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A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

Hi, I am going to Paris for a 3 days visit on a beer budget, I read many of the posts here and John Talbott had a great list of places with reasonable prices which I copied into my Iphone. I am having a panic attack just thinking about the food cost in Paris. I will be near Eiffel tower for the most part and not having any French skills I can imagine, it will be very hard to navigate through the city, and use the public transit system. On top of that the nomenclature of the French address is very different than the U.S address hence makes one to wonder what this address means "5.8 Les Petits Plats, 39, rue des Plantes in the 14th,"?? Can someone recommend ONLY one reasonably priced restaurant (20 to 28 Euro PP) for lunch/dinner with a complete Metro direction and details from the Eiffel tower area (as long as it is not Indian food, I am OK with other suggestions). I only have 200 Euro budget for food, almost 65 Euro per day. Is it feasible to have 3 meals a day in Paris on this budget or am I off the mark here?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. First, you should have no trouble with French addresses. The 5.8 that you see before Les Petits Plats is simply Mr. Talbott's rating of the restaurant Les Petits Plats, i.e., 5.8 out of 10 on his rating system tells us that he rates Les Petits Plats slightly better than average. The address is simply 9, rue des Plantes.

    Planning is good, but I think you are worrying excessively about your budget. You should be able to spend 40€ for your major meal if you are conservative at breakfast and the other meal. (I seldom spend over 20€ for the two, which includes room service breakfast in my hotel room.)

    You should be able to walk to Le Casse Noix. http://www.le-cassenoix.fr/ It should fit your budget, but you absolutely need to reserve to insure getting in. Note that it is closed Saturdays and Sundays. You can read descriptions of it on Talbott's blog under 15th arrondisement.

    To help us help you, what kind of food and setting would you most enjoy if budget weren't an issue? Wine? Beer?

    31 Replies
    1. re: mangeur

      Hi mangeur,

      If the budget weren't an issue, I would rather to eat at vegan restaurants. My favorite place in NYC is Angelica's Kitchen where you get a decent size meal with soup, Angelica's bread and the spread of choice for only $14.99, tea and deserts are extra but that could add another $4 to $8 to the final bill.
      Anyway, thanks for your recommendation of Le Casse Noix, if the language barrier doesn't inhibit my courage, I will certainly go and find it. What makes me nervous about France is that I hear, that they purposely refuse to speak English and are not very helpful to English speaking tourists, and this makes me very reluctant to go out and try to explore different neighborhood and restaurants, and that's why I'd rather to just walk to a place, point the food on the menu and get it over with for that 3 day visit in early Sept.

      Thanks again

      1. re: hrh747

        Please do not be intimidated by those stories about the French. If you approach someone by first saying "Bonjour" (or "Bonsoir") , you should find he/she is far more receptive & helpful than you expect. Go a bit further with "Parlez-vous anglais?" ("do you speak English?") and you also might find that this same person is willing to speak pidgin English. It's all in how you approach the issue. Those who act as if they expect waiters (& others) to automatically speak English tend to find just the opposite.

        1. re: boredough

          I agree, I am getting a sense that I MUST try a little French such as those words you recommended to get the ice melting before I continue in English. I have about 18 days before my departure, I should be able to learn a few words using the Google translate to get to a good start. Thanks to you, sunshine and everyone else on this site, I am beginning to loose the panic factor.

        2. re: hrh747

          You've heard wrong -- while there are bastards in every bunch, the French are no worse than anywhere else...particularly if you manage the niceties -- bonjour, au revoir, merci, and excusez-moi.

          In the busiest parts of the city, it's generally quite easy to find someone who speaks at least passing English, and wants to practice with you.

          (eta: crossposted with boredough)

          1. re: sunshine842

            Also, the French are eager to help someone with a problem. Just uttering "problem" in what you consider a French accent will get you help! ;)

            1. re: mangeur

              That's very good to know. In addition to learn a few phrases in French, I have to work on my French accent :-)

          2. re: hrh747

            " What makes me nervous about France is that I hear, that they purposely refuse to speak English and are not very helpful to English speaking tourists, and this makes me very reluctant to go out and try to explore different neighborhood and restaurants"

            These stories are ridiculous and not true, spread by red-neck tourists who should stay home instead of anticipating self-defeating travel experience.

            1. re: hrh747

              You likely wouldn't take a trip without packing the necessities. Making sure that you have some French words and phrases at your disposal is no different. You have time to learn the basics (bonjour, bonsoir, s'il vous plait, merci, etc.), along with a couple of phrases that may come in handy. If you barge in and expect them to accomodate your lack of preparation without any effort on your part, you will be more likely to encounter difficulty.

              When we were in France, we visited both Paris and Beaune. Although I had been studying French and was anxious to practice, I didn't get much chance in Paris. As soon as I said, "Bonjour", most Parisians recognized my terrible accent and responded with a very friendly, "Hi!". In Beaune, we spoke mostly French, but the folks were very patient with me and accomodating. I mentioned to one server that she understood my terrible French very well. She smiled and said, "Vous parlez, J'ecoute, Je comprends" (You speak, I listen, I understand".

              Bon chance!

                1. re: ChefJune

                  Without a doubt, the best food we had on our trip was in Beaune. I'd go back again in a heartbeat.

              1. re: hrh747

                My experiences have proved the opposite: when I would speak in my (admittedly hideous) French, they would answer me in English.

              2. re: mangeur

                My dear friends, I had a wonderful experience in Paris and I certainly would like to return again, because 4 days just wasn’t enough. Once I arrived in Paris, I decided to walk around the city as most of you suggested and whenever I felt hungry, I dined at the most reasonably priced restaurant that was accessible. I spent most of my personal time (when not with the tour) at arr 5, the Latin Quarter which I found extremely charming. Before I put forth my review on places I dined, I MUST remind you that unlike most of you, I am not a gastronomic connoisseur by any measure, so please do not expect elaborated feed back with technical details. Typically, I insert the food in the mouth; if it tastes good then I am happy.
                IL Palazzo in arr 5: I had Fusilli al pesto priced at 13 euro, it tasted good, I had a similar dish at Little Italy in NYC with similar quality.
                Brasserie Café in arr 5: I had Beef carpaccio with parmesan and basil priced at 16.10 euro and for dessert I ordered light fresh cream cheese with spicy honey for 8 euro, it was spectacular.
                Ley gay lussac at rue Royer Collard arr 5: I had Spaghetti Bolognaise in meat sauce priced at 10 euro, the food was good but the sauce was fabulous.
                Le refuge du passé in arr 5: I made a reservation the night before while passing by this place, because I just loved the ambiance. I had poisson et plat du jour priced at 26 euro, I almost licked the plate off :-) it was a new experience, though the price almost broke the bank.
                My hotel wasn’t near Eiffel tower, as I was told previously, we stayed at Marriot Hotel located in arr 14 at 17 Boulevard Saint-Jacques, and it was close to Glaciere metro station. The French were very charming and helpful and of course I always spoke a little French such as “excuse me Sir/Maddam do you speak English” then I would continue in French.
                The ONLY thing I found odd about the people there, was their sense of direction, most French that I asked for direction did NOT know the street names that we were on, and had no sense of direction such as North, South, East and West. Starting at the hotel reception, I asked the gentleman behind the counter what is the street name we are on, he had to call someone on the phone to find out that the hotel is located on 17 Boulevard Saint-Jacques!!! I asked him, if he was a new employee but no he was working there for 3 years just never pays any attention to the street names (I should have considered this as a red flag but I didn’t)?? At night I can’t read small prints even with my glasses, so while walking around in arr 5, I got lost somewhere near the border of arr 5 and arr 14. I had the map with the hotel circled on it, so I asked 7 people all seemed well dressed French, speaking good English and each sent me to a different direction, finally a Chinese man with broken English pointed me to the right direction. Anyway it took me 2.5 hours to get to the hotel from the point I got lost. Next day I ended up at the same place during the daylight and I got to the hotel in 20 minutes :-)

                1. re: hrh747

                  Thanks for your delightful report. I laughed out loud at your description of the classic problem of asking natives for directions. City people, we've found, often know only their immediate neighborhoods and routes to and from work. Ask a tourist, if you can find one, because they've probably done some homework.

                  1. re: mangeur

                    My pleasure mangeur. LOL, when the front desk attendant at the hotel didn't know the street name where the hotel is located, I should have detected something is seriously wrong :-) I really need to come back to Paris and explorer the gastronomy more in detail. I kept regretting that I had to stick to a meager budget and couldn’t try the other places. I saw so many places in arr 13 and 14 that I really wanted to try but my meal budget was far lower than I estimated. At the day, I first posted on Chow forum, the exchange rate was 2320 Iranian Toman = 1 Euro and by the time, I got my trip conformation from the travel agency, the exchange rate was 3150 Iranian Toman = 1Euro, so it was really hard. The latest round of sanctions against Iranian central bank has devalued their currency tremendously. Luckily our hotel was serving great complimentary breakfast, so I used to make coupe of Ham and Cheese sandwiches for lunch at breakfast time and I only paid for dinner :-) I also bought a dessert at a small shop located on Rue de la Sante in arr 5 but I forgot to record the name and the address, it was a life experience. Parisians are lucky people to live in a spectacularly gorgeous city with awesome gastronomy.

                    1. re: hrh747

                      What a lovely, charming report. Thank you. I do hope you'll be able to come back and enjoy Paris with a higher budget.

                  2. re: hrh747

                    "The ONLY thing I found odd about the people there, was their sense of direction:
                    Interesting; maybe that's why bewildered looking folks ask me for directions; saying "I don't live in the quartier" doesn't stop them.

                    1. re: John Talbott

                      John (LOL). Aside the sense of direction nuisance, I found Parisians very lovely :-) In every place people have some caveats and Parisians are not exempted. Next time, if I make it to Paris with healthy dinning budget, I would like to go through your list of recommendations.


                    2. re: hrh747

                      "My hotel wasn’t near Eiffel tower, as I was told previously, we stayed at Marriot Hotel located in arr 14 at 17 Boulevard Saint-Jacques"

                      A few things.

                      Very good point for hounds who are first timers to Paris to beware.
                      According to tourism marketing people and brochure makers, every hotel on every street in Paris is near either the Eiffel Tower or the Arch of Triumph. I suppose it is indeed nearer those landmarks than Llassa.
                      Therefore when you ask for recommendations near your hotel, never mind what the website or brochure says, pls help us help you and give us the address or, better yet, look up on Google Map to see where you will actually be. Maybe you don't even want to be there at all. And that would help avoid our recommending a bunch of addresses that the OP can't use.

                      Secondly, I still don't understand why the hotel address was a problem for you or for the staff. Just a crazy idea of mine: Is it not printed on the hotel cards? Even 1-star hotels have those. Even youth hostels must have those.

                      Lastly, you might have by now realized that the streets of Paris, like all old capitals, are not in a neat grid where 1st to 30th avenue intersects perfectly perpendicularly with 1st to 50th street. Many, if not most, streets are not north or south or east or west. It is very confusing for one to think in terms of pure directions. And those to whom you ask directions were probably at a loss about how to answer you in a streamlined understandable way, without going into the lengths of War & Peace or using terms like north by north west. All locals - if your hotel staff were locals - think of the local geography in terms of landmarks, even former landmarks that are no more, and not in terms of north-south-east-west or numbers. This is true for Rome and Paris and Manhattan and Bangkok. Only recently a very kind person explained to me how to get somewhere in St Jean de Luz, that I shoudl turn right where the old Café Machin used to be. :-)

                      1. re: Parigi

                        <<Secondly, I still don't understand why the hotel address was a problem for you or for the staff. Just a crazy idea of mine: Is it not printed on the hotel cards? Even 1-star hotels have those. Even youth hostels must have those.>>

                        You made a few interesting point, and perhaps, I should have looked at the hotel card in my wallet, but here is what happened: I stopped at the concierge desk with a Map in hand asking for metro stops to a few landmarks such as “Opera House”, “Arch of triumph” and so on. The hotel was already circled in red on the map but there was a landmark icon printed over the street name, which made it onerous to parse the entire street name. When I inquired the street name, he had to call someone else to get me an answer. I am not certain, if he was a local Parisian but he claimed being employed there for couple of years. Now, I moved to Tehran 3 years ago, and if you ask me the street name where I live or work, I don’t have to call anyone to get you an answer :-) I also agree with you that the streets in Paris are not so neatly aligned in orderly manner, and I didn’t really expected anyone to offer me directions in terms of north, south, east or west, because I am cognizant of the fact that most people do have difficulties with such orientations. In Manhattan where all streets and Avenues above the financial district run perfectly North-South and East-West people still fail to comprehend directions in these terms, and they are very familiar with up, down, left and right terms, but what I found astonishing in Paris when I got lost in Latin Quarter at night, I would approach people with map, and showed them exactly where I wanted to go and yet they would point me to wrong direction (This wouldn’t happen if I could read small fine prints at night). Of course one could argue that perhaps they weren’t familiar with the area, or they were tourist themselves but I discriminately profiled people who I would approach for help :-) If you would want to know my profiling scheme, that would be another post but I have already promised the “Chowhound Team” to refrain from posting none food related content, which I think, I have violated my commitment already.

                        1. re: Parigi

                          "According to tourism marketing people and brochure makers, every hotel on every street in Paris is near either the Eiffel Tower or the Arch of Triumph." I like it that every hotel in your neighborhood is called Opera X Hotel and in mine Montmartre Y Hotel.

                        2. re: hrh747

                          Giving directions in Paris, especially in the Latin Quarter, is never easy. Often tourists so completely mangle the pronunciation of the name or leave out a critical element that I haven't slightest idea of where they want to go. e.g. "we wanna go to saynt jack". Ok, I can figure out that it's probably Saint Jacques but is it the Tour St Jacques, rue St Jacques, place St Jacques or boulevard St Jacques? Another confusion comes from the frequent name changes of the same street. For instance, the boulevard St Jacques suddenly becomes the boulevard Auguste Blanqui at the rue Santé and then continues on as the boulevard Vincent Auriol after the place d'Italie.

                          There are so many ways of getting from to A to B. Lots of times when I'm telling tourists where to go, I don't give the quickest way but rather the simplest way using major streets and avoiding long-winded explanations of twists and turns through the side streets.

                          For next time in Paris, it's helpful to know that street numbering usually indicates direction. It's not a hard and fast rule but the numbers ascend from east to west for those streets parallel or vaguely parallel to the Seine. South of the Seine, the numbers ascend from north to south and, on the Right Bank, from south to north. All you have to do is orientate yourself with one or two well-known north-south streets like the boulevard St Michel, rue Monge or rue Mouffetard and suddenly directions become clear.

                          1. re: Parnassien

                            Good points. Re asking natives, I've found that employees in any quartier often live far from the area or even outside Paris, using metro and RER to get to work. With only the lunch hour to explore the area, they may have little experience with or knowledge of the area.

                            1. re: mangeur

                              "With only the lunch hour to explore the area, they may have little experience with or knowledge of the area." And often, not even that. At an Israeli hotel on the Rue Richer, they didn't know which way L'Office, 2 blocks away, was.

                              "There are so many ways of getting from to A to B." I know all you young'ins have iPhones and GPS's from REI-type places, but there's nothing like #12 Michelin mapbook or RATP Itineraires to tell you how to go to a restaurant (to stay on topic.)

                              1. re: John Talbott

                                "there's nothing like #12 Michelin MAPBOOK... to tell you how to go to a restaurant (to stay on topic.)"

                                (Emphasis, mine.)

                                Amen, brother! Without it, I'm toast. Also would never eat without the free-for-the -asking RATP #2 Grand Plan.

                                1. re: mangeur

                                  "RATP #2 Grand Plan." The West Coast has it - once again.
                                  Nation, do not accept those little foldupintoashirtpocket maps that they routinely hand out, only people under 16 can read them. Go #2. Insist. You may have to go to a big station (St Lazare, Gare du Nord, Opera, etc) and they hide them ton file cabinets against the wall, away from food-lovers (staying on topic) so you have to pretend you're French and stare them down (shaming and yelling don't work to get you to your restaurant).

                                  1. re: John Talbott

                                    any time I look out the window, I can always count on seeing lost tourists looking at those pathetic department store maps. Usually the père the famille. Which means usually he won't ask for directions.

                                    RATP bus map n°2 is excellent, and indeed the RATP tricoteuses hate to part with them, I don't know why, but the best is to but a real Paris map, the best investment for any stay in Paris

                                    1. re: John Talbott

                                      My dear cyber friends, I am glad the Webmaster has decided to delete the last several posts to this thread, as they capriciously diverted from the food, or getting to the restaurant. I was able to view ONLY excerpts of the deleted posts in my email and not the entire content. I certainly did not intend to be the causes for the proliferation of assorted topics such as “justifying employee’s oblivion to their surroundings”,”map quality would have made the difference”, ” tourist with mangled pronunciation of the street name”, “the desert as oppose to Tehran” and so on. Despite the fact that I disagree with most of what has been said about map, street names and pronunciation, employee’s oblivion, I found Parisians as benevolent and Paris as a charming metropolitan, and French gastronomy (staying on topic) as an experience to further explore that I will return to Paris again. Next time, I will bring a little magnifier so I can read the fine prints on the map at night :-) By the way I don’t recall who called Tehran the desert? Interestingly I had similar preconceived notion about it till I moved here and of course I no longer think that way. Anyway I was at my best friend’s post funeral reception 2 days ago, and with his wife permission, I decided to take a picture of Tehran from his balcony and share it with you guys.
                                      Love Paris,

                                      1. re: hrh747

                                        thanks for sharing your trip and the glimpse of a place many of our political leaders in amerika have tried to demonize.

                                        it was comforting to read in your Paris notes that Italian food there seems as dependably good for reasonable cost as it is in Italy (at least where we visited in Liguria, Toscana, Milano).

                                        1. re: moto

                                          Heretofore, Italian food was my ONLY favorite, however I have added French cuisine to the list after trying it couple of times toward the tail end of my visit to Paris, but it was an ephemeral experience thus I am destined to return and fulfill this insatiable curiosity. I also tried a French restaurant last night in Tehran, the food was great, the chef has graduated from a French culinary and worked in Paris for over 15 years, but having French food without the wine, is like death without the witness (the dramatic side of me LOL), because serving alcohol in public is prohibited by the Islamic law in Iran.

                                2. re: mangeur

                                  don't forget the Paris Par Arrondissement, which can be had for a fiver anywhere in the city...it's about time to buy a new one, as mine is starting to look a little tattered.

                                  (then you can mark it all up with all your faves...)

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    While we're discussing how to get to dinner, I can't get along without those restickable arrows from Office Depot, etc. Multicolored and reusable. One here, one there. Lets you use your index finger for something else than keeping your place on the map.

                                    My essentials, Michelin #12 book, RATP grand plan #2 and some arrows let us dine in the outer arrondisements with ease and comfort.

                          2. You did not say in which period you are coming.
                            If it is August, you can't be choosy. Most eateries - expensive or cheap - are closed.
                            If you are coming later than August, check out the "cafes à manger" that are part of a wine bar operation. They are usually good and quite inexpenisve, within your budget.
                            Two that come to mind are Le Bouclier de Baccus and Le Rouge et le Verre. You can google their address and other details such as reviews on them.

                            IN general, learn to use Google Map and use the "walk" option. It is extremely complicated to give you a step-by-step explanation of getting to any address.

                            The Eiffel Tower area is expensive, including its restos.
                            The area covers a large area of Paris. Search under "paris markets" on chowhound or on the net to find the mmarkets nearest you. If the weather permits, try to picnic along the Seine or in a public park for one meal, and go to resto for the other meal, and your day is set.

                            The metro system is extremely user-friendly. I got the hang of it after 5 minutes on my first visit to Paris, back when I was 17. The metro comes every 2, 3 minutes.
                            But you obviously and desperately need a good basic guidebook. First of all, moderators get into a shit fit when people inquire about non-food issues and delete posts like yours. Secondly, there is no way we can cover all the grounds re practical info for a visitor in Paris.

                            When in doubt, walk from address to address. Paris is very walkable.

                            After you are over your panic and have a good trip, which I am sure you will, don't forget to report back.

                            Lastly, panic will not not help you. Getting a guidebook will.

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: Parigi

                              Hi Parigi,

                              I am coming to Paris in early Sept, and to be honest, the travel agent hasn't confirmed my hotel yet but I know that it is in Eiffel Tower area, but then again as you suggested, this seems to be a vast region. Of course after my trip, I will return to this site and compose a full report. At the moment I am compiling information, and trying to educate myself on Parisian budget restaurant, and Paris in general and am learning a word or two in French using the Google translate tool.
                              Well I don't blame the moderator for getting to shit fit about post with non-food content, essentially this is a platform with specific objective (food) in mind, and of course my initial post wasn't horribly deviating from the food topic, although after reading the most part of the discussions on this forum, I realized there were abundance of posts that had nothing to do with food, just some members arguing about other stuff such as GAS prices in France .vs. US and so on, so I thought it wouldn't be too horrible to ask for only one budget restaurant in Eiffel region with detailed metro direction.
                              I agree with you about walking, that is my plan to have the Iphone loaded with information and walk everywhere for the most part. If I feel people are willing to answer me in English, I might muster up some courage and expand my exploration of Paris.
                              Anyway thanks for your comments.

                              1. re: hrh747

                                You would be well advised to request a hotel in a different neighborhood. The Marais, the Latin Quarter, all have more reasonable hotels AND prices for restaurants as well. The Eiffel Tower area is about as touristy as you'll find in Paris. Your experience will be more "real" elsewhere in the city. Just mho.

                                1. re: ChefJune

                                  Well, it;s a little complicated. I am traveling with a group of senior people who have never been to France and want to be in the tourist hopping area, we are suppose to get a FREE tour of Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysees and then everyone are on their own. These folks have money and they will be fine. i am the ONLY budget traveler in the pack. I must note that we are getting a good deal for the air, hotel (4 start) and the Free tour, ONLY 650 Euro :-)

                                  1. re: hrh747

                                    even with money I wouldn't choose to stay in that neighborhood.... Just me.

                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                      but if you booked a tour and didn't have a say....I think it's great the OP is breaking out and trying travel abroad. The hotel the tour company picks will do for this trip -- and that IS a great price -- when he/she has the opportunity to come back, then we can help nudge towards a less heavily touristed neighborhood.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        Typically, if I like my experience with a city/country, I will return frequently. I am hoping Paris to be that one experience to bring me back again. This Web-site is awesome for the food, and now I need to find similar web-sites to help me out with Paris in depth, such as interesting neighborhoods, public transportation, tourist attractions, bargain hunters and so on, in order to hone my skills about the city. I remember learning about Rio de Janeiro in the late 80's where the Internet was not accessible to ordinary citizens, and it was an onerous task to master Rio but after 11 trips over the course of 3 years, l knew the city like the locals, and managed to learn a few words in Portuguese :-)

                                2. re: hrh747

                                  "If I feel people are willing to answer me in English"

                                  If you start your sentence by speaking in some basic French, such as saying in French "do you speak English? Parlez-vous Français", you will see that people are very helpful, including those who don't speak English. :-)
                                  I have learned to say "do you speak x ?" in many languages and it has led to positive unique experience everywehre, from Basque country to Belgarde to Penang to the Golden Triangle. Try it !

                                  First and foremost, think of your travel planning and problems not as probblems but as a game.

                                3. re: Parigi

                                  "If you are coming later than August, check out the "cafes à manger" that are part of a wine bar "
                                  I meant
                                  "If you are coming later than August, check out the "caves à manger" that are part of a wine bar "
                                  Caves à manger, not cafés à manger !

                                  1. re: Parigi

                                    Cool, I made the correction.

                                4. Where exactly is "near the Eiffel Tower"? In general, near the Eiffel Tower usually means over-priced and/ or substandard food. And all too commonly, both. And when? In August, lots of places closed for the summer hols. At weekends, the bargains tend to disappear.

                                  Some suggestions (most ignoring your unwarranted fears about getting hopelessly lost on the métro):

                                  Au Dernier Métro on the boulevard Grenelle across from Dupleix métro station. Prix fixe 15 € for lunch and 20 € for dinner. Very decent Basque cuisine but doubles as a sort of rowdy sports bar during rugby season. Open 7 days a week. Walkable from some areas "near the Eiffel Tower".

                                  Aux Marches du Palais on the rue Manutention in the 16th, 10 mins from Eiffel Tower via the pedestrian bridge off the Quai Branly. Nothing exceptional but a good-value traditional bistro tucked away on a side street and often missed by the tourist swarms. Usually a very good 20 € lunch deal. Nearer to 40 € for dinner. For an extra touch, you can download Yves Montand singing "Aux Marches du Palais" to listen to during the walk from the Eiffel Tower.

                                  Bistrot Victoires on the rue Vrillière near the place des Victoires in the 1st. Lunch around 15 € and dinner 20 to 25 €. Not exactly unknown and very popular with French officeworkers as well as tourists at lunch. I'd go at noon or 2pm for lunch / 7pm or 9:30pm for dinner if you don't have a rezzie. Open 7/7. Walkable from Louvre.

                                  l'Ecurie, rue Laplace @ rue de l'Ecole Polytechnique in the 5th/Latin Quarter. Haven't been for ages but dirt cheap. A decent place for simple food. Nearest métro: Maubert Mutualité or Cardinal Lemoine But neither on a direct line from "near the Eiffel Tower". Closed Sunday.

                                  Le Pré Verre, rue Thénard off the rue des Ecoles in the 5th. A very limited 13.50 € lunch special and a more-choice prix fixe for 30 € for both lunch and dinner. Direct RER train from Champs de Mars/ Tour Eiffel to St Michel (if it has reopened/ currently closed for construction) and then walk.

                                  Chez Marie Louise, rue Marie-et-Louise in the Canal St Martin quartier in the 10th. Really good prix fixe for lunch Tue to Fri. 14 € for 2 courses and 18 € for 3. Dinner in the 30 to 40 € range. A Michelin Bib Gourmand so therefore must book. But can do so online. The owners once worked in the USA and speak fluent English. Direct métro from Ecole Militaire or La Tour-Maubourg (both sorta near the Eiffel Tower) to République and then 10-minute walk. Very trendy area.

                                  If you want a good-value very foodie experience, the very new Restaurant Pierre-Semp Boyer on the rue Oberkampf off the boulevard Richard-Lenoir is quite a revelation. Mostly small plates and maybe not suited to those with huge appetites or who require a lot of choice ... but sooooo good. Under 40 € and maybe even much less depending on how many tapas you get. Dinner only. No reservations. Direct métro from Trocadéro to Oberkampf.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Parnassien

                                    "Restaurant Pierre-Semp Boyer. Dinner only."

                                    Oh man... I really wanted to try that restaurant for lunch one day, after reading about it on Ptipois' blog, since I work nearby it would have been perfect...

                                    1. re: Rio Yeti

                                      Oups. I was wrong... lunch Tue to Fri ... dinner Tue to Sun... so go go go

                                    2. re: Parnassien

                                      Parnassien, thanks so much these are great suggestions right within my price range, and maybe I even try the Latin Quarter if the food is so dirt cheap. Thus far I had 6 or 7 replies to my initial post and I have compiled all of it by price category, I might not, get to eat at all of them but I will certainly return back to this site with my feedback. This is truly a great forum with courteous and knowledgeable members. My next step is to find another forum similar to this to learn about the city of Paris, such as tourist attractions, the public transit system and so on, that I can maximize my 3 days stay. I will start with Wikitravel and go from there.

                                      Thanks again

                                      Thanks again

                                    3. Breakfast is easy -- you can grab a croissant and a cup of coffee in many bakeries and cafes for under €5 (juice will bump it to about 7). Even McDonald's does breakfast - I think a coffee and a pastry are €2-3...not gourmet, but at least. Some cafes will allow you to pop across the street or next door to grab a pastry to eat with your coffee - but ask; some cafes sell pastries and don't look kindly on the loss of income.

                                      Lunch is easy, too -- boulangeries almost always have a good assortment of amazing sandwiches made on this morning's bread -- a baguette sandwich (big enough for two if they're not starving), a dessert, and a canned drink run €6-7 depending on the location and sandwich.

                                      You can even pop into a Carrefour Market or similar minimart and pick up a factory-made sandwich for €3-4. Not recommended (same plastic weird texture and dodgy flavor as factory sandwiches anywhere) but it's fuel.

                                      Buy drinks at minimarts -- much, much cheaper.
                                      Drink tap water with your meals - free. (Un carafe d'eau, s'il vous plaît)
                                      Drink house wine -- you can buy it in in 25ml or 50ml (about 2 glasses, and about 4 glasses, respectively) -- it's universally drinkable-to-good.

                                      Crepes are always a good option -- you can usually get a 2-course lunch for €10 or thereabouts.

                                      The best news is that restaurants are required to post their menu outside the door, so you can always get a good idea of what you're in for, both in offerings and in price. And don't discount the daily specials -- unlike other places where the special is based on what they're trying to get rid of, specials in Paris often (away from the tourist areas) reflect what is particularly good today.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        Thanks so much sunshine842, you answered all my concerns for those 3 days.

                                        Thanks again

                                      2. First thing to keep in mind: don't worry about the issue of speaking French. As stated before, as long as you can and DO say "bonjour" and "bonsoir," you're going to be treated better than someone who doesn't make the attempt. Listen to how the locals say it, to, because inflection is important - and basically pretty easy. Even though the standard misconception in the states is the French are rude, my experience is Americans seem that way to the French because we are so used to NOT using the basic greetings. Saying "bonjour" to anyone - the cab driver, the hotel staff, the metro window clerk - immediately sets you apart from the tourist who doesn't attempt these things.

                                        Get yourself a food translating dictionary. Marling's Menu Master, which is available on Amazon and in many bookstores, is very good. Not the best, mind you, but very good. Get one before you go over, by all means. Also, get yourself a decent French phrasebook with an abridged dictionary included. I think the one published by Lonely Planet is quite good. BTW, that's a good thing to study on the trip over!

                                        I would also recommend getting a pocket sized map of Paris, and start checking out where the places are you might be interested in eating. That way, you'll know where the places are in relation to metro stops. Pick up a metro map. These are free at the stations where there is a real person (some metro stations just have machines for tickets). Likely there will be a tiny one in the Paris map book, too.

                                        I just did a quick look on Amazon for books. If you are OK with used, you can get the Marling book, a Michelan Map of Paris by district (arrondissement), and the phrasebook for less than $20. I can't stress enough how important these things are.

                                        Likely if you're doing a package deal, they will include breakfast with your hotel. If they want you to pay for it - don't. You can always get cheaper and better breakfast at a cafe in Paris. But don't be tempted to sit outside as you'll be charged more. (Unless you specifically want the experience.)

                                        Avoid any restaurant that has an English menu or photos of the dishes outside. ;-)

                                        You have been given a lot of great suggestions for restaurants. Check them out online with yelp, trip advisor, booking.com or google, read the reviews. You can get a lot of great information that way. Sometimes you can even read the menus, and using your food dictionary and NOT google translator, prepare yourself for the experience. I check out menus all the time this way (mostly, however, to get ideas for cooking).

                                        Make sure to go to a food market while you are there, even if you don't intend to buy anything. It's a great experience.

                                        I'm in no way proficient in French although I've spent a good deal of time there, including living in Paris for about six months. The most important thing is to enjoy yourself and not worry about it. Don't have a panic attack!

                                        14 Replies
                                        1. re: krystof

                                          Actually, I am an avid buyer of used books from Amazon; however at the moment, I am domiciled in Iran temporarily and any meaningful E-Commerce activity is implausible, hence the Internet is my only means of information acquisition (unfortunately access to some travel Internet sites are even blocked, and I can’t fathom why??). However I will pursue your recommendations on Amazon later for future trips to Paris. As you mentioned, I have garnered pretty good leads on the restaurants from this web-site, and now that I am buoyed by these information, and also knowing now that French are not so bellicose toward English speaking tourists, I begin to look forward to this trip with equanimity and euphoria. I MUST admit, that finding this web-site was just a fortuitous click :-)
                                          BTW: Why should I avoid restaurants with English menu? (tourist inflated prices?)

                                          1. re: hrh747

                                            "equanimity and euphoria."

                                            Hmm, are you not a bit bipolar ? :-)

                                            "Why should I avoid restaurants with English menu? (tourist inflated prices?)"

                                            A sign that the establishment is tourist-oriented. Very often means less good food and less good service

                                            1. re: Parigi

                                              Bipolar? hahaha ....if you ever live in Iran, bipolar is the first thing comes your way. Actually 'equanimity' for food cost and 'euphoria' for knowing that I can leverage simple French words to communicate in English(lol).

                                              1. re: hrh747

                                                "if you ever live in Iran, bipolar is the first thing comes your way."
                                                I believe you. You deserve a good vacation. September is a great month. A multitude of mushrooms in season. Plus muscat grapes.

                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                  hmmmm....yum yum... I love muscat grapes

                                                  1. re: Parigi

                                                    ooh, yes. And the most fragrant of the summer melons...and the first of the early apples....Chasselas grapes, too, and figs....

                                                    one of the wonderful things about France is the parade of amazing things through our markets - every season has something special to look forward to.

                                              2. re: hrh747

                                                Not avoid restaurants with an English menu, as many restaurants offer anglophone customers an English menu, even far from the tourist hordes (many of these have incomprehensible translations, but nonetheless....) What you want to avoid is blatantly English menus -- I can't remember where it is, but there's a restaurant that has "PANCAKES - BRUNCH - AMERICAN COFFEE" painted on their awnings in 18" high letters (500 cm? :D) that I don't think you could pay me to enter.

                                                If you see an English menu before you find the French menu....if they have any kind of big sign in English -- a barker standing in the street trying to lure you inside -- a photo menu with photos of dishes (with little to no description near the photos...) NOW you know what we're talking about.

                                                Other sites you might find helpful are http://en.parisinfo.com and www.franceguide.com -- both official websites for the offices of tourism in Paris and for France as a whole, respectively.

                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  I will take your advice to the heart, and thanks for the web-site leads, this makes my search easier.


                                                2. re: hrh747

                                                  Patricia Wells' excellent "Food Lovers Guide to France" (the latest edition) is available as an i-phone app. I very much recommend that to you for wonderful all-round food advice. Not just restaurants, but also chocolate shops, patisseries, markets, shops for food related items, etc.

                                                  Frommers online guide is good for other types of sites you'll want to see.

                                                  1. re: hrh747

                                                    Your question regarding my statement about English menus has already been answered. Yet another reason is when you are in Paris on a budget, the places to seek out are the restos frequented by regulars - which most definitely will not have English menus.

                                                    I understand about the book thing with being in Iran. But I still would like to suggest purchasing a pocket map when you get to Paris. BHV is a large department store where you can find almost anything including all kinds of maps - and likely a Marling Menu

                                                    Make sure you have a croissant from a good boulangerie. To die for... and raspberry tart (tart aux framboises). heaven...

                                                    Best of luck on your trip and I hope you enjoy it!

                                                    1. re: krystof

                                                      Many thanks for your recommendations, I just got an email from the travel agent, that the hotel serves a great breakfast. Now I have to focus on lunch, dinner and desert :-)

                                                      1. re: krystof

                                                        <<Make sure you have a croissant from a good boulangerie>>
                                                        I figured "boulangerie" in French means Bakery, and I believe Sunshine842 also recommended their sandwiches. By "boulangerie" do we mean just any bakeries or is this a chain supermarket?


                                                          1. re: hrh747

                                                            boulangerie: bakery that actually bakes bread on the premises (by law) -- Paul is a large chain, but they don't make bread on the premises -- they only brown it and warm it up.

                                                            Boulangerie artisanal: They make the dough and make the bread on site. (better bread, too)

                                                            patisserie: pastry shop
                                                            (they're frequently both, but not always)

                                                            Avoid bread from supermarkets with every fibre of your being. it's rubbish.

                                                    2. WOW, one post and I got 37 wonderful replies, thanks to ChefJune, Sunshine842, Parigi, Krystof, Parnassien, mangeur, Christina D and other food connoisseurs who helped me on this endeavor. I truly appreciate your inputs, and let's hope I become a frequent visitor to Paris.

                                                      Thanks again

                                                      5 Replies
                                                        1. re: hrh747

                                                          Have you been able to find out the exact location of the hotel from your travel agent ? "Near the Eiffel Tower" in travelagent-ese could actually mean quite a a distance from it.

                                                          1. re: Parnassien

                                                            Well, since Iran is an anomaly in general, the travel agencies are no exception to this rule. They usually call the passenger 48 to 24 hours before the departure, and provide the flight and lodging information. I will post my hotel info, as soon as I get it.


                                                            1. re: hrh747

                                                              The Iranian way makes it more of an adventure, i guess :)

                                                              1. re: Parnassien

                                                                Adventure? Well me and 70 million others here prefer to live without it :-)

                                                        2. I think that your budget is more than decent for a short 3 day trip. It depends on what you want to do, but you could easily have an absolutely stunning meal for ~E80-E100 (lunch) in a world-famous restaurant, and have sandwiches/ crepes/ roast chicken the rest of the time, and still be well within budget. Or 2-3 great bistrot meals, again, by not splashing out on every meal. Since you will want to do the touristy things, the path of least resistance will be to eat at restaurants catering just for tourists. And you must resist that path. It is easy enough, with a tiny bit of research and a same day reservation, to eat much better and more memorably for less money. There are hundreds of threads on this board, all quite excellent, so don't limit yourself or rule somewhere out because of the 'budget' issue. If your budget was E50 for the three days, well, that would be another issue, you would need to choose far more carefully, but could still eat fantastic (simple) food.

                                                          Re: Iran, if you can get a VPN, that will solve your website issues.

                                                          And re: the whole english thing. On my last trip to Paris, I could hardly try out my broken french -- everyone replied to me in excellent English. As others have stated, learning to say hello, please and thank you is not rocket science, and if a tourist from XXX came to the US/UK and couldn't say those three things in English, we would rightly think of them quite poorly. To be honest, I doubt you will need more than those three words, since they show willing, and some respect.

                                                          Have a great trip, report back, and then evangelise to your friends that foreign travel need not be daunting.


                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: trueblu

                                                            and it doesn't take much to avoid the most touristy restaurants -- getting just 3-4 blocks down the side streets can turn up some pretty decent nosh.

                                                          2. In opposition to a few other posters opinions, I feel that in your situation ( 1st time visitor, limited French, budget constraints) the 7th is ideal. Everyone speaks English, the American Univ., church and library are there and there are plenty of cheap eats, i.e. Chez Germaine, as well as an abundance of Bib Gourmands. You can easily walk to other neighborhoods as central Paris is small compared to most large cities. Chances are, you will migrate to other arrondissements as you make return visits and your French language skills improve, but I think you have made a fortunate choice for a 1st time, anglophone visitor.

                                                            1. We just came back from a couple months in Paris. We were on abudget too but used to be able to go to nicer restaurants. Ihave a huge advantage with the language.. I am french. but either way. Here is what we did: we went out to the nice places that had lunch menu for cheaper.
                                                              and then we enjoyed a couple casual places too.
                                                              Two place stick out for me:
                                                              Creperie Iomgene near republique in the 10th. You will get to see a different more residential neighborhood (still cute) and the owners both speak english and english menu. It is really good crepes and galettes. Their menu is something like 9 euros for a drink (including hard cider), a salad, a galette and a crepe. it is also delicious.
                                                              there addresse: 25 Route Jean-Pierre Timbaud - 75011 Paris
                                                              it is very close to metro oberkampf (exit toward rue jp timbaud)

                                                              The second one is Helene Darroze (le salon). It is a starred restaurant, you feel like a superstar, they are not snotty. Eat at lunch (tuesday-saturday) make a reservation if you feel you need to. They have a 6 courses tapas style plates for 28 euros. It is divine. You dont get to choose what you eat but it is great value. it is located at 4 Rue d'Assas 75006 Paris and you can go to either metro sevres babylone or Rennes.

                                                              as far directions and all, I would suggest looking into whether your phone will work or not. Maybe download the paris map? So you can use your phone for walking directions (google maps/gps). that is very practical if possible.

                                                              15 Replies
                                                              1. re: kirikara

                                                                Hi Kirikara,

                                                                Thanks for the recommendations, regarding the Helene Darroze (le salon) do you recall which arr was in? I am sure there is a way to parse that out from the address but I don't have that familiarity with Paris yet. As far as directions, I have my Iphone and I have been told that city of Paris is WiFi enabled so I shouldn't have any problem navigating the city using the Iphone map application.


                                                                1. re: hrh747

                                                                  address is right there in the paragraph.

                                                                  Do be aware of VERY high iPhone roaming charges.

                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                    oh yes. i forgot to mention the price of roaming (data or voice).. that is what i meant by check if it will work..I had trouble with my phone (not iphone) where I would have trouble making sure i would not received calls/texts but could still receive wifi.. If i put it in airplane mode (so no calls and all) wifi would not be enabled.. it was a little annoying. i would def check before leaving. otherwise, I am not afraid to carry my paris map.. it is an oldie (bought in franc, back in 1999) but it always works. wifi or not :)
                                                                    Being in the 7th, you might have trouble finding cheap places that are good. I know people feel that you can just wander around and eat well. but our experiences have been terrible when we did that. I advise everyone that goes to paris to have a list of go to places, and to plan on sanwiches from bakeries, crepes etc.. rather than walk in any paris bistro/cafes and eat somethingoverpriced there.. But I understand other might have different views on that.

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                      Oh yes indeed the roaming charges can get hefty, though the individual who was telling me about Paris WiFi, he was giving out an impression that the service is FREE :-) As far as the address, I am cognizant of the address in the paragraph, but this is the point, I am trying to get at: For instance if I had to meet someone at 415 E86th street,NYC, NY, I can easily tell the address is between 1st and 2nd Ave because the house number is in the 400s hence I was more wondering if one can detect the arrondissements by looking at the Parisian addresses? Anyway I am afraid the forum moderator might get into pet peeves with us, talking about WiFi and address in a food centric platform.

                                                                      Thanks for you help

                                                                      1. re: hrh747

                                                                        Fair warning -- I'm not sure how it shows up on your device, but there are two kinds of Free wifi in Paris.

                                                                        There's Free -- the services offered by the company called Free (tricky, ain't they?) -- but it's not free -- it's a pay service (i believe the owner of the company is Friday, and the CFO is Tomorrow.)

                                                                        Then there's Gratuit -- no charge.

                                                                        Make sure you've got the right one.

                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                          LOL, they are tricky indeed. Thanks for the tip, I 'll make a note of it

                                                                        2. re: hrh747

                                                                          Indeed, we do ask that people keep the conversation here focused on food. A little advice to help people get to the restaurants you're recomnending is fine, but please do try to bring things back around to food. Thanks!

                                                                          1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                            My most sincere apology, I will refrain from any further none food related inquiries.


                                                                          2. re: hrh747

                                                                            "I was more wondering if one can detect the arrondissements by looking at the Parisian addresses"

                                                                            When you see an address, such as for Chez Josephine, 117 Rue du Cherche-Midi 75006 Paris, the postal code shows the arrondisement. i.e.., 75 = paris; 6 = the arrondisement.

                                                                        3. re: hrh747

                                                                          The postal code (in kirikara's message) is 75006 - the last 2 digits tell you which arrondissement in Paris....so that means the 6th.

                                                                          1. re: boredough

                                                                            Oh I see, so the arr is encoded within the postal code, thanks a bunch, this makes things much easier for me.

                                                                        4. re: kirikara

                                                                          Let me edit this...
                                                                          Creperie Imogene 25 RUE jean pierre timbaud 75011 (11eme) Paris. Near oberkampf

                                                                            1. re: krystof

                                                                              I would, as politely as possible, like to note that not everyone has found Ms. Darroze's cooking to be so good, indeed, two of the worst meals of my life were at her hands. Maybe now she's off in London, her sous chef has improved things but I'm not going to see.

                                                                              1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                I had similar experience chez Darroze. Not to be repeated.

                                                                        5. It would be a real shame to only limit yourself to the are around your hotel. The beauty of subways is that they do not require any language skills, beyond figuring out how to purchase tickets (which any Parisian travel guide site/book explains). You get on the train and get off at the stop closest to your desired destination. I'm not sure why you need French to do that.

                                                                          Like many other big cities, you can eat as cheaply or lavishly as you want, as long as your expectations are in order.

                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                            I would second that; there's almost no place you cannot get to by public transportation in 45 minutes or under even in the dreaded over the peripherique places like Levellois-Perret and Puteaux.

                                                                            1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                              <<It would be a real shame to only limit yourself to the are around your hotel.>>
                                                                              Hmmmm, I will remain oblivious about my hotel related information until a few days prior to departure, therefore I am not sure how I rendered such an impression, but this certainly wasn't my intentions. My initial concerns were the food cost and the language barrier, and I was asking for one affordable place (anywhere) to eat my meals and a Metro direction to get there, but the overwhelming responses on this forum crushed those concerns into pieces days ago. Now I am armed with a few basic phrases in French, topology of Paris and its arrondissements, so I am going to check out some of the places John Talbott and others recommended on this forum previously with fresh attitude toward Paris and Parisians :-)

                                                                              1. re: hrh747

                                                                                When you said in your original post:
                                                                                "I will be near Eiffel tower for the most part and not having any French skills I can imagine, it will be very hard to navigate through the city, and use the public transit system"
                                                                                it could give the impression that you were reluctant to branch out. Probably what John was responding to.

                                                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                                                  But further in the same post, I said:
                                                                                  <<Can someone recommend ONLY one reasonably priced restaurant (20 to 28 Euro PP) for lunch/dinner with a complete Metro direction and details from the Eiffel tower area >>
                                                                                  Which implies it can be anywhere, just tell me how to get there from the Eiffel tower area :-)

                                                                                  1. re: hrh747

                                                                                    I did not understand the implication. Now I do.
                                                                                    Probably in my mind I realized that to give you detailed info on how to get to a restaurant in an arrondissement far from the Eiffel tower would be so daunting that it would limit the choice of only those restaurants whose transport info does not entail writing War & Peace. :-)

                                                                                  2. re: Parigi

                                                                                    In any case, it's alI kinda academic, innit? The OP does not yet know where the hotel is... all she/he knows from the travel agent in Iran is that it's supposed to be "near the Eiffel Tower" and that, because it's a package deal, no other details until a few days before departure.... cynical me suspects that the travel industry defines "near the Eiffel Tower" as anywhere in the 7th, 15th and maybe even Issy-les-Moulineaux or Vanves.

                                                                                      1. re: Parnassien

                                                                                        I actually feel sorry for the travel industry here, they are like orphans in the worst orphanage you can ever imagine. The fact that they are trying so hard to make this package to work at such low cost, and deliver all promised, it makes me happy. Unlike the travel industry in the U.S, Europe and other parts of the civilized world that are part of a wider network of alliances, these guys are bunch of mom and pop shops that have to do everything the hard way, analogous to those who wash clothes, dishes and bathe in Ganji river in India all simultaneously and those of us who have the luxury of having washer/dryer, dishwasher and shower in our house.