Eat Cheap in Paris (Yes, It’s Possible!)

Last Updated on January 21, 2020 by travelingwithsunscreen

Paris has a (well-deserved) reputation as one of the more expensive cities in the world. But! It’s more than possible to enjoy cheap food in Paris. Read on to learn some of the best tricks I learned for eating cheap during my year living in Paris on a very tight budget.

La Fourchette, (or, if your French isn’t great, is a two-for-one good deal. First, it will let you make reservations at restaurants that require them, even if you aren’t feeling bold enough to call on the phone and converse in French. Second, many of the restaurants come with special discounts or deals if you book with La Fourchette! Sometimes you might be able to get as much as 50% off your entire bill. Just search for the date, time, and neighborhood you’re looking for, and then filter by your target price or discount. Keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to cross-check reviews with Google Maps or Trip Advisor, since sometimes the ratings on La Fourchette can be a little inflated.

Free couscous!

Yes, FREE couscous! There are several bars in Paris that will give you a free plate of couscous (a full meal, with meat and vegetables and everything) with the purchase of a beer! Check out Tribal Café for free couscous with the purchase of a drink starting at 9:00 PM Fridays and Saturdays (except in August), or Les Trois Frères for free couscous starting at 8:30 PM on Thursdays (except mid-July through August).

Coffee at the bar

So you roll up to a cafe, sit down, order your espresso, and end up shocked when the bill comes out to be double, or even triple, the advertised price. Bet you’re sitting outside, aren’t you? In Paris, coffee often comes at three different prices; the cheapest price is for standing at the bar, the next price is for sitting inside, and you’ll pay a premium for sitting outside on the terrasse. Sometimes it’s worth it! Just don’t let it catch you off guard.

Eat cheap in Paris - take your coffee at the bar
Eat cheap in Paris – avoid the terrasse when possible!


Paris is not all about French food! It’s a lively, diverse city, with immigrants from all over the world. And they bring their food! And that food will most likely be cheaper than a three-course traditional French meal. Case in point: l’As du Fallafel. World-famous falafel, totally affordable, is only a take-out line away. There’s also indoor seating available if you’re looking for a sit-down meal.

Plus, for those Americans out there who may have never tried the ubiquitous imported European drunk food, the doner kebab – it’s worth a try. You’ll be full for days.

The city of PICNICS!

Paris is THE best city in the world for picnicking. Want to picnic in the day? Check out the Luxembourg Gardens. Night time? Sit by the Seine, or go to the Eiffel Tower. You won’t be alone; every young French friend group in the city is likely doing the same thing.

Luxembourg gardens is the world's most perfect picnic spot - eat cheap in Paris
Picnic in Luxembourg gardens? Oui, ou!

So, what to bring? Unlike in the US, you can definitely bring wine along on your picnic. You’ll probably need your own corkscrew, but the wine seller might give you a few plastic cups if you ask. Pick up your baguette from a boulangerie for about a Euro. Don’t settle for less than the best; the best baguette in the city is chosen annually to feed the French president for the year, and you can eat this very same baguette! (But if you do go elsewhere, no doubt your baguette will still be heaven, cause it’s FRANCE.) Cheese, fruits, and cookies are all cheap from the supermarket. Pâtiserrie pastries don’t hurt if you’re feeling fancy. And voilà! Awesome meal, great view, super super cheap!

Affordable food from the supermarket in Paris!
Fruits on the cheap from the supermarket!

Have any other suggestions for affordable food in Paris? Let us know in the comments!

You might also be interested in:
How can I afford a trip to Paris – or anywhere?
7 tricks to avoid the crowds in Paris
SIM Card in Paris: which one to buy and where to get it

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