Eat Luxe on the Cheap in Paris? Oui, Bien Sûr…

« Where can I eat on the cheap in Paris? » is a ques­tion that used to have few good respons­es; it was most­ly a quiche or a sand­wich from a boulan­gerie eat­en on the side­walk or in a park. While that’s still a good fall­back, Parisians , the world’s most opu­lent Social­ists , are pulling a retro move that will make you scratch your head, think­ing, “How is this SO cheap?” The decor says, « Bloomberg » but the prices are pure « Bernie » (so far none are owned by Rus­sians, so there’s not much ‘Trump’-flavored).

Let us meet the trend caus­ing Parisians to stack unchar­ac­ter neat­ly into lines out­side these palaces of clas­sic Frenchy good­ness wrapped in worth-men­tion­ing inte­ri­or design. 

The Original: Bouillon Chartier

Near that sky­scraper that every­one except pho­tog­ra­phers hate, aka the ‘Awful Tow­er’, aka Mont­par­nasse Tow­er, looms one of Paris’ most bustling Bouil­lons — Chartier. 

Charti­er is the first to reboot the old tra­di­tion of the Bouil­lon, a place for the work­ing class to eat ele­gant­ly and afford­ably. You don’t have to be Vladimir Lenin to dine here as it’s now crowd­ed with every­one from faux­hemi­ans to tourists and what­ev­er oth­er types of humans exist in Paris (I dun­no, that’s all that comes to mind). Expect a hell of a line as no reser­va­tions are tak­en, or try the less-crowd­ed Grands Boule­vards loca­tion, which has a slight­ly short­er line until every­one reads this. 

But seri­ous­ly, a din­ner in a spot list­ed on the French Nation­al Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places? Not to men­tion pitch­ers of wine start­ing at €3,30, starters from €2, and roast chick­en main course for €9. It’s all delicious. 

Charti­er Mont­par­nasse: open non-stop from 11:30 am — midnight

59 Boule­vard du Mont­par­nasse (6th arr.)

Métro : Mont­par­nasse-Bien­v­enue (lines 6, 12, 13)


Charti­er Grand Boule­vards: open non-stop from 11:30 am — midnight

7 rue du Faubourg Mont­martre (9th arr.)

Métro : Grands Boule­vards (lines 8, 9)


Charti­er Gare de l’Est: open non-stop from 11:30 am — midnight

5 rue du 8 mai 1945 (10th arr.)

Métro: Gare de l’Est (lines 4, 5, 7)

The New Kid on the Block: Bouillon République

New yet not under the radar, this Bouil­lon is ready for you with (almost) all the clas­sics: beef bour­guignon, the heft of which chal­lenges the wait­ers’ biceps; those are-you-seri­ous-cheap pitch­ers of wine, mar­row bones capped with the crispy brown salty good­ness, and onion soup (we see you). All the dish­es that fueled the burly man­u­al labor­ers of 1910 are here and ready to make it hard for you to get out of the booth after­wards. Main dish­es start­ing at €8.50 and starters from €2.40. Lit­tle  pitch­ers of house wine from €3.60.

Bouil­lon République: open non-stop from 12 am — midnight

39 Boule­vard du Tem­ple (3rd arr.)

Métro: République (lines 3, 5, 8, 9, 11)

Bouillon Racine

One of the only Bouil­lons that takes reser­va­tions (online at www.bouillonracine.fr), Bouil­lon Racine packs them in on the dai­ly in a land­mark his­toric build­ing with a fetch­ing young chef as the cher­ry on top. You can get your chef-gen­er­at­ed fris­sons Emi­ly in Paris-style checked off your Paris buck­et list. What’s not to love? 

Bouil­lon Racine is locat­ed in the Odeon neigh­bor­hood, so after your din­ner you can walk the pas­sage­way (Cour de Com­merce Saint-Andre) where Dr. Joseph Guil­lotin test­ed a humane-exe­cu­tion machine on sheep (and even­tu­al­ly, Marie Antoinette) that would be served in local restau­rants. Or, for a less mor­bid slice of his­to­ry, see a piece of the for­mer medieval wall of the City of Paris that was left behind from the demo­li­tion ordered by Louis IV (it’s tucked away inside the ‘Un Dimanche à Paris’ patis­serie locat­ed on the cob­bled passageway).

Bouil­lon Racine is a lit­tle bit prici­er than the oth­er Bouil­lons but even so, the prices are excel­lent for an ele­gant expe­ri­ence among lush Art Nou­veau decor. Wine by the glass start­ing at €5.50, week­day prix-fixe lunch menu for €17.50, week­day din­ner prix-fixe menu €35, starters from €8.50.  Think of Bouil­lon Racine as the posh cousin of the more work­ing-class Bouil­lions rein­vig­o­rat­ing the din­ing scene in Paris. 

Bouil­lon Racine: open non-stop from 12 am — 11:00 pm

3 Rue Racine (6th arr.)

Métro: Cluny La Sor­bonne (line 10) or Odéon (lines 4, 10)

Bouillon Pigalle

It was here in 2017 that the broth­ers Mous­sié relaunched the genre of Bouil­lions in the for­mer red-light dis­trict of Pigalle (an enclave so seedy, it was called Pig-Alley by Amer­i­can G. I.s dur­ing the recon­struc­tion of France post-WWII). You know the drill: line up, no reser­va­tions, open from 11:30 am to mid­night non-stop. A spread at Bouil­lon Pigalle, among the hus­tle-bus­tle of a place that can pack in 300 sud­den­ly bois­ter­ous-sound­ing Parisians on two lev­els, will set you back about €13.40 to €27.20 per per­son. But for truf­fled eggs-may­on­naise at €3, it’s worth nav­i­gat­ing the crowds. 

Bouil­lon Pigalle: open non-stop from 11:30 am — midnight

22 Boule­vard de Clichy (18th arr.)

Métro: Pigalle (lines 2, 12)

Bouillon Julien

For din­ers who get their Parisian din­ner rec­om­men­da­tions from Lenny Kravitz, there’s L’as du Falafel. For those that want to get her­pes in the same places as Hen­ry Miller, there’s all of Mont­par­nasse. For those of us keep­ing it high­brow and walk­ing in the foot­steps of Josephine Bak­er — may we present Julien. Sur­round your­self with orig­i­nal Art Nou­veau déco and the cheap and deli­cious dish­es that make Les Bouil­lons the “It-Thing Trend” of the Moment in the City of Light. As only get­ting her­pes does not entail wait­ing in an epic line, join the par­ty on the side­walk in front of Julien and feel like a real Parisian. Since I lived most of my life in the 10th arrondisse­ment, this is where you’ll find me and my her­pes (mer­ci, Tin­der!). They do take reser­va­tions, but only for the first open­ings at noon and between 6:30 and 7:00 pm. The Julien — not her­pes. That’s 24/7.

Try the epony­mous­ly named main course ‘Bouil­lon Julien’: a ten­der beef dish for €9.90, or the sausage and mashed pota­toes for €11, but save room for the dessert! Choux Chan­til­ly is only €2.90.

Bouil­lon Julien: open non-stop from 11:45 am — midnight

16 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis (10th arr.)

Métro: Stras­bourg-Saint-Denis (lines 4, 8, 9) or Château d’Eau (line 4)

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Indeco­rous Cul­turevore and Poly­chrome Chow Vir­tu­osa Kat Walk­er likes nice things.

When she’s not writ­ing about crois­sants, love, cul­ture, and lov­able, sexy crois­sants, she is a gonzo per­for­mance artist whip­ping up a (usu­al­ly) polit­i­cal ruckus.

In a bid for your atten­tion and approval she writes things here and man­ages this unruly tribe of Parisians endeav­or­ing to bring you what Paris­ing is real­ly about.

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