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5 Fabulous & Affordable Places to Eat in Paris

A chef-turned-tour guide recommends five great Paris bistros so you too can eat like a local.

Everyone on a trip to Paris is in search of restaurants that serve great food at decent prices. Before Guillaume Plisson of Calista Privilège (tel. 06/61-53-23-99; started his Paris touring company, he worked as a chef. Here are some of Plisson's favorite restaurants in popular Paris neighborhoods.

Where to Eat in the 7th Arrondissement

The Eiffel Tower is in the 7th arrondissement, so you'll be spending a lot of time in this neighborhood. Luckily, there are some non-tourist trap places that serve up authentic French food.

These three restaurants are on the rue Saint-Dominique:

Café Constant (139 rue Saint-Dominique; tel. 01/47-53-73-34;; 7th arrondissement, Metro: Ecole Millitaire) Open daily, Lunch: 12pm-2:30pm, an afternoon menu until 5pm; Dinner: 7pm-11pm

Don't be put off by the simple décor, just wait till you taste the food. A great meal -- appetizer, entrée, and dessert -- can be had for €23 (wine not included). Run by well-known chef/owner Christian Constant and a great young chef, Eduardo Jacinto Avelar, this typical French brasserie has a seasonal menu that changes according to the best products available at the markets.

Les Fables de la Fontaine (131 rue Saint-Dominique; tel. 01/44-18-37-55;; 7th arrondissement, Metro: Ecole Millitaire) Open daily, Lunch: 12:30pm-2:30pm; Dinner: 7:30pm-10:30pm. Reservations recommended.

This stylish bistro specializes in fish dishes and Basque Country cuisine from the southwest region of France. Expect mid-range prices for very high-quality food: a weekday lunch menu -- appetizer, daily special, dessert, and a glass of wine -- costs €30. The owners -- maître d' David Bottreau and chef Sébastien Gravé -- first met while working for the famed Christian Constant.

La Fontaine de Mars (129 rue Saint-Dominique; tel. 01/47-05-46-44;; 7th arrondissement, Metro: Ecole Millitaire) Open daily, 12pm-11pm. Reservations recommended.

This is the classic Parisian bistro of your dreams. Hearty meals such as foie gras, duck, and cassoulet have been served on this very spot since 1908. Jacques and Christiane Boudon are the current owners keeping the tradition alive. The plat du jour (daily special) will run you about €20. Otherwise, lunch and dinner -- appetizer, main course, dessert -- will be around €55 (without drinks). For a wonderful culinary experience, try the Burgundy snails. Unconvinced? President Obama has dined here.

Rue Cler is a lovely pedestrian street with an open-air produce market and lots of little shops and bistros:

Le Petit Cler (29 rue Cler; tel. 01/45-50-17-50;; 7th arrondissement, Metro: Ecole Millitaire ) Open daily, breakfast, lunch & dinner. Reservations suggested for weekend lunch.

This old-style bistro is a sister property of La Fontaine de Mars with a charming ambience on a smaller, less-expensive scale. The plat du jour (daily special) is €12 and simple market menus such as tartines and planches with Poilâne bread, cheeses, and sausages run €10 to €15. Add in a glass of Fitou (wine from southeast France) at €3.50, and you're looking at a great meal for around €25 per person.

Where to Eat in the 3rd & 4th Arrondissement

You'll work up an appetite touring the Marais district and visiting sites such as the Musée Carnavalet (, the Maison de Victor Hugo (, and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie ( The Opéra Bastille ( is just a few blocks away.

Under the arcades that surround the picturesque Place des Vosges (, said to be the oldest square in Paris, there are several chic cafés. This is one of the best:

Ma Bourgogne (19 Place des Vosges; tel. 01/42-78-44-64;; 4th arrondissement, Metro: Saint-Paul) Open daily, continuous service from 8am-1am. Reservations suggested for Sunday lunch.

This traditional French bistro serves specialties from the Burgundy region such as snails, stuffed cabbage, ham, and sausages. But the pièce de résistance is their famous steak tartare. Ask owners Aimé and Thérèse Cougoureux to prepare it for you. In addition to the great food and fantastic wines (€5 to €10 by the glass), this is a hot, meeting spot for Parisians -- writers, actors, and politicians -- during the weekend. A lunch menu -- appetizer, main course, cheese or dessert -- costs €38.

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