Dining and Drinking, Paris
As you can see in most big cities, some restaurants or sellers try to use the advantage of the name of city and country when marketing their goods rather than serving the real tastes. Search for authentical places carefuly. Budget travelers must be ready to prices two or threefold and pay attention to price lists.
Check your bill!!! Make sure that you know in advance what you need to pay.
During our 2-day stay in Paris, 4 times our bill was inaccurate. This made us feel like they were doing it on purpose. Is it because we were tourists or because we were a bigger group, I don't know, but I no longer trust the Parisians.
Every time, there was one item that was not correct. E.g. we ordered soup of the day, and they charged us fish soup, 1 EUR more, we ordered sandwich with cheese and were charged sandwich with tunna, 1,5 EUR more, steak and were charged another steak that, of course, costed more. Do you see the trick? Of course, every time, they apologized and told us it was a misunderstanding. After 4 times I no longer believed it. :-(
Please note that I only took a pic of this restaurant and did not go inside. They are probably not involved.
Rue Mouffetard is usually recommended for restaurants and there are loads of them there. However, we have found that the meals tend to be more expensive, the food more bland and the portions smaller than other restaurants.
One exception that we found recently is the Shanghai Express - an Asian restaurant. They have the food on display, you tell the server what you want and they heat it and bring it to your table. I thought the food was really delicious and good value for money.
Unique Suggestions: Try to find a restaurant away from rue Mouffetard itself - down one of the side streets. Also, check the menu. If it is in 4 different languages, you will probably get 'tourist food'. The 'prix fixe' menus are the cheapest but they sometimes have more bland food. If you can afford to pay more on the a la carte, you will get better food.
Fun Alternatives: Check the pages of any VT member who lives in Paris for restaurant ideas!
ok, this could be the first one ... lol
Average price is 4 Euros, and we were lucky to find a few places for 2,60 or 3,50 ... food prices were normal but coffees..... lol
Well judge yourself ...
Don't eat in the Saint Michel area, in the cluster of pedestrian streets around rue de la Huchette.
It is disgusting, dirty, overcrowded,and not so cheap. You can eat delicious French food and drink wine for very cheap in Paris.
Also avoid crepe stands near Brasseries in touristy places. The crepes are greasy, made with bad quality ingredients. Yuck!!!
Go to a proper crepe restaurant, with tables and chairs and everything. It is much much better, and not necessarly more expensive. Order cider with your crepes!
Unique Suggestions: If you feel like having a snack and it's 3 AM and you're drunk, it doesn't matter what you're eating anyway
Fun Alternatives: If you feel like having a snack and you're sober, go to a backery and order some pastry. Yumm!!
When my parents were in Paris they visited a place called "the beer station" for a quick beer. They asked the Bar man for "deux bieres" and he replied "petit ou grande? " and they replied "petit" in their lovely bristolian/french accents. The guy behind the bar basically managed to sell them gigantic beers for about £10 each. They advise anyone to be persistant of the size of beer they want!
Parisian bars/pubs are addictive: full of nice people from all over the world, delicious beer, wine, spirits, drinks + music, music, music etc.
So better not to drink too fast not to loose great party.
Unique Suggestions: Get a taxi to your hotel. Drink as much mineral water (no gas) as you can before sleeping. Sleep looooong not to have hangover next/the same day :-).
Fun Alternatives: If you have hangover drink fast 1 beer :-).
Try soft drinks.
1- Be careful when you order in a restaurant or in a coffee shop.
Often, the waiter gives you the more expensive thing corresponding to your request.
For example, you ask for a coffee and you receive a large one. Think what may happen if you request 'a wine' in a restaurant.
Choose precisely on the menu or on the list. They are compulsorily on the shopwindow.
2- Do not leave the change on the table, the waiter can think it is an extra tip and takes up.
try not to be sucked in by the hype of those trendy, famous, see-and-be-seen-in restaurants. unless of course, the food has a good rep as well. this was the *legendary* Les Deux Magots in the 6th arr. we sat down, saw by the menu thrown at us by the *helpful* waiter that there wasn't much of note, and we just took off. of course, we politely explained to the waiter our decision, and both of us, a North American and a South American, got the same sneery glare in response. it remains a special Parisian memory in our hearts...HA!!
Bear in mind that prices on Montmartre are twice as higher as at its foot. Of course it is tempting to have a lunch in the famous Montmartre cafe 'A La Mere Catherine', but... it IS expensive!
At one cafe I bought a sandwich with some mineral water. The sandwich was priced reasonably on the menu and I assumed that the drinks would be the same. However, the water was really expensive (€6!) but I wasn't the worst off. A group of Americans beside me had ordered a few rounds of drinks and had a massive bill to pay. If you don't get the menu, don't give them your custom!
If you are travelling on a budget, then don't eat at restaurants where the famous sights are, or on busy well-known streets, like Rue de Rivoli or Champs Elysees, because the prices are sky high, so try find a side street where they will serve food just as good!
Photo: Place de la Concorde
Rip-Off Restaurants Paris is famous for it's fine cuisine but even more for it's high prices. By law French restaurants must provide a Menu. It does not mean a list of dishes, but a set three or four-course meal for a set price. However, this law I think is only applicable to lunches although many restuarants provide a Menu all day. If you want to see the 'Carte' (That's Menu to you and me) then ask for a la carte.
Check the prices of places before you go inside, they have boards outside with menus and a la carte. If booking over the phone, make sure you confirm the price of the menu or a requested dish or you may be in for a surprise when you get there (See 'La Plage du Cote Sud!)
Check the prices of bottled water, apéritifs, coffee, cognacs and liqueurs before ordering.
In cafés, soft drink and bottled water often cost as much as wine or whiskey. If all you want is to quickly quench your thirst, buy soft drinks at a grocery store or supermarket.
Remember to check for 'Service compris' on the menu. Most Americans leave a tip on the table... but they have already paid one with the bill.
If you speak French fluently, please do, some mistakes are overlooked; if not, the Parisians are not very accomodating with your feeble attempts, they would rather you just speak English.