A typical menu: piece of honeydew melon, beef in sauce with rice and green beans, yoghurt and chocolate cream with almond. Bread and water are also provided.
If you are not class-conscious and are travelling on a shoestring in Paris you will be interested to learn about this restaurant. It is actually a type of self-service restaurant run by Association Aurore, a private body that takes care of handicapped and socially-deprived people in Paris.
Although it was specifically built for the needy, who have to show their cards to be able to eat free, it is nevertheless open to all and sundry at a cost of five euros per meal.
This little-known restaurant is in the 5th district of Paris and is just opposite the entrance to the Censier University. What is particularly amazing, though, is the fact that it is open both for lunch and dinner every day of the year, including Sundays, Christmas, New Year's Day or public holidays.
It is very easy to go there with the underground. On coming out of the Censier Daubenton subway station look for the "Rue Mirbel" exit. Once you are outside, turn right to cross the road, go on straight along Rue de Mirbel and you should see the university building. Just turn right for Rue de Santeuil.
However, in a country like France where people hardly take their dinner before 8.00 p.m., dinner here starts at 5 p.m. Perhaps we should call it dilunch instead of dinner!
Apart from this there is hardly any ground for complaints. After all for only five euros here you'll be able to get cheaper and more filling food than you will at a McDonald's. A typical menu here consists of two bread buns, an entrée (starter), a main course, a yoghurt or cheese, and a dessert. Every table is also provided with a bottle of cooled water.
The whole place is clean, bright and spacious (as can be seen from the photo) and there are 25 tables, each of which can seat four persons.
I gave it a try one day and was really impressed by the quality of the food (I mean taking into account that the whole menu costs only five euros) and the friendly service. As I went early (just 10 minutes after the opening hour in fact) there were still plenty of empty tables around. However they were all quickly taken up within the next half an hour. There were not too many women though (just about a dozen). So any woman who wants to eat here should not be sex-conscious. Just eat and go! And, by the way, you are expected to take the tray with you to arrange it near the exit when you have finished eating and not just leave it on the table. This is not Maxim's after all! But then you don't have to worry about being greeted with sour faces if you don't leave a tip!
What I had today was pintade (guinea fowl) cooked with mushrooms and served with thick sauce on couscous and broccoli. Not bad at all. But the menu up on the wall for the week showed that on other days there would be boeuf bourguignon (beef burgundy), fish paella and lotte (burbot fish) curry. Well, one thing is sure - for only 5 euros you cannot complain about the food!
8 rue de Santeuil,
Opens every day (365 days a year)
Lunch: 11h30 to 13h30 (out by 14h00)
Dinner: 17h30 to 19h30 (out by 20h00)
Subway: Censier Daubenton (Line 7)