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Cost of Paris
March 20, 2005 7:55 PM   Subscribe

How much will it cost my wife and I to spend four days in Paris?

We can account for our flights and lodging. But how much will it cost to eat reasonably good meals three times a day, have some coffee, visit some museums, and generally gadabout? We're not the hosteling type, but also (obviously) not people who can ignore prices, especially given current exchange rates.
posted by alms to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
figure 50 bucks the very minimum for each dinner for 2, do breakfast at the hotel if it's free, or a cafe for 6-10 bucks for 2 (croissant/coffee for each of you), each lunch maybe 40 or more for 2, unless you can find cheap prixfixe lunches, then 30. The dollar is incredibly weak. (i'm assuming you're having house wine with lunch and dinner)

Try to do picnic lunches if you can--much much cheaper.
posted by amberglow at 8:20 PM on March 20, 2005


if you do lunch at a museum it's a little cheaper (10-15 euros each for 2), but the atmosphere is not as Parisian.
posted by amberglow at 8:22 PM on March 20, 2005


Any recommendations for cheap/nice places to stay for one night? We'll only be there 2 days and 1 night on a sojurn from London, but would like somewhere central and clean to stay.
posted by fionab at 8:23 PM on March 20, 2005


try venere.com, fionab--go to 2-star first.
posted by amberglow at 8:26 PM on March 20, 2005


Others may disagree with me on this, but you can eat fairly well in Paris for about the same as it would cost you in many parts of the US.

If you are staying in a hotel, breakfast (and coffee) will almost certainly be included.

For lunch I would recommend getting something from a streetside vendor - this need not be greasy or fried, as it would be in the US; it shouldn't be too hard to find excellent paninis or crepes (which in France are filled with savory ingredients and eaten on the go; c.f. galettes). Whatever you pick up can be taken to one of numerous parks/parkettes, the banks of the Seine, etc. Alternatively, many boulangeries/patisseries sell excellent prepared dishes "to go".

If you do want a light, sit-down meal, just be sure to avoid the big, inviting tourist-trap cafes located at major squares and intersections. These are home of the $6 coke and $20 sandwich. You can get better food at much cheaper prices even just slightly off the beaten path (obvious, but ignored by many tourists). Two sandwiches and a pitcher of decent wine for ~$15, for example. Also, if you are just stopping in at a cafe for a quick bite/beverage, consider sitting at the bar - it will be cheaper than a table.

With breakfast and lunch taken care of in this way, you should be free to splurge a bit on dinners. Here, table d'hote (usually 3 courses, fixed price) is often the best way to go, price wise. Or, consider having your big meal at lunch, when the table d'hote is even cheaper.

Transportation (via the Metro) is dirt cheap. Day/week passes available (just use the booth to get a photo id).

Museums? Costs of course vary, but there are passes available for this as well.

Bottom line? I am "the hosteling type," so I could do it for 30 USD or less, but you might be safer budgeting for 50.
posted by Urban Hermit at 8:27 PM on March 20, 2005


the NYT just did a story on affordable Paris bistros too. (they figured $40+ each per person)
posted by amberglow at 8:30 PM on March 20, 2005


50 each, that is.
posted by Urban Hermit at 8:30 PM on March 20, 2005


I always do picnic lunches in Paris--i love it--great people watching, and fun to go to the little stores, etc.
posted by amberglow at 8:42 PM on March 20, 2005


Lucky you! Paris is beautiful day or night, rain or shine.

To clarify something Urban Hermit just wrote - sitting at the bar indeed is cheapest in the tourist-trap cafes, then it's more expensive at the tables, and MOST expensive at the outdoors tables. Yes, three prices for the same cup of coffee, or same glass of beer.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:25 PM on March 20, 2005


if you're going to be in paris (or anywhere in europe, for that matter) for a day or two, lastminute.com has fantastic rates. if you'll be there at least a week, you might do better renting an apartment - it's generally cheaper, and definitely will save you money on food as well, as you'll be able to eat breakfasts - and even dinner, when you're tired of eating out - in your own kitchen.
posted by judith at 9:28 PM on March 20, 2005


Also, if you are just stopping in at a cafe for a quick bite/beverage, consider sitting at the bar - it will be cheaper than a table.

Also keep in mind that sitting at a table is cheaper still than sitting at a quaint table outside on the sidewalk.
posted by rhapsodie at 10:34 PM on March 20, 2005


Urban Hermit, I agree with you. Great advice.

Regarding the "affordable" bistros cited in the NYT article -- good suggestions, but more upscale than most places I've had dinner in Paris. I do find that doing a little research and seeking out specific restaurants that are known for being very good and a good value is worth it. Not necessarily famous places...this is the one of the few things guidebooks are sometimes good at. Wing it a few nights, knowing that you have two or three well-recommended dinners.

Prix-fixe menus are a godsend. Creperies, as mentioned, are another important mainstay.

Don't limit yourself to just traditional French food -- there are terrific Moroccan, Lebanese, and Vietnamese restaurants that are much less expensive (and I don't mean take-out joints...nice, sit-down restaurants.)

Fionab or anyone else looking for a hotel: I stayed in Montparnasse at this hotel in January and was very very happy with it. If you decide to stay in this neighborhood, e-mail me and I'll give you the lowdown on where to eat.
posted by desuetude at 6:45 AM on March 21, 2005


Urban Hermit knows his Paris. It is a myth that eating well in Paris has to be expensive. It can be, most definitely, but U.H outlines some of the insider knowledge you need to avoid it being so.

Avoiding the big tourist-trap corner cafes: yes. Be aware also of the multi-tier charging system in many cafes (you pay less if you sit at the bar, slightly more if you sit at an indoor table, most if you take a street table). Again, U.H. alluded to this.

The best tip is to check the prix fixe menus at small restaurants off the main streets. These are often astoundingly good value and the food is the same quality as it would be ordered a la carte. I know some great places in the St Germain/St Michel area...
posted by Decani at 7:12 AM on March 21, 2005


Another ditto for Urban Hermit. I was just in Paris a couple weeks ago for four days.

If you want to do a lot of museums, definitely get the Museum Pass. For three days it's about 35 Euros, which is about equal to four museum admissions, but with the pass you don't wait in lines. I think the only thing I did that the pass didn't cover was the Eiffel Tower. Read ahead about which days various museums are open or closed and plan accordingly. In my 3 days of pass usage I managed to see Notre Dame (including climbing the tower), the Archeological Crypt, Sainte-Chappelle, the Picasso Museum, the Pompidou center/Modern Art Museum, the Louvre (open late on Wednesdays til 9:45pm, so that's a good day to go), the Rodin Museum (highly recommend), and I would have gotten to the Musee d'Orsay as well IF they hadn't closed it unexpectedly due to one of their national labor strikes.

I definitely recommend the "get it to go on the street" advice for lunch. Anywhere you go, if you sit down for service at a table, service will be slow compared to American restaurants, so only sit down somewhere if you're not in any hurry and don't mind spending some time. For me, breakfast was coffee and a croissant or pastry either on the street or at a cafe. Lunch was usually a crepe from a street vendor - only 3 or 4 Euros, can be a perfectly filling and delicious lunch. Only for dinners did I go to actual restaurants/bistros. My biggest bill there was 30 Euros for soup, beef bourguinon, and a small carafe of wine. (I skipped dessert that night.) Another night for a total of about 25 Euros I got a whole 3 course meal with a glass of wine. Doing the less expensive lunches makes it easier to splurge on dinner - and you DO want to splurge at least once.

Do not miss the ice cream at Berthillon on the Ile St. Louis. (Lots of other locations seem to carry Berthillon's ice creams, but I think if you go to their main location you'll probably get a larger choice of flavors. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.) One of my dinner places was also on Ile St. Louis, unfortunately I don't remember the name.

My hotel was the Hotel Pointe Rivoli. It's a little place, can be as low as 60 Euros a night - rooms are functional and cozy but not super fancy. Be warned that the stairs are extremely steep and winding. Breakfast is not included, but can be had there - you can get better quality for the same price or less elsewhere, though. Excellent location, though - directly across the street from the St. Paul Metro stop, easy walking distance to Ile St. Louis, Place Des Vosges, Bastille, Pompidou center, Picasso Museum, and more. Heck, if you like walking, it's not at all hard to walk from there to Notre Dame and farther, and a quite enjoyable riverside walk too. There's also a Batobus stop - the river boat "bus" service - nearby at Hotel de Ville.

Also, knowing some small amount of French will get you a long way. It will give you the courage to try the smaller, more local and less touristy bistros. The French have this reputation as rude, but not once in my four days there was anyone rude to me - and I really only know enough French to say hello, goodbye, order meals, and plead "I'm an American, do you speak English?"
posted by dnash at 10:10 AM on March 21, 2005


Oh, and if you go to Notre Dame, on the plaza in front of it if you see a bunch of teenage girls in head scarves walking around asking everyone they see "excuse me, you speak English?" - pretend you don't, and ignore them. They're just after your money, though I'm not sure if they go as far as stealing - I didn't give them the chance.
posted by dnash at 10:15 AM on March 21, 2005


In case you're still reading - when we visited for 5 days in 2003 we stayed at the Hotel Palmon Opera - clean, simple, within a minute's walk of three Metro stations, each on a different line.

For breakfast we walked to the bakery a block over/down and stuffed ourselves on breads and pastries for a few euro each. Before we hit the Metro for the day, we grabbed some fruit from the corner store, then ducked across the street to grab a portable lunch - a huge baguette filled with glorious ham and cheese with lashings of real butter with a can or bottle of soft drink or beer for 5 euros each.

In Montmartre we scored some bread, ham, cheese, quiche and a bottle of Normandy cider for less than 10 euros. Sitting on the steps of Sacre Coeur swigging cider and munching quiche is one of my favourite food memories. At Notre Dame walk a few blocks down the street and watch the prices for baguettes halve.

For dinner it was more bread, ham, cheese and fruit washed down with cider, biere de garde or gueuze from the corner store. We ate at a bistro once during the trip and got take-out pizza on another occasion, and thought both were pretty ordinary compared to sitting in a park, or beside the Seine, or even sitting in the laundromat watching Parisians wash their socks, for that matter.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:37 AM on March 24, 2005


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