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Jul 18, 2007 11:52 PM

Please Tell Us Your Favorite Paris and Normandy Restaurants

Hello all. My wife and I will be travelling to Paris in October. We'll be in Paris for four nights, Rouen for one night, Deauville for one night, Bayeux for two nights, and Mt. St. Michele for one night. We both love great food, whether it's a three-star palace or a small little place with great chow.

While in Paris, I was thinking we'd eat dinner one night at a three-star, and then have the other three nights to explore bistros, brasseries, or a one- or two-star place. The idea is to still eat wonderful food, but at down-to-earth prices (to the extent possible, given the state of the U.S. dollar) for those other three nights. So, which three-star would you recommend and why? I'm considering the following:

Pierre Gagnaire
Le Grand Vefour
Pre Catelan
Le Meurice
Guy Savoy

As for the other nights, I'd love to hear of any wonderful experiences you've had at Paris bistros or brasseries. We'll be staying in St. Germain, but aren't limited to the 5e or 6e.

Finally, I would appreciate your recommendations at any of the other places we'll be visiting that I mentioned above. We'll be driving a car through Lower Normandy, so we should be fairly mobile. Thanks!!

P.S. I've conducted many searches on this board already, but am hoping to obtain more current information.

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  1. As you have conducted research on the board, you will know most of what follows so I will just summarise. Gagnaire is a crazy genial man, it is a violent experience, often disappointing and even bad, often mind-blowing. Le Grand Vefour's main interest is the historic setting in the Palais-Royal. A bit of the same is true with le Pré-Catelan, though the simple style of cooking is more interesting. Le Meurice is a lively palace, chef Alléno is hugely talented and mixes the upper luxury standards with a genuine love for food ina setting that copies Versailles. Pacaud in l'Ambroisie is seen by many as the best restaurant in the World, embodying pure perfection, very ascetic in a way but also can be literaly transcendent. No one will give you the impression that "this is the true taste" like him. Savoy is kind of the opposite in terms of ambiance, almost a very fancy cabaret (see recent detailed review on my blog. To me, saying that it is in the street of fancy maisons closes says it all. In a good way). It really depends on what you like and what your mood is.

    To answer directly your question, I would take a fine dining neophyte to Savoy, it is one of the best introductions to fine dining I can imagine. And I would take my beloved and educated wife to l'Ambroisie, at least once, so she knows. Le Meurice would be my third choice (say if I can't have a table at l'Ambroisie) in your list. I would totally consider le Doyen before, though.

    Is it late october? you may enjoy the first white truflles then! And good mushrooms otherwise...

    A solid hour drive from the Mont Saint Michel, but still in sight when the weather permits, is Olivier Roellinger in Cancale, a grand and subtle genius that requires all your availability and being relaxed, but then the reward is great. Again, more in other places in the board.

    My favorite bistrots in Paris are l'Absinthe, le Bistrot d'a Coté, le Gourmet des Ternes, le Bistro coté mer, le Petit Riche, la Rotonde, la Régalade, Luna Rosso in Romainville, Asia Palace in Chinatown. But really, there are so many, most of those mentioned in the board are good, and I recommend using the map of parisian bistrots from le Bottin Gourmand (also in a former post to just find a good one close to where you are). I don't believe many parisian bistrots are so good that they are worth a trip.

    Le Duc for seafood, Lac Hong for Vietnamese, Sormani for Italian, Tong Yen for Chinese, Wally for Couscous, are middle priced restaurants I like a lot and warmly recommend.

    1 Reply
    1. re: souphie


      Thank you for your informative post (and the many others you've posted on this board). I'm focusing on Savoy or l'Ambroisie for now, and your bistro recommendations are consistent with those of many others on this board. Also, thanks for the recommendation near Mont Saint Michel!

      If anyone else has any recommendations or thoughts, whether on certain three stars or bistros in Paris, or restaurants in Normandy, I'd love to hear them. Thanks, all.