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Going to Paris for my 1st time in May - What do you think of my "food itinerary"?

Hi CHers:

After studying the France Boards for a couple of months now, I think I'm close to finalizing my "food itinerary." I'm going to Paris on May 9th for 1 week with my husband. It's a special trip b/c it will be our second honeymoon and I will be celebrating my birthday. I don't have reservations for all places just yet. I have a friend who lives in Paris who will be making them for me. I do have my dinner reservation at Taillevent all set. I emailed them in early March and was told that the only date availabe for dinner in the month of May was May 15. What luck since May 15 is our last night in Paris!

My food itinerary:

10/05/07 - Thursday
Lunch @ Chez Denise
Dinner @ Aux Lyonnais

11/05/07 - Friday
Dinner @ Au Fil de Saisons

12/05/07 - Saturday
Dinner at Le Souk
(I would like to try Chez Omar, but I they don't take reservations.)

13/05/07 - Sunday
Dinner @ Mon Vieil Ami

14/05/07 - Monday
Dinner @ Georges at The Pompidou
(I only want to eat at Georges if we can get a table by the window.)

15/05/07 - Tuesday
Dinner @ Taillevent
(Our last night in Paris and our big splurge!)

Back-up places in case I can't get dinner reservations at the places above. Also, places to consider for lunch.
- L'as Du Falafel
- Chez Omar
- Les Papilles
- Le Carre des Feuillants
- Le Cafe Constant
- Le Petite Pontoise

List of other "must try" places for snacks.
- Pierre Hermes for chocolates, pastries and croissants
- Lauduree for macarons
- Poilane for breads
- Berthillion for ice cream
- Crepes from street vendors
- Debauve and Gallais for caramels
- Various Street Markets, like Bastille Market and the Organic Market

I kept lunch open because I'm not sure what time we will be eating b/c I know we will be so busy visiting museums, shopping and such. Also, I think my husband and I can only handle one big meal a day.

One question - Do you think I will be missing out if I scheduled a tour of Versailles on Saturday morning? I was thinking that Sat. would be better over Sunday since there is the big Bastille Market on Sundays. I wanted to visit the market and buy fresh bread, pate, fruit, etc. for a Sunday picnic with my husband. Should I stick to Sat. morning or should I schedule it during the week?

Please let me know if I am missing anything or should change something. Thank you in advance.

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  1. If I'm going to Versailles / Fontainebleau, I always choose a Sunday. There's so little open in Paris on Sundays, that for me, that's the perfect choice. and fwiw, I like Fontainebleau much more than Versailles, altho both are must-sees at least once.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ChefJune

      Thanks for your advice, Chef June. I had originally chosen Sunday as the day to go to Versailles, but then I would miss the famous farmer's markets in Paris. Is there one during the week or Sat. that you know about and would recommend going to?

      1. re: chamorrofoodie

        There are markets every day in one part of Paris or another. Every day on the rue Mouffetard, Friday, Sat and Sun on the Boulevard Raspail, but lots more, too. I'm sure other hounds will come through here with market info.

        1. re: chamorrofoodie

          I would stick with the plan of going to the Bastille market on Sunday. It is one of the bigger markets and better because of that. After the market find a nice Bistrot and enjoy a long lunch, before meandering back to your hotel. The shops in the Marais are open on Sunday and it is nice to stroll around (and next to the market - cut through Place de Voges").

          Georges has one of the oddest table allocation systems in the world. I took business colleagues there for dinner and I was not allowed to be seated until my whole party arrived. The bette tables are allocated first and thus we had a pretty average one as a result of waiting. The staff a beautiful and they know it. I believe you go to Georges to look at them rather than for them to serve you.
          Food is OK - all restaurants owned by the Costes Bros do things to a reasonable standard. However, it is international food not classic or even modern french fare (Caeser salad etc).

          1. re: PhilD

            Perhaps I should reconsider eating at Georges on Monday night. I was told it's a nice place to eat b/c of the views, but I would rather have good food over a good view. And I am not into the whole "scene" thing either. I get enough of that in NYC. Anyone have a restaurant recommendation for Monday night or should I just pick a place from my back-up list?

      2. The Bastille Market is great, get there early before it fills up with lookers. We went around 7:30 and it was perfect, just early locals buying stuff. They have great gifts to bring home, if you do that sort of thing: wonderful scarves, flavored salts, small bags of spices, lots of things for under 5 euros. Dinner: I have been to Paris a dozen times and always find new places. The last place was in the 7th, on Blvd. de La Tour Maubourg at Rue de L'universite, name is Le Chamarre. We loved it, great food, good service, wonderful single malt whiskey that you can't buy anywhere for a pre meal libation. For chocolate, if you are in the 7th, don't miss La Maison du Chocolate.

        2 Replies
        1. re: julieg

          I have heard so much about the Bastlle market & the Raspail, where exactly are they located??

          1. re: kittykatkid

            the Bastille market is on .

            The Bastille market is on Bd Richard Lenoir, starting on Pl. de la Bastille to r. Saint Sabin. The Raspail market is on Bd Raspail, between r. du Cherche Midi and r. de Rennes.


        2. I forgot to say forget Versailles. I have been there twice and unless the gardens are in bloom it is over-hyped. But that's just me, probably. Too many people, it is a cattle call and it takes a whole day. There are so many other things to see in Paris central. Check out the small museums that are usually housed in neighborhoods. Like the Marmatton Museum. If you want a day trip out of the city, I would recommend Chartes. The cathedral is awesome and so is the town. An hour away on the train.

          4 Replies
          1. re: julieg

            Thanks for your comments, julieg. But I think I will still go to Versailles, just so I can say that I've been. I'm planning on going with a tour company and only going for a 1/2 day tour.

            1. re: chamorrofoodie

              Cham: I have taken the tour from that gathering spot on the rue Royale, and it's a very good tour. Be sure, as long as you're going, to also see Marie Antoinette's apartments, Le Petit Trianon, as they should be open from May through November. They are recently reopened after a very long time closed. I am looking forward to seeing them in November!

              1. re: ChefJune

                I'd recommend renting a bike & seeing her cottage and (to keep this chowish), buy some fresh squeezed orange juice from the cart. Then keep biking around the Grand Canal. Bring a little picnic in a backpack & then have lunch on the grounds!

              2. re: chamorrofoodie

                you can do both in one day, i did it last time we went to paris and i am planning to do it now in april with my wife, trains departs from gare montparnasse to chartres i believe since 7:00 am and you can be there in 1 hour, tour the beautiful and definitely worthy cathedral and then go back to versailles by noon and spend the rest of the day there, after that, you can go back in time to gare montparnasse and round the day at la cagouille wich is not far from there ( actually thats my plan jiji) greetings.

            2. how about L'Arpege or L'Astrance instead of Taillevent? unless you want to experience the space and history as much as the food (btw, they just lost a michelin star - demoted to 2).

              L'Epi Dupin bistro

              La Flute Gana boulangerie for croissants (esp. almond)

              Angelina for hot chocolate - thickest, darkest, richest you'll ever have. whipped cream a must

              Mariage Freres for tea

              grocery store - la Grande Epicerie

              Lavinia for wine

              have fun!

              3 Replies
              1. re: nuxvomica

                <(btw, they just lost a michelin star - demoted to 2).> Those stars are as political as they are anything else. Michelin always demotes smeone whenever they add one, because they don't "allow" more than 26 3-star restaurants in France in any given year! Taillevent is still, imo, the ultimate Paris experience. Arpege is lovely as long as you don't want to eat meat, imo.... and a WHOLE lot more expensive.. at least 400 Euros per head, last I noticed...

                1. re: nuxvomica

                  Mariage Freres is not to be missed!

                  1. re: aimeezing1

                    As Tea Salons go, I prefer La Maison de Trois Thé.

                2. If it is your first time in Paris, I would stick with Taillevent. It is a better representation of Paris fine dining than either Arpege or L'Astrance. Also eating at Chez Denise and Aux Lyonnais on the same day might be a bit much for the stomach.

                  1. I would make a reservation at Les Papilles for one of your nights. Georges at the Pompidou is a tourist ripoff and you would be better off just taking the escalator up for the view and saving the money. Places in the area of the Pompidou for lunch or dinner are Le Bouledogue or Chez Janou near the Place des Vosges.
                    Chez Omar is disappointing unless you are in need of cous cous. Much better off at the aforementioned Chez Janou or Ze Kitchen Gallerie in the 6th

                    1. Don't forget le petit dejeuner, my favorite part of every day in Paris. Find a good cafe near your hotel (can be just about any place) that serves pain au chocolat, or better yet the "Petit Dejeuner Francaise" which is usually toasted baguette, butter and jam, a croissant and some orange juice, and bien sur, cafe creme. It's the perfect way to start each day (best if you find a place to go every day to have a mini-routine and get to know your quartier), and it's excellent people-watching. I love sipping that amazing coffee and watching the Parisians buy their papers, window shop, and bustle about. And for early evening, before dinner, have a kir--can also be at the same place (can you tell I like rituals?) These are two things you can count on to be good at just about any cafe or bistro you happen upon.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: cafecreme

                        I would definitely skip Georges at the Pompidou on such a short trip.
                        You can get the view by simply going up to the top of the Pompidou, or just stop in at Georges and have coffee or perhaps lunch if you are at the museum.
                        With so many restaurants to recommend, I still recommend Le Troquet where I always celebrate with friends.
                        After the Bastille market, I would go to Cafe de L'Industrie, or (for better food) to the Bistrot du Peintre, or to the traditional place at the end of the rue de Lappe.

                      2. I always find Taillevent too 'stuffy' for my liking. The food too has definitely gone downhill. For a 3 stars experience, I would choose from Le Cinq, Grand Vefour or Guy Savoy. I love Le Cinq's food and Grand Vefour for its incredible palatial dining room. Guy Savoy offers a more hip and modern approach both in food and decor. If you still wanted to experience Taillevent for ots 'old school' feel, why not try them out for lunch instead. Its way less expensive.

                        1 Reply
                        1. We were in Paris at the beginning of March.

                          Ate lunch at Taillevent, thanks to a kid tip from Chef June. It was fantastic and more reasonable @70 E. than dinner.

                          The hotel (the Intercontinental) we were staying at made us reservations at Chez Denise, but when we arrived, it was shuttered and quite obviously closed. We never found out why.

                          I am headed there again in 2 weeks and probably will try Chez Denise again.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: C. Hamster

                            That's seems odd, because I was under the impression that Chez Denise is open 24 hours.

                            Have you heard that Taillevent is not worth it for dinner? Or have you tried them for dinner? I am reluctant to have lunch there because people say that it is a 3 hour or more affair. I would rather spend that time touring the city.

                            1. re: chamorrofoodie

                              Taillevent is certainly a FABULOUS place for dinner. I have dined there at both lunch AND dinner, and loved every bite. However... and it's a BIG however... there is definitely no 70-Euro dinner. dinner will run you closer to 200 Euros per person.

                              if you have never enjoyed a 3-star lunch at this type of restaurant, I would venture that it is as much a part of the Paris experience for a foodie as touring the city.

                              1. re: ChefJune

                                You're absolutely right. I think I will add one long, fabulous lunch to my itinerary. What do you think about lunch at Guy Savoy?

                              2. re: chamorrofoodie

                                My only trip to Taillevent was at lunch, so I defer to June (below) concerning dinner. The 70 E lunch is without wine and the addition of the wine tab is about all I can afford to splurge on without feeling horribly guilty and eating MAc and Cheese from a box when I get home.

                                We were very confused by Chez Denise being closed, especially since we had reservations. Supposedly. As it turns out, we were tired anyway and ate at a cafe near the hotel which turned out to be quite good, actually.

                            2. Chamorro, what was the verdict on all the above? I'm a NYCer going to Paris for 4 nights at the beginning of July. Had a lot of the same ideas you did with the N. African addition of 404.

                              What did you like/dislike? How was dinner at Taillevent? Should it have been a lunch?


                              Lost, confused, and indecisive.

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: telichte

                                Full review on my trip will be posted real soon!

                                1. re: chamorrofoodie

                                  This review is long overdue and is also very long. I apologize for the length, but I want to make sure to include all information in order to help future Paris travelers. Merci to all the Chowhounders who provided tips, recommendations, reviews, etc. that helped me so much in planning my dream trip to Paris.

                                  Thursday, May 10
                                  Lunch at Chez Denise (also known as "A la Tour de Montlhery"). Place was packed at 1 pm. Full of locals - the only language being spoken was French. We told the waiter in our best French that we didn't speak French and would need help with the menu. He spoke English and translated the menu to us.

                                  Appetizers: Escargot and Frisee salad. Used the bread to soak up all the buttery goodness from the escargot. Entrees: Onglet de Boeuf Grille (grilled flank steak w/ fries) and Boeuf Gros Sel (beef stew with vegetables). The portions were huge! Grilled flank steak was served a perfect medium-rare. It was good, but I felt that I should have ordered something more daring. The fries were amazing. Husband's stew was delicious. Portion could have easily fed two people. The stew broth was very light, not a rich and heavy sauce. The meat was super tender. I ate more of his stew than my meal. Didn't have room for dessert, although we saw a lot of people around us eating what looked like a Baba au Rum (cake soaked in rum).

                                  Chez Denise
                                  5 rue des Prouvaires

                                  Snack - Macarons, croissants and pain au chocolat from Laduree. The Caramel fleur de sel macaron is divine! Sweet with a hint of saltiness.

                                  Laduree (there are numerous locations)
                                  21 rue Bonaparte

                                  Friday, May 11
                                  Picked up some croissants at Pierre Herme and admired all the beautiful pastries. The best croissant I've ever had. So flaky and buttery. I still dream about it. Wish I had time to go back and buy some of his artistic and creative desserts. A definite must!

                                  Pierre Herme
                                  72 rue Bonaparte

                                  Dinner at Au Fil de Saisons. I had the Baked Foie Gras w/ Sausage and Peas to start and Confit de Carnard for my entree. My husband had White Asparagus w/ Poached Egg to start and Andulet Sausage for his entree. We shared two desserts - trio of chocolate souffles and trio of creme brulees.

                                  The meal was good, but not "out of this world" as described by some Chowhounders. I should've gotten the regular Terrine of Fois Gras b/c I didn't like the texture of the baked one. I also felt that my Duck Confit was too dry. I did enjoy the desserts. This was my birthday dinner and I expected a more lively atmosphere with better food. The restaurant wasn't packed at all. And besides one or two other tables of Parisians, the only other people at the restaurant were foreigners.

                                  Au Fil de Saisons
                                  6 rue des Fontaines du Temple

                                  Sat., May 12
                                  Dinner at Le Souk. This place is in the 11th Arrondisment, which is full of shops, bars/clubs, and ethnic restaurants. Le Souk was lively and crowded. Thank goodness we made a reservation. What we ate: Carnard Bastilla (duck in puff pastry - a sweet and savory appetizer), Souk Couscous (chicken) and Tagine Kefi (lamb). We finished our meal off with some Moroccan mint tea. This meal really hit the spot. After eating French food for a couple of days, it was nice to eat something different. The portions were big and the flavors were just right.

                                  Le Souk
                                  1 rue Keller

                                  Sun. May 13
                                  It was raining pretty heavily on Sunday morning, so ended up skipping the Bastille Market. Weather cleared late morning, so we jumped on a train for Versailles.

                                  Dinner at L'as du Falafel in the Marais District. Believe the hype!!! By far, the best falafel I've ever had. The pita was so soft and the falafel, sauces, and fillings were super fresh. The place was a mad house! So, don't expect to have a long, leisurely dinner. You don't have to eat-in either. The restaurant has a take-out window. A lot of people were sitting on the sidewalks eating their falafels. Highly, highly recommended. And the Marais District is a great place to walk around.

                                  L'as Du Falafel
                                  34 rue des Rosiers

                                  After L'as du Falafel, we walked to Isle de Saint Louis for some Berthillon ice cream only to find that the shop closes at 8 pm! Warning - the shop closes early and is closed on Monday and Tuesdays. So, I had to settle with eating Berthillon at one of the corner cafes. Had one scoop each of dark chocolate, coffee and caramel. All were very rich and creamy. Loved the caramel the best.

                                  Mon., May 14
                                  Lunch at Carre des Feuillants. 3 course prixe fix lunch menu is 65 Euros/pp. Everything about this meals was wonderful. This is what we ate: I started with the Duck Foie Gras and Green Asparagus, Pourpier Salad, Artichoke Crisps and my husband started with the Marinated thinly sliced Raw Scallops, Dried Tomato, Cottage Cheesse. Main courses were the Milk-fed Veal Pojarski, Little Purple Artichokes, Sweet Pimento and Black Olive and the Pan-Fried Poulty with Rice and Morels. For dessert, I had the Wild Strawberries and White Chocolate with Macaron Cake, Rose Sorbet and my husband the the Briard Fougeru Cheese with Truffle.

                                  The wine we had with lunch was fantastic, although I forgot what it was called. The sommalier at the restaurant was very friendly and helpful. He's seemed rather young, but he knows his stuff. He also spoke English very well, even though he didn't think so.

                                  The presentation of the food was an art form here. Typical small portions, but packed with immense flavors. We took our time and savored each bite. The rose sorbet smelled like roses, was shaped like a rose petal and was served on a rose petal. Our lunch lasted almost 3 hours and we weren't even hungry for a full dinner later that evening.

                                  Carre des Feuillants
                                  14 rue de Castiglione

                                  On our way back to the hotel, picked up some exotic teas at Mariage Feres. They've been in business since 1854 and are the masters when it comes to tea. Love their Shanghai Suprise (fruity green tea) and Sakura teas.

                                  Mariage Feres
                                  13 rue Des Grands Augustins

                                  Tues., May 15
                                  Picnic lunch - bought food items at Le Grande Epicierie and ate at the small park outside Bon Marche. While at Le Grande Epicerie, I bought some Maille mustards, herbs de provence, Christine Farber jams, and fleur de sel to bring home. I have since opened the Maille lemon and garlic mustard and it's fantastic! I can't wait to try the Maille Thai spice and mango mustard.

                                  Bon Marche/Grand Epicerie
                                  24 rue de Sevres
                                  Closed on Sunday

                                  Dinner - Kong at the Kenzo Building. For all you "Sex and The City" fans, this is the restaurant that Carrie had lunch at with the Russian's ex-wife. We were meeting a friend of mine who works at Louis Vuitton and he picked it. I have to say that the food was quite good. I had the crabmeat and avocado salad and my husband had the steak frites. The restaurant is definitely a "scene" with lots of people from the fashion industry. I felt like I was in NYC!

                                  1 rue du Pont Neuf

                                  Some Additional Comments:
                                  Next time, I would plan my "splurge" meal at the beginning of the trip. After one week of travel, my husband and I couldn't imagine eating another big meal. Yes, we walked everywhere and were getting some exercise, but we just aren't used to eating out so much. A lot of you are going to gasp at what I am about to say -- But, I actually had dinner reservations at Tallivient on our last night in Paris. It was the ONLY dinner reservation the restaurant had available in the month of May when I called in early March to book. Honestly, my hubby and I were so stuffed by then and couldn't imagine sitting through a 3 hour, 6 course meal that would cost us an arm and a leg. So, we decided to cancel the reservation and save Tallivient for another time.

                                  Also, I would go to the 3 Star restaurants for lunch. They really do have great prixe fix menus and prices for lunch. It's the same food, just cheaper at lunch! Also, the food is so rich, that you really need the rest of the afternoon to digest it all.

                                  Thank you again to all Chowhounders!

                                2. re: telichte

                                  telichte-- absolutely, sub 404 for Chez Omar. Omar used to be a fabulous scene because they were cheap and in the middle of a trendy neighborhood. Then they doubled the prices and the crowds moved on. The food is fine but the food at 404 can be stupendous. Their brunch is a personal favorite. The difference, too, is that Omar is Algerian and the food at 404 is Moroccan, which I find far tastier, sophisticated and varied. (Lots of sucré/salé play.) Since I am here let me give my .02 on Chez Denise. The fact that it was closed was probably for personal reasons. It's a great place and whether you eat at 9 pm or midnight or 2 pm makes little difference, other than the clientele. The later the hour, the more colorful. In other words, at 9pm you will see a lot of cop types (the place is heavy on the testosterone) and at 2 am you will see lots of nightbirds...of every sex. And the occasional cop in drag, perhaps ;-) Cheers.

                                  1. re: haapi

                                    thanks, haapi. do i need a reservation for 404?

                                    1. re: telichte

                                      Reservations are always very much appreciated, especially at smaller places.
                                      And better safe than sorry. Book a table, I'd say. Then you can relax and you don't have to wonder, whether there's availability or not. Just my 2 cents. ;o)
                                      Tel. 01 42 74 57 81 (that's for 404).

                                  2. re: telichte

                                    my review of my trip is above. i chose to go to Le Souk b/c it was featured on the Travel Channel one night. and i loved it. 404 sounds good, too. as you will see, i never made it to Taillevent b/c my husband and i were too stuffed at the end of our trip. my advice is to eat at the Michelin starred restaurants early in your trip. and the advice of going for lunch is a good one. not only is it cheaper, but you will have the entire day to digest the rich and delicious food. have a great trip!

                                    1. re: chamorrofoodie

                                      Mes amis~Consider L'Homme Bleu in the 11th for your North African food. This was our neighborhood place long ago(9 years) and it is still great given my research on this site.

                                      1. re: chamorrofoodie


                                        Incredibly thorough review! Thanks for all the help and advice. My lunch at Taillevent is booked for the beginning of the trip, so all should be well. Anyone have suggestions for Bruges or Portugal?

                                        I know, I know...wrong board. But you people do seem to know your food!

                                        1. re: telichte

                                          telichte: In Lisbon, there's a restaurant that gave me one of my all-time Top 10 dining experiences: Stop do Bairro.

                                          I never would have thought they'd have a website, but lo-and-google-behold: http://www.hed-web.com/stop/

                                          It's a rough, old family-run joint with a TV in the corner and football jerseys on the walls. (If you've ever been to Portugal, you'll already know these are good signs. On my last trip -- mostly in the north -- the quality of the food was inversely related to the price of the meal.) We went on a Sunday, and only just got in before mass let out at the church down the street and the massive families descended. All the tables are big, family-style affairs.

                                          The baby cuttlefish was outrageous -- served whole. Put it in your mouth and spit out the cuttle! Black teeth from the ink, and big smiles to show them off! And black poop the next day! The caldeirada was incomparable. Sardines the best we had in Portugal. I am not prone to superlatives in food reviews. Wash it all down with copious vinho verde.

                                          Spend some time, before you go to this place, to make sure you know where you're headed. It's in an out-of-the-way neighborhood, and we had to stop a friendly cop to find it. He instantly knew the place we were asking about. Another good sign.

                                          Also, if you haven't been to Portugal before, read up a bit on how to order, there. There are some oddities that can wind you up with way too much food.

                                          You're right. Wrong board. But I couldn't wait when I saw your question.

                                      2. re: telichte

                                        we've done lunch at Taiilevent every year for the last 5 and still love it. We do the 70e lunch and have jean Marie add an appetzer course and a dessert course which, with wine and congnac after, comes to about $300 per. It is always a fabulous experience. the food is not as adventurous as some oter 3 stars, but everythihg has always been perfectly prepared and the service is unmatched. For dinner ,le Grand vefour is luxurious and an exquisite room, but I prefer the food and service at L'ambroisie(which ain't no slouch as far as decor, itself), in the Place de Vosge. Atelier Joel Robuchon is nteresting and good, but imo, not worth the price. A place that used to be a little bit of a secret, but now out of the bag, is Le Meurice which does an excellent prix fixe lunch. some old standbys that we still like are L' Ami de Louis and La Bastide de L'Odeon