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Nov 16, 2008 01:56 PM

SOS! boyfriend's first time in paris, need suggestions

ok, so here's the deal. I'm a student studying abroad in paris for the semester, and my boyfriend (who has never been to europe) is coming to visit me for thanksgiving (about five nights). he's just as big a foodie as I am, but I suspect not entirely won over by french cuisine. naturally, my goal is to take him to some great, classically french places that will prove him wrong. in particular, i'm trying to find a place to celebrate thanksgiving (by the way, not looking for an american style celebration at all, just a great meal). can be relatively expensive (not insane, but 100 euros per person would be ok). I've been saving up. ideally something very charming, maybe romantic.

I'd also welcome any other paris recommendations. I'm open to different price ranges, types of cuisine etc. so if there are any "must-eats" you can come up with - especially for someone's first trip to paris - don't hold back! you'd think that after spending two months in paris I would have a bunch of ideas of my own (and I do have a few) but honestly I haven't been eating out that often and I'm starting to get really overwhelmed by the process of leafing through zagat's and time out and scouring online forums. I figured that chowhounders might be just the people to come to my aid in times of food related need!!

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  1. As often stated on this board, two restaurants have the best value for food in town, Chez l'Ami Jean and La Régalade, both with 34eur three course menus, both incomfortable (small tables, several seatings every night).

    In the fine dining area, the lunch menus are your friends as they give you access to top dining at expensive prices (as opposed to ridiculously expensive). The best choice for you and your boyfriend is Guy Savoy's lunch menu (100eur, Internet reservation only) but it will exceed your budget because of the drinks (actual cost ends up being more like 150pp with couple of glasses, water, coffee). Second best choice is Briffard at le Cinq, 85eur lunch menu -- extraordinary room, service and food, best restaurant in town, but less ideal for neophytes than Savoy is, somewhat more intimidating despite very friendly service. Then Lasserre is very awesome too with its opening roof and historical room and 75eur lunch menu. Ledoyen in the parc des Champs Elysées also has a wonderful room and excellent food and an 88eur lunch menu, but it's somewhat more formal, less warm than the other places. Finally, I should mention two steals that include beverage: 55eur at La Table de Joël Robuchon (NOT l'Atelier that has no such lunch menu) and 60eur at Le Paris in the hotel Lutetia.

    If you want somewhat comfortable dinner (so in the evening), then your choice is more limited, and mostly less wonderful, but here are some addresses I warmly recommend and that will fit in your budget: L'Acajou, rue La Fontaine; La Véranda, in Versailles (Gordon Ramsay's brasserie); Tante Louise rue Boissy d'Anglas (Loiseau's "bistrot"); L'Angle du Faubourg (Taillevent's "bistrot", great wines by the glass); I would recommend Senderens for extraordinary desserts and wine pairings and a unique location -- whole meal may be borderline for your budget and unfortunately not good enough those days (a whole lot depends on the current chef).

    Most of those places are reviewed on my blog, maps or photo gallery, which you all can access from .

    14 Replies
    1. re: souphie

      souphie, you are a wealth of information. I will be in Paris over Christmas and have noted all of these places. Thank you. I'll be staying in the Latin Quarter. Anything I should 'not miss'?

      1. re: souphie

        souphie, are these (what I consider outrageous prices) really warranted in Paris? Are these meals really 'heads above' what I would find in Canada/US ? Or is it just the cost of living over there?

        1. re: sarah galvin

          Are you talking about the fine diing prices? Those prices are not outrageous, they're just high. They reflect the cost of excellent ingredients and the intense manpower and skills used in the whole chain that leads to a wonderful meal. People have come to expect that food should be cheap, but quality has a price. At least the lunch menus I listed here are actually good value -- I could not fix you the same meal at the same price.

          Is my lecturing time out? To respond to your question: these meals may not be "heads above" what you would find in the best US restaurants, like Le Bernardin or The French Laundry. They're also not decisively more expensive. That said, Paris is an expensive city and labor costs are kind of high in France. I never heard of anyone having been to great Parisian restaurants and thinking that they could have the same for less.

          The one place where there is probably better value is Germany. But do I need explain why people still prefer to come to Paris for fine dining?

          If your question was about more casual dining, then there's no question that Paris is a very expensive city. This is why I personally tend to go preferrably either to very cheap, student places (speaking of which, I discovered an awesome Chinese last night, Likafo) or to fine dining places, as I feel that I am not rich enough for regular Parisian restaurants.

          Another point, Sarah, is that being here over Christmas will limit your choices and I would advise to start researching which ones are open now if you want to plan. I'm pretty sure Savoy closes the saturday before Christmas, for instance (which is too bad as I would argue that this is always the best place to start with fine dining).

          1. re: souphie

            No, I guess I am not referring to the fine dining places. But the casual dining prices seem to be very high - and I thought they were high In Calgary! So you do agree.

            1. re: souphie

              Having complained about prices, I am amazed at Christmas Eve at Le Coupe Chou
              for 60 euros.



              1. re: sarah galvin

                not only sounds like a deal, but delicious as well!

                Bon Appetit.

            2. re: sarah galvin

              Wow, I don't think these prices are *especially* high for high end food, especially in such a major city. I was in Paris about a year ago, and my meals all seemed fairly reasonably price - the most expensive was $117 (for one person) with a lot of wine (happy happy). In NYC last month the least expensive place was $124 (again, one person). Granted, I was trying to go to very nice places each time, but Paris seems kind of reasonable, considering.

              1. re: LulusMom

                Well, I'm glad to hear these are 'high end' prices. I had the impression you couldn't eat decent food for less than 100 euros. I don't mind those prices for high end but not for every night.

                  1. re: souphie

                    I was talking about the stuff in the over 100 euro range, which didn't strike me as so outrageous. I think you can easily eat a great meal in Paris for under or around 100 euros.

                    1. re: souphie

                      I just want a decent meal without spending a fortune on Christmas Eve. Sounds like this will fit the bill. What high end will be open over Christmas? I'll arrive Dec. 21 but have made reservations for ballet, symphony & opera so it doesn't leave me many nights. Guy Savoy is closed. Any other ideas for a high end lunch, souphie?

                      1. re: sarah galvin

                        Senderens, Le Cinq, L'Arpège, Robuchon (Table and Atelier), le Bristol, Gérard Besson, Michel Rostang, La Grande Cascade (I think) will be open during holiday season (though many of them not on christmas day and some will close a couple of days). That is off the top of my head -- here a Michelin comes in handy. ( )/

                        1. re: souphie

                          Also L'Ecailler du Bistrot will be open (not high-end, though) but very good for fish.

                    2. re: LulusMom

                      I agree. I just came back from Paris and It seemed liked a bargain compared to NYC. I stayed at a lovely hotel (in the 7th) that included a beautiful buffet breakfast for the equivalent of $200 a night and I had extraordinary meals with wine (really good wine) that were about $60 or $70 pp. I'm ready to move.

                1. A place we enjoy for a semi- dress up occasion like Easter, Thanksgiving, etc. that is attractive and with good French cuisine is Drouant on the pretty Place Gaillon near the Garnier Opera.

                  1. Le Clos des Gourmets, 16 ave Rapp, is excellent. As are all the "Bib Gourmand" restaurants we have tried. They try for two turns at night so a later reservation would be best.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Oakglen

                      Cafe de la Paix at Le Grand Hotel InterContinental. A bit pricey but the food is good and very beautiful interior (plus they speak English).

                    2. thanks for all of the recs guys! I'll let you know where we go and how it turns out.