Paris Food & Drink Guide: The best of Paris on a budget

Aside from its world famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Moulin Rouge, Paris is probably best known for its food.

Frogs legs, snails and steak tartar are just a few of the local specialties that you can expect to come across in one of Paris’s many traditional restaurants but there is a whole world of cuisine out there to try besides coq au vin and onion soup.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best beers, best bars, best boulangeries and much more besides to help you make the most out of your culinary and drinking experience during your time in Paris without breaking the bank.

Bon Appétit!

Best Boulangeries and Patisseries

Paris is no stranger to baking. In fact it is blessed with some of the best boulangeries and patisseries on the planet. On almost every street corner, you’ll find shop fronts full of pastry based goodies to sink your teeth into like pain-au-chocolats, croissants, chouquettes and freshly made baguettes; but with so many to choose from where do you go?

According to our resident Parisian borne patisserie queen, Sonia Langevin, the best pastries in town can be found at Le Boulanger de Monge on Rue Monge. Here you’ll find all sorts of tasty treats to feast on including the utterly delicious milles-feuilles fingers which fall off the fork and melt in your mouth.

For a coffee, croissant or an ever so naughty chouquettes (well worth trying!) then look no further than Gosselin on Rue St.-Honororé.

If you’re after something a little more substantial, au 140 has award winning baguettes in countless varieties for you to choose from. Situated in the same area as the Père-Lachaise Cemetery, this is the perfect place to go for a quick bite to eat after checking out the final resting place of the likes of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde.

Best Crepes

Crepes are another favorite snack of the Parisians. Again there is no shortage of places to stop off to try the crepe revolution but the best in town, without question, can be found at the Breizh Café which specializes in all things pancake.

Breizh Café has all the old favorites like lemon and sugar or nutella but also offers many more adventurous combinations including a number of very, very enticing savory varieties. According to Sonia you haven’t lived until you’ve tried a savory crepe packed full to the brim with vegetables- or should that be legumes?!!

Best Cheap Eats

Parisians are food mad so it won’t come as any surprise to hear that there are restaurants, cafes, bistros and bars all over town selling all sorts of different food for your culinary pleasure.

However, many are overpriced and many more still are disappointing for the money you pay.

If you’re on a budget, a general rule of thumb to prevent paying over the odds for your meal is to avoid the restaurants in and around the main drags and tourist hot spots and anywhere that has the menu outside in English.

Generally, these kinds of places see the hungry tourists coming from a mile off and have bumped up their prices accordingly.

Fortunately there are a number of decent cheaper eats in town which won’t charge you over the odds for your dinner.

If you’re after good quality traditional French cuisine for a fraction of the normal restaurant rates, you won’t go far wrong at any one of Le Fleuve Rouge, Aux Bons Amis or Le Petit Villliers (particularly good for lunch).

Le Fleuve Rouge offers traditional favorites like chicken and chips for just €13 per head while Aux Bons Amis is even cheaper at €9.50 per head (a bargain for Paris!).

However, one of the best cheap eats in Paris has to Le Bar Fleuri. This is another typical French brasserie that offers you a starter, main and dessert for just €15! The andouillette with fries and mille-feuille come highly recommended, while you can walk off all your food in the nearby Buttes-Chaumont Park.

Failing any of these options, the area in and around Rue Oberkampf in the Oberkampf district is always busy and full of good cheap eat options.

Remember that prices in French restaurants are usually “service compris”, which really means “including the service charge”. It does not necessarily mean “don’t leave a tip”, and it is normal when eating in French restaurants to leave a small tip as long as the service and food have been up to standard. Click here for more about tipping in France.

Best Brunch

Parisians love brunch and few things are more typically Parisian than eating a leisurely elevenses at a café in the sunshine accompanied by a strong cup of coffee and a cigarette.

For a trendy dining experience that serves up the best in Italian ‘aperitivo’ look no further than the Curieux Spaghetti Bar. On first impressions this is expensive at €26 a head but on closer inspection it’s well worth every penny.

Make sure you don’t eat anything much before your visit as it’s all you can eat and the pastas are filling. Also, remember to say yes to everything as it’s all included!

After your hearty brunch, the chances are you’ll probably need a bit of a sit down, but if by some miracle you do find some energy the Georges Pompidou Centre is just round the corner.

Best Ice Cream

There are a few contenders for the best ice cream in Paris- one or two in the Italian quarter are certainly challengers- but the winner even has its own entry on Wikipedia. It’s name? Berthillon of course! Situated on the Île Saint-Louis, the family run company has been wowing Parisians and tourists alike with its delicious cones for over 50 years.

Devoid of all artificial sweeteners and preservatives, the flavors are all derived from natural sources like cocoa, vanilla and fruit. Whether you’re a mint chocolate chip afficonado or more of a fruity fan, Berthillon has the ice cream for you!

N.B. Like all family run businesses, this gem of an ice cream parlor does close at some point during the summer (normally the last couple of weeks of August). If this happens, head to either of the Italian powerhouses, Amorino or Pozzetto, are well worth a visit.

Best Beers

Paris isn’t well known for its beer making prowess, however there are some beers that are definitely a few French brews worthy of your taste buds. Here’s three of the best:

1. Kronenbourg 1664

2. Leffe

3. Fischer

Best Cheap Bars

Drinking in Paris is notoriously expensive. Fortunately, there are cheap bars and cocktail joints out there- you just need to know where to find them!

The best places to go for a cheap beer are the ultra-hip and studenty Oberkampf or the picturesque Canal Saint Martin. Here you’ll find a number of busy, vibrant bars selling reasonably priced drinks to an eclectic mix of clientele.

Cristal or Le Point Ephémère are great places to go for cheap drinks from as little as €4 per pint in pleasant and comfortable surroundings.

For a fun filled night out drinking look no further than L’Abracadabar on Avenue Jean Jaurès. Featuring live music, DJs and top beers at even better prices, this is the perfect place to go for a night out dancing on a budget. Check out the video below to see a band in action at L’Abracadabar in action:

And there you have it, our guide to eating and drinking in Paris on a budget. Looking for love? Don’t forget to check out our guide on romantic things to do in the city of love.

Thanks to funkyflamenca, Meg Zimbeck, T.O.M.F., portmanteaus, jlastras, kimberleykv, Bee.girl, seelensturm, kevingessner, [puamelia], j/f/photos for the Flickr images.

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