You can enjoy dinner or lunch at one of the Michelin Restaurants in Paris, without breaking the bank
Paris is known as the city of light, but it’s also known as a foodie paradise, boasting over 70 Michelin starred restaurants throughout the city. Some people may advise you against dining at a Michelin starred restaurant, but sometimes you want to experience a city through its food just as much as you do through its monuments and museums, and as a foodie mecca, I do recommend trying out one of the Michelin restaurants in Paris.
With that said, you definitely don’t have to mortgage your home in order to pay for a meal at one of these restaurants, you just need to be smart and do a little planning ahead. Here’s a quick note on the Michelin rating system:
One star indicates the restaurant is very good (for Michelin standards–so not just any restaurant can qualify) that serves food prepared to a consistently high standard.
Two stars mean it’s an excellent establishment, with “skillfully and carefully crafted dishes of outstanding quality”, per Michael Ellis, international director of the guides.
Three stars denotes “exceptional” cuisine where “distinctive dishes are precisely executed using superlative ingredients”.
Here are my tips for dining in Michelin restaurants in Paris, so you can make sure you can enjoy every single moment of it.
This of course, means making a reservation which is recommended for these restaurants (especially if they’re #12 on the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants), but also, most have their menus online (including prices), so if you have a budget, you can plan ahead so you know exactly what you’ll spend. Also, if you know you’re going to be dining at one of these restaurants in the next couple of weeks or months, then why not set aside some money each week (or forego that daily latte) so that you can apply that money towards your dinner, especially if you’re going to be doing a tasting menu.
Don’t Drink the Water
A bottle of water at a fine dining establishment, especially a Michelin starred restaurant in Paris, could easily cost you 8 to 12 euros. There are some places that even have a Water Tasting Menu, curated by a Water Sommelier, as ridiculous as it seems. I personally don’t really drink water when I eat (I know it seems weird, I just get full), so of course this suggestion may seem weird, but you can easily hydrate during the day or enjoy a bottle of water just before dinner, and pay a fraction of that cost. If you’re eating out several times per day, that 8 euro charge for water can quickly add up. Plus, you can get your liquid from some delicious wine served while you enjoy your dinner!
Wait to Celebrate
The last comment reminds me of this next topic. Dining at a Michelin restaurant is an experience. Whether you do it often (lucky you!), are celebrating a very special occasion, or if this is your first time, you’ll be pretty excited and enchanted the second you walk in the door. These restaurants have some of the best service you’ll ever experience while dining, and the staff definitely knows how to make diners feel special. You will most likely be offered a glass of lovely champagne or some of their best Bordeaux the second you sit down, but if you’re not careful, each glass can easily set you back 28 euros, if not more (they do, after all, have some of the best sommeliers in the world working for them). If you know you’re going to want to drink wine or champagne, and you’re with at least another person, it may make sense to order a bottle for yourselves, so you are in control as to how much you want to spend on wine.
Don’t Overdo It
If you don’t have to. The truth is many of these restaurants also offer a la carte dining, giving you the option to choose per plate rather than the tasting or prix fixe menu. This can potentially save you hundreds of euros, as their portions are reasonable if you’re not doing a tasting menu, and in some cases they’re happy to split a plate so you and your guest(s) can try a little bit of everything. You’ll still get the phenomenal experience of tasting the incredible food, at a fraction of the cost. If you don’t have time to view the menu beforehand, make sure you look at a menu with prices on it, as they sometimes hand out menus with no prices.
No Need to be Overly Generous
One thing to be cognizant of is prices in France are reflective of tax and tip, so the price you see on the menu is what you pay. If you’re not 100% sure, or if it’s not stated at the bottom of the menu, feel free to ask. Many times the receipts will break down what each item costs, along with the service charge and tax charge, to reflect that those items are included in the total. Of course you’re more than welcome to leave more, but if you’re on somewhat of a budget (as much as you can be dining at one of the Michelin restaurants in Paris), rest assured that leaving 10%, 15%, or 20% is not necessary.
All in all, dining at one of the Michelin restaurants in Paris (or the world) is an incredible and memorable experience, and if that’s an option for you, I certainly think the experience is worth the cost. With a little bit of planning, you could enjoy a phenomenal dinner without having to worry about the surprise you may get at the end via the bill. If you have any other Michelin dining (or fine dining) tips in general, feel free to share with us at the bottom of this post.