Sep302015

Price of food and beer in France

One of my pleasant finds is food is quite affordable in France compared to my travels these past few months to London and the Scandinavian countries. Of course, I am primarily referring to grocery store food prices.

I like to travel and experience places and keeping to my regular diet of grocery store food helps me stay healthy and travel on a budget so I can travel more frequently. When I travel, 90% of my prepared meals are due to complimentary meals at hotels and that generally means only breakfast. When breakfast is not included in the hotel stay, then I find a market and shop just as I would at home in California. I don’t practice restaurant culture.

I managed Paris on less than 10€ a day with three meals daily.

Market food prices in Paris

Bread, cheese and milk are less expensive than USA prices.

Baguettes 0.60 – 0.85 €

Brie 1.00 – 2.00 € for 250 g. (that is more than 0.5 lb. for brie compared to $6 to $10 per lb. in USA). In a large Carrefour market I searched the cheese case for brie and was surprised to see none in the selections of sliced cheese and goat cheeses. Then I noticed another entire refrigerated section with about 40 kinds of brie and camembert. Total gourmet brie selections were around 3 to 3.50€ for 500 grams (more than one pound).

Milk 0.80 – 1.00€ per liter 

Sandwiches and wraps: chicken, meats, salmon (2.00 to 3.50€)

Packaged lettuce, spinach and salads 0.80 – 2.20€; some packaged salads were up to 4.50€, but I found tasty salad with pasta items in the lower range.

muesli cereal (500 g) 3.13€

Chocolate bar – quality brands, not Hershey crap or Mars candy bars 1.50-2.50€.

Whole roasted chicken 6.95€ (only large markets have hot food).

Yogurt (500 g) 2.17€

Fruits are priced less or same for apples, oranges, bananas as California prices. My purchases of one piece of fruit at a time have been priced from 0.20 to 0.75€ each.

Restaurant Food

I stopped at one Chinese food restaurant in Paris with buffet selections available for takeaway purchase. I bought fish, noodles and curry rice for 5.10€, adequate for a hot lunch. That is the only restaurant meal I have had.

Most restaurant prices I have seen are 8 to 10€ on the low side, primarily Asian restaurants, with average prices at 15 to 20€ for a meal at most places I have checked out menus. Beer prices at restaurants look to be about 2.20 to 3.50€ for a 250 ml beer and 50% more for a larger beer. I have not been to a bar for drinks. I am primarily drinking water.

Beer and Wine store prices

My main observation about beer in stores is French beers tend to be very high alcohol. A normal beer in the USA is 4 to 5% alcohol content. Many of the beers in the stores in France are 6% to 8.5% alcohol. Most of the high alcohol content beers are from northern France, near the Belgium border where triple ales are common.

I have seen more than 100 beer brands in stores. I have been in low consumption mode due to my Arctic Norway cough I picked up two weeks ago, which seems to be exacerbated if I drink beer.

Still, when in France… I have tried Fischer Grande Biere, D’Alsace just because I can’t resist the temptation of so many types of beer unavailable in the USA, at least at these prices.

Fischer 650 ml bottle 1.71 – 2.20€.

Totally exotic beers, the kind brewed by monks in caves, are 3 to 4€ for a 650 ml corked bottle. I bought one of those beers, but I realized I have to go to the hotel bar and ask them to open it for me since I do not have a cork screw and I could not get the cork out on my own.

Wine 4 to 8€ per bottle looks to me like the common price in the grocery stores and numerous wine shops I have seen. Of course, there are plenty of more expensive vintages, but I assume a nice, palatable bottle of wine can be found among the 5€ vintages. My observations have been most people at sidewalk cafes are drinking beer, but I have seen quite a few wine drinkers too.

Bottom line is food in France is quite affordable in grocery stores for my diet. I’m taking advantage of the low cost dairy products, indulging in some chocolate and beer and balancing my consumption with healthy portions of fresh fruits and vegetables with one hot meal a day.

Cafe de la Paix

Café de la Paix shellfish in Paris.

Foodies can indulge in French cuisine. Dining does not interest me much as a traveler. I cook seafood at least five meals a week at home in Monterey, California. I may not be a French chef, but I can prepare a tasty and nutritious seafood dish. We eat seafood nearly every day of the week in California for about $30 to $40 per week. I bet one of those lobsters at Café de la Paix would be two weeks of my seafood budget for home cooked meals in Monterey.

I’ll stick to French grocery stores for my meals while staying here in France.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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Comments

  1. You are comparing American college beers to craft beer so of course the craft beers are more expensive.

  2. @Stephen Sheppard – I don’t know what you mean. I am comparing the price of French craft beer in France to the price of French craft beer in the USA. For example Leffe here is probably half the price of Leffe in the USA. Triple ales in 650 ml bottles that are $8 to $10 a bottle at BevMo are 2 to 3 Eur in France.

    There are Kronenbourg and Carlsberg at 4 EUR for 2.0 L. in 8-packs of 250ml bottles. A 0.5 L can of beer in a corner night market in Paris is priced around 1 EUR.

    Bottom line for France in my observations is better beer, lower prices than USA.

    3 Monts Flanders Golden Ale 65cl bottle, 2.50 EUR
    Beer Advocate review: http://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/260/1308/

    Fischer Grande Biere gets rather low ratings in online reviews I read in the past few minutes. Stella Artois is not a highly rated beer either for craft drinkers. Fischer seems like a basic good tasting beer to me, but I am someone that prefers beer that is not hoppy and I don’t want to be bowled over by 8% beer and wake up with a hangover. Certainly seems less sweet than Kronenbourg 1664.
    http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/fischer-biere-blonde/9820/

  3. A great bargain in terms of a hot meal is to check for the “Menu” or the plat du jour (plate of the day). We saw many Menu for about 10 euros per person, and that meant a 3 course meal, usually lunch at a very good price. Check out the chalkboards for their “menu” or if you want a meal more like an American is used to with a plate of meat, vegetable, and starch, look for the plat du jour. Again, we found a very good meal for about 10 euros…and if we got lucky, there would be a drink included (boisson) and we asked if they included house wine and were told yes. Eating in France is a true pleasure and if you have the means to do so, not to be missed!

  4. You went all the way to France and only ate at one Chinese buffet? This is lunacy… food is a huge part of French culture. Man up and spend a little coin on a decent meal or maybe take fewer trips so you can enjoy your next one properly! Just my two cents…

  5. William – I have had French restaurant meals several times in the past. They were good. Two of those meals probably rank in my all-time most memorable. My wife was with me for those French restaurant meals.

    For me, when traveling alone, sitting idly in a restaurant is one of the least enjoyable experiences of travel. Restaurant dining is not my culture. I am much happier sitting in a park eating a packaged salad. I value the freedom to get up and move at will to change my location. I am a bit or perhaps a lot of an Attention Deficit Disorder guy.

  6. I was going to blast you about your eating habits in France too. I was going to write about how you are missing out on about a third of the total experience if you don’t eat well. I’ve probably spent close to a year of my life in France (over many trips) so I was about to get indignant….

    But then your explanation resonated with me. I HATE eating out alone, especially in a nice restaurant. I feel rushed and that’s not how it should be.

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