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Do They Live Up to the Hype?

I'll be heading to Paris for the first time and have seen fpur restaurants/cafes repeatedly in guide books. I'm not looking for an overpriced & overhyped tourist spot, but an authentic, enjoyable, elegant experience that won't break the bank.

Are these worth all the hype?...Or should we skip them for someplace else?... I'm staying in the 18th Arrondisment but plan on hitting St. Germain de Pres and other areas.

- Les Deux Magots
- Laduree
- Cafe de Flore
- L'Entrecote

And any suggestions for restaurant(s) that "cannot be missed"?

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  1. Les Deux Magots and le Flore are historical places. They're very expensive, and enter in the "see and being seen" category. They don't match your description. Ladurée is still a high profile patisserie and their macarons are highly acclaimed. I think the ones from Grégory Renard are better. Among restaurants, as usual, everything depens on what you like and expect. The best bistrots are l'Ami Jean and La Régalade but they are "bistronomiques", using top notch food and techniques at discount prices (32eur menu). So they don't really qualify as "authentic". Le bistrot Paul Bert (11th) would more fit that description. L'entrecôte is still a great institution and does not break the bank, but you will have to wait in line (the one in porte maillot). Both "Chez George"s also match your description, in the porte Maillot and mostly rue du Mail. But the topic of restaurant that cannot be missed in Paris is way too long and you are not specific enough about what you like, your budget, etc. For example elegant and authentic seem a bit contradictory, especially when you add "don't break the bank".

    1 Reply
    1. re: souphie

      Le Bistrot Paul Bert at 18, rue Paul-Bert (Metro- Faidherbe-Challgny or Charonne) was written about in the NYTimes last year. I went for lunch, In October, and couldn't have been more pleased. The entrecote was perfect, but the dessert, a Paris-Brest, was absolutely stupendous. The Times said it was the best in Paris, and after eating it, I whole-heartly agree. The price for three course was about 30-32 euros.

      In the Marais, there's the bistro, Robert et Louise at 64, Rue Vieille du Temple, it's in an old building, and the cote de boeuf, lamb chops and duck are grilled over a open-hearth wood-burning fire.

      Do you like oysters? If so, head to Huitrerie Regis at 3, rue de Montfaucon, in the 6th, it's right of Boulevard St-Germain. Only about 8 tables inside. For those who don't like oysters, they serve poached shrimp. Believe me, the oysters were the plumpest, tastiest oysters I've even eaten. They were fine du claires, not Belon, which I ate somewhere else - and not nearly as good.

    2. I suggest going to Les Deux Magots for breakfast. It's a lot of €€ for a croissant and hot chocolate, but it's a nice way of seeing the atmosphere and not feeling like a tourist.

      1. Les Deux Magots and Cafe de Flore fall into the category of "overpriced & overhyped tourist spot." I would go for a cup of coffee, nothing more -- if that.

        Laduree makes delicious macarons. I agree with souphie there are others just as good, but theirs ARE wonderful.

        I cannot comment on L'Entrecote as I have never been there. There are so many wonderful places to dine / eat in Paris that one never needs to eat badly.

        1. I can only speak about Laduree; I have been to the location on Rue Royale and Rue Bonaparte. Laduree is a lovely place to have tea and pastry. The combination of the atmosphere and the pastry makes it very enjoyable; the pastries are great, but I am sure that many places in Paris can do just as well or better. For me, I enjoyed relaxing in the Laduree tea rooms, especially upstairs in the Rue Bonaparte location. It is all decorated in blue and is gorgeous. Rue Royale is beautiful, but more crowded. Having tea and pastries in Laduree is a very feminine, Marie-Antoinette-esque experience. For a first time visitor to Paris who likes that sort of thing, Laduree is a must.

          1 Reply
          1. re: shopwinedinefine

            My husband & I recently had breakfast at Cafe de Flore. It was expensive but it was also wonderful. The bread, pastries, fresh-squeezed juice, coffee, chocolate, eggs were all top-notch and the service was exceptional. Our waiter was warm, funny & accomodating. I am so sorry that I did not get his name. The atmosphere was excellent; we sat in the outer area between the regular indoor space & outdoor space. It was comfortable & scenic. We had a really wonderful time. We returned the next day and were not let down. I highly recommend it.

          2. VB- how long will your first visit to Paris be?

            1. I've never been to l'Entrecote, but I have been to the other three. IMO as a tourist you do need to go to Deux Magots and Flore. Not because the food is anything to write home about. You go there for the scene and if for no other reason than to say you were there. Have a drink or cafe. Laduree is something different altogether. First of all, its not a cafe. Laduree does have very good things to eat, is less touristy, and more sort of authentic Parisian. But you dont go there for a big destination meal. You go there for a cafe au lait, tea or pastry or light lunch. I would never go there for dinner. I prefer the one on Rue Royale over the one on the Champs Elysees. Different crowd, fewer tourists. Although for me, I think you need to go to Angelina on rue de Rivoli for chocolat chaud before Laduree.

              1. In Paris to the Moon there's an interesting discussion of Deux Magots/Flore. I forget which was which (kinda proud of that, acutally) but one is still the-place-to-go, the other only for the tourists. except that, in the-place-to-go, to be cool you had to forsake the attractive Terrasse and just eat upstairs on the 2nd floor.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Bob Loblaw

                  People seem to be somewhat obsessed with the tourist/non-tourist issue. I certainly understand this to a point and, in fact, have been guilty of this myself. I came to a certain peace with that on my recent trip to Paris (early January) however. There are excellent places--Petit Pontoise for one--that are frequented by tourists. My French is minimal and, for better or worse, it is nice to not be stressed over that fact.

                  I did go up to second floor of Flore to use the bathroom and got a look at that room. There were a number of Parisians having their breakfast there. There were also many Parisians having their breakfast on the Terasse with me. It was, in my opinion, a much nicer place to be!

                  I certainly want value for my money, want an "authentic" experience and do not want to be taken for a fool but guess what--when it comes down to it I *am* a tourist!

                  In addition, as a New Yorker, I encounter European tourists in my city every day. I am always welcoming, respectful, helpful and friendly. I would like to think that most Europeans feel the same about us when we visit their cities.

                2. The chowhounds on this board can give you great advice: places to avoid and places to try and visit. In the end, though, even on a first trip to Paris, do have a sense of adventure. Who knows? You might discover a place that you feel "cannot be missed" and share it with the other chowhounds on here. Paris has so many opportunities for that. Go, enjoy and have a grea time.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Cher Martin

                    Thanks for giving me perspective Cher Martin. Best advice I've heard :).

                    BTW, I did snag a "reservation" at L'Atelier Joel Robuchon, but will leave the rest to our whims. Thanks everybody! (Yes, I know I'm in for a wait at Robuchon.)