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Oct 25, 2007 09:40 AM

Help... i'm somewhat overwhelmed (Paris in 18 days)

I'll be in paris from the 12th thru the 20th for my honeymoon.

I am somewhat overwhelmed with the number of choices for food. I think i have a good plan and places that i don't want to miss. The only thing that i can't decide on is 1 special lunch and dinner.

I can't really afford a 3 star dinner unfortunately. So, i'd like to get the best value for 1 lunch and 1 dinner. The lunch should be under 200 euros for both of us and the dinner should be under 300 euros for both of us if at all possible with wine.

I'll eat pretty much anything... my fiance is somewhat more picky but pretty much willing to try new things.

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  1. Les Elysées du Vernet has a 64€ lunch menu with good and cheap wines by the glass (see a review: and it is in mw opinion the best value in town for fine dining. Taillevent has a 70€ lunch menu so it should be slightly tighter but workable.

    If you can keep it very easy on the wine (1 glass per person), then you also have access to the very jetsetty location and food of Les Anbassadeurs, in the hotel de Crillon on the place de la Concorde -- that's a billionaire's lunch, with the view on the place and the sophisticated, expecting a third star cooking of chef Piège.

    For dinner; I would go for Senderens -- food of an historical genius of Cuisine, unique work on wine pairing, exceptional and exciting setting (see review Service is, on the other hand, more casual. My last meal for two, where we did not hold back on food or wine, was 272€.

    Now there is of course plenty of more modest places that will still offer you a wonderful night, especially in the one Michelin star range. Petrossians for instance is a very romantic and special place with great food and well priced wine and should stay in your budget if you stay away from their caviar specialties. But if you are focused on exceptional food (which I only suspect from your taking part in this forum) then I believe that the options I mentioned are among the best.

    However, as always, knowing what you like in food and what you expect from those meals would allow for more personalised advice. For your lunch, if you can skip the wine, lunch menu gives you access to some of the best tables in Paris like Gagnaire.

    7 Replies
    1. re: souphie

      Thank you so much souphie.

      I really appreciate the time you take to answer questions.

      Personally, I want food that is different that typical high end American. I have lived in New York for a bit, Los Angeles and Washington DC. and have had the opportunity to sample some fairly high end restaurants here in the US. The last time I was in Paris I was a student so i lived mostly off pastries and baguettes filled w/ various meats and cheeses. My goal is to try as much uniquely French and Parisian food as possible during my trip.

      I was considering the 70 euro lunch at Tailllevent. We could easily skip wine... we are not refined wine drinkers. i do enjoy a glass w/ my food and am reasonably good at pairing wine with food but I know enough to know that i am a novice in that regard.

      We are staying right near the Arc... any suggestions for a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner in the vicinity?

      Needless to say i am very excited about my trip.

      1. re: sprmario

        If you are looking for a meal that is "different" and maybe more unique, I would recommend Pierre Gagnaire for lunch over Taillevent. But it really depends on you; Taillevent will be excellent, with great service and dependable food - but it will not be mind-blowing or revelationary. Pierre Gagnaire will offer taste combinations that you will have never experienced, and some of them, you may not like; but you will probably be blown away by some of the dishes he serves. I believe the current set lunch at Gagnaire is 90 euros - a great bargain for a unique, special food experience. To me, Taillevent is like a Mercedes, offering luxury and dependabiity; Gagnaire is like a Ferrari, thrilling to drive, but you may feel the bumps a little more, and there is a greater chance of it breaking down on you. My personal experience is that my meals at Gagnaire have been far more memorable than at Taillevent.

        1. re: fishskis

          Can someone give me an idea of what the final bill would be at Pierre Gagnaire? 90 euros x 2 = 180... what else would be added to the bill. I know the gratuity is included...but I'd probably give 5% extra anyway... anything else? taxes? additional costs? I'm trying to budget and i'm trying to get a handle of total out of pocket expense (i'm a financial analyst by trade so budgets are just part of my existence).

          I'm afraid i'm already late in making reservations as well.

          1. re: sprmario

            One of the great things about Paris restaurants (and hotels (other than the tiny city tax)): no extras. Price includes VAT (tax) and service (though you may choose to add a little tip).

            1. re: sprmario

              You will need to add the cost of aperitifs, water, wine and coffee. Obviously this will depend on taste and consumption. Allow a contingency of €100.

                1. re: sprmario

                  water and coffees in high end places are typically very expensive. e.g. 12eur per bottle of water and 8 for a coffee.

      2. One of my most memorable lunches in Paris was at Carre des Feuillants, Alain Dutournier's 2-star Michelin which I feel deserves 3 stars. The chef is from southwest France, and the menu reflects the region but is very innovative. It is elegant, sophisticated, and a great value at 65 euros prix fixe. Dinner is much more expensive, but the lunch gives you the opportunity to experience the creations of a top chef and stay within your budget. You could even order a decent bottle of wine without going over. Skip the aperitifs, manage with one bottle of water, but do have a coffee to go with the wonderful petit fours.

        For dinner, you can actually stay under budget. I would highly recommend le W in the Warwick hotel. Within a nondescript modern building lies a charming, cozy, and elegant restaurant with delicious food and fine service. The prix fixe is 55 euros (49 weekdays). Excellent value for money in a Michelin 1-star.

        A tip about wine: no high-end restaurant in France will serve a bad wine, so don't be afraid to order the cheapest on the list or the house wine. It will still be very good.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rrems

          thank you for the tips!

          We are not huge wine drinkers... we know enough to make reasonable pairings in general, but not enough to differentiate between a good wine and a great wine.

          1. re: sprmario

            Mario, your mouth will know when you have a great one. I promise!

        2. Oops, just noticed you mentioned leaving a 5% tip. That is too high. The French leave 2 to 3 % depending on how much they enjoyed the meal.

          1. ok, i have a reservation for Taillevent on the 13th.

            Unfortunately there was no availability at Gagnaire between the 12th and 19th :(.

            My fiance will try tomorrow moring for Les Ambassadeurs... hopefully for the 15th, 16th or 17th (for lunch).

            By the way, is there any chance that I can squeeze in to Gagnaire if I call early before the lunch service?

            Also, the reply to my fiance's reservation request email at Taillevent was incredibly thoughtfuly and nice.

            2 Replies
            1. re: sprmario

              I am not sure you'll make it under 200 Euros for the two of you at les Ambassadeurs...
              Les Elysée du Vernet would be a safer bet.

              1. re: Theobroma

                it is ok... since i decided on 2 lunches instead of 1 lunch and 1 dinner, we can go over 200 euros. 500 for both meals seems like it should be doable... if we go over i'm not going to worry about it. It is my Honeymoon and it might be a while before we get a chance to go to Paris again.

            2. struck out at Les Ambassadeurs. :(

              I think i'm going to send a list of 4 or 5 places to the concierge of our hotel and see what they can do.