First Person: How I Save on Meals When Traveling in Paris

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First Person: How I Save on Meals When Traveling in Paris

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The very best salad I've ever had. This was in Beaune, France. It was topped with warm Camenbert …

The streets of Paris are lined with food vendors, which as a small business owner always looking for the best bang for my small-budget buck appreciates greatly. Most offer excellent food at amazingly affordable prices, especially my favorites. Those who love chocolate, butter and ham -- not necessarily at the same time -- should appreciate my list of favorites as well. Get ready to drool.

#5 Croque monsieur

As Paris is the land of ham and cheese, it's a no-brainer they would have a killer grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Jambon, French for ham, appears on most all menus in one form or another and of course, cheese is...well, everywhere. The croque monsieur can be open face or, more commonly, topped with a cheesy béchamel sauce.

My favorite, the open-face version is a piece of bread topped with a slight touch of béchamel sauce, followed by ham and finished with a slice of cheese--typically € 5. Many times this is cheese imbued béchamel sauce instead. More often, this is a closed sandwich beginning with a slice of bread topped with cheesy béchamel, followed by ham and a slice of cheese or béchamel. This is topped with another slice of bread finished off with more béchamel. Most commonly, both sandwiches are set under the broiler until golden brown.

#4 Explore the salads

Ooh la la, French chefs make the very best salads. During my last visit to Paris, I was looking for a quick and inexpensive meal. So, I chose a salad from the menu--about € 8. The ingredients intrigued me: salad greens, aged ham, walnuts, pommes frites, olives and warm camembert. Even so, I still expected to receive a small salad with a few chunks of warmed cheese and bits of ham. What arrived exceeded all expectations.

The tantalizing salad was huge! It was topped with an inch-thick, four-inch-round of warm camembert, filled with a generous amount of aged ham -- what we would call prosciutto -- and the pommes frites were thinly sliced potatoes fried quickly in very hot oil so the pieces would puff up. This is just one example. Ever salad I ordered was a delicious adventure.

#3 Crepes

Street food! Crepes are most often street food which is cooked per order right in front of each lucky diner. Crepes can be filled with just about anything, but commonly many order their crepes filled with yummy Nutella. However, my favorite is ham and cheese--approximately € 4.

Do I see a trend here?

#2 Croissants, pain de chocolate and pastries

In my opinion, the French make the very best pastries, especially croissants and tarts. With Patisseries dotting the Paris landscape, there's no end of choices or waist expanding opportunities. My favorite is pain de chocolate, which is a crisp croissant filled with chocolate--less than € 1.

#1 Cheese, wine and a baguette

Most grocery stores in Paris sell a variety of excellent cheeses for an unbelievably low price. For the wine, I found the cremants from Burgundy to be delicious and a great buy. Grab a baguette from the neighborhood boulangerie and dinner is perfection.

Of course, there are fancier, more elaborate meal choices, but sometimes simple is best. And, simple in Paris is amazing!

More by this contributor:
Top 5 Free Things to Do When Visiting Paris
Top Tips for Tipping in a Resort Town
How We Saved 50 % on Our Mid-Week 2-Day Escape


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