I always feel like I’m the last person to find out things. So when I read an article about the Eiffel Tower’s two-year, thirty million Euro renovation—unveiled this month—I wasn’t surprised that I knew nothing about it, even though la Dame Fer is around the corner from my apartment. The renovation added solar panels (they heat the structure’s water) as well as a glass observation floor that allows visitors to gaze straight down—57 stories. Yowzers!
In honor of the tower’s new “looking,” I thought I’d share a few of my favorite cheap eats in the area. As I’ve mentioned before, the neighborhood has its share of tourist traps serving bad food. But there are also hidden gems. If you’re visiting the Eiffel Tower and on a budget, here are three great options for lunch:
I realize I am revealing my lowbrow palate by saying this, but when they’re fresh and hot, I really love a sandwich grecque. The sandwiches at Apollon—a Greek restaurant/traiteur—start with your choice of sauce (I always get harissa) dabbed on warmed pita. The guy behind the counter then stuffs the bread to bursting with seasoned chicken shaved off the spit, lettuce, tomato, and French fries. The result is greasy, salty, spicy and completely delicious. There’s also a vegetarian version, which replaces the meat with cheesy spinach-feta croquettes, equally salty, greasy, and delicious. (If you’re in the mood for lighter fare, the counter offers terrific Greek salad, hummus, and other dips.) A full menu (and table service) is available in the restaurant, but for the truly cheap experience, order your sandwich to take away.
Price: €5.50 (per sandwich)
Bread and cheese are France’s greatest cheap eats. Happily, one of my favorite fromageries is located a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower. Tucked away on a side street off the rue Cler, Marie-Anne Cantin is a small shop where everything is delicious. On a recent visit, I picked up a wedge of St-Nectaire fermier and a slice of vieux Comté. A handful of cherry tomatoes from one of the fruit sellers on rue Cler, and a bit of bread rounded out my picnic lunch, enjoyed on a sunny afternoon at the Champ de Mars. Note: this is a budget meal for two or more.
Price: €15 (two cheeses, baguette, and a handful of cherry tomatoes)
The Relatively Cheap
I know, I know—you probably didn’t come to Paris to eat Italian food. But for a hot, (relatively) cheap lunch, I love Sapori di Parma, an eccentric Italian restaurant/épicerie located a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower. The owner, an older Italian gentleman, communicates in a hybrid of Italian and French, flinging scraps of mortadella into the mouths of babies, and describing his favorite dishes with great gusto. He convinced me to try the pizzoccheri Valtellina: housemade buckwheat pasta tossed with potatoes, braised chard, and melted cheese into a rib-sticking winter dish. Though I splashed out on the more expensive lunch menu—€14.80 for a plate of charcuterie, the aforementioned pasta, wine, and coffee—for the truly budget conscious, there’s a simple, two-course prix fixe for €11.80 (entrée + plat + café, or plat + dessert + café). You can also buy Italian charcuterie and cheese to take away.
Price: €14.80 (entrée, plat, glass of wine, and coffee)
24 rue Jean Nicot, 7e
tel: 01 45 55 68 47
12 rue du Champ de Mars, 7e
tel: 01 45 50 43 94
Sapori di Parma (no website)
58 Avenue de la Bourdonnais, 7e
tel: 01 45 56 19 38