Our son is travelling with a friend to Paris very soon.
Both of these young gentlemen have been working hard to squirrel away funds for their trip. But given our son has just completed the fourth and final year of his university degree and his friend will be continuing his studies next year, the savings from their part-time endeavours will need to stretch.
And Paris – like just about every big city on the planet – can end up being hideously expensive for travellers.
But I firmly believe that this is only the case if the travellers actually make it so! Paris can also be remarkably budget friendly if you know what you are doing.
And this is especially true when it comes to Parisian dining. You can eat very well in the City of Light without spending a fortune as long as you follow a few tried and tested tips.
Parisian Dining – Five Tips For Stretching Your Travel Dollar Further
One – The Picnic
For a meal where you are guaranteed a spectacular Parisian view, a picnic is your best bet. And picnic delights are in plentiful supply in Paris. In each and every arrondissement you are sure to discover a boulangerie, fromagerie and pâtisserie – and you’ll quickly have your bread, cheese and sweet treats sorted. Then all that is left to do is grab a bottle of wine or sparkling mineral water, head Seine-side or to a park and enjoy your meal. All with the added benefit of watching the world go by.
Two – The Indoor Picnic
Of course, indoor picnics are a terrific option when the weather isn’t great. And in fact, they make an excellent evening meal when you’ve been out exploring or shopping all day. There is no easier way to dine with your feet up! While the local food artisans and street markets are likely to provide you with something special (we purchased the best quiche ever for an indoor picnic while staying in the 15th arrondissement) don’t discount the small Parisian supermarkets for simple, dining staples that won’t break the bank.
Three – Crêpes And Galettes
Potentially the closest thing you’ll find to ‘street food’ in Paris, galette and crêpe windows can be found in various spots around the city. While they may well see you breaking the French rule of eating and walking, these French classics are both tasty and inexpensive. If you are feeling particularly hungry, opt for a savoury galette for your main course, and a sweet crêpe for dessert.
Four – Breakfast At The Local Boulangerie
French bakeries are in a class of their own. – and they often double as pâtisseries. A crusty baguette, a croissant or a pain au chocolat can make a perfect start to the day. Fresh and flaky, for only a few euros, my favourite croissant variety comes smothered in almonds. Many boulangeries also offer coffee, so you can take away a very Parisian breakfast for a fraction of what you’d pay at a café (and way less than the cost of breakfast at most hotels).
Five – Make The Most Of Lunch
If you do want to eat out, lunch is definitely your best bet. Restaurants all over Paris seem offer deals at lunch time – far more so than any other city we’ve ever visited. Check out both the menu du jour and the plat du jour – both are often great value when compared to an à la carte choice and will give your a real Parisian dining experience.
(As a complete aside, this lunch special concept also extends to Michelin-starred dining, although I’m not for one second suggesting those sort of establishments fall into the ‘money stretching’ category. But if you are keen to check out Parisian dining Michelin style, lunch is definitely the less expensive option.)
Do you have any Parisian dining tips, especially for those travelling on a budget? If so, I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
And until next time – au revoir.