Eat Well On a Budget in Paris
If you're staying in one of the central Paris hostels, you'll easily be able to get out and experience the authentic street food the city has to offer.
If you're staying in one of the fantastic Paris hostels, you're probably more interested in sampling some authentic street food than hanging out in the fine dining establishments of the city. Despite its reputation as one of the most important gastronomic hubs of Europe, the French capital also serves up an excellent range of cuisine for those whose budget doesn't quite stretch as far as the Michelin stars. Down the side streets and back alleys around the Paris hostels, there's a whole new world of cuisine just waiting to be tasted.
The Genuine Parisian Sandwich
Although street food is diverse and abundant, you do need to be aware that some of it can be a little hit and miss. If you're staying in one of the Paris hostels, ask the local staff or other guests for recommendations to avoid being disappointed. That said, however, it is pretty hard to get a bad meal in the city if you use your common sense. Stay away from the busy main tourist areas, where some establishments are substandard simply due to the enormous footfall - they don’t have to make the effort that some smaller, more off-the-beaten-track places do.
This is a city where not all sandwiches are created equal, so it pays to seek out an authentic, old fashioned Parisian bakery, where you'll be guaranteed home cooked bread or baguettes and the freshest of ingredients. You should steer away from buying readymade sandwiches from street vendors and, instead, look for the ‘boulangerie’ sign, which assures a certain quality. The best thing about purchasing an artisan sandwich from a proper boulangerie is that you'll be able to grab an amazing sweet or pastry for dessert at the same time.
Crepes, Falafel and More
The city is riddled with creperies, but it's a good idea to learn how to spot the good from the bad. Is the vendor making their crepes from scratch, or are they using the pre-packed variety and just warming them up? You should insist on having your crepe freshly made in front of you so you can enjoy it straight from the griddle – there's almost nothing better!
Falafel might not be the first street food you think of when you think of France, but this delicious dish is actually one of the most popular fast food delicacies in the city! The Jewish Quarter of the Marais district is where the locals and tourists go for the best falafels. They are served in soft, thick pita bread accompanied by freshly cut vegetables, tahini, humus and hot sauce. The lines are long but the wait is worth it!
Another popular street food that has made its way to the northern parts of France comes in the form of Lebanese cuisine. Schawarma, lemon and garlic chicken, Man’ouche - the hand-tossed pizza stuffed with soft cheese - and zaatar are among the favourites.
Of course, there are many more fast, budget friendly options to eat out, and the longer you stay in one of the central Paris hostels, the more familiar you'll become with what's around. Be adventurous and don’t be afraid to try new things – you never know what your new favourite will be! https://www.hihostels.com
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Looking for a dream travel experience? Jason H. Cunningham works for Hostelling International, a company with more than 4,000 hostels worldwide. For the best Paris hostels or anywhere else, join our global community and say hi to the world. From quality, affordable accommodation and backpacker tips, to meaningful volunteer opportunities and enriching our eco footprint, we are the world’s local hostelling hub.