Foyer de la Madeleine

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© John Brunton
8th arrondissement

The Place de la Madeleine is a favourite Parisian foodie pilgrimage, hosting as it does the Aladdin’s cave gourmet boutiques of Fauchon and Hediard. But most of the shoppers there shelling out a fortune for foie gras, caviar and champagne have no idea that right in the middle of the square, tucked away beneath the imposing Madeleine church, is an offbeat canteen that serves up simple but tasty fare to over 300 people every lunchtime at the quite ridiculous price of €8 for a three course meal. Over on the side from the grand entrance into the Madeleine itself, a small door leads into the Foyer. This is actually a narrow arched passageway, once the sleeping quarters for priests visiting the church, that is now divided into three dining rooms. From the moment the doors open the place is packed with an eclectic clientele; office workers, shoppers, students, pensioners and the odd bemused tourist. For the first visit, you have to pay a one-off €5 ‘membership fee’, and then one of the army of volunteer waiters whisk you off to a table and start explaining the menu. There are a whole host of starters to chose from – mainly classics like oeuf mayonnaise, herring and potato salad, tabbouleh – a choice of two main dishes, say grilled chicken with a lemon sauce, cod cooked with tomatoes in the Basque manner, then cheese or desserts. Even the wines are surprising – Côtes de Thon or the crisp white Picpoul de Pinet hardly break the bank at €8 a bottle. The Foyer is run by a charitable church association, with all the profits ploughed back to help impoverished and homeless people.

Venue name: Foyer de la Madeleine
Contact:
Address: Place de la Madeleine, 8th
Paris

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11.45am-2pm
Transport: Metro: Madeleine

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Amy C
1 of 1 found helpful

Loved it! Don't speak any French but the wait staff put up with me. Don't go there if you want 5-star food - this place has good food with great history. If you are not a member then be first in line at 11:45 - once in the door you'll need to buy a ticket, then get back in line behind all the members who just rushed past you. I ended up being seated with 3 Parisians and they were very nice and interested that a tourist found their local spot.