The delectable odors wafting down Paris streets can lure unwary travelers into sumptuous meals that quickly devour your vacation budget. The trick is to focus on a dining destination you know will satisfy your most gluttonous desires without breaking the bank.
There is no need to let your pocketbook squelch your appetite for crepes made to order before your eyes, tables groaning with hearty French country fare or exotic delights that push every button on your taste buds – you just have to know which door leads to the best for the least!
Au Petit Grec (66 rue Mouffetard, 5th arr.)
Luckily, wandering down the street munching on a fresh crepe is actually considered pretty cool in Paris, especially since the best (and cheapest) creperie in town is usually standing room only. After selecting your custom made crepe(s) made from their wide selection of divine ingredients — including the ever-popular Nutella spread — you can bravely stroll down one of the most tempting streets in Paris with a full tummy and satisfied grin.
The cheap prices and art nouveau trappings are not the only allure of this charming Paris institution, it is also renown as a great place to make new friends. The tradition that all their customers share tables while they feast on hearty portions beef bourguignon, sauerkraut, purple chicken (coq au vin), and their famous roasted chicken and fries has kept Chartier one of the most beloved destinations in Paris. In the true spirit of thrift, the paper table clothes are used to write up your bill at the end of the meal.
Chez Gladines (rue des Cinq Diamants, 13th arr.)
French-Basque dishes come with cheap prices and generous portions in a cheerful old-world ambience featuring enormous salads, hearty cassoulets with side dishes like au gratin potatoes fried in duck fat that barely leave room for the delicious caramel crème flan they offer for dessert. The family atmosphere adds to the fun and the surprisingly small tab will adds to the satisfaction.
Marché des Enfants Rouges Market (39 rue de Bretagne, 3rd arr.)
Out of the 63 open air markets in Paris, your best bet for a cheap hot meal any day but Mondays (they’re closed) is at the Red Children’s Market where the vendors start early and stay late. You’ll not only find French favorites like Tartiflette stew out of a big communal pot but spicy curries from West India, exotic couscous dishes from North Africa stews and you can top it all off with zesty Italian ices to cool off your palette – all for a fraction of what it would cost in a sit-down restaurant and with the added thrill of hunting down your meals based on what smells best to you.
About the author: Lela Lake is a life-long lover of Paris and writes for AnyTrip.com, the budget travel specialists. Check out their selection of cheap hotels in Paris or enter their competition to win a trip to Paris (ends 30th September 2011).