Traveling to Paris on a Budget: How to Eat, Drink and Work Remotely for $100

Can you still immerse yourself in a city that embraces fun while sticking to a budget? I discovered.

(Alan Perry Reese/For The Washington Post)

Our new diary series explores remote work on a budget in major cities. Read the first two posts New York And the London.

What covered: Meals, drinks, transportation, postcards, and a tip for the guitarist.

Workspaces: Co-working space, hostel common area, sidewalk café, friend’s apartment, garden benches.

It is embarrassing to say that Paris is one of my favorite places in the world. It looks so basic, it’s even pressed—pumpkin latte is a travel condiment. But not the Eiffel Tower, Krebs and “Emilie in Paris” version of the city I like; It’s the neighborhood cheese shops, the walkables, the neat residents, and the unhurried service in the restaurants. It’s a city that embraces fun at every turn, from fresh pastries to public displays of affection.

After nearly a dozen more visits, I returned to Paris last month. It wasn’t business trips that drove me to some of the city’s most luxurious hotels, and it wasn’t quite the same as personal trips where I stayed on the cheapest Airbnbs possible. Instead, I embraced something in the middle, staying in a private room in a boutique hostel and sticking to a mid-range budget. I documented two days of trying to balance a privileged lifestyle with the responsibilities of work in EST.

11:43 a.m., late coffee in the sun

I should have gotten up earlier, but I’m working DC time while I’m in Paris. My late start meant I missed the free coffee and pastries at the Caulaincourt Square hostel. This is by far the best hostel I’ve stayed at recently; Infinitely nicer than my time in London and more private than Jackson Hole Residence. I leave the walk-in room on the fifth floor, sit in a sunny sidewalk café to enjoy the noise of a café (espresso with a little hot milk) and check my email.

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1:20 p.m. E-bike to hit the perfect sandwich

It’s breakfast sandwich time. In one of his recent news releases, Paris-based chef, author, and resident David Leibovitz called Le Petit Vendôme his best friend. I rent a Lime eBike and go for a ham and Cantal cheese baguette (plus butter) for $7.50. I take it to the Jardin des Tuileries near the Louvre, and eat on a park bench. Both the sandwich and the setting are divine. I’m in pork heaven.

The takeaway: Paris has many ways to get around. Paris metro is one of The best public transportation systems. One-way tickets They start around $2. You’ll find bike and scooter rentals everywhere from sellers like Uber, Lime, Philip And the City Scott.

2:30 pm, expensive lemonade

Paris may be bustling with cafés, but not many people use their laptops in them. I asked for advice from Meg Zimbeck, founder and editor-in-chief of restaurant review site and food tour company Paris by Mouth. She said remote working in public places has become a normalcy and recommended a co-working place called Anticafé.

I go in, and the waiter explains it’s about $6.50 an hour or $28 a day. Prices cover any coffee, tea or soft drink you want (if your coffee order exceeds the hourly rate or the daily rate, you pay whichever is higher). I have lemonade and a table by the window. It was a productive setup, but the biggest advantage was borrowing a phone charger from a barista. I stayed three hours at a cost of 18 euros. It’s the most expensive lemonade I’ve ever had.

The takeaway: A writer friend who lives in Paris tells me that when she wants to work out of her apartment, she goes to hotel lobbies that serve coffee or even a Starbucks location. It’s not romantic, but there’s always WiFi.

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8 pm walking and work

After leaving the Anticafe, I wandered around and processed emails from the park benches – a mix of work and sightseeing. Euros were given to the guitarist at the Louvre. My grandfather was a jazz drummer for 50 years and would always tell me to “play the band”.

I met a friend at the Brasserie Belanger, who described him as “very likeable” with “good food at a cheap price.” We hang out over a glass of wine before ordering the chicken liver mousse ($7.50) to start the steak tartar ($15). I knew I had a phone interview at 10:15 PM, but I hadn’t thought about the logistics.

By the time the lime arrives, I have a half hour before the call starts. You still need to eat, pay and have a quiet place. My friend shows his apartment as a location, and we drift off our meal. Not very French.

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With other calls to make and a story to work on, I leave my friend’s apartment and go to my hostel. I buy a dozen postcards from a tacky tourist store along the way.

9:30 am, free gifts at the hostel

It was easier to get up at a reasonable hour (9 a.m.) after falling asleep at a reasonable hour (1:30 a.m.). I’m just in time for a free coffee and croissant downstairs. During breakfast, I work at a table overlooking the lush garden. It’s nice, but I miss people watching – half of the reason I come to Paris.

Before I head to lunch, I go for a run and pass important things like the Sacré-oeur (Church of the Sacred Heart) and Le Clos Montmartre, a real vineyard in the center of Montmartre.

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12:50 p.m. splurge for lunch

It takes three attempts to find a Lime eBike that works. By the time I got to Café les deux Gares, the friends I met had already ordered two bottles of wine. My budget is doomed.

From the set menu, I order the appetizers and main mix for $21.50. FOMO (fear of missing out) hits right away, and I take three courses for $25.75 to join the others. It’s not much of a difference in price however it looks more extravagant. It is not the extra course that will be the fall from me; Our drinks run out very quickly. I keep this inner battle to myself.

We order more wine and feast on oysters, sardines, sausage, bread and cheese for dessert. Divided among the five of us, our two-hour lunches are $65 each.

The takeaway: the so-called somewhere that matters in France. Bistros tend to be informal, inexpensive, and open for lunch and dinner; Brasseries usually serve French food late at night; Cafes focus on drinks. and rest restaurants.

3:30 p.m. Zoom meetings on the sidewalk

After my great lunch, I need to find a place to work now that the East Coast workday is in full swing.

Some canopies of cafés, bars, and tapaks – places that sell tobacco but may also have a bar or café as well – are advertised as “WiFi” along with their happy hour times and the type of food they serve. The server in one of the brasserie says it’s good to work on my laptop, bring my WiFi password and a glass of roses – not that I need more wine after lunch, but it’s one of the cheapest menu items. I’m doing a Zoom meeting while a group of very cool guys are smoking on the table next to me.

6:13 p.m., a few euros for some fibre

The brasserie is starting to get full, and I don’t want to be further from my welcome. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten any fruit, so I buy a banana ($2.15) from a produce stand and eat while walking. Along the way I buy stamps for my postcards ($17).

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8:30 p.m., pate at the children’s table

More emails and walks. It’s technically dinner time, and I’m close to a place I wanted to try, Bistro Paul Burt. Although I’m not hungry, I go for it.

The server has a table for one available – a corner seat installed between the bar and the front window, folded behind a carrier column. It feels like I’m a kid on the time out, but the place has a nice view (almost obscured) to the other diners.

The French words for “tap water” escape me, so I order water the other way I know: “une bouteille d’eau minérale, s’il vous plait” (a bottle of mineral water, please). The server brought me my designer water bottle. My Evian meal is almost equivalent to mine – a plate of terrine de campagne maison (like a country pie) with cornichon, some greens and a basket of crusty bread, plus a glass of wine.

10:30 pm, night cup in the red light district

I sit at a sidewalk table at Le Royal Bar in Pigalle, a red-light district with plenty of bars as well as the Moulin Rouge. The place is super cheap: $3.20 for a cup of pastis, an anise flavored that you dilute with water. I try to make it last longer but add a lot of water. Ruined drink or not, I’m happy writing my postcards and eavesdropping on French conversations I can’t understand.

After a nightcap, I head back to the hostel for a bit of work before bed.

With my budget, I had plenty of money to spend a good time in Paris. I could have been more conscious to be more economical. Waking up late cost me a free breakfast. The co-working space wasn’t a good use of $19. Being so embarrassed to use English instead of French made me shell out $6 on a bottle of water that I didn’t want to. This is life.

The hardest lesson to learn was how to realistically plan my work schedule. I focused on whether time zones were compatible with calls and meetings rather than where I should be. A lot of times, I’d struggle to find quiet or WiFi. Give yourself plenty of time before important appointments in case you miss a transfer to the hotel or if your meal is taking longer than expected. Stuffing what you can into a frenzied table is a beginner’s mistake for travelers, anyway.

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