Le Foodist Paris Cooking Class

Budgeting for Food in France

Read more about our Paris Food Tours here

Between its array of Michelin stars and luxury boutiques, France has earned a reputation for being one of the world's most expensive destinations. This notion isn't totally unfounded; between basics like accommodation and extras like baking classes, it's easy to watch your travel budget disappear before your very eyes. However, with a bit of smart planning and preparation, you can enjoy this beautiful country even on a shoestring. 

One of the best ways to save money in France is by eating cheaply. While Paris is chock-full of expensive gourmet eateries, you can fully experience eating in France for far less. Markets, boulangeries, and local dives will help you experience the wonders of French cuisine without breaking the bank.

how much to budget for food in france

The Cost of Food in France

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In France, you can expect to spend around €25-40 per day on meals. However, this amount will vary based on a number of factors, including which city you visit and where you choose to eat. Lunch with a drink in Paris can run nearly €16, but a street crepe normally costs only €5. Additionally, you may want to try something fancy, so be prepared to drop at least €30 on a set menu at a nice restaurant anywhere you go. 

If you're a fan of wine or beer, then you should also factor alcohol into your budget. At only €3-4, a glass of wine or two won't do too much damage, but be mindful of drinking your cash away!

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Tips for Eating Well and Cheaply

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Getting the most out of your trip to France is mostly a matter of knowing where to go. Even if you're backpacking through Europe on a shoestring, you can eat well and cheaply while you travel.

  • Follow the Locals

Average Parisians can't afford to constantly dine at Michelin-starred eateries, so they normally know the best places to go when looking for a great deal. If you pass a bistro packed with locals, then chances are it's well worth it.

  • Steer Clear of Tourist Traps

A meal located near a major attraction will be more expensive than the same one in a local neighborhood. Refrain from eating next door to the Eiffel Tower and instead opt to explore an interesting neighborhood away from the crowds.

  • Eat at Boulangeries 

Bakeries in France aren't just for baguettes - they also offer sandwiches, salads, quiches, and other lunchtime goodies at affordable prices.

  • Eat on the Street

Street crepes are famously delicious and inexpensive, and in Paris, entire blocks are dedicated to cheap and authentic ethnic street foods.

  • Have a Picnic

Find a market, buy some goodies, and have a picnic! Not only is visiting a traditional market a great cultural experience, but it's a great way to sample fine cheeses and other delights at a fraction of the price of a fancy restaurant.

  • Splurge Wisely

When you do decide to splurge, do so wisely. Many top-tier restaurants offer a set lunch menu du jour for a lower price than their dinner menu, and if you do opt for dinner, make sure the cuisine you choose is something you're certain to enjoy to the fullest.

For more information, please refer to the following pages:


Read more about our Paris Food Tours here

  1. Is it rude to tip in France?

Unlike the US, where large tips are expected in many instances, France does not have a strong tipping culture, but tipping is not considered rude. In general, you should expect to leave a small tip if your service was good. Servers and bartenders are paid a standard wage, so a tip is not expected—though it is appreciated. In a cafe or bar, you will typically leave your change as a tip, and in a restaurant, you can choose to leave a 5-10% tip if the service exceeded your expectations. You can also leave small tips for coat check assistants, taxi drivers, bellhops, concierges, or housekeeping staff if they assist you with your luggage or provide excellent service, and if you visit a salon, you should expect to tip your stylist about 10%. Therefore, while tipping is not necessarily expected in France, you will likely leave small tips for good service.

  1. Can I use my Visa debit card in France?

In France, you will be able to use your Visa debit card in all places where Visa is accepted. However, before you board your flight to Paris, you will need to let your bank know that you are traveling abroad so that you do not trigger a fraud alert on your account. When you do this, you should also inquire about your bank’s foreign transaction fees. Many banks will charge customers an extra 1-3% on purchases made in foreign currency, so if your bank does charge you for foreign purchases, then you may want to consider using a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.

Additionally, while Visa cards are accepted at most shops and restaurants in France, you may encounter some places that only accept cash—especially in rural areas and in street markets, and you will often need to tip in cash. You should therefore be prepared to exchange money or withdraw cash from an ATM so that you have a small amount of cash on you for these purchases.

  1. How much is the average lunch in Paris?

In Paris, the average lunch will cost you roughly 15 Euros, but this price can vary depending on where you eat and what you order. If you want to eat on a budget, you can buy a cheap lunch of bread, cheese, and fruit from a grocery store for just a handful of Euros, and cheap street food or takeout meals typically cost about 5-8 Euros. If you want something more filling, then you can head to a local cafe or bistro for a less expensive meal (but steer clear of tourist areas). On the other hand, you can also spend far more than 15 Euros if you choose to eat at a high-end restaurant with a set menu. Traditional French lunches are long and decadent, typically featuring three full courses, so if you decide to enjoy a classic French lunch, then you may end up paying double what you would at a more budget-friendly restaurant.

  1. What are the best cheap dinners in Paris?

Although you can easily spend a small fortune on dinner in Paris, there are also plenty of excellent options for dinner on a budget in Paris. If you’re looking for a classic French sit-down meal, you should leave the touristy parts of the city, where a full meal is often quite overpriced, and opt for local bistros and brasseries. L’Express de Lyon, for instance, is far off the beaten path, but its inexpensive dinners and craft beers make it worth the trip. Street food can be another excellent option if you want a cheap meal. On Parisian streets like Rue des Rosiers, you’ll find classic French street food like crepes as well as falafel, shawarma, and East Asian noodles. You can also opt for an inexpensive nighttime picnic and buy a baguette, cheese, and meat from a local market or grocery store. Many international restaurants are also quite budget-friendly, so a cheap dinner can also be a great opportunity for you to experience Paris’s culinary melting pot.

  1. How much it costs to eat in a Michelin restaurant in Paris?

Due to the prestige of Michelin-starred restaurants, most people assume that eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant is always an expensive affair. That assumption is correct to some extent. Alain Ducasse’s Restaurant Le Meurice, which boasts two Michelin stars, has a shockingly pricey dinner menu that costs upwards of $500 per person. However, not all Michelin-starred meals come at such a hefty price tag. Benoit, which has one Michelin star, offers a set lunch menu for only 39 Euros - just over $40. While this certainly isn’t cheap, it is relatively standard for fine dining in Paris. As a general rule, you will find better prices at Michelin-starred restaurants during lunch than during dinner, which can be substantially more expensive. Even Restaurant Le Meurice offers a set lunch menu for half the cost of its dinner menu. Therefore, if you want to eat at a Michelin restaurant in Paris, you should budget $40-$50 for lunch and $100 for dinner unless your heart is set on a more expensive spot.

  1. Where to eat on a budget if you are a student in Paris?

If you are a student on a budget in Paris, then you will need to carefully choose where you eat out so that you don’t spend all of your money on food. All students can choose classic Parisian budget options such as street stalls and cheap cafes, and some opt to buy groceries and cook at home to save money. However, many students eat at CROUS Paris’s many restaurants and cafeterias. CROUS Paris is an organization that provides resources for students at the Paris Academy, including housing, financial aid, and inexpensive food. CROUS offers students meals that cost an average of 3.3 Euros, and with CROUS, students can purchase meals from 18 restaurants, 36 cafeterias, and 4 food trucks throughout the city. CROUS grants students the ability to enjoy a wide variety of high-quality food at a low price, making it the preferred low-budget dining option for students in Paris.

  1. What are the most expensive restaurants in Paris?

As a culinary hub, Paris offers plenty of excellent fine dining options, but some restaurants’ price tags will shock even the wealthiest foodies. Tourists who wish to dine at the Eiffel Tower at Le Jules Verne can expect to pay at least $300 for a meal with a view. Alain Ducasse’s restaurants, Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee and Le Meurice, are infamous for their prices, which can be upwards of $400 for a set menu. Many upscale hotels also have incredibly pricey dining options. A meal at L’Espadon at the Ritz, for example, can often cost well over $350. Likewise, Epicure at Le Bristol Hotel also offers a set menu for $350 – but the price tag does not include wine. However, Restaurant Guy Savoy takes the cake with its 18-course menu, which can cost upwards of $525 per person. Whether these restaurants are worth the price is up to the diner, but if you’re traveling on a budget, you should avoid these pricey eateries.

  1. How much does a set lunch cost in Paris?

Many French restaurants in Paris feature set menus, where diners receive a set array of courses at a standard price. On average, a non-touristy restaurant in Paris will charge between 15 and 25 Euros per set menu, but you can expect to pay more at trendier restaurants or restaurants in tourist-heavy areas. Set menu prices also vary widely, with some costing as little as 10 Euros and others costing well over 100 Euros. Paris Picnic, a vegetarian restaurant in the 3rd Arrondissement, offers a set lunch menu for just 10 Euros. Likewise, Antepasto – a Portuguese restaurant – has a set menu for just €12.50. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find restaurants like Laperouse – a Michelin-starred fine dining experience with a set menu that costs €180 – and L’Archeste – another Michelin destination with a set menu that costs €185. Therefore, while many small, lesser-known restaurants offer relatively affordable set lunch menus, some can cost upwards of €150.

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And they do not have to do with what you will find in those markets. They have to do with when you can go shopping there. Open Air markets are only open in the morning. Typically from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. And they are not open every day. As a matter of fact for the vast majority they are open either open every other day (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Wednesday, Friday, Sunday), or sometimes only twice a week. 

This is the case of the Bastille Market (Metro Bastille and Metro Bréguet Sabin )which is open only on Thursday and Sunday morning. We like to send people there because it is a very big market with over one hundred vendors. And it has a nice stand of Crêperie in the middle. Here you get a video of a lady preparing a crêpe there; and you can get that crêpe for only 3 Euros!
There is only one Open Air market open every day of the week, it is called Marché Aligre (Metro Ledru Rollin or Metro Faidherbe Chaligny) which happens on the eponymous street. It is an interesting market because you find all kinds of quality in that market – the good, the bad and the ugly. There is also a nice covered market in the middle of it called Marché Beauveau – sometimes called Marché Beauveau Aligre. On the contrary, Covered Markets are open every day, and not just in the morning, but also in the late afternoon. Typically from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm.

We are blessed with two markets close to where Le Foodist is located, so we can walk to a market every morning – sometimes it is the Maubert market, and sometimes it is the Monge market. Both nice with their own specififies. Last but not least, none of these markets is open on Monday. Do not sign-up for a Market Tour on Monday, you might never see that money again …

Choosing Ingredients in Paris

While all markets are different, they also have some things in common. First they work on specific schedules as explained before. But also you will find always at a minimum the following vendors: a Maraîcher – this is the name we give to people selling fruits and vegetables, a butcher, a fishmonger, a cheesemonger and a baker. Normally you will find several of each, with different levels of quality, organic or non-organic, local or not local (but mostly not local unfortunately).
And we explain how to recognize each of those of course during our Market Visits and Cooking Classes in Paris. But choosing ingredients can be daunting at first, because of the variety that is on display. A typical fishmonger will carry 20 different types of fishes, and as many shrimp and shelf fish varieties. A good cheese monger will easily carry up to 100 different types of cheese and obviously you could get over 100 different cuts of meat at a butcher (from the type of meat to the cut itself). And a normal Maraicher will carry between 50 and 100 fruits and vegetables as well.
This is what makes these markets so exciting – the variety of products, the beauty of their display, and the exchange you can have with most of the vendors. We give you tips though on how to make sure that exchange with the vendors go well – a few magic words, and everything will be fine!

Cooking in Paris

Obviously going to markets is nice, but actually knowing that you are going to cook what you find there is even more exciting. It is not uncommon for Parisians to buy a little bit too much food because they get so excited at the idea of cooking it all! But as most of us have hardly any space where we live, that can limit the enthusiasm sometimes. Because of the lack of space, Cooking in Paris can be quite different from cooking in the rest of France. And there are also dishes that are typically associated with regions which the Parisian will not cook at home – but taste when they visit friends or families in the various regions of France. However our kitchen has plenty of space, so we can cook traditional French dishes without a problem – whether they come from Paris or any region. And the most important part for us is to ensure that we share techniques much more than just recipes. As a matter of fact, we love to share a bit of the science behind what we do so people can better remember the “what” by understanding the “why”.

Sharing Stories

In November 2010, some experts from the UN cultural organisation, decided tha France’s multi-course gastronomic meal, with its rites and its presentation, fulfilled the conditions for featuring on the “world intangible list” of the UNESCO.
In this list you can find all kinds of cultural practices, including Mexico Day of the Dead festival for example. Importantly this is not suggesting French cuisine is better than other cuisines (even though we the French tend to believe that …). It is only saying that the gastronomic meal and what it entails is a very vivid cultural practice which people in France partake into on a very regular basis. That is why the same experts indicated that the French gastronomic meal is a “social custom aimed at celebrating the most important moments in the lives of individuals and groups”. And in that social custom, there are many parts: the attention we pay to the way we choose ingredients, how we pair wine with food, how many dishes we will present to our guests, how we lay the table, etc… But one big part of the cultural practice is that commensality (the fact of sharing the food) is always accompanied by sharing stories about …. Well, you would have guessed it, Food of course!
To us it is THE perfect example of how Food and Culture come together – actually we decide to share food is a considered a cultural practice. I would argue that it is true of all countries, regions, etc… As the way we relate to Food is such a big part of anybody’s identity. But as a result and to make sure you have the most genuine experience of French culture, after the a coking class in Paris at Le Foodist, you will share a gastronomic meal at a common table with your Chef and fellow participants to the class.

French Wine and Food Pairing

As mentioned above, one of the big cultural practices in France is choosing how to pair Wine and Food in general and Wine and Cheese in particular. We actually have a class which focuses specifically on this. As it is so important though, we always make sure we share white and red wines during our meals, chosen to pair well in our opinion with the food we cook. And being at the table together is a good opportunity to discuss about wine as well, with concepts such as “terroir” (to simplify, terroir means “what you do depends on where you are”) which are essential to grasp the way the French think about Food.
And all this will always go with a cheering “Santé” – which quite simply means, to your good health!

More About Our Baguettes Classes

Getting a bit technical during our Baguette Class in Paris

The French baguette, actually probably better known as the Parisian baguette has beome a true symbol of French popular gastronomy. A true icon of French life even - look around and you will see the Parisians strolling back home with their baguettes under their arm. But if you are French why would you learn how to do this? You can buy a baguette at any corner of Paris for about one Euro a piece.  But in our Baguette Class in Paris  you will learn how do this from scratch. It is somewhat technical, but also full of tips and tricks. But when you leave, it will have not secret left for you. From the original mix to the famous "scarification" through adding water to your oven through baking, you will see and do it all.

Learning more during your Baguette class in Paris: Croque Monsieur Bread and Brioche

This class is like all our other baking or cooking classes: totally hands-on. So you get to practice from beginning to end - and to taste at the end. But not only will you learn how to make Baguette, but you will also learn to make two more types of bread: the French Croque Monsieur bread. The basis for the classic French bistrot appetizer. And in your Baguette class in Paris you will also learn how to make your own Brioche. Probably the most indulgent bread you will find in France - if not the lightest ...

And you might learn some history during your Baguette Class in Paris

While you will learn the techniques to create - and get to taste - three classic types of French breads, you will also learn some of the stories on the origin of the baguette. Just beware it is still being quite hotly debated. What is for sure though is that the Baguette is absolutely part of today Parisian's life. A classic you will be able to take back home with you.

More About Our Wine and Cheese Lunch in Paris

Cheese and Wine in Paris

The pleasures we can derive from French cuisine can seem endless.  However two of the best known and loved French gastronomic heroes are French cheese and wine. Whether we talk about a Brie which actually comes from very close to Paris, to a creamy Camembert from Normandy, or a Comté from the Alps, French cheese has a delight for all palates. And of course, French wines are even better known whether from Bordeaux great wines or Burgundy sophisticated whites – all of which enthral wine lovers.  Well, at our course on cheese and wine in Paris you will come to appreciate that although each is delicious on its own, properly matched cheese and wine together can make the experience of each even more enjoyable and an absolute delight.

How to pair French cheese and wine

Because not all pairings are actually what people expect, at Le Foodist we have decided to call these experiences 'Daring Pairings'. Maybe because we like to step out of the ordinary to challenge our taste buds, but really all we try to do is give you the perfect match fo cheese and wine in Paris.  So not only will you learn how to select the best wine to go with your cheese, but you will also learn what are the big cheese families in France – there are actually only five, and this is one of the keys to great pairing. In discovering all these pairings of cheese with wine you will be convinced that indeed two things together can be better than the sum of their parts.

It is important to have fun with pairing cheese and wine in Paris

Beyond the tastings though, we have found that the best way to help our clients remember and re-use their experience is to vary the way to approach both wine and cheese.  That is why during our courses on cheese and wine in Paris we share sensory games and many an anecdote to bring the produce to life in your mind as well as on your palate. Overall we will feature four excellent wines, one Champagne and demonstrate to you how best each combines with cheese, letting your taste guide you along with our teaching.

Understanding cheese and wine pairing while in Paris

While for many top Parisian wine stores and restaurant wine lists can be confusing and even intimidating, we believe that after our lunch learning how to pair cheese and wine in Paris, you will feel much more comfortable navigating all of those.  And we sincerely hope your knowledge will help you unlock a door to a whole new world of enjoyment of French wine and cheese pairing.  At every step of the way our sommelier will also share unique tips and tricks to understand wines better and how culture and wine are so related in France; hopefully enriching your own experience as well.

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