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Apr 21, 2009 07:51 AM

selecting rests in paris

When I travel with just my husband we research , select and reserve our restaurants in advance. ( Thanks chowhounds for some great meals!). Two years ago when we travelled with our kids ( now 17 and 19) to Italy ( rome, florence & venice) we would just venture out of our hotel each evening and wander the streets till we stumbled upon a place that drew us in. It was lots of fun and we had some great, good and ok meals.
The 4 of us are going to Paris for a week 8/29-9/4. Will the same idea not work as we will be in one city? Should I select in advance this time? Thanks!

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  1. You will likely have the same experience in Paris ( some great , some good , some ok and perhaps a truly bad or 2) To me, my vacation time is built around food and I dont have the time for a disappointment so if I were in your shoes I would do some research on this board and book ahead . You are also in a tough time slot as many restaurants are closed for August and may not have reopened during your visit so your wandering choices will indeed be more limited ...good luck !

    1. hi fiancee and i, are getting married in Venice this summer, and then honeymooning in Paris, we do have two younf children with us! Do you have any recommendations. Tks in advance.

      3 Replies
      1. re: vtats

        It would help to know where you are staying and for how long and what sort of budget you are working with.

        Kids will hate most restaurants because service is slow and sitting still is hard and other people get grumpy.

        That aside, I like the big parks and picnics for breakfast and lunch assembled from the open markets or the shops on Montorgueil or even the small food stores or sandwiches from a bakery. Bois d'Boulonge has a great area for kids in the north east part of the park. Bois d'Vincennes has a fairly large amusement park. Both have boating, nice playgrounds and LONG! trails and flowers. The park west of the louvre is a lot of fun. Jardin du Luxenbourg has lots for kids to do (big playground and toy sail boats to rent) and just walking around is fun. You can also rent bicycles in many locations (pick up one place and drop off in another).

        I also suggest supper in your room/apartment as everyone will be very tired and cranky after a day's outing. Carry home a roasted chicken plus whatever everyone wants from the carry out places and bakeries you'll find everywhere.

        If you HAVE to take the children out ,I suggest lunch as the kids have a fighting chance of putting up with the service. If you must take them out at dinner time, get some advice from chowhounders about something small, informal and very close to homebase.

        There are great falafel places on Rossiers, ice cream on Ile St Louis, etc, etc.

        Please reply with more particulars.

        1. re: hychka

          Hychka... the "kids" the OP refers to are 17 and 19. I don't think they want to sail boats in the pond at Luxembourg... ;) OTOH, teenagers can be a problem of a different kind.

          Css, I agree with the poster who suggests not to leave all your dining choices to chance. At that time of summer, so many of the casual bistros will still be "au vacances." I would do some research (Michelin lists the vacation dates of the places they list), choose a few and make reservations in advance. You can always cancel them if you come upon something you like better.

          1. re: ChefJune

            Ho! Ho! Ho! ...this is a little confusing, chefjune.

            I replied to vtats who is "getting married in Venice this summer, and then honeymooning in Paris, we do have two younf children with us! "

            Vtats probably should have started a new thread, but I thought I'd try to help them out. Getting married AND young children in Paris will be a challenge..

      2. Reply to OP: I noticed that there are many restaurants in Paris which are closed specially on the weekends. Some are closed on Mondays.
        Also, if you will be staying in the center, you are likely to have more varied experience - really good and really bad than if you are staying and eating out in the suburbs - the suburbs bistros do not cater for tourists but for locals and are thus aiming for more simple meals but higher overall quality.

        1. OK- thanks- as you noticed my 'kids' are 17 (boy) and 19 (girl) so I think they can make it thur a meal especially with wine! We are staying at the hotel K & K in the 7th on blvd Raspail by blvd St Germain . The Rue du Bac metro is across the street. We love casual intimate non-touristy places and with 4 of us eating we try and watch the cost. I will go thru the boards and see what sounds good and check with Michelian for vacation dates. Our first eve will be aug 28 so perhaps vacation closings will be coming to an end? Feel free to post suggestions! Thanks!

          6 Replies
          1. re: css


            Two apologies...

            First, I was trying to help the other folks with young kids asking questions on your thread ...yes, rented boats are only fun for young children and grandfathers. HA!

            Second, excuse me for cutting and pasting here as I thought you'd like some specifics rather than a short cut to something I wrote for another couple...

            Two years ago we stayed in an apartment around the corner from your hotel and found several great experiences beyond the "usual suspects" everyone yaps on about on Chowhound.

            For Chinese we like Le Canton 5 rue Gozlin, 6th. We stick pretty much with the seafood across the board there. Keep this tip aside because they are open on MONDAY! and most good places are not. BTW they are NOT open on Sunday.

            For Sunday we went to a small Italian place on Mabillon and had the owner pick out two dishes, salads and a chianti for us. (They are open on Sundays.) It was great! The bakery next door is pretty good, too.

            To be with lots of people, moderate prices and decent food every time, and to have a good time, we go to Bistro de Breteuil 3, Place de Breteuil. The tables are very close and you just get swept up in conversations and instant friendships with people from everywhere, including the fantastic apartments in the neighborhood. Lots of embassy and international corporate people go there. My kids love this place.

            Finally, I suggest that you read the chowhound thread entitled, "Poor and hungry visitors to paris" at The title may not apply to you, but the advice is still very good.

            Have fun!

            1. re: css

              I used to live on that corner. There are three main options:

              1. Head across Boulevard St Germain and continue down Rue du Bac, you will pass great but expensive restaurants like "Gaya" and "L'Atelier Joel Robuchon", after these on the left is rue de Verneuil, along this street are a few interesting restaurants, our favourite was "Le Cinq Mars", not too expensive, quite buzzy and with quite a local following.

              2. Turn right and head along Boulevard St Germain until you get to rue de Buci, you will have passed "Brasserie Lipp", "Cafe Flore" etc, these are historic and interesting but very expensive. Head left down Buci and you will pass a lot of average places, but then head down rue du Seine and you will find "Fish" this is very good and well priced. Further down rue du Seine is a bar called "La Palette", it has some nice outside tables (but ask the waiter to seat you as they have a strict table allocation system) and is very popular with students from the art college and art dealers from the area. Lots of great scenery for the 17 and 19 year old...!

              3. Head up rue du Bac from your hotel, there are some cafes on the rue du Bac but they are patchy and can be very expensive (you are in the embassey/ministry area, and the Prime Minister lives in rue de Varenne at the Hotel Matignon hence the police presence). Keep going until you are past Bon Marche (a very good food hall) and have reached rue de Cherche-Midi. "Cafe Nemrod" on the corner is good, basic and cheap for salads, duck confit etc. Turn right and you eventually get to "Chez Josephine Dumonet" which is very traditional and very good, turn left and you head in to the expensive shopping area of St Germain so the restaurants can be patchy.

              Other thoughts. Around the Marche St Germain there are lots of cheap Pizza places, good for fuel but average food. Along rue de Grenelle (from Raspail) are some young bars and cafes and a restaurant called "A La Petit Chaise" that David Liebovitz recently reviewed -

              1. re: PhilD

                Thanks for this post! Our plans are pretty full for the next visit in May, but I'll try to get one of these in. At a minimum we'll walk down the streets you suggest (been there before, but just gawked at the incredible prices of some spots) and will watch carefully for the suggested places...certainly we can have wine or cafe at La Palette.

                1. re: hychka

                  It was really a reply to CSS who is staying next to rue du Bac metro in the K&K Hotel, thus these recommendations are within an easy walk of their hotel. Hychka, hopefully you will enjoy them as well, but a question on the bakery you mention "on Mabillon". Was this Gerard Mullot (76 rue de Seine)? If so this is truly a great place to buy some cakes and macarons, it is a highly renowned patisserie.

                  An addition some further thoughts for CSS regarding booking. Some of these restaurants do need to be booked - Cinq Mars, Josephine, and Fish are quite popular. Book 24 hours before you want to go, although you could probably book on the day as well.

                  One additional idea for Saturday/Sunday (esp Sunday as a lot of places are closed) is "Le Comptoir du Relais" (5, Carrefour de l'Odéon), head up Bld St Germain towards Odeon, just before Odeon metro turn right (next to the HSBC Bank), about 20m up the road on the left you will find the restaurant. It has a no booking policy at the weekend (but at least a 6 month wait for a weekday evening table), simply catch the eye of a waiter, say you want a table for four, and wait to be seated. I believe the Chef, Yves Camdeborde, has now turned what was the small creperie next to the restaurant into a small tapas bar so diners can have a glass of wine and a plate of charcuterie whilst they wait (in the past he often distributed free glasses of wine to those waiting on the pavement).

                  How many restaurants will be open? That is a tricky question: "La Rentree" usually starts in the third week of August and continues into the first week or two of September, with businesses opening up gradually as the owners return from their holidays. The Paris school year starts on Wednesday, September 2nd and therefore I would expect quite a big rush back to town the previous weekend, and so a lot of places should have reopened.

                  It is a great time of the year, not only is the weather good, but also everybody is in effect starting the new year, everybody is relaxed and tanned and as a result there is a real buzz in the city. Even people within large companies see the year kicking off again, so it isn't just school kids and students. Quite logical really if you think of ending the year with a long 4 or 5 week holiday in August, so you rush to complete projects, deals , etc.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    Thank you so much for the great info. Sounds like what we want - not expensive ( feeding 4 including a teenage boy can add up) walking distance, and good food. Nice to know we can reserve just a few days ahead.I'll plan on doing so a week or two before we leave. We went to Italy around the same time and found that most Americans have already headed home as most schools start before labor day-ours fortunately starts later.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      Yes, that's a great bakery, but I was talking about one on rue Mabillon across from the covered market. and next to the Iittle Italian restaurant..

                      Anyway, once again, thanks for your descriptions and recommendations! We'll take you up on something here and report when we return.

              2. Do be a guinea pig -do try wandering and stumbling upon places that draw you in and let us know. I am rigidly a researcher but often wonder whether there are lots of good little undiscovered un-written up places in Paris.