Is Paris expensive? Can be, but…
If you’ve got pockets full of money or “invitation only” black credit cards, then Paris is the place for you whether you’re looking for luxe accommodations, the latest runway couture or restaurants adorned with Michelin stars. But there are many other options and some of them are just as much fun as the “no expenses spared” choices.
So, no $1,000 per person Tour d’Argent for us, but thanks to a tip from Wendy Lyn of The Paris Kitchen (much more about a wonderful food tour with Wendy later) we had an incredible meal at La Régalade Saint-Honoré.
Like many Parisian restaurants of the last decade or so, La Régalade is small, so reservations can be difficult. But we were lucky, and got in on a Friday evening at 9:30. La Régalade is “bistro moderne” and in a sense a reaction to the overly formal French dining tradition.
On the lower-rent end of Saint-Honoré, (123 rue Saint-Honoré) it’s a very pretty room and we were seated at a table right in the window. Exciting! This was big night out for all of us, perhaps especially my son and his girlfriend.
The other interesting thing about La Régalade is that they only offer a prix fixe menu (yes you must have three courses) but the kicker is that it’s the bargain of the city at €32 each. The wine list is also reasonably priced.
So, you can get out of there for about €75 each depending on your wine and drinks. And you will have a wonderful evening.
But you could spend much, much less and also have an evening you’ll never forget. Head for your favorite charcuterie, boulangerie, fromagerie, pâtisserie and marchand de vins (pork butcher, cheese shop, pastry shop, wine store) and pull together a picnic.
Then, before sundown, head for the Seine. Either the Pont des Arts or any of the quais that you can access from the stairs. If you chose the Pont des Arts on a warm sunny evening, you will be rewarded with a postcard-perfect Paris sunset.
And along the Seine, you get the passing of the tour boats, you might get a band (we saw a full-on orchestra with a swinging horn section) or your neighbour’s boombox. This is how many Parisians spend an evening downtown on a budget. Needless to say, for those of us coming from less liberated countries, being able to openly have wine or beer with your public picnic feels so natural that you can only wonder about our laws.
So, for under €50, four of you could have the best view in Paris with a 3-course dinner including wine or beer.