Over the spring break I had the chance to visit Paris for a few days and although we failed to escape the Scotland-style overcast rainy weather we did manage to eat our way through the city! Doing this on a student budget was not easy so here are my opinions on when to save and when to splurge in case you ever find yourself stuck in the city of love with the most unromantic weather.
When To Save:
– The mystery remains as to how Parisians stay so thin when they are constantly surrounded by so many buttery delights but grabbing a light breakfast before heading to the museums is one way to cut down on spending when visiting Paris. And with a patisserie on virtually every block, a quick almond croissant or pain au chocolat paired with a black coffee is the perfect on the go treat to start the day.
– Once you’ve fought the crowds of tourists taking selfies with the Mona Lisa, it’s time to refuel with lunch. Luckily, we were blessed with one day of good weather on our trip and we spent it well. An on-the-go lunch is best enjoyed sitting on the banks of the Siene. My favourite bakery, Eric Kayser Bakery, has a few locations around the city where you can pick up a piece of the best quiche lauraine you will ever eat and also a delicious baguette sandwich to keep you going until dinner. However, if the weather is not as nice, any classic French bistro will have a croquet monsieur on their menu. We tried the famous Le Comptoir bistro which served their croque monsieur with thick cut ham and a buttery béchamel inside of the sandwich instead of toasted on top as most are normally served. If you happen to be staying in an Airbnb or somewhere with access to a kitchen during your stay in Paris, then making your own sandwiches with fresh baguettes from a local bakery is another fantastic way to save money on lunches.
– Now, I’m not going to lie to you and say that we didn’t try McDonald’s once when we were in Paris. I mean, lets be honest, we all crave McDonald’s sometimes when we live in the bubble. While it’s far from the classic French cuisine, it was definitely worth it. The chicken nuggets were the crispiest that I had ever tried and the fries were cooked to perfection. So when it comes to fast food, you can let yourself indulge while in Paris without feeling too guilty about it.
When to Splurge:
– Dinner and dessert are definitely the times to splurge when in Paris. We ate at two different splurge-worthy dinner restaurants that I would highly recommend. The first was called Monsieur Bleu, and provided an upscale dining experience with the perfect view of the Eiffel Tower. The calamari starter was the best that I had tasted, and the sweet peking duck main was cooked perfectly. The next dinner splurge that we chose while in Paris was a restaurant called L’Entrecote. Now with four locations around the city, this restaurant is an old Parisian staple that only serves steak and does not take reservations. We got there at 7:00 pm and the line was already growing around the corner. Two steaks, salad and dessert cost us 90 euros for two people and was well worth it. The service was fast the steak cooked perfectly. The highlight of the meal however was their steak sauce. The recipe is secret and for good reason. The steak is served in two portions with skinny fries and a generous serving of the sauce poured on top. If however, you don’t have the opportunity to try it for yourself in Paris, you can find a copycat recipe on our website where I did my best to recreate the famous dish.