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Jan 29, 2009 04:23 AM

Deux Magots, the Cafe Flore and the Brasserie Lipp

We will be in Paris in May and staying in the 6th. Are any of these worth our time for a quick bite? Is one better than the other ?

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  1. I've only gone for coffee, as they're rather touristy now.

    1. none of them have a reputation that would attract me for any reason other than an immediate need to sit down (for a cup of coffee). If you are interested in good food, check out the threads in this forum for recs on much better eats.

      1. I used to live around the corner so here are my thoughts:

        Deux Magots: good for people watching and having a drink on the terrace. Best spot is on the corner outside. Wine, beer and coffee are fine but very expensive. We would often sit and watch the world go by on a Friday evening. Avoid the food.

        Cafe Flore: IMO the view/position is not as good (and as expensive as Magots). I guess people like one or the other. In some respects I think Flore has less tourists (but that is marginal). Again only realy good for a drink, and avoid the food.

        Brasserie Lipp: I really like Lipp, I know I am going to be swimming against the tide with that comment but I do. Lipp is as good as brasserie as many of the others in Paris, in-fact compared to many others I think the food is a bit better. I have had some very enjoyable meals there, OK it isn't the best food in Paris, and June is correct you can do better. But, I love the history and atmosphere of the place, and the characters of the waiters.

        To me a meal is a some of all the parts; Lipp was the place we often went to for a Parisian experience, and we whiled away some wonderfully long lunches there. One tip, try and sit in the front, the no-smoking section was at the back and the back became a bit of a tourist ghetto. No idea if this has changed now it is no-smoking throughout, but the regulars (fur coats and lots of attitude) are usually at the front surveying the room.

        9 Replies
        1. re: PhilD

          Thanks Phil, that's exactly what we needed to know.

          1. re: mizzlizz

            ML: I don't know if this is your first time in Paris, but most places have 3 listings for prices--at the bar standing, inside seated, and outside, the most expensive being the latter.

            Also, with the newish laws, you can't buy a bottle or a carafe at most places without food; glasses only for wine.

            My favourite brasseries and cafes included the one across from the subway at port Lyon (near Lipp), La Coupole in Montparnasse, Cafe Beaubourg across from the Pompidou Centre (make sure you sit on the top floor at a window; a great deal for breakfast).

            1. re: Caralien

              Two questions:
              1. Where is "Port Lyon" in Paris?
              2. What new drinking laws? I was in Paris just before Christmas and didn't notice any changes.

              1. re: PhilD

                Sorry, Gare de Lyon (St. Lazare line)--exit near the 2 lions; when I needed non dairy pizza (flu), I would go there for their seafood pizza--regularly.

                On recent visits, a lot of cafes told us that we could no longer order carafes or bottles of wine without food. This was not the case when I lived there 94-95. Has this changed back? The laws were put in to reduce alcoholism in France.

                1. re: Caralien

                  Thanks. Brasserie Lipp isn't near Gare de Lyon, it is on Boulevard Saint Germain close to Saint Germain des Pres metro.

                  I left Paris two years ago and visit frequently, I have never come across the law you mention. Maybe it has changed. I understood the new changes that are to be introduced relate to the age for buying alcohol and the need to produce ID.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    I agree completely with PhilD's first post. I like Lipp a lot. The food is good (not great), though some may find it a bit overpriced for what it is. I do not go for the food, I go for the whole experience, which I always enjoy thoroughly. On one occasion for dinner, my companion and I (two former New Yorkers who appreciate Peter-Luger's-quality steaks) were blown away (and very surprised!) by some of the best steak we have ever had.

                    1. re: fishskis

                      I wanted to put in a word of defense for Cafe Flore and Cafe les Deux Magots. Yes, they are touristy and over-priced and I wouldn't necessarily go there to eat. But, they are beautiful and historic cafes that have retained their splendor. Like PhilD was saying about Lipp (where I haven't been -- yet!), I go to the two cafes for the total experience -- to sip a glass of wine or coffee slowly in the same beautiful room where Simone de Beauvoir once debated existentialism with Jean-Paul Sartre. Is that touristy? Yes!!! But in terms of cafes, I don't think touristy is synonymous with bad (especially if you are just having a drink).

                      1. re: Cookingthebooks

                        I agree they're fine for a drink and to soak up some history, but still wouldn't eat at any of them.

          2. re: PhilD

            I agree about Brasserie Lipp. They are known for their grilled stuffed pigs feet and all I can say is that I have never eaten trotters that have been better!! I can't wait to go back there just for that dish!

          3. I went to both Les Deux Magot and Flore. I enjoyed both - espresso at Les Deux Magot and breakfast at Flore. Both were expensive but I was well served and I soaked up the history.

            1. Been to Magot and Flore also, sitting outside at Magot on a sunny afternoon with a bottle of wine, a few nibbles of something and kicking back. Great fun. I really don't care if there are touristy, heck I am a tourist there also. Great people watching and not far from our favorite hotel. Might be overpriced but I didn't care.

              3 Replies
              1. re: duck833

                Well, yes Les Deux Magots is a really nice room but I was just there about a week ago on a weekday afternoon and it was, well, really anticlimactic. The room was very crowded and the service was terse, no actually just plain rude. We were sandwiched between the wall and a table of fur clad ladies on a shopping spree. We had tea and requested a carafe of water which we never got. The bill came soon after we sat down and the waiter whispered something like "put away your books." It was loud, cramped and a far cry from the pensive ambiance conducive to thought and conversation that we were hoping for. Sad.

                1. re: LaCarmencita

                  I fear you didn't understand how a cafe works in Paris and thus took umbrage unnecessarily.

                  After every round of drinks is served the waiter will leave a small ticket (or till receipt) on the table with details of he orders, after each new round they will either add to the pile of tickets or replace the individual ticket with a new one showing the running total. They don't hand these to you, but place them under the corner of the sugar, or a jug (it used to be the ashtray), they also generally don't expect you to pay these bills when they give them to you unless it is a bar/cafe with a high turnover of tables. When a waiter changes shifts, they do ask the customers to settle up outstanding bills, so that the new waiter starts with a clean slate (they will often tear the ticket along one edge to show it has been paid). I wonder if your waiter wanted to "close the books" as he was changing shifts, and you misinterpreted this as "put away your books"?

                  Yes, it is crowded, and it will be full of wealthy shoppers (after all Louis Vuiton is next door, and Armani is on the opposite corner) . You may still find a number of intellectuals or media personalities here, but these will be those who are successful and can afford the 7eme. It is claimed the new free thinkers are in cafes around the Bellevue area, but these days they will be dreaming up new computer games rather than philosophical texts.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    There's also the 5eme, which still has the Sorbonne, and the 14eme, which are safer areas than Bellevue. Although Sacre Couer does have great ice cream and crepes (it's hard to find bad crepes in Paris).

                    I agree with the receipt given after each order, torn if paid, usually in a juice glass (similarly done in the US, although behind the counter with the credit card inserted). But the waiter also could have been rude. It does happen.