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
- Cafe de Flore
And any suggestions for restaurant(s) that "cannot be missed"?
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.