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Dec 11, 2006 05:35 PM

Help with Restaurant for that ONE day in Paris

The wife and I will be vacationing in London and taking the chunnel train from London this Friday to spend one day in Paris. We will arrive in Paris in the morning and will be returning on the last train that leaves Paris at 9:13 PM that evening.

Yes, I know that trying to do Paris in a single day isn't the greatest idea, but it's all we have. At least on this trip.

As food enthusiasts, the one thing that we feel we MUST do in Paris is enjoy some French Cuisine.

So here are my questions:

1. What is the perfect place to dine? (if you only had one day)

2. Since our train leaves at 9:13 PM and they want us at the staion 30 minutes in advance, would it make sense to find a restaurant near Gare du Nord?

3. How long should we set aside for dinner?

4. If, say, we want to have an early dinner at 5:00 PM so we aren't rushed, will we have any problems getting served dinner this early?

5. Will we need a reservation, and if so, what is the best way to make one?

6. Any other suggestions for first-timers in Paris?

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  1. I'd head for the Flo brasseries Terminus Nord. For the three following reasons: 1. It's right next to the Gare du Nord; 2. It serves food anytime; 3. You get a 15% discount, if you book a table online.

    Besides that, food is more than correct and the interior is real nice. Tell the waiter you'll have to catch a train, so that he can serve you within the time.

    Dining at 5 PM is not really common, except for the brasseries open all the time. 5 PM is the hour for tea. It's now 8 PM here and I've not even started cooking.

    I think that's the only way to really enjoy a relaxed dinner knowing about having to leave at a certain hour. I wouldn't want to rely on the metro or not even a taxi, if I was in the very city center for a dinner at let's say 7 PM.

    1. I would scrap plans for dinner and instead reserve a table for lunch at one of the starred restaurants. The prices are very reasonable at lunch, and you will not be rushed. For instance, Taillevent advertises a 70e lunch menu. I have never been there but have been to the following and readily recommend each, les Ormes, Au Trou Gascon, Jacques Cagna, Angle du Faubourg, Helen Darroze, Violin d'Ingres, Relais Louis XIII, Hiramatsu.

      Even better, if you have any flexibility in your travel, go to Paris on Thursday, have lunch at one of these really good places and wind up the day at either the Louvre or Musee d'Orsay in the evening. Both are open until about 10:00PM on Thursday.

      The brasseries are OK, but you will be astounded by the quality of the ones I listed above (some a little more than others but all very good). The brasseries I think are on par with les Hallles in New York, so solidly good but not fabulous.

      1. Well, ok, that's just another opinion. However, with just one single day, I wouldn't want to spend 3-4 hours (and you'll want that) in a starred resto. Besides, now in December, it's kind of difficult to snag tables, especially since it's for this coming Friday, usually a busy day any week. Since weather forecast is pretty good for these coming days, I'd rather take advantage of that and enjoy the Xmas windows, maybe the area around the Eiffel Tower, the Luxembourg Gardens and Saint-Germain or the Marais, etc. Really depends where your priorities are. Of course, you can also spend hours at a museum. If you're first timers, I'd just try to get some of the atmosphere and walk as much as you can and for sure come back.. but then, for more than just one day.

        1. Thank you for the great suggestions. Now my wife and I are discussing whether we should go for the Great Lunch or early dinner at the Terminus Nord. Both sound great but since we only have one day this trip, I'm leaning toward the brasseries.

          If we did the dinner at Terminus Nord, how long do you think we should set aside?

          Then again, I looked at the web site for Taillevent and... wow!

          In any case, we are already looking forward to our next visit

          1. Greg,
            If you decide for the Terminus Nord, I'd book a table for 6:30 PM. This will give you plenty of time to enjoy a relaxed dinner.

            As for Taillevent et al. Don't forget, when you go to such a food temple, you want to be dressed up a bit, even for lunch. At least, we, women, do. :o) However, this won't match too well, if you plan to walk a lot (meaning for the shoes, etc.).

            Whatever you should do, enjoy your day in Paris.