How to eat in Paris for $38 a day

betty ming liu Food, Money, Travel 18 Comments

PARIS, FRANCE — It’s Day #2 of our vacation and we’re getting the hang of walking everywhere and using the Metro as our subway. Of course, we need the exercise because we are eating, eating, eating…

We had a delightful first night snoring in the comfy beds of the two-bedroom, $327-a-night rental apartment that we found through

My daughter Gabi and I are sharing one of the full beds and our friend Judy has the second room. The kitchen is a great option that frees us from dining-out-dependency. In fact, we didn’t set foot in a single restaurant today. And yet, in this expensive city where the exchange rate works against our dollars, we’ve been feasting for $38 a day.

We are in a building on this street, Rue Beaumarchais in Le Marais. Feels very Parisian. The elevator is tiny -- only big enough to fit one person! The three of us can squash in if we hold our breaths.

This morning, we shopped for food a few blocks over on Rue Oberkampf. What fun dropping in on a local supermarket for butter, recycled shopping bags and cookies; a greengrocer for fresh frisee, arugula and apples; a patisserie for a baguette, chocolate croissant and violet macaroon; and a tiny Sicilian specialty shop for olives, marinated calamari, homemade raviolis and olive oil.

Paris is tough on my gluten-free, sugar-free, lo-carb regimen. So I'm taking it easy and indulging a bit.

Our landlord gifted us two bottles of wine — merci! We also supplemented our goodies with provisions I brought from home. Given the exchange rate, there’s no way I’m paying a small fortune for basics like jasmine rice and quinoa. So I packed them in my carry-on, which ensures that once they’re devoured, I’ll have room in my luggage for souvenirs. New shoes, anyone?

The produce store was adorable. So was the Sicilian shop. Top right photo: our lunch at the apartment. I cooked up the frisee and arugula. We also discovered tuna tomato quiche (bottom right) in a tiny place just down our block.

Even though I’m sure we could stick to a $38-a-day budget for most of the trip, we feel the restaurants beckoning. As for other stuff we did today, we finished our meals likety-split  then headed over to Paris Opera, now known as Opera National de Paris.

Move over, "Phantom of the Opera." The central chandelier and over-the-top interiors of this grand theater are simply dazzling. A staffer said the auditorium is usually closed but we got a peek & were wowed.

This afternoon, we also eyeballed Galleries Lafayette. The shopping emporium lived up to its reputation. Such a pretty department store. But nothing really  screamed “only in Paris” within our budget range. So we walked outta there unscathed. All Gabs and I bought were two refrigerator magnets for us and two pairs of ankle socks for a friend. Judy picked up a few things for her family. But as we left the store, Gabi spotted an H&M across the street where we did a little real shopping.  :)

The top two photos are inside Galleries Lafayette; love that giant skylight dome. The other two shots are from our Le Marais nabe.

We tried to hit some more of the spots y’all mentioned in an earlier blog post — we talked about Les Halles and thought about Montmartre. But the endless walking wore us out. Time for bed. Au revoir until tomorrow’s twitter tweet, which you can read in the sidebar on your upper right. And soon, another blog post!

And in case you want to read earlier posts about Paris:

3 ways I’m becoming a smart traveller

Come with me to Paris! 

10 tips for a trip to Paris

Comments 18

  1. Thanks for the pics! The next best thing to being there…almost!!
    And the tuna & tomato quiche sounds tres yummy:)

  2. Post

    You’re welcome! And Skye, I think all the time about your travel advice about not turning into a total food deviant. I’ll probably settle down into my regimen soon because if I keep eating like this, I will explode. Btw, I also think I can make a gluten-free version of the quiche. We went back later and also tried a salmon-and-spinach slice of quiche too. So I can’t wait to get home and start experimenting in my own kitchen. :)

  3. I’m cracking up over here. I’m sure soon enough you’ll be a ”good girl” again :) I’m glad to know you’re having a WELL-DESERVED fab time (and walking lots)!
    When you get back and start experimenting in the kitchen, please share a recipe!

  4. Post

    Skye, I just had a nice breakfast of quinoa with some leftover veggies that we stir-fried last night (frisee, some kind of baby lettuce, snow peas). Now we’re getting ready for a day at Versailles. Packed two cut-up apples and some boiled eggs. But my friend Diane insists that we should eat at the restaurant there, so we’ll eat our snacks AND eat out too. Hope you all have a great day where ever you are! :)

  5. Pingback: 10 tips for a trip to Paris

  6. Pingback: Come with me to Paris!

  7. Glad you are having a grand time! I’m living vicariously and enjoying your adventures. Just indulge. It’s Paris!! Hope you got the restaurant list I emailed yesterday. Hang out at Cafe Rostand near the Luxemborg Gardens, which are gorgeous. Ciao!

  8. Sounds like your having a great time Betty. I’m on my way to Boston but I hope to make it to Paris too within the next year

  9. OMG! I KNOW Aux Deux Amis!!!!! When I was there with two of my boys a simply scandelous thing happened that I couldn’t possibly put in priint – I’ll save it for when we have that lunch some day. What I CAN tell you is that husband Mike & I were having coffee, sitting in the very chairs seen in your pic, when an elderly accordian player came along and serenaded us with “I Love Paris.” Very romantic. I melted.

  10. Post

    Yes, Diane, thanks for the list. Will try some of them before we leave!

    Toby, looking forward to catching up and hearing your story.

    Jamal, I recently took my daughter to Boston to look at collges. U hope you have fun!

    Thanks, June, will have more soon. xo

  11. Looks like you and your daughter are having a blast Betty. Enjoy it! You’re making me want to visit next year!

    1. Post

      Denise, I really, really recommend a Paris trip. And I also recommend my blog comments. We are working off of the suggestions everyone gave me in the post on 10 Tips for a trip to Paris.

      Yesterday, we took up Ola’s suggestion and went to Les Halles to shop in the underground mall — and the streets right above it. Oh my goodness. Unbelievable. This is the place for street fashion merch. The prices are much more right for our wallet. My daughter bought a bunch of things. But even so, with the exchange rate, we were blowing through cash really fast…$210 by the end of her afternoon of shopping for tops and jeans. But you only get to be 16 in Paris once. So we’re going for it. :)

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