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tara3056 Dec 4th, 2005 03:21 PM

Another Paris Question: Budgeting for Food
In a previous post, I stated that my husband and I are comfortable spending around $120 US on dinner each night... Someone recommended I check out Cheap Eats or other budget food guides. Which is fine by me, but it got me curious. At $120 US for a meal, how much would you need to spend to not use those sorts of guidebooks? And how do Parisians afford to eat like this on a regular basis? Or don't they?

Basically, I'd like to know how much one would have to spend to have good meals each night -- not fantastic, cutting-edge cuisine, just solidly good meals. (I'm a more adventurous eater than my husband, though I'll pass on raw meat, game, and organs. He will likely stick to chicken or beef "tres tres bien cuit" all week.) Ignoring how much I'd like to spend, how much would I "need" to spend to be able to be relatively assured of not eating mediocre food in Paris? (Obviously, I know high price does not necessarily = non-medoiocre food). I'm currently looking at Le Procope, Allard, and L'Ambassade d'Auvergne.

And finally, what should I plan on spending for the other meals - light breakfast (cafe creme, pain au chocolat) and lunch?

I'm so appreciative of all the advice I've been getting from this forum. Thank you all!

tara3056 Dec 4th, 2005 03:28 PM

Just to clarify if needed - it will only be the two of us on this trip.

Lostmymind Dec 4th, 2005 03:29 PM

I was in paris in March (9 days) of this year, I really wasn't on a budget but I did try to watch my money. I was able to spend 50-90 USD including wine for my partner and a well drink for me. If we had a late or large lunch we just skipped dinner all together and brought a snack back to the hotel.
As we we off to our day's destination we would check a few menus along the way and made a decision on where we would have dinner usually around 1pm. I admit I am a fussy eater so we took extra care on the places we selected.
Good luck.

francophile03 Dec 4th, 2005 03:35 PM

If you're not very fussy about having a sitdown lunch, you can grab a sandwich at any boulangerie. You'd be surprised that the 3 euro jambon beurre sandwich (ham on a baguette with butter) is really great!

MaureenB Dec 4th, 2005 03:51 PM

I think for your $120 per dinner (I assume for both of you), you will have plenty of options without feeling you're eating "cheap". We saw lots of nice little restaurants in Paris with fixed price complete dinners starting at 25 EU on up. Wine is additional.
For instance, we liked very much the Le Caveau de L'Isle restaurant on the Ille St. Louis, and I think our meal was about 30 or 32 EU apiece.
Menus are posted outside, so you can easily do the math before you are seated.
Bon appetit!

Flyboy Dec 4th, 2005 03:57 PM

I go to Paris several times each year and I just don't see any problem at $120 average dinner for two. As a matter of fact, you can do quite well for considerably less, including wine. One of the really great things about Paris is that the standards for prepared food at every level are so very high. I'd also agree with francophile03's take on boulangerie-based meals. (I look forward to getting at least one of those jambon sandwiches on every visit.) So my advice would be to skip the guidebooks and the worry. Just walk, read the chalkboards and menus displayed outside and enjoy yourself. Bon appetit!

ira Dec 4th, 2005 04:05 PM

Hi tara,

Bkfst (croissant and coffee) 2E pp
Lunch 10 - 15E pp
(salad or sandwich and wine)
Dinner 20 - 40E pp

Total about 60E pp per day

Snacks 25E pp

You can easily afford to eat pleasantly in Paris.

If you would like to eat well, it can cost upwards of 500E pp per day.


wliwl Dec 4th, 2005 04:23 PM

Here are some dinners we had recently in Paris -- just to give you an idea.

Le Manege de l'Ecuyer €124.50 (for 4) Very good meal!
Atelier Maitre Albert €180.60 (for 4) Great meal!
Brasserie Balzar €162.50 (for 4) OK - Other people have raved, maybe we had an off night.
La Truffiere €230.00 (for 2) Fabulous, fabulous.

Nikki Dec 4th, 2005 04:30 PM

You mention that you are looking at Le Procope. I have not eaten there myself, but I have read from several sources that it is not particularly good. You may want to do a search for opinions of people who have been there. You also mention Ambassade d'Auvergne, where I have eaten and which is well within your budget. In fact, I have eaten at many lovely restaurants in Paris and I don't think we have ever spent more than your budget on a meal for two.

ira Dec 4th, 2005 04:59 PM

> I'll pass on raw meat, game, and organs. He will likely stick to chicken or beef "tres tres bien cuit" all week.<

Fah! on both of you. A couple of wimps.

Check out

You get 15% off if you reserve online, and you don't have to eat organ meats.


Christina Dec 4th, 2005 05:25 PM

You certainly won't have any problem with that budget, but be aware that is not 120 euro. I haven't checked exchange rates lately, but I think that is around 100 euro, or 50 euro per person. That is very adequate for moderate meals -- I don't consider myself a big spender at all, and don't go to name or expensive restaurants, but spending 35-40 euro for a dinner is not that unusual for me. The book Cheap Eats covers a wide range of restaurants, but I think many are in the moderate range, which is that budget.

Parisians do not dine out every night or on a regular basis, I suppose. I don't dine out even more than once a week usually when I am at home.

I think Ira's budget is rather skimpy, myself, but kind of odd. For one thing, I don't think I've ever seen a place where you could have a croissant and cafe creme for 2 euro total. The other prices are do-able, but modest. On the other hand, spending 25 euro a day on snacks seems outrageous to me -- I rarely snack, however, I just don't eat between meals, but don't know how you could spend that much on snacks and only 2 euro total on breakfast. 20 euro for a dinner with wine is not that common, at least not for most places that I would want to go for dinner. That isn't even that possible where I live in the US, and we have fairly cheap restaurants.

dabodin Dec 4th, 2005 05:38 PM

We spent a week in Paris in September. We tended to choose restaurants that had fixed prices of 15-20E each. Once you add in a carafe of wine, you're up to about 50E total, or around $65 total. For those prices we got meals that were hearty and tasty, but far from gourmet or creative. We stopped for coffee often, and never paid under 2E each just for a cafe creme. Plain espresso is about 1E. Croissants are about 1E each. I think $120 would get you pretty fabulous meals, though we never spend that much.

39Steps Dec 4th, 2005 06:52 PM

Budgeting for food in Paris? You must be related to the Marquis de Sade. ;-)

Woody Dec 4th, 2005 11:08 PM

After several trips to Paris, we have found that we can eat quite well for under 100 EUR for dinner (not including wine).

I have found that books like Sandra Guftafson's "Great Eats Paris" (formerly "Cheap Eats"), and this website, are excellent resourses for finding restaurants that are a good value.


Dave_in_Paris Dec 4th, 2005 11:34 PM

You can have good meals for $60 per person. Even a memorable meal off and on. If food is a large priority you should research - read as well as ask - and be willing to visit any one of the city's 20 arrondissements. Parisians don't dine out every night, nor every other night. And many cut corners on wine, or by ordering just a main course.

walkinaround Dec 5th, 2005 04:38 AM

my company pays us €50/day as a food allowance for french travel. this amount is payable if breakfast is included with the hotel room. this rate was determined by our international accountanting firm and is a good guide for what it costs for two moderate meals in paris.

as for how often parisians go out or what they spend, i don't think there is any notion of "typical" when it comes to dining out as this obviously depends on age, social life, work life, family life, income, expense accounts, etc.

JulieVikmanis Dec 5th, 2005 04:57 AM

Eat in small bistros and you should be fine. Check out and do a search for maurice naughton. He is a former English professor who lives on a pension for approximately 3 months each spring and fall in Paris. By necessity he has become an expert on where to find fantastic but inexpensive meals in Paris. His posts usually include specific information about the costs of his well-described meals. this man knows how to eat and how to eat well for under $50 per meal. Check it out.

Nikki Dec 5th, 2005 05:02 AM

Julie, you might be interested in the thread posted yesterday by Indytravel. He was inspired by your day spent having a drink in each arrondissement in Paris and duplicated it recently.;tid=34716691

ira Dec 5th, 2005 06:24 AM

>I don't think I've ever seen a place where you could have a croissant and cafe creme for 2 euro total.<

Cafe au lait + croissant standing up at the bar - 2E and change. (Close enough for government work.)


lawchick Dec 5th, 2005 06:29 AM

The food is not that expensive in Paris, but the drinks really whack up the bill.

2xcoupe de champagne - aperitif = 22 euros
1xbottle of ok wine = 30euros
1xbottle of water = 7euros
2xdigestif = 22+euros

You can easily spend more on the drinks as on the food.

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