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Feb 25, 2011 08:02 PM

6 Weeks in Paris: How to not go bankrupt?

This is my first post, and I would appreciate any help and suggestions from this community. I am spending 6 weeks in Paris this summer (end of June to beginning of August). I am staying in a rented apartment on Rue St Antoine near the St Paul Metro stop. I know there are many Marais suggestions on other threads, and will of course, check them out.

I would like to know what everyone recommends in terms of a game plan for eating? Do we plan to eat mostly in bakeries/pastry shops with the occasional restaurant lunch or dinner? I am flexible in terms of budget, ie. wanting to find the sweet spot of not spending too much but getting great quality, so not bargain basement for bad food, but not haute cuisine every day.

Also, are there any good cocktail suggestions similar to kir royale? I am a champagne/sparkling/kir royale/bellini, etc. lover and would like to know the cost-conscious cocktails that are like this one.

FInally, is there an area/street/outdoor market area near my flat that is recommended for stocking up? Is Monoprix the big retailer of choice for grocery items?

Sorry in advance if I sound like a dummy!


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  1. The game plan for eating during a 6 week stay without going bankrupt to shop and cook in your apartment. There is a decent supermarket on r. St. Antoine between the St. Paul Metro stop and the Bastille. Also there are charcuterie, cheese and wine shops nearby; also take out places. Those few blocks is full of shops. The Richard Lenoir outdoor market is on Thursday and Sundays. Keep your larder stocked with bread, cheeses, pate, wine, etc.
    The best is to get into the rhythm of how the Parisian eat. For breakfast, shop for croissant/Viennoiserie each morning and eat in the apartment or standup in a nearby cafe. Take one large meal a day and make or buy something simple for the other meal. Simple wines can be downright inexpensive and the tap water in Paris is perfect for drinking. Cocktails, unless you are making yourself can be very expensive out. There are good sparkling wines to use other than the more expensive champagne or kir royale, etc. If you enjoy cooking or want to learn, this is the perfect opportunity. It is also an opportunity to mingle with the locals and not feel like a visitor. Eating in can be very relaxing and one doesn't have to look ones best. Avoid eating out for just for convenience or laziness but enjoy a few good restaurants. We spend 6 weeks or more in our apartment in Paris every year and it is no more expensive than being at home in San Francisco.

    1. Kir royale you'll find in most bars, though I think it's a waste of good Champagne. There's a place not too far from where you're staying on the rue Saintonge called the Bougnat. They have several quality non Champagne sparkling wines from Saumur, which are ideal for this cocktail. They also offer little 7 cl glasses of the Saumurs and their other wines. This size used to be common in Paris , but is becoming rarer and rarer.

      Their are lots of French or Parisian Cocktails, aperitfs, and drinks. There's the kir, which should be made with Bourgogne Aligote, but is generally made with the cheapest white wine on the premesis. There's the Communard, which is like a Kir, but made with red wine.

      There are Gentiane based drinks, the most common being Suze, but I prefer the less sweet Salers, that comes in three different strengths. You can tell by the colour of the cap. Yellow's the weakest, green's the strongest.

      There are different kinds of sweet and fortified wines - Lillet, Byrrh. I know these less well.

      There's the different kinds of pastis - Pernod, Ricard, Pastis 51, Casanis, and then the dozens artisinal brands. There are also a number of cocktails that use pastis as their base: 'tomate', with grenadine, 'perroquet', mint, 'mauresque', orgeat, or almond cordial.

      The French also make drinks with beer. There's a panaché, where it's mixed with lemonade. A monaco, is with lemonade and grenadine. I like the Picon Biere, where the beer's mixed with Picon a kind of orange bitters.

      If you go to the right places you can of course find a decent old fashioned, martini, cosmopolitan, etc. But Paris does have a tradition of its own cocktails and aperitifs, but that are becoming more and more difficult to find. They need your support.

      Drink up.

      1. My husband and I spent 3 months in Paris in 2005, and our game plan was much like that described above. Also, if we were going to plan to eat out, we ate lunch out rather than supper almost always. Stocked some basics, shopped every couple days for supper items. We mostly ate breakfast in as well (leftover baguette from the night before, juice, coffee, yogurt...)

        Some tips on supermarkets: Yes, a Monoprix will often have one floor dedicated to food; other names to remember are Ed and LeaderPrice (cheap), as well as Intermarche, Carrefour, Auchan, Casino, Champion and various other smaller 7-11 type places. Picard stocks frozen foods (only).

        We found that rather than being loyal to one location, it was easiest to know all those names so we could spot a food retailer and just duck in on the way back home from wherever we were to grab something we needed for supper. We would often buy things like packaged soups or pre-made side dishes at supermarkets just to have ready to hand at home. Also, save and bring your own plastic bags.

        And when you want to splurge at an upscale store, go to La Grande Epicerie Paris (38 Rue de Sevres in the 7th).

        1. I can echo a few comments made by other folks with a few principles:

          1. Lunch is less expensive than dinner, so it's a fine option with the good restaurants.
          2. Bread is cheap and good -- that can make it easy to eat simply at home.
          3. The markets are usually a good deal
          4. Grocery stores can be expensive if you try to shop like an American
          5. The prix fixe options are usually a good deal.

          You've got great options near you -- mariage freres for tea, falafel on rue de rossiers, crepes at breizh cafe, pastries from au levain bakery on rue de Beaumarchais...

          1. I am a huge foodie and just got back from Paris - with lots of money in the bank! We got an apartment and would have a couple of croissants and a bottle of sparkling wine before we set out in the morning. The croissants were probably $3 and a very agreeable bottle of wine 2.60 euros (about $3.50). Then we'd walk and stop in cafes for little snacks and, as we were in Montmartre, found plenty of cafes with specials for dinner around 12 euros ($15/16 bucks) for dinner. If you have an apartment you will be amazed at how cheap things are (pate around $3 and a huge wheel of Camembert for $5) Wine prices, as I said are unbelievably low.

            2 Replies
            1. re: bronwen

              OK I will bite. Wine for breakfast? And wine at only €2.60 a bottle, sparkling or not is astounding. What was it? I can't imagine anything being drinkable at this price, but I am very happy to be educated.

              I like the idea of the €12 meal but without any more details it is really tricky to know if it is any good. What did you eat? Why was it good? How did it compare? Montmartre is a renowned tourist trap area with some very very dodgy cheap food, unless you are extremely lucky or follow the targeted advice on this board the chances are that even low priced food at €12 will not be good value for money. I also wonder how good the "huge wheel of camembert" is at €5, is it good compared to where you come from or is it good relative to the standards of France - there is a lot of industrial French cheese which is a pale imitation of what it should be.

              1. re: bronwen

                yeah right bronwen... and good crack could be found for 1 euro per kilo.