Real talk: your broke ass can‘t afford to eat in swanky French restaurants every meal (or even every day). Take deep breaths. That’s okay. In fact, it‘s more than okay: you’ll have a better food experience than the tourists who feel like they have to shell out for (mostly mediocre, tourist-trap) meals all the time. You‘re going to eat like a local: you’re going grocery shopping.
I‘m about to teach you a very delicate dance: there are so many options when it comes to shopping for food in France, and to be honest, it is hard to go wrong. As long as you avoid things you could get easily at home— like lunch meat from the grocery story, (shudder) American brands that you’re used to— you’re okay. Beyond that, it’s a make-your-own-adventure game.
Here are the pieces:
- Start with some protein. Some butchers have rotisserie spits that cook crispy, succulent chickens all day. Small, full birds can run for under 10EU and feed two to three people. Or take a step into the world of charcuterie: point to the sausages and meats that interest you, say how much you want to spend on each, and the show attendant will carve up just enough. Service is usually great and store owners are more than happy to suggest options to tourists who are skipping the strong gravitational pull of overpriced restaurants.
- Everyone needs wine and cheese. To be honest, most grocery stores have pretty great wine collections for those on a budget. If you’ve got some extra dough to spend, go to a cafe au vin, combination wine shops/wine bars where you can get some guidance. And cheese!
- Fromageries dot nearly every street on the city, and their owners know how uncomfortable most tourists are with picking cheese. Go in, tell them what you know and what you’re looking for, and leave stinky (in a good way).
- End with some dessert. You know the drill in Paris. Patisseries, crepe stands, ice cream shops, chocolatiers. The possibilities are endless.
- And, after all is said and done, you’ll have eaten like a gluttonous Parisian for (probably around half) the price of a restaurant meal—no kitchen required!