a chowhound has more info, or check a guide.

                      - The Franprix supermarket near the intersection of rue Cadet and rue Lafayette is your cheapest bet, especially for wine, but avoid unfresh veggies there. Carrefour at the intersection of Maubeuge and Rochechourt, is more upscale. And Shopi on rue des Martyrs is cheap also- cheese, yoghurt & refrig. items are upstairs.

                      - There is not a lot of spicy in the 'hood, but very good tagine and cous cous is served in huge portions at Titi Touareg, 47 rue de Rochechouart.

                      - For adventure, try Chez Michel: go up rue de Rochechouart to rue Maubeuge, and take a right on rue de Belzunce to cut behind the church of St. Vincent de Paul (which is not in the right place on google maps). They serve cuisine from Normandie with an emphasis on game, and their canard is fantastic. Try eating downstairs, communal style, which is where you'll be if you don't make a reservation. Their menu/carte is not translated, and one of the best meals I've ever had was foie d'oie on top of a filet migon, covered with a sauce that was out of this world (I was a parisienne newbie and had no idea what I was ordering, nor did my arteries). A low-cost option is their cafe, Chez Casimir, 2 doors down; go for prix fixe lunch and be sure to order their soupe de poisson, served in a pitcher and amazing, especially if it's drizzly outside. At least, go just for the soup.

                      - see John Talbot on Spring in Paris: I wasn't able to get a reservation at their old place, and I'm not quite sure what the deal is with the "new" old one, since I always manage to walk by in the morning.

                      September is the best time to visit Paris- welcome to the 'hood!

                      1. re: brig

                        "- see John Talbot on Spring in Paris: I wasn't able to get a reservation at their old place, and I'm not quite sure what the deal is with the "new" old one, since I always manage to walk by in the morning.

                        I dunno either stuck as I am in the Loire largely without weefee, I know, I know, somebody's gotta do it.

                  2. Are you staying in an apartment? That allows you to cook and store food bought at local markets or shops, saving for a splurge.

                    You can buy decent, reasonably priced wine (euro6 or less) in any market shop, as well as all you need for sandwiches, snacks etc. I like to bring back cafe and pastry each morning, which is inexpensive but feels luxurious. Be prepared though - takeout cups are not universal so you may be balancing open coffees on your trek back!

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Likelivingthere

                      It's a residence hotel, basically a hotel room with a kitchenette which means a small range and a microwave, but no oven. I should find out if there's at least a toaster oven. Be that as it may, we are planning on stocking the larder, and would be very interested in good markets (shops as well as street markets [days & times]) near the rue Cadet, and even recommendations for inexpensive market wines.

                      1. re: lanapinkerton

                        You'll have a Nicolas wine store at 38, Rue Cadet. They have wines that wil not cost you a fortune. Just tell them what price range and they'll recommend you what to choose:

                        You can check what they have on the web page.

                        1. re: Dodo

                          Around the corner on 46 rue du Fbg Montmartre you have 'Les Pâte Vivantes' a great (and cheap) Chinese, Hunan, I believe, noodle place. Try and get a table downstairs and you'll see noodles flying across the kitchen space.

                          Rue Cadet is pictoresque, but not very lively.

                          About ten minutes away, on the rue du Fbg St Denis between the boulevard de Magenta and the Porte St Denis you have great greengrocers, butchers, groceries, delis, of all sorts of origin (French, Serb, Arab, Turk, Kurdish, Mauritian...) and restaurants, cafés,bistros of equally diverse styles (art nouveau brasseries, dive-bars, hipster hangouts, ethnic),

                          For a Galllic take away experience, the Juhlès family's wine & cheese shop, bakery, and deli, (three different shops around 54 rue du Fbg St Denis) have great stuff at good prices, and so you really get the full-on Parisian immersion, with a crazy queing system and often snooty service. The bakery is open all day, but the other stores are also closed between 1PM and 4PM.

                        2. re: lanapinkerton

                          See above re: Friday eve. market at Square Anvers. Barbes/Rochechouart market on Wednesday and Saturdays is the cheapest in the city and you'll have an experience of immigrant Paris that many Parisien/nes don't even have: clausterphobic but fun. Shopping on Sat. mornings on rue des Martyrs is another slice of Paris- everyone is out with the kids.

                          1. re: brig

                            Brig, thanks for the great advice, and thank you to everyone on this board who have had such great recommendations for this post and so many others.

                            I'm not sure if Chez Julien would work for us as I've read that there is terrible muzak. However, it has been suggested that we can go to a restaurant such as Le Train Bleu for just a drink. Is that true or is it that Le Train Bleu has a bar?

                            1. re: lanapinkerton

                              Yes, Le Train Bleu does have a bar, Le Big Ben Bar. Not cheap though.
                              For more info, check its web page:

                              And no, you do not go to a restaurant sur as Le Train Bleu just for a drink. They will send you to the bar.

                              1. re: lanapinkerton

                                FWIW, we had an awful meal at Chez Julien last summer: dull and not inexpensive food, indifferent service, 100% tourist crowd. Even the murals, the reason we booked, didn't compensate. However, I don't remember background music.