Paris Prices: The maximum we’d pay for everyday items

Posted in: Paris Planning


Paris steak frites
Don't pay more than €18 for that steak frites! Photo: WolfWorld

By Bryan Pirolli in Paris—

Sometimes when I hear what people spend on certain items in Paris, I can’t help but feel a little depressed, especially if they tell me they’re on a budget. Splurge items aside, there are limits to what I’ll pay on everyday items (mostly in order to afford the aforementioned splurges–I’m only human!).

To avoid hearing me groan when you tell me what you paid for your sandwich, here’s a list of suggested “price ceilings” for some Parisian basics. It’s a good list to keep handy to save a few euros or, you know, if you’re ever a contestant on a French version of “The Price is Right”…

rose wine Paris

Don't pay more than €4 for a glass of rosé, no matter how pretty the café. Photo: Gill Taylor

1. Glass of wine

While beer and cocktails can dent the wallet pretty quickly, wine should never be too expensive in a standard café or bar. Avoid the more specialized wine shops and wine bars and opt for a glass of red or white at a more low-key joint. Limit: €4

2. Steak-frites

Most cafés and bistrots serve traditional yet affordable French fare. From the well-traveled but enjoyable Chartier to the classic Les Philosophes in the Marais, a cut of meat and frites shouldn’t be a splurge. Limit: 18

3. Walking/bike tour

With multiple free walking tour options, some tourists prefer a private tour to explore the city more intimately. With dozens of choices out there, it’s hard to pick. A walking tour with Oui Paris Tours or a bike tour with Fat Tire is a great, affordable way to get to know the city. Limit: 30

4. Electronics adapter

Many a traveler forgets that outlets and plugs are different in Europe. Souvenir and electronic stores sell adapters to make your chargers fit into the wall outlets, but the cheapest ones can be found at BHV, the all-purpose department store in the Marais. Limit: 10

5. Crepe/Sandwich

Street food can be found everywhere, so prices are competitive. At lunchtime, the choice often comes down to a sandwich or a crepe. For a gooey ham and cheese crepe or a chicken and veggie sandwich, I never worry about having enough money. Limit: 5

6. Clothing

With wintertime approaching, having appropriate socks (ones without holes) seems important. Unprepared visitors often wonder where to get the latest Parisian fashion as they shiver in their tee shirts. Do like the Parisians do and head to the closest H&M or, better yet, to Japanese department store Uniqlo by the Opera Garnier for some good shopping and great site-seeing. Limit: 40 pants, 40 sweater, 3 socks

7. Café

Instead of 7-11 and Dunkin’ Donuts, the French head to the café for a pick-me-up that won’t break the bank. A café (an espresso) may leave some tourists longing for a cup of Joe, but for mere euros you can squat a seat for as long as you’d like. (Tip: Stand at the cafe’s bar for cheaper prices.) Limit: 2

8. Theatre/Opera tickets

If you packed a top hat or a ball gown anticipating a night at the theatre, there is hope. Last minute “rush” tickets for the Opera Garnier and Bastille are extremely affordable if you are patient enough to line up 2-3 hours before the show. Théâtre du Châtelet, which often hosts musicals like Les Misérables and Sweeney Todd, offers rush tickets up until the minute before curtain. Limit: 30

9. Pastry

Unless you’re going to try the trendiest macaron or a French-style cupcake, pastries are a steal in Paris. Bakeries all over the city will serve up the best flaky croissants, lemon tarts, or apple pastries for mere coins. Limit: 3

10. Entrance to a bar/club

If you choose to go to a bar or club on the Champs-Elysées, good luck to you. Personally, I’d never enter a place that made me pay a cover. There are plenty of nightspots on rue de Lappe by the Bastille or in the winding streets of Montmartre that will keep the budget-conscious partier happy.  Limit: 0

What do you think, Cheapos?  What other price limits can you imagine in Paris? Share your own “price ceilings” in our comments section.

Also in our guide: Planning a trip to Paris? Our editors have inspected, reviewed and photographed Paris’ best inexpensive accommodations. We’ve got picks all over town, in the Latin Quarter, near the Louvre, in the Marais and more central neighborhoods.

About the author

Bryan Pirolli

About the author: With his college diploma fresh off the press, Bryan Pirolli headed for Paris and four years later he’s still there. A journalist and a tour guide, his main M.O. is pursuing a doctorate degree in communications at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. Bryan regularly travels on a budget, experiencing the best of European culture while still trying to make rent.  So far, so good. You can follow his adventures on his blog:

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10 thoughts on “Paris Prices: The maximum we’d pay for everyday items”

  1. Laurie Bender Quinn

    Monoprix for basics such as personal care items, socks, we even bought cute housewares and baby clothes and inexpensive costume jewellery. Then go to the next floor for all your grocery needs. We made lunches and snacks for way less than going to a cafe while sightseeing. We loved that store. Brought home soaps and French bath products and cookies to give as souvenirs.

  2. There is a price difference in restaurants and cafes depending on where you sit. Premium is outside or by the window! That’s good real estate! Sit farther back to save 1 or 2 euros per drink.

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  4. hahaha thanks for that clarification. but such logic would not work here in Manila. the poor cashier/server would certainly hear an earful. or.. some would try to go around that by ordering at the bar, then bringing said drink to a table – even in a to-go cup.

  5. When you stand at the cafe, the person behind the counter serves you directly, so there’s no waiter involved, though I’m sure there is some more refined logic to it.

    Coffee is usually cheapest at the bar, then more expensive at a table inside, and most expensive at a table outside where we can assume you’re paying for the best view of the sidewalk theater :)

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