Paris Food Stuffs: Best places for cheap and yummy eats

After a long day running around Paris (or biking around on a Vélib), even the most tireless Cheapo needs a break for some comforting sustenance. But in a city with such an overwhelming array of dining options, what's the best route for a delicious - and cheap - pick me up?

Outdoor Market Paris

Paris' outdoor markets make for a colorful and cheap food option.

Tip #1: Do it yourself.

That’s right. Just as the city of lights packs a major punch when it comes to boutique fashion, Paris is also ripe (no pun intended) with fresh markets of all styles and variations. One of our favorite places to stock up on delicious and fresh supper fixins is the Rue Mouffetard market (Metro: Censier-Daubenton or Place Monge). Here you can barter with butchers, bakers, candlestick makers (just kidding), produce purveyors and more. For a few euros, you can leave the market with all the makings of a proper feast.

If you’re planning a longer stay in Paris, markets provide a chance to buy in bulk. Food is typically high quality, especially when it comes to local fruits and veggies, and as long as you remember a few main rules of the roadside grocery (i.e. it’s probably not a good idea to fondle the melons without first asking a salesperson), you’ll be well on your way to a uniquely French culinary experience.

For a comprehensive list of outdoor markets in Paris, visit this site.

Tip #2: Hit up the cafeteria and get ready to “flunch” it.

When we suggest cafeteria dining, you might cringe at the thought of a sterile, white-walled space that smells like old gravy. But even if the the word "cafeteria" brings to mind heavy, brown plastic trays with their various compartments, you must remember this: we are in France, folks! These people know how to do a cafeteria, at least better than a senior center or hospital.

Don’t believe us? Check out “flunch,” a hit when it comes to the line-up-and-dine mode of eating. We particularly like the flunch at 21, Rue de Beaubourg (Metro: Rambuteau), within walking distance of many Paris’ sights.

Tip #3: Don’t overlook the all mighty baguette.

It’s one of the things that Parisians do best. You just really can’t go wrong with homemade bread, French cheese, cured meats and perhaps a few crudités. Here are two of our more prized sandwich shops to check out, depending on your budget.

Cheapo pick:
Le Grenier a Pain
38, rue des Abbesses, 75018 (Metro: Abbesses or Pigalle)

Splurge-worthy pick:
Cafe de la Mairie
8 Place Saint-Sulpice, 75006 (Metro: Saint Sulpice or Rennes)

Finally, the fast-food chain of baguettes in Paris (and greater France) is Paul. They are found all over the city, including a location that sits right on the Champs-Elysées and provides no end to people-watching (84 Avenue des Champs Elysées; Metro: George V or Franklin D. Roosevelt.)

Tip #4: If you must have a burger...

...and you don’t feel like hitting up a McDonald’s (unless of course you’re also looking for a free Wi-Fi connection), there are plenty of burger options for the choosy Cheapo. Add a little bacon and some cheese, and you’ve got yourself a delightful little meal.

For inspiration, we offer up these hamburger heavens, all with fairly “medium” prices.

H.A.N.D. (“Have a Nice Day”)
39 rue de Richelieu, 75001 (Metro: Palais Royale-Musée du Louvre or Pyramides)

Super Nature
12 rue de Trévise, 75009 (Metro: Grands Boulevards)

Le Floréal
73 rue du Faubourg du Temple, 75010 (Metro: Goncourt or Belleville)

This article is part of the France Roundtable series. Other excellent resources for foodie Cheapos include:

French Comfort Food from WhyGoFrance

Art and Chateau Vaux le Vicomte from Food Lover's Odyssey

Galette des Rois from Life's A Feast

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