Paris is renowned for many things; its art, its architecture, its style, but perhaps most of all for its food and drink. Where else in the world can one find so many boulangeries, patisseries, fromageries, cafes, bistros, bars, markets? Is there any other nation that is so famed for the quality of its cuisine? Probably not, although I’m sure some beg to differ.
Despite these glorious facts, however, lies a dark truth; eating and drinking in Paris, like many things alas, ain’t always cheap; between the artisan croissants, ‘authentic’ brasserie experiences, and sometimes-extortionate coffee prices, visitors to the city (and probably residents too) often find themselves going to the bank for extra euros long before their food budgets should have run out. After even a few days here, all those croque monsieurs and steak tartares start adding up, leaving one exasperated as to where to turn, especially if the weather is not suitable for an al fresco baguette and cheese picnic (my prefered way of balancing the books when I’ve gobbled one too many expensive patisserie item)…..
But all is not lost, happily; you just need to know where to go. There are plenty of dining spots in Paris that are kind to the wallet, and Marche des Enfants Rouges is one of the best. The oldest covered market in the city (dating from the 1600s), this small market-cum-outdoor restaurant in the hip Haut Marais area (3eme arrondissement) sells both individual ingredients AND ready-to-eat cuisine from all over the world. Studded among the traditional food stands are a variety of stalls offering Moroccan, Italian, Lebanese, Japanese, and Organic dishes to take away or eat ’sur place’, all at exceedingly affordable prices (under 10 Euros for a main dish).
Recommended in particular is the Moroccan food; their lamb tagine, an aromatic stew of tender lamb with almonds and soft fruits accompanied by fluffy couscous and followed by a syrupy slice of baklava, makes for a filling and delicious lunch. Even Julie Delpy, star of Before Sunrise, must think so, so rapturously was she enjoying hers last time I was there. Alternatively, try the Japanese stall; options include fresh sushi, bento selection boxes, and – my favourite – delicately spiced deep-fried chicken with sticky white rice, best paired with a refreshing Japanese beer.
One word of warning however; as you can imagine, this spot is very popular, so aim to arrive before 1.30pm to catch a table, especially at weekends.