dimanche 7 octobre 2007

French prices are driving me to drink

Ok. so the dollar is tumbling against the Euro and Europe is not exactly a cheap place to be for those of us living on the modest greenback. Even so, many things in Paris aren't nearly as expensive as one might imagine (while others are just incomprehensively outrageous). There sometimes seems to be little rhyme or reason to the pricing regime here. A few weeks ago I went out to our local vegetable seller to buy some vegetables for dinner and ended up spending close to 30 Euros for some mushrooms and some salad. Turns out these mushrooms (cepes) cost 40 Euros a kilo, and they aren't even the magic kind!!! I figured I must have stumbled upon some rare delicacy along the lines of truffles from Perigord, but then I saw that another vegetable shop around the block sold the very same cepes for only 12 Euros a kilo. What gives? Did I just happen to stumble upon a pirate vegetable seller? Not really: many of his other products were very reasonably priced, some less so than the local Leader Price (cheap-o supermarket).

Why this big difference in prices? I have no idea, but you really need to check the prices before you buy in this town, and it pays to shop around.

Which leads me to the price of eating and drinking out in cafes and such. While a night out on the town in Paris is certainly not cheap, the prices of food in Cafes is not necessarily that expensive compared to the US, when you consider that what you see on the menu is what you pay (taxes are included and you normally don't have to leave big tips, just round up if the service was good). Many Parisian restaurants and cafes have some sort of fixed price deal where you can get appetizers, mains and dessert for a set price (around 11 Euros at the cheaper sort of establishment). The real profit generators seem to be the drinks. Maki and I have noticed that we don't hydrate well when we're out and about, but that's because a small bottle of water or a canned soft drink costs no less than 4 Euros at most places, so it kinda hurts to go get a can of coke or a bottle of Evian when you're thirsty. But here's the funny part: at just about any restaurant or cafe a half-pint of beer or a glass of wine costs about the same, or maybe only 50 cents more. At those kind of prices, why bother drinking water? If you're going to plonk down the cash, you might as well get some alcohol, right? Water??? Fish have sex in water.

So, it seems the pricing system for drinks in this country is driving the population towards alcoholism (or us, in any event).

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