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From bargain chicken to theatre deals - locals reveal how to live cheaply in Paris

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From bargain chicken to theatre deals - locals reveal how to live cheaply in Paris
Avoid tourist hotspots if you are looking for a bargain in Paris. Photo: AFP
10:30 CET+01:00
Cheap wine, bargain lunch deals and bike-sharing - our readers reveal all about how to live in Paris on a budget.

The Economist Intelligence Unit has declared that Paris is the most expensive city in the world to live, tying with Hong Kong and Singapore for the top spot.

But there was a glimmer of light among the gloom - the survey authors declared that transport, alcohol and tobacco all offered good value for money in Paris.



With that in mind, we asked readers of The Local to share their tips on how to make ends meet in Paris.


(Markets are the best places to buy inexpensive food. Photo: AFP)



Unsurprisingly for a culture that likes its grub, some of the greatest savings could be made on food, with many people recommending Paris' excellent markets for good quality, inexpensive food.

Kieran Colfer, who lives in Paris' 11th arrondissement, said: "Don't buy your fruit, veg and meat in the shops, find your local marché at the weekend (Bastille, Belleville, Place d'Italie) and buy it all there for less than half the price. 

"And for the really cheap stuff, find the fruit and veg stalls with the Algerian/Moroccan guys."

Helen Ho added: "Food market at Bastille, has reasonable prices. Flea markets are also great, the one in the north of Paris has many bargains to be found."

While Alistair Sweeney, formerly of Paris' 6th arrodissement, swore by: "BBQ chicken and oysters at the Montparnasse Street market."

There are undoubtedly many expensive restaurants in the capital - dinner at the George V will set you back over €300 - and many restaurants, particularly near tourist hotspots, charge hefty prices for fairly basic food.

But there are also some good deals to be had, particularly with lunchtime set menus.

Ellen Fetu said: "A full 3-course bistro meal, at noon, can be cheap."

Susan Wakefield suggested: "Stop by Café du Sully for a café-au-lait for €2 and if you’re hungry your local French bistro always has a spectacular canard (duck) for a cheap €12 roast duck dinner - as fine as any 4 star restaurant."

Aeron Paul Gernimo added on Facebook: "Try Asian restaurant food. You can get around €6-10 per meal, max at €12-15 with drinks. It is expensive but compared to the norm of Paris, it is pretty cheap actually."  


(A picnic in the Tuileries is cost effective and picturesque. Photo: AFP)



Many readers also suggested picnics in one of Paris' many beautiful parks as a budget eating option.

Susan Wakefield suggested: "Pick up a baguette et jambon for €1 and sit in the Tuileries for free." 

Susan Grey said: "Delis sell cheeses, cold meats and salads. Then go and have a nice cake and chocolat chaud at Angelina’s."

However we do not suggest that readers follow Ernest Hemmingway's tip for a cheap dinner - kill and cook one of the pigeons that live in Paris' public squares.


If you like the odd tipple, Paris - and France in general - always offers good value on nice wines.

But other alcoholic drinks can also be bought cheaply in supermarkets.

Eléna Hutchison suggested: "Grab a pack of beers or a bottle of wine at the supermarket and head for the Quais de Seine in the summer, it's much cheaper than going to the bar and you get to enjoy a gorgeous view, some live music and meet new people!"

Many cafes offer cheaper rates if you drink at the bar, rather than in the seated areas.

On the non-alcoholic front, coffee is usually excellent and can be very good value - usually around €1.50.


On the cultural front although many of Paris' peak tourist attractions can be expensive, all museums are free on the first Sunday of the month, meaning you can see some of the world's greatest artworks in the Louvre or the Musée d'Orsay for nothing.

Heather Jacobs, who lives in the 17th arrondissement of Paris suggested: " Movies - theaters often offer discount weeks (like yesterday it was €4  to see a film) and their popcorn and drinks are nothing compared to US cinemas."

Eléna Hutchison added: "The €5 for the comédie française on Monday nights is a killer."


(Go to the Louvre on the first Sunday of the month and it's free. Photo: AFP)



Paris transport one of the areas singled out by the report from the Economist Intelligence Unit as offering good value for money, and readers agree.

Constance Lavergne-Poillaude pointed out: "Navigo pass - €75 monthly, compared to London Oyster at over £150."

Mike August said: "Public transit is, of course, an amazing deal in Paris with the Navigo (certainly when compared to the cost of car ownership which is nearly mandatory in Los Angeles); our transport costs consequently were 85 per cent lower in Paris than in California."

Paris' bike-sharing schemes such as the popular Velib also offer a cheap and practical way to get around the often congested and busy city, with 30 minutes hire of a standard bike just €1 or €2 for an electric bike.


Sadly, no-one had any suggestions to make to shave any money off Paris' famously high rents.

But maybe that's just the price you pay for living in what is also one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

And if that's not enough, France's healthcare and education systems mean that you will be unlikely to be paying out for private healthcare or sky-high school fees.

Ellen Fetu, who lives in Paris 15th arrondissement, concluded: "It's all relative. We live like locals and not tourists and earn a larger salary than we would have elsewhere."   

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