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May 11th-16th trip To France...

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I was wondering if this board could share some day trip experiences with me as this will be my first trip to France and I would like to see as much as possible in such a short time. Most of the time, my wife will be in conferences during the day, so I will have time to explore on my own. I dont speak French! I like Red Wines- any suggestions? I am mostly a meat, chicken, pork, seafood (in that order) type of person, but I am not opposed to trying new things. Where is the best french Onion Soup? If I want to interact with ExPats, where do you go? We are trying to make it to one 4 star, and are budgeting for 100 euro dinners, do you have any suggestions? Are there any areas of the City that are unsafe? Sorry for so many questions, but this is a once in a lifetime type of trip that i would like to make the most out of!

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  1. What City or Cities will you be visiting?

    1 Reply
    1. re: hippo

      Sorry. We will be in paris the whole time in the Hotel Concorde La Fayette.

    2. Paris is the best!! You are in for a real treat. Get yourself Rick Steves Paris. it is a great guide, especially for a first timer. Get either Rick Steves French Phrase book or Lonely Planet Phrase Book. Almost everyone speaks some English, but if you make an effort to communicate in French you will be more warmly received. Plus it will be a godsend for decoding menus. I don't know where your staying, read the posts on this board and you will get hundreds of ideas of where to eat. Most of the restaurants I have listed on my HELP FOR A SUNDAY post are exactly in your price range, and serve the type of food you listed as to your liking. Zagat.com is a great website, there are quite a few good ones actually. Try to figure out a few places you really want to eat at and have your hotel secure your reservations, and if your palnning on dining at a starred restaurant, you need to reserve as soon as possible!! Bon Appetit!!!

      1. there are no 4 star restaurants in France, one 1, 2 and 3, that is the rating scale used by the Michelin Red Guide, the first publication (I am fairly sure) to do that kind of thing, started nearly 100 years ago now. The 1 stars beat the fool our of most anything you find in the US, the 3 stars are unimaginable until you actually go and experience for yourself. Get a Red Guide, available on Amazon, there is a Paris only version which is much more convenient in size than the one that covers all of France. It has a section for where to go for the best typical foods such as onion soup, confit canard, cassoulet, etc. It is very reliable.

        You will find duck, lamb and veal to be the most common meats on French menus, with beef being the exception.

        I always feel safe in Paris. The eastern side, especially around Gare du Nord / Est is kind of rough and tumble, but there is not much to warrant a visit in that area unless you are taking a train ride. Also, the area between the metro stops Place de Clichy - Blanche - Pigalle is porn central, like NY 42nd street in the 70-80s except worse and should be avoided. The places where all the cars were being torched last year are outside the peripherique and you will have no need to venture there but will get glimpse of those fairly despondent areas on your train or taxi ride in from the airport.

        1 Reply
        1. re: f2dat06

          Strange comment about beef. In my experience it is quite common on menus. Maybe less dominant as there is an equal amount of Lamb, Pork, Veal, Duck etc.

          In my experience French beef is very different to North American beef. The French prefer their meat to be lightly cooked, thus many will have it served "blue" - so take care when ordering to ensure it is to your taste. I also found it to be quite tough and chewy, but my French colleagues though loved it like that.

        2. Sorry about your hotel; that area won't give you a good impression of Paris but at least you are right on two metro lines which can take you to more picturesque sites. Here are some restaurants you can walk to: Le relais de Venise (steak/frites, and only steak/frites), Le Petite Pergolese, Le Pergolese (a Michelin one star) and Ballon des Ternes. For your "splurge" dinner you are reasonably close to the three star Guy Savoy. For more info on the above, go to www.lesrestos.com.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Oakglen

            I agree this is not a great area for a hotel. I stayed at "Le Meridian" across the road from the Hotel Concorde La Fayette for about 6 weeks and you will find you are next to a large conference centre and road interchange. Not at all dangerous but not pretty. The area is in the 17eme but is on the border with the 16ems which is a fairly upmarket housing area with embassys etc. It is also quite a short walk from the Arc d'Triomphe (2 metro stops) and Champs Elysee. As Oakglen says it is also good for the metro which is safe to use and head into town for dinner (or grab a cab - not expensive from here).

            If you want to stay local then around the area there are some nice restaurants. Bistro Flaubert on "rue Gustave Flaubert" (http://www.michelrostang.com/) is a very good michelin starred Bistro which should cost approx 120 to 150 euro. As you can see from the site Michel Rostang has a number of restaurants in the Area. Sebillon on the "20 avenue Charles De Gaulle" does a wonderful Gigot of lamb which is carved at the table and served traditionally with white beans (second, and third helpings are free). An old favorite of mine is Auberge Dab (161 avenue Malakoff - adjacent to the Port Maillot roundabout ), this is a large traditional Brasserie that does platters of seafood and well served traditional dishes - very popular with my business colleagues for a good meal that does not push the boat out. I also enjoy Le relais de Venise every now and then for steak/frites (and yes that is all it does) when I want a rest from complex food - analogous to grabbing a decent burger. No booking simply join the queue. For the big meal you are on a good side of town - not only Guy Savoy but also Taillevent near the Arc d'Triumphe plus many others.

            Around the area there are lots of very average restaurants that cater for the convention centre crowd so go for recommendations (from fellow Chowhounds) rather than pot luck.