Dining in Paris is so expensive.
Having a bottle of wine in a Paris restaurant is as expensive as doing it in Singapore! Which is really crazy because I always thought we had the most ridiculous alcohol prices.
But what’s even more crazy is that, in Paris, a bottle at the supermarket costs €2 (S$3.50) while a bottle in a restaurant costs €25 (S$45) (stating the average lowest price in each case).
In our five days there, our food expenditure came up to about €400 (S$714) for two people. We ate two meals a day with snacking in between.
We did drink a lot of wine because you can’t go to Paris and not have wine, as ridiculous as the prices are.
Oh, and remember that you have to pay 15% tips everywhere. The prices I have listed in this post are before tips (unless otherwise stated).
Here’s a look at some of the stuff we ate.
Croque Monsieur / Croque Madame
For our very first meal, we had a traditional French snack of grilled ham and cheese sandwich because it was near dinnertime and we wanted to have space for a proper dinner.
It was really good. I’m sure you can imagine what it tastes like. Nothing very unique in the recipe. A Croque Madame is a Croque Monsieur with an egg, so I would recommend to always order the Madame, cos eggs make everything taste so much better!
Just a few minutes’ walk northeast of the Moulin Rouge is a nice area with many nice restaurants and cafes. I think it’s around the Rue de Abbesses in Montmarte. We went there for our first dinner and picked this restaurant nestled in its own little building.
It was a good choice because the food was quite tasty and they had a 3-course set meal for €23 (S$41) per person (drinks not included), with 6-8 options for each course. Quite cheap by Parisian restaurant standards.
With wine (and we only ordered a half bottle), our total bill came up to over €70 (S$124), including tips.
Something went wrong while I was downloading the photos into my Mac so I only have photos of the starters. Everything else was destroyed, urgh!
Cherry tomatoes and mozzarella
Sardine pate with baguette
Many Parisian restaurants are small and don’t have big menus, so they’d have, like, one item for each kind of meat. They’d have beef, definitely, especially Steak Tartare Frites (raw beef and fries, eew!) and chicken and fish and lamb and veal and so on.
A very common item on the menu is a cheeseburger. It’s very funny to me. I saw it in so many restaurants. You’d have a whole list of different kinds of meat main courses and in the middle of the mix would always be a little cheeseburger, as if it belonged to the wining and dining family.
It’s very funny (and strange) because it’s always a cheeseburger and not any other burger.
I never tried any of them because I don’t really want to eat cheeseburgers in a French restaurant.
But Piers and I love burgers, so we had burgers at McDonalds (BAD IDEA) and also in a Mexican restaurant called Buffalo Grill. It wasn’t the wisest choice in the world but we were seduced by the juicy looking beef burger in a promotional poster.
Hehe, narrow-eyed sulky face.
20 rue Bellechasse
One thing you have to know about restaurants and cafes in Paris is that the tables and chairs are packed so close you can hear every word of your neighbouring diners’ conversations without them having to raise their voices. I think it’s very disconcerting for tourists but I suppose you get used to it after a while.
Luckily, the French don’t talk very loudly.
But 20 rue Bellechasse really takes the cake. That’s the address of the restaurant junkie recommended me. It’s really called Le Vin de Bellechasse but he likes to call it 20 rue Bellechasse.
Anyway, it’s apparently a local favourite and one website said it’s an excellent choice for a visitor’s first evening in Paris. Junkie says eat steak tartare frites there but eew no thanks for me!
I was put off from the start cos when we walked in, we saw a long row of tables arranged tightly by a wall, canteen style.
When the waiter showed us to our table, he pulled one of the tables right out of the arrangement so that I could scoot inside and sit on the long sofa shared by the rest of the 10 tables. Once I was in, he pushed the table back into its slot and then replaced the outside chair.
So unglam! When I had to go to the toilet, Piers had to get up, put away his chair and pull out the table, then put everything back while I went off. Then when I came back, he had to do it all over again. Doh.
And I didn’t enjoy my dinner because I ordered medium lamb chops but they came almost rare so I almost gagged a few times. Piers had a tuna steak coated with sesame seeds which was quite tasty at first but grossed me out on my third taste. Cos the tuna is seared on the outside and rare on the inside.
I suppose if you like eating raw food, this is the place to go to!
Another random restaurant
I suppose you can eat at affordable prices in Paris if you walk around more and compare restaurant prices. And don’t drink too much wine. I think a third of our food expenditure went to wine cos we always ordered whole or 2/3 bottles.
We did try to find cheaper places to eat at, so there was this one we came upon after visiting the Eiffel Tower one night. We were just walking randomly so I can’t remember where it was, sorry.
For €15 (S$23) you can have a two-course meal, choosing either a starter and main, or a main and dessert. The food wasn’t fantastic but it was satisfying enough.
But then, food always tastes better when you have good company, so always choose your dining companions wisely!
This is a very nice area for restaurants and cafes, recommended by my reader Stephan. I’m not sure why but every other restaurant in this area serves cheese fondue. So strange, cos cheese fondue is Swiss, right?
Anyway, we liked the area very much, so we had wine at a cafe first, then later went for dinner at a random cosy-looking restaurant. It was hard to choose because there are so many nice-looking restaurants there.
But we made a very good choice! La Grange (I think 72 Rue Mouffetard) has significantly cheaper prices and the food is tasty!
We ordered so much! We each had a three-course dinner and, on top of that, shared a cheese fondue and a bottle of wine. We finished it all, miraculously!
Haha! Caught being anti-social!
French onion soup. I don’t like cheese in my soups!
Foie gras. I was disappointed it was a pate instead of a proper slice, but it was still tasty.
Three-cheese fondue. Nice!
Bleu cheese steak. A bit overpowering the sauce.
Pepper steak. Nice!
In France, one must, of course, eat baguettes. That’s a given! I would have liked to have eaten more, but there are only so many meals in a day!
I had a ham baguette sandwich at a baguette fast food outlet. So expensive! Just a small baguette (about six inches) with a few ham slices and a bit of butter, and it was €3.50 (S$6.20).
Cheaper than eating at a restaurant, though. No need to tip at fast-food outlets. =P
Berthillon is a French luxury brand for ice cream and sorbet (lol, luxury ice cream). Recommended again by reader Stephan.
If you go to Île Saint-Louis, the little island in the River Seine, you’ll see loads of cafes selling Berthillon in cups or cones, AND THEY ALL HAVE LONG QUEUES. It’s really nuts!! Like Koi queues in Singapore!
Piers and I first went on a Sunday and decided not to brave the queues. Then we went again on Monday and the queues were shorter but still there. But I really wanted to try it so we found a takeaway place with the shortest queue.
I’m not very sure if we should have tried the main store or not, but if it’s the same brand, it should be alright anywhere, right?
I had a peach sorbet and vanilla ice cream. It was delicious, of course, but I’m not really sure how much better it is than any other luxury ice cream to warrant the queues.
€4 (S$7) for two tiny scoops in a waffle cone.
I really like the peach sorbet, and the ice cream is really smooth and creamy. Well, okay, it’s good ice cream. I just wonder about the queues.
Okay, enough food for the day.
SO HUNGRY NOW.
I really hate writing food posts. -_-“