If you’re really into your food, Paris is an awesome place to travel to. That said, it’s not exactly the cheapest city to eat out in, so you should be prepared to spend a little more than you might elsewhere – but that’s not to say that there aren’t any tricks to keep your spending down and enjoying restaurants in Paris.
If you’re a bit of a foodie, chances are you’re already fairly familiar with Paris’s cuisine. But, just in case, here’s a quick lowdown of what to expect:
• In terms of breakfast, a lot of decadent pastries will be on offer. Prepare to feel like a kid in a sweet shop!
• Steak is massively popular. Steak frites – that’s steak and chips – is available in most typical French restaurants, while moules frites (mussels and chips) is another common menu fixture.
• Salads, croques monsieur (which are cheese and ham toasted sandwiches) and crepes are all popular light meals and snacks.
• Wine and cheese – together or apart, they are the nation’s staples.
Before you rush out and pick the first restaurant you see, bear in mind that prices will be a lot higher on the main tourist thoroughfares (like around the Eiffel Tower), while quieter, less touristy eateries might not have English menus, so a phrasebook is always handy if you want to know what you’re eating!
Plus, if you do want to cut down the cost of your break (or just have more to spend on food), it’s worth booking into one of Paris’ cheap hotels (if you can find one!). Finding a good deal can sometimes take a little while, but it could save you a fair bit of cash.
Patisseries and breakfast
When it comes to breakfast in Paris, I think it’d be insane not to make a beeline for the pastries. In fact, when I was last there, my partner and I would head straight for the nearest patisserie and pick something new to try each day. It’s a pretty cheap way to breakfast and I think it’s probably one of the most fun – and tastiest! You’d be surprised at just how delicious a plain croissant can be when bought from an authentic French patisserie.
Now, while most patisseries are pretty reliable for this kind of thing – you’re in Paris, after all! – there are some that are particularly renowned. If you want to try things like delicate chocolate tarts and macaroons, these are places to go. Among the top places is Jean-Paul Hevin on rue Saint-Honore. This is basically heaven for chocoholics, and you can opt to take your pastries away with you or relax in the seating area upstairs.
If you fancy something a bit more substantial, there are some great places for a seriously big brunch, like Les Bonnes Soeurs. You’ll find this on rue du Pas de la Mule; it’s pretty small, so expect a queue, but the scrambled eggs, crepes, breads and pastries are well worth it! You can’t book in advance, but there is a waiting list system once you arrive, so if the queues do put you off, you can always leave and come back when your breakfast is ready.
Lunch and dinner
If you’re keen to try some seriously good Parisian food, lunch and dinner can get a trifle pricey. There are some gems for balancing reasonable prices and creative cooking though – it’s just a question of finding them. A popular choice is Le Pre Verre, which you’ll find on rue Thenard.
This blends traditional French cuisine with elements of Asian cooking, and has a really impressive wine list. The icing on the cake? Having the fixed lunch menu here costs just €13.90 (around £11), while you can grab the set dinner menu for €29.50 – both excellent deals for such great examples of French cooking. Just make sure you book a table in advance!