You may have heard that the dollar has gained strength against the Euro. It certainly has, moving from a high of 1.30 last winter to a range of between 1.06 and 1.10. That is a lot of extra buying power for US visitors.
So, is Paris a deal for US travelers? My answer is yes, but keep in mind that Paris will always be an expensive city on a par with others like New York. But when the subject eating out comes up, Paris is a deal worth traveling for.
On the first day of a recent visit to Paris, I had the pleasure of putting this math to the test and dining at Le Pario, located about 10 minutes walk from the Yellow Flat. It’s a chic small bistro run by Edward Jacinto, a Brazilian chef who previously cooked for Christian Constant who in turn has several successful and delicious restaurants on Rue St Dominique that were previously enjoyed and reviewed.
Jet lag notwithstanding I was excited to get out and enjoy a good lunch, having suffered (well not really too badly) through years of the 1.35 and up euro.
Le Pario is located at 54 Avenue Emile Zola in the 15th. The setting in this local favorite was warm and not just in temperature. Lunch was full of locals, mostly businesspeople who unlike many of us in the US, they were enjoying a real meal and a glass or two of wine. Why we have stopped enjoying ourselves at lunch I do not know.
After being seated and finding that the prix fixe menu (limited in choice) was not to my liking (it was priced at 18 euro and 23 euro including dessert) I went back to the menu for lunch.
Before the meal a small amuse of gougieres, traditional cheese puffs arrived, warm and tasty. I ordered a glass of rose and a bottle of mineral water, just having landed and not being able to stomach the always a bit nasty Parisian tap water (eau plat) just yet. The rose was as it should be, dry and not cloying.
My appetizer was crab with an avocado mousse. The crab was pressed carefully into a block with served with finely cut leeks celery and potatoes, all showing the fine hand of the kitchen with the avocado mousse painted along side and dusting of Piment d’Espelette for emphasis.
Main course was a confit of cannette, (female duck). It consisted of a delicately braised duck thigh in a classic orange sauce covered with toasted hazelnuts served over a large ravioli stuffed with more the duck confit and a big bowl of what I thought were mashed potatoes but turned out to be a coarse apple sauce contrasting sweet salt sweet salt. The duck melted when touched.
Having a good bottle of mineral water to myself was a pleasure and a necessity for the jet lag I was now feeling with the help of the rose. The meal closed with an espresso accompanied by several mini pastries filled with caramel, a sort of dessert amuse.
Was this a deal? Do the math and decide.
Start with the dollar at 1.07 to the Euro and yes that is a nice place to start. From there compare your meal to US realities to get a true sense of what it costs. On a meal in the US of good quality and service, it is common to tip 20% and tax is around 10%. And here is the key; in France tip and tax are included. That means you have to deduct another 30% and that is before some of the other add-on charges that have started appearing as of late.
Keeping it simple, a 100-euro meal cost 107 dollars at today’s exchange rate.
Deduct 30% for tip and tax and the result, in true cost, that is that a 100-euro meal costs you 75 dollars.
For my lunch the cost 41.50 Euros. Now with a good exchange and our 30 % discount lunch came to 31 dollars. I would say that is a deal with confidence. And if I had gone with the prix fixe it would have cost $19.50 including the rose.
As lunch came to an end, I sat watching an elegant grandmother feed her impeccably dressed and behaved granddaughter profiteroles in chocolate sauce as she laughed. I looked out at the Paris traffic and the end of the daily lunch scene. There was no doubt about where I was and just how good it felt.
54 Avenue Emile Zola, 75015 Paris, France
Phone:+33 1 45 77 28 82
To reach Le Pario from the Yellow Flat it is a 15 minutes walk. The easiest way is to turn left out the door and walk to La Motte Picquet Grenelle metro. Once there continue in the same direction on Rue De Commerce where you turn right on Aveneue Emile Zola, about the fourth street from the metro station. It is about 10 to 15 minutes walk on Emile Zola, so be patient.