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.
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.
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.