Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > France >
Jan 27, 2007 09:21 AM

Paris newcomer seeks advice

I'm off to Paris for the first time and would like some recommendations. I have three days, and would probably like to break the budget one time for something really special, and keep more modest the rest of the time.

I know that lunch is traditionally the main meal in France, but it is not really my style to spend 3-4 hrs in mid-day eating and drinking. Do restaurants offer their finest menus for dinner also?

I know Paris is great for ethnic food, but I live in LA so would rather focus on French. Perhaps some places that specialize in regional cooking would be interesting; also bistro/brasserie. I generally avoid pork, veal and foie gras, but am probably willing to abandon this preference for this trip, since it seems that that will rule out a lot of possibilities.

Final style point: I learned French at an early age and have a good accent, but otherwise am very deficient although I can get by. I probably will work on reviving my knowledge a little before my trip. I know the stereotypes of Parisian intolerance of imperfect French. Can I try to use my skills at nice establishments, or do you recommend just letting them speak to me in English?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Any attempt to speak french will be well accepted by those in Paris, use your french everywhere and they will meet you half way or switch to english for you but it will be a nicer experience for everyone. I have found Paris (and Parisians) to be a much warmer place in the last 15 years, than the stereotype set out.

    Most restaurants serve their finest menus at dinner -- lunch is a good way to 'frugally' try the most expensive places but otherwise, you'll have no limits at dinner.

    And lastly, we really like to eat either high end or street food -- we didn't eat enough crepes and mixte (ham and cheese bagettes), and ate too many middling meals for E35/person. My reco is revel in the street foods and not feel as though you're missing anything.

    Where are you staying? glad to recommend specifics if I know what neighborhood

    1. dinner is the main meal of the day and they eat later than here. you can easily spend 200 Euro on dinner in paris if you want. plus wine of course. part of the fun for me in the high end places is the decore. places like les ambasadeures in the crillon hotel and le grand Verfour have amazing interiors and are referred to as palaces because they are. verefour may be hard to get a res. with this short notice. but both serve lunch if you want to save a little money. there are too many other places to mention but i would recomend for lunch an inexpensive place one of my favorites also amazing interior is bouillion racine look it up on the net. (5th or 6th) behind odeon M. another place i worked is l 'os a moelle (15th) good inexpensive. really there are probably 50 or so classic bistros still around and you should try one. ill name a couple say bofinger (bastille) zinc ( st germain) lipp, flo, colbert, do a little research.

      about speaking french yes definately try in my opinion anywhere you go trying to speak their language opens doors, brings on a smile and unfortunately americans have a bad rep. for asuming - being actually arrogant to start a conversation in english. the french are very proud of their country and a bit jelous of ours. everyone knows your a tourist what they really want is your money and for you to go home. dont get me wrong i love the french but paris has a well deserved reputation even the french admit parisians are different than other french...

      oh mabe a final note for now. you might find yourself at the eifel tower. the best view of it is from the trocadero and if you are standing in front looking at the tour to your right is a resto/ cafe that has decent food and thebest view possible. i have always wanted to eat at jules verne for dinner 2nd floor tour eifel it lost a star a couple of years ago so just for the view really if it is good weather and you are 2 people otherwis forget it cause all the tables by the windows are res. for couples and no poiint if it is hazy as it often is...

      you could always go to alan decas for braging rights. good luck, andrew but not as good now that it moved to plaza atinee

      1. From my first exposure as a backpacking college student in 1982, I've always loved Paris. I cherish my visits and I've been lucky enough to get there once a year almost every year for over a decade.

        I had to pass a French exam for graduate school, so I once had a pretty good command of the written language, but my conversational French and my accent were always lousy. Nevertheless, I have chatted my way through France over the years and always received very nice service. Use your French - the people will appreciate it and reciprocate your effort to communicate with their own efforts.

        If you only have three days, I suggest that you decide what attractions you want to visit and then plan your meals around them. For example, if you visit the Eiffel Tower one morning, choose a lunch spot in that area.

        Bonne chance!

        2 Replies
        1. re: purplescout

          Thanks for the tips; I will definitely look into the places mentioned. I have little experience in high-end dining, but Paris would definitely be the place to do it. Perhaps a Ducasse or Robuchon establishment or something along those lines. My trip is not for a couple of months so I have time to research and make reservations. I read a posting about a place called L'As du Fallafel which supposedly makes the best falafel in the world, so maybe I won't rule out ethnic food after all! By the way, any boulangerie/patisserie recs? I know only of LaDuree, which I will definitely check out because I make french-style macaroons at home, with varying degrees of success!

          1. re: jono37

            L'As du Falafel is indeed great, and cheap too. It's on the Rue des Rosiers in the Marais. I'll second everyone else's comments about attempting to use your French; mine is only adequate but it was good enough for cafes and brasseries, and it seems true that it's much appreciated. I'll also second the above comment about street food- a jambon beurre for 3 euros eaten in the Luxembourg Gardens is my idea of top-flight dining...

            As for boulangeries and patisseries, pretty much any corner shop I stopped in had excellent bread or croissants. I'm sure there are ups and downs, but for the most part you can't miss.

            Another recommendation I'd make would be to seek out some great hot chocolate- places like Angelina or La Charlotte de l'Isle make an amazing, rich, delicious concoction.

        2. David Lebovitz's food blog has a lot of Paris restauant recommendations and dining tips [] - I highly recommend the entertaining read.