Good/affordable Restaurants in Paris [Travel]

2007 Jun 7
I thought I would query you foodies out there as it sounds like some of you have travelled a fair bit and your memories of good food are long.

The fantastic 4 are hitting France in September and I'm doing some research on good and affordable restaurants. It's so hard though because there is so much there (particularly in Paris) and we want to taste and experience as much as possible without blowing the budget. We are staying in the 6th Arrondissment (Saint-Germain-des-Pres) in Paris but don't necessarily have to do all our eating there. Would like to do dinners close as walking back to our accommodations after several glasses of wine will be much easier.

Here's what I'm looking for suggestions on:

-Special dinner at approx 50-100 Euros each, with possible modern/lounge-type atmosphere and interesting menu
- Brasserie style place to get the real Paris vibe of old (hopefully not tourist-ridden spot but I hear the Lippe is still frequented by locals).
- Breakfast croissant/coffee type places
- Crêperie type place (or street snack type spots) for quick and cheap

Any other suggestions would be much appreciated!!

2007 Jun 7
Perhaps this isn't terribly helpful, but: In France, they are required by law to have their menu (with prices) posted outside for people to look at before entering the restaurant. That's how my husband and I decided on restaurants when we were in Paris last July. We just wandered about until we found something that looked tasty and went there! We mostly ate in the Marais area, as that is where our hotel was.

Street snacks are pretty well everywhere. Most serve crepes and sandwiches along with bottles of water or other drinks. My only advice is avoid the ones that are directly next to a major attraction (especially La Tour Eiffel!) as the prices will be a lot higher than elsewhere. Also, if you're buying bottles of water, get them from grocery stores if you can. Much much cheaper than the little stands. If you also happen to have access to a refrigerator in your hotel room, buy warm bottles of water and chill them at your hotel. In Paris, you pay for refrigeration, so the same bottle of water will be many centimes cheaper if you get it warm.

Again, I realize that doesn't exactly answer your questions but we just wandered all over Paris and ate whatever looked good at the time, which is very easy to do as there are interesting places everywhere! And to be honest, we didn't have a single bad meal!

2007 Jun 7
Thanks Candice...all good advice.

In fact, we have rented an apartment for 5 nights so we will have access to a fridge! I had heard this before about the water, and discovered the same in Rome a couple of years ago.

I do know about the posting of menus outside restaurants which is VERY helpful. And I have found a few websites that talk about restaurants with locations and menus, etc. but there are not a lot of current reviews out there and those that are there, are hard to tell what type of diners they are. Here on Foodies, I'm getting to know many of the member's tastes from the several posts so was hoping to find a recommendation from someone I trust.

The Marais is not that far away from where we are staying (mostly just across the Seine) so any recommendations on restaurants you remember would be super!

I guess I mainly wanted a recommendation for the one 'special' meal...the one where you spend too much money but it is the most memorable experience you had while there. We had one of those in Florence in a restaurant called Angels. cool a place, such an extensive wine list, such unbelievably good food and service. I guess was hoping to repeat same in Paris.

2007 Jun 8
Oh my cousin brought us to this little restaurant on Place Bastille called the Bo Finger that serves Southern French cuisine (Lyonaise??) We ordered a seafood dish for two, and WOW it was amazing! My husband actually had the courage to order andousaille (sp?? - pig intestines I think ewwww)

We stayed close to the old Opera that just happened to be very close to Ave. des Italiens, there are tons of good restaurants there. The Cafe des Hauteurs in the Musee d'Orsay was very good for lunch.

Whatever you do, DO NOT follow the travel guide recommendation. We were stupid enough to pay a visit to a cafe in the St-Germain area where Hemingway and Fitzgerald used to hang out, very disappointing.

My fondest memory of Paris is the French pastries, oh my we were thoroughly spoiled afterwards. The French breakfast was really simple, we usually just grab a crepe on the street or have some tartine (mini baquette with real beurre) with a really good Illy coffee. Oh did I mention that the pastry chain often found inside Paris Metro (can't recall the name) is wonderful! We had the fluffiest croissants there.

2007 Jun 8
The only time I've been to Paris I relied on guide books and random luck. Unsurprisingly my experiences were all over the map with regards to quality. If I had to do it again though, I'd head straight to the France forum on eGullet ( Possibly the handiest item listed is a Google map with recommended restaurants shown according to price range ( Click on a restaurant's "push pin" to get its address, hours, and a link to individual reviews.

2007 Jun 8
My advice is: Trust the grumpy waiter.

My husband and I just stumbled into a bistro while we were in Paris - it was packed - a soccer game was on, and tons of people were cheering for the French team. Our waiter was not rude but definitely grumpy. When he asked us what we'd like for dessert, I wanted the apple tart. He looked at me and with a totally dead pan face, said, "No you don't. You want the strawberry tart." I exchanged a look with my husband and we decided to have one apple tart and one straberry tart. Well, guess what? The strawberry tart was just divine and the apple tart so-so. So - Trust the grumpy waiter.

As for a special restaurant - we went into a book store and pawed through a Michelin guide. The star rating restaurants will cost an arm and a leg... but we aimed for the fork and spoon ratings - and even those restaurants that receive 1 fork were amazing - and definitely we did not break the bank when we went there.

The one that broke the bank was called Lucas Carton. It was a 3 star restaurant when we went but the chef had renounced the stars and turned it into a top quality restaurant called Senderens since then. Lucas Carton was everything above and beyond what I had hoped for - definitely one of the most memorable meals I ever had (yes the phenomenal price tag definitely helped my memories too) but now without the stars I belive the tasting menu is about 110 euros pp. You can check out the website:

When I returned from France - I couldn't drink any "coffee" in Ottawa for 6 months... (sigh)

2007 Jun 8
Wow, thanks Travel to Eat. That spot (Senderens) looks like exactly what I had hoped for. Will consider it for our big splurge dinner! Will also NOT ignore the grumpy waiter...hail to the grumpy waiters of the world!!

Thanks McSheffrey for the great links. Love the We've been looking for a site that gives restaurants by location. Found some great spots right around our apartment which will be handy when we are weary from walking to the sites.

Thanks also to Sage007 for the tips on the pastries. You never know what you will get from chains so will try it out if the need arises (which I'm sure hunger will strike at any given time and place).

One thing I will disagree with is the tips from travel guides. Guess it depends on which guide you use but a visit to Milan a few years ago found us in our hotel, first night there, in a not-so-great neighborhood near the train station (was important for a day-trip to Monza we made early the next day) and really, really hungry after 36 hours of travel. We consulted our Frommers guide and found a highly recommended restaurant about 10 minutes walk away. We went and we are still talking about the exquisite carpaccio, off-the-vine fresh caprese salad and dessert of profiteroles that couldn't be beat, all under the canopy of a very large pergola (say 20 meters by 20 meters) on the back patio and lovely tinky-tinky lights {sigh...). We will never forget that meal!!

Thanks all and keep the recommendations coming if you have any.

2007 Jun 8
About guides: We actually found Rick Steves' guide very useful. Pretty much anything he recommended that we tried was actually just as he said. However, we also bought a 'Lets Go' guide which was far less useful.

Fat Cat: If you don't already read David Lebovitz's blog, you might find it a good read. He's a pastry chef from the US who moved to Paris years ago. He's got all kinds of recommendations for places to eat. I wish I'd found the blog before we went to France! He's currently visiting the US, but the archives have tons of good reading.
(tons more, just search his site for whatever you're looking for!)

2007 Jun 11
Thanks Candice! Will have to spend some good quality time pouring over this site!!

2007 Jun 12
Now, I'll have to preface this story with a little background. I like travelling with no plans.. 'seat of the pants' so to say. We arrived in Paris for 5 days in mid October with our passports and our luggage (no reservations etc). We spent more than we wanted (maybe 700-800 francs per night) at a decidedly nice little boutique hotel in St Germain du Pres, but after hearing every hotelier say 'Mais non.. we do not have a room for tonight, perhaps next week?' we were happy to have a roof over our heads. Back to food. I had read somewhere (Frommers?) that there was a really nice café at the Louvre that was quite good and inexpensive. So, we're walking around, it's around lunchtime, the sun is out, it's beautiful weather and we are walking around the glass pyramid at the Louvre and we see a nice restaraunt built right into the Richelieu wing with a patio overlooking Napoleon Court which is called Le Café Marly. In my head, I'm thinking.. Le Café, cafe.. this must be that wonderful inexpensive place to eat at the Louvre. So we queued up and got a table in the sunshine. Being new to Paris (first day...EVAR) we were still getting our currency legs (4 francs to a dollar I believe) and although it looked a little pricey, we thought that this was just perfect and had to stay. Long story short is that we ended up paying about $150 for lunch (for 2) which was wonderful, and quite memorable, and got quite the story out of it. Apparently the 'inexpensive' cafe referred to by the tour guide is the CAFETERIA in the basement of the Louvre(by the subway connection). A picture of the place can be seen here ( ). This travel site ( ) says that the per diner price is typically $30 USD.

2007 Jun 12
Fat Cat...
I am so jealous, we were in Paris last summer and we had some divine meals!

I would highly recommend Le Baron Rouge (it may have changed names recently) 1 rue Théophile-Roussel, in the 12th. Wine barrels as tables, metal bar, totally packed after work with locals... Be warned though - there is one toilet outside and it is Turkish. (so ladies beware - I chickened out and found a restroom elsewhere) The food was inexpensive and delicious– patés, sausage, goose rillets, breads, cheeses and wine. The staff was helpful and friendly (we spoke French to them – although they did have some English), and they gave us many great suggestions of wine pairings that we had never thought of, like white wine with cheese! (Delicious)

We also had a great meal for not a lot of money at Café Constant near the Eiffel Tower 139 rue St-Dominique (7th), Ecole Militaire. It was the first meal we had in Paris. Service is casual, they serve lunch (which we had) and dinner. Lunch was supposed to start at 12noon, but they didn’t get their bread delivery until about 12:15pm, so we sat at a table on the sidewalk and sipped rosé until they were ready to go. We had starters of an oyster tartare and amazing devilled eggs followed by a delicious steak tartare with tiny frites and poached monkfish quenelles with in a rosé cream sauce, dessert included a divine crème caramel and mouth-watering dark chocolate quenelles

As for guides for Paris, we found that the Time Out Paris was the best guide. Locals write it; as a result you get honest reviews of “tourist traps”. They will tell you why it is popular with tourists and what might be more “authentic” to see (this is how we found Le Baron Rouge). We also used the Time Out guide for Dublin and it was spot on. The books are a small enough size to pack with you on your day trips in the city, so that you don’t have to feel like you are carrying an encyclopedia.

Two tips for Paris –
1. If you are arriving early in the morning and taking the train to downtown, be aware that you need to find the change machine at the airport to convert the paper money to coins to get the train tickets. Unless they have changed their machines, they do not accept North American credit cards.
2. Telephones in Paris do not accept coins, you need to get a telephone card from the Tabac. We were in Paris in August and we found that a lot of the restaurants had closed for their vacations. (They were closed from August 4 or 5 to the 30th!) We learned to call ahead to make sure that they were open!

Have fun!

2007 Jun 13
Pete - Thanks for the link to the fab pic of that restaurant. It looks fantastic (and much over the $30 US that they say). I think though that when restaurants quote prices (someone correct me if I'm wrong here) they are for a regular menu main, not necessarily for the entire price of the meal. As we all know, the extras (like booze, desserts, cheese plates, etc.) are what bring the price into the obscene! Love the story too. I'm sure that will happen to us at some point. At least the Euro is a little closer to the CDN $ now so it's easier do the calculation before entering the restaurant.

TNT - Thanks for the food porn (always fun!!) and the great tips too. I have an Eyewitness Guide to Paris and my Insideout Popout map and they seems pretty good but I'm always looking for other sources. Thanks for the tip on the train. In fact, we will be stopping in Brussels first (the F1 race is in Spa the weekend we arrive on our trip) then taking the train to Paris. Will still have to get across the city by subway so will make sure we have some coin anyway. I'm sure it will make life easier.

Wow....thanks again to all the foodies out there for sharing your stories and advice. Will have to give you guys an update once we are back from the trip (if I can still afford my hydro and internet bills!! :-0

2007 Jun 13
Looking forward to hearing how the trip went! I hope you're able to snap at least a few photos. :D

2007 Jun 13
Fat Cat... if you're sentimental forgo the change for the subway and buy a subway pass ( I think you can get one for not too much). Nice souvenir to have a nice laminated Paris subway pass with your picture on it! I missed getting one when I was there, but we couldn't figure out why the pass windows were never open at the stations we were at.