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Romantic Paris...

musonic Jul 20, 2008 02:33 PM

I'm taking my wife to Paris for 4 days at the end of the month to celebrate her birthday. I have never been to Paris and my wife hasn't been since she was a child. As a consequence, I have no idea where to book for food! I have looked at some of the recommendations on this site, but as is often the case on the internet, am slightly bewildered by the number of options I've found!
Please could someone recommend friendly, romantic restaurants? I would love to find somewhere romantically Parisian for my wife's birthday meal (cost of around €50-70 per head not including wine) and for the other 3 nights places that offer the quality of food Paris is famous for (these will need to be cheaper, although I'm not asking for budget-eats).
We are staying on the boarders of Saint Germain and Montparnasse, but I am not expecting to spend all our time on the left bank!
Many thanks in advance!

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  1. c
    Captainspirou RE: musonic Jul 20, 2008 02:54 PM

    Saint Germain and the Quartier Latin have a lot of tiny restaurants where you can eat. Those run around 17 Euros per person. You have to be careful though because there's a lot of places in Paris that exist solely due to tourism and make some bad food. For more expensive places I have no idea but those are a lot easier to find.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Captainspirou
      musonic RE: Captainspirou Jul 20, 2008 03:09 PM

      Thanks Captainspirou. I'm not worried about going somewhere cheaper if it offers great food, location, atmosphere etc.!

    2. ChefJune RE: musonic Jul 20, 2008 08:34 PM

      Unfortunately, many restaurants will already be closed for vacation the last week in July, and continue away until the end of August. I suggest you get a copy of the Michelin red guide as it will tell you what will and won't be open. The touristy spots will pretty much all be open, but you should be able to find some good spots with careful searching.

      Perhaps some of the Paris residents who frequent Chowhound can help you out with some specific recs.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ChefJune
        Beach Chick RE: ChefJune Jul 20, 2008 10:57 PM

        Totally agree on getting a copy of the Michelin red guide for August..
        Love St.Germain area and you should be fine..
        It's such a romantic city and what a wonderful guy you are to celebrate her birthday in Paris!

        1. re: Beach Chick
          ChefJune RE: Beach Chick Jul 21, 2008 07:27 AM

          <what a wonderful guy you are to celebrate her birthday in Paris!>

          I was thinking the same thing. Hope she appreciates it!!!

        2. re: ChefJune
          Captainspirou RE: ChefJune Jul 30, 2008 11:35 AM


          This is a nice list of places open in August.

        3. h
          henri cat RE: musonic Jul 21, 2008 09:48 AM

          According to the Guide Lebey, Les Ombres, the rooftop restaurant at the Musee du quai Branly, is open every day all year. It would be a stunning and romantic spot I believe. Haven't yet been, but I have heard good things about the food as well as the views. Also in the 7th Au Bon Accueil should be open, as will be the Cafe de l'Alma. Near Montparnasse, La Coupole is open every day all year, as is Le Dome. Of course there are lots of others; those are the ones I particularly like at the moment.

          1 Reply
          1. re: henri cat
            PhilD RE: henri cat Jul 21, 2008 01:13 PM

            Les Ombres - fantastic view, dire food, dreadful service, and expensive. It was €170 for starters and mains with no dessert or coffee, and a modest bottle of wine.

          2. o
            Oakglen RE: musonic Jul 21, 2008 01:29 PM

            Given your limited budget, take a look at the brasseries, Bofinger, Rotonde and Balzar. Rotonde and Balzar should be walkable. All have decent web sites.

            1. s
              stefaniem RE: musonic Jul 22, 2008 06:47 AM

              I don't think you have to limit yourself to brasseries, many restaurants will still be open the last week in July. I think Mon Vieil Ami would make an excellent choice for a romantic dinner, followed by a stroll on the Ile Saint Louis. They should be open, but make sure to call in advance to reserve. The dinner menu is somewhere around 45€ so should be in your budget.

              If you want to venture out of Saint Germain (highly recommended, there is so much more to Paris than Saint Germain and the left bank), try the Repaire de Cartouche near Bastille.

              Near Odeon, Le Comptoir du Relais is a great choice for lunch (gastro bistro) and a fun place to people watch. You could also try to get reservations there for dinner where chef Yves Camdeborde takes thing up a notch. The prix fixe is somewhere around 40€, while lunch salads are around 15€.

              1 Reply
              1. re: stefaniem
                jock RE: stefaniem Jul 23, 2008 09:26 PM

                Le Comptoir du Relais is great for lunch - almost impossible to get in for dinner unless you are staying there. If you go for lunch go very early or late. It fills up fast.

                Repaire de Cartouche is good food - cozy undergournd location.

              2. m
                musonic RE: musonic Jul 23, 2008 12:59 PM

                Thanks everyone for your replies - some great ideas.
                OK, slight change of plan....
                Can I have some specific suggestions for my wife's birthday meal (our first night in Paris). I'd love a romantic atmosphere in a great location (maybe with views of the Eiffel Tower or something equally cheesy!) and of course outstanding food. Alas, budget has to remain the same. As much as I'd love to be able to go to one of the very very best restaurants we simply can't this time around.
                Many thanks again!

                5 Replies
                1. re: musonic
                  shopwinedinefine RE: musonic Jul 23, 2008 03:37 PM

                  Le Troquet (on Rue Francois-Bonvin. 15eme) has a view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance, but you'd have to sit outside or near the window to see it. The food here is excellent (about 36E for six course degustation). I don't know that it is classically romantic (ie. candlelit, white tablecloths), it is more of a classic, bustling Parisian bistro. To my taste, I find those types of restaurants quite romantic and a true Paris experience.

                  1. re: musonic
                    hot tamale RE: musonic Jul 23, 2008 07:04 PM

                    With air travel being as undependable as it is, I would not attempt to have a reservation your first night. You will be exhausted anyway and stressed if there are any delays. Would you consider making the special night later in the trip?

                    1. re: hot tamale
                      musonic RE: hot tamale Jul 24, 2008 02:30 AM

                      Not a problem. We live in London so are getting the Eurostar arriving in Paris mid-afternoon!

                      1. re: musonic
                        PhilD RE: musonic Jul 24, 2008 02:42 AM

                        I always think "Maceo" has a perfect combination of style and price - a good restaurant for a birthday or celebration.

                        The food is very good and well priced - more restaurant like or upmarket than a lot of the Bistros (which I like) so it makes it feel special. The rooms are large so tables are well spaced and so again creates a sense of style/celebration. The standard menu is approx €40 a head so seems to fit the budget, but you can go up or down from that. http://www.maceorestaurant.com/

                        It is quite a walk from St Germain (30 mins) but on a nice evening quite pleasant as you go across the Seine, past the Lourve and through the Palais Royal Gardens (if still open). I used to live there so I walked to Maceo quite a lot.

                        1. re: PhilD
                          jock RE: PhilD Jul 24, 2008 02:51 PM

                          Maceo is very nice and the food and service are excellent. Maceo is a short block away from Grand Colbert (see below). You could do oysters and a glass of bubbles there and then go to Maceo for a much better meal.

                          If you are near St Germain it is a fairly short walk if you are closer to Montparnasse you should probably take the metro or a cab. If you are walking take the wooden footbridge across the Seine that leads right through the courtyard of the Louvre, across Rue Rivoli and though the Palais Royale, out the back and you are just steps from both Colbert and Maceo.

                  2. j
                    jock RE: musonic Jul 23, 2008 09:21 PM

                    Avoid the tourist traps in the latin quarter at all costs.

                    Some of the art deco places are great fun, have spectacular decor and the food is decent. Le Grand Colbert, Julien, and the Tren Bleu come to mind.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: jock
                      ChefJune RE: jock Jul 24, 2008 08:14 AM

                      I was really disappointed in the food at Le Grand Colbert, tho the decor is quite "movie sett-y" and glam.

                      1. re: ChefJune
                        jock RE: ChefJune Jul 24, 2008 09:40 AM

                        I only get oysters at GC. Please note I only said the food is decent :). The room is special and the service very good.

                        1. re: jock
                          ChefJune RE: jock Jul 24, 2008 11:56 AM

                          Well now, that's a great idea for a place like that! Oysters and Champagne! ;>D

                    2. t
                      topawers RE: musonic Jul 25, 2008 08:18 AM

                      If it's romantic that you're looking for, don't go to Boffinger or a Brasserie, I have been to Les Ombres and it was wonderful, it's definitely one of the best romantic spots in Paris, and this time it's not only the scene and the view that you're paying for, the food delivers. I had a great experience there.
                      If you don't want to go there and want great views and romance as well, Georges.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: topawers
                        PhilD RE: topawers Jul 25, 2008 08:59 AM

                        My comments on Les Ombres are above and it looks like our experience was very different to topawers. I attach an photo of one of the starters, this is the "Summer Vegtable Salad" which cost €33 - we have had far better, and far cheaper.

                        1. re: PhilD
                          LulusMom RE: PhilD Jul 25, 2008 09:36 AM

                          You have to be kidding ... 33 euros for that??

                          1. re: LulusMom
                            PhilD RE: LulusMom Jul 25, 2008 10:18 AM

                            Here's the evidence....

                            1. re: PhilD
                              musonic RE: PhilD Jul 26, 2008 04:28 AM

                              Update time...
                              Thanks again for all your suggestions. I've decided to go "cheesy" romantic for the birthday meal and have booked a table at La Ciel de Paris. I know I'll be paying for the view and that the food won't be the best in Paris, but I'm hoping that it will still me a memorable evening.
                              Has anyone visited recently? Have i made a big mistake?
                              I've got a lovely list now of places to eat during the rest of our stay, so thanks again for all your hounding help!

                              1. re: musonic
                                PhilD RE: musonic Jul 26, 2008 09:57 AM

                                It will be interesting to read your report, I knew there was a restaurant at the top of the tower but had not heard anything about it. Bonne chance.

                      2. p
                        papillon0970 RE: musonic Jul 26, 2008 05:21 AM

                        Here's one suggestion: try to have a meal at the Hotel Montalembert, on rue Montalembert in the 7th. They have a small terrace in the summer. It is a charming "boutique hotel" on a very quiet street and the food is not cheap but very good indeed. Service is very friendly. A nice dinner on the terrace on a pleasant summer evening will do the trick... .

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: papillon0970
                          musonic RE: papillon0970 Jul 26, 2008 04:28 PM

                          I'll certainly report back on Ciel de Paris and everywhere else we go. Fingers crossed!!
                          As for Hotel Montalembert... it's interesting you say that cos it made the shortlist for where to stay. I didn't realise they had a restaurant. The hotel looks fantastic so if the restaurant is too then great...

                          1. re: papillon0970
                            PhilD RE: papillon0970 Jul 26, 2008 11:13 PM

                            ...although one problem is that they are currently doing a major renovation on the Ministry of Finance building opposite the hotel and so the terrace faces a very big building site.

                          2. t
                            topawers RE: musonic Jul 28, 2008 08:38 AM

                            I stayed at Montalembert and while it is nice and cool, the rooms are very small. You can always get a bigger room, at a bigger place. The terrace is nice, I guess that's nicer for pre-dinner drinks. If you want a great meal head next door to L'Atelier de Joel Roubuchon. But then again, there's one in New York and one in Vegas. Maybe you'll want to try something you can't get anywhere else. But that doesn't mean that L'Atelier de J.R. isn't great.

                            1. a
                              Angela Roberta RE: musonic Jul 30, 2008 12:24 PM

                              I haven't been to Paris in several years, but I very fondly remember my trip to Astier (http://www.restaurant-astier.com/). So very atmospheric, charming, and French, with wonderful food. I remember a romantic couple to my right drinking pink Champagne. How lovely!

                              Their prix fixe is 29.50 Euros, so perhaps you could save this for a more economical--but still romantic--dinner.

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