Traditional Parisian dining on a budget: The classic Chez Chartier

0 comments

Chartier
Enter through the antique wooden doors of Chartier for a vintage dining adventure. Photo: Phil Beard

Housed in an ornate, mirror-filled 19th-century hall with mile-high ceilings and tiled floors, le Boullion Chartier is certainly a classic Parisian restaurant. How many restaurants can say they have a history dating back to 1896 or even their own Wikipedia page? While normally these Belle Epoque-style bistros will cost you a pretty penny, Chartier is famously known for its affordable fare. With traditional French dishes like confit de canard (duck confit) and tartare de beouf (steak tartare) ranging from €8.50-13.50, this place has some seriously low prices.

Much has been written about this inexpensive joint, with mostly favorable reviews. Others are not so convinced, claiming that Chartier’s beautiful interiors mask its unremarkable cuisine. It’s time for EuroCheapo to weigh in on the debate.

Chartier

Everything is classic at Chartier, right down to the waiters’ uniforms. Photo: Sophoco

Getting there and getting in

Le Boullion Chartier is located in the 9th arrondissement, in the Grands Boulevards neighborhood. You can take Metro lines eight and nine to the Grands Boulevards station that’s just around the corner. Once you arrive, you’ll surely be greeted by a line of Parisians and fellow travelers (remind you of somewhere?). This line moves surprisingly quickly, and soon you’ll be welcomed through the antique wooden doors into the majestic, busy dining hall. Don’t be shocked if you’re placed at a table next to other diners—this mixing and mingling is part of the charm.

Chartier

Sharing tables in the glorious Belle Époque interior is a big part of the experience. Photo: Rich Watts

How to order a memorable meal

We recommend starting with the house wine, which will be cheap and handpicked by the chefs.

Starters range from €1.80-6.80, and you can choose from classics like Oeuf dur mayonnaise (hard-boiled eggs with mayonnaise), Salade frisée aux lardons (salad with bacon), and even escargots. The portions will be small by American standards, but generous by French eating habits.

Most main courses are around €10, which is shockingly cheap for Paris. You can choose from all of the classic dishes you might have dreamed about trying, like Steak frites, Côte d’agneau grillée (grilled lamb), and even Tête de veau (calf’s head). Side note: Chartier is not a vegetarian-friendly place, so if you don’t eat meat, you might want to have a bite to eat before and just enjoy the ambiance.

For dessert, finish with fromage. A selection of cheeses are available for less than €3 each. If you’re still hungry, all the classic French sweets are also offered, like Baba au rhum (rum cake) and Pêche melba (peach melba), all for €4 or less.

Tip: Order all your food at once, because it will be hard to get your busy server’s attention after the first encounter. Dressed in black bow ties and white shirts, they will jot down your order directly onto your paper tablecloth.

Chartier veal

A traditional French plate: Tete de veau sauce gribiche (veal and potatoes). Photo: Peter Jan Haas

Grading the food and experience

The fare at Chartier is simple and classic, with no-frills. Don’t expect a five-star meal here or beautiful presentation. You will receive perfectly acceptable dishes; they will not blow your mind, and they won’t be the most delicious food you try in Paris.

However, this restaurant is all about preserving the Belle-Epoque style dining experience, including the dishes. So come for the experience and the wonderful selection of traditional French foods, not the originality. At Chartier, you can afford to have the French meal you always wanted, with wine, a starter, a main, cheese and dessert, all without breaking the bank.

A final thought

We believe that le Boullion Chartier is the perfect way to start a trip to Paris. A meal here can be a great introduction to French food, French restaurants and French servers without the seemingly obligatory steep prices. Get a taste for authentic dishes á l’ancienne, and then you’ll be ready to dine out in France with confidence.

Le Boullion Chartier
7 rue du Faubourg Montmartre|
9th arrondissement
01 47 70 86 29
Métro: Grands Boulevards (Lines 8 & 9)
Bus: L74
www.bouillon-chartier.com

Check out more Paris restaurants on EuroCheapo for the best deals and food around the city.

About the author

Kaitlin Davella

Kaitlin D'Avella is a freelance writer currently based in Paris. She is American, but has lived in Montreal and London, UK in addition to her native New England. She is an avid budget traveler, having recently returned from a journey exploring parts of India. Read more of her work on her website.

Leave a comment

Follow Us