By Tom Meyers—
Here’s a quick tip for you: When traveling in Paris (or really in any city in our guide), buy your bottled water at a nearby supermarket and not at a newsstand, sidewalk vendor, or train station kiosk where they will have tacked on a steep mark-up. The supermarket is the obvious “local” way to go for water and other basic food supplies.
This piece of advice may seem quite obvious, but it’s also surprisingly easy to forget or brush off. After all, when you get thirsty walking down the rue de Rivoli toward the Louvre, dropping a euro or two for a small, yet convenient bottle of water seems like the best option.
Quite often, however, a giant bottle for a fraction of the price sits waiting for you on a shelf, only a minute or two away…
Check in and hit the grocery store
I’m quite proud to say that I’ve now got my grocery routine down. As soon as I check into a hotel in Paris, I usually ask at reception for directions to the nearest grocery store. Not only are French supermarkets fun (you can spend an hour in the cheese section alone) and mix you right in with the locals, they save you money and offer healthy food alternatives to boot.
I usually pick up several bottles of water, along with bananas and oranges, and, if I have a mini-fridge back in my hotel room, yogurt for breakfast. All of these items will be much cheaper in the grocery store (perhaps 50-60 cents for a bottle of Evian that would cost €2-3 at a train station), and they allow me to eat something healthier than the usual hotel offering for breakfast. (I don’t know about you, but after a week of a morning croissant, I start to look a bit like a stick of butter.)
After my cheapo breakfast en chambre, I head to a cafe for a tasty espresso or cappuccino (standing at the bar, of course!).
Back to those water bottles
One note about those bottles of water waiting for you at the supermarket: They’ll be packaged in groups of six or so, and usually priced to be sold as one unit. Don’t panic, in most cases you’re allowed to break up the packs and buy single bottles.
I took the above photo in a supermarket near the Bastille. Note that the packages of Vittel, Badoit and Evian have all been broken up into single bottles. If you don’t see any evidence of single sales, ask somebody working (if you can find anyone). Otherwise, just rip into a package, grab some bottles, and head to the cashier.
Your grocery advice?
Have some advice to share about Parisian supermarkets? Do you have your own rituals for shopping after check-in? Do you make your own breakfast en chambre? Share your thoughts in our comments section.
Also in our guide: If you’re heading to Paris, be sure to check out the reviews of our favorite inexpensive hotels. Our editors have scoured the city’s streets, visiting, inspecting and photographing every budget hotel we can find (water bottle in hand). Read more in our Paris guide.