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May 20, 2009 11:27 AM

Paris Culinary Plan - Thoughts/Advice

Hi fellow hounds! I'm going back to Paris in mid-June (swung through in 2006 for 3 days while studying abroad) and bringing my parents along for the trip. I'm looking to give them the full Parisian culinary experience (and myself as well, since I was a poor student living on crepes and gyros when I went, sleeping four people in two beds!) I'm trying to split up three dinners and three lunches, and have a pretty good idea of what I'm looking for: cuisine that exemplifies French cooking, reasonable prices, and semi-casual atmosphere. I wrote off the famous Michelin starred places because we won't be packing anything more formal than khakis and a polo. I'm having trouble finding places that are open on the days we'll be there (Sat/Sun/Mond/Tues), but I've narrowed it down to the following plan:

Arrive Saturday evening, staying in Montparnasse area: dinner at Monsieur Lapin or Le Parc Aux Cerf (close by, hound suggested)
Sunday lunch - swing through a market/bakery/etc on way to Jardin du Luxembourg, St. Germain, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower
Sunday dinner - La Rotonde (good words on the board, open on Sunday)
Monday lunch - head to Les Halles, work through Louvre/Champs de Elysees/Arc de Triumph, head up to Montmatre
Monday dinner - Josephine Chez Dumonet
Tuesday lunch - L'ami Jean, flight at 6:50 to Venice

If you have suggestions or better ideas (food/tourism/anything), please feel free to let me know!

Also, I can give you recommendations for Florence, as I studied abroad (more like ate abroad) there for 4 months.

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  1. I love the bistecca alla Fiorentina at Buca Lapi in Florence. Love La Giostra too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Paris Dreamin

      I don't think I ever ate at Buca Lapi, but I had bistecca at Il Latini, it was fabulous. However, my friend who just went back said they've become a lot more touristy, and push a lot of other less-impressive entrees (like roast beef, roast lamb, mass pre-fixe stuff). La Giostra was a pretty awesome experience, with the Hapsburg prince storyline. Excellent crostini, but I don't recall the primi/secondi to be that memorable.

      The pasta sampler and blueberry steak at Acqua al 2 is among the best meals I had in Florence, can't miss it. Trattoria Anita also has superb food, went there three or four times. For gelato, our favorite spot was Perche No and their biscotti, absolutely fantastic. EDI House, a pizza place near my apartment, was the best pizza I had in Italy. Their gnocchi was superb as well. I would recommend going to Esselunga, it's like a wonderland compared to US supermarkets. I believe the deli counter has jamon iberico, which I was too poor to try (something like 120 Euro a kilo). But even the budget prosciutto was great, and fresh baked baguettes that are still warm (I remember hiding the baguette under my coat on my occasions to keep it warm as we walked back to the apt.).

      Ah...the memories!

    2. if you want a delicious typical bistro, i would not miss chez georges. the food has been consistently good for decades. my favorite filet mignon + bearnaise sauce in paris. it's not cheap, but it's not ridiculous either. the wine list is fair and the desserts are to die for.

      chez georges: 1, Rue Mail, Paris - 01 42 60 07 11

      3 Replies
      1. re: khornstein

        Thanks for the tip, will see if I can work it into the schedule.

        I have a question regarding the amount of time it takes for lunch at L'ami Jean. I'm planning on arriving at noon for lunch, then taking the subway to Porte Maillot in time to catch the bus to Beauvais for our flight. I think we have to be at the bus station by 3:20. (6:50pm flight, bus leaves 3.5 hours before). This should be enough time to have lunch + travel to Port Maillot right? Thanks!

        1. re: CGengomics

          You'll have to be careful, but it could work. Obviously you shouldn't leave CAJ at three.

          1. re: souphie

            i would leave l'ami jean by 2.15 at the latest. you should have enough time.

      2. Hi CGengomics,

        I have been following this post for the past few days now, hoping to get some recommendations and insight on Paris eating and eating in Italy. We will be in Paris from June 13-17th and staying near the Place De l'Opera.

        My wife and I will be there interestingly enough the same time that you are and leaving to Venice right after as well. After Venice we will be heading to Florece, Rome, Cinque Terre, and then to Aix En Provence and back to Paris.

        I have been reading the Chowhound boards and reading articles on the internet for potential restaurants and have made a preliminary list. Maybe we can help each other out with our food itineraries. I am looking for pretty much the same things as you like French food, reasonable prices, semi-casual. Love the idea of the 30-35 Euro dinners.

        Here is a list of places that we were considering. Please feel free to correct any mistakes that I have made in regards to this post. I would love input or feedback such as prices or things that must be ordered at these restaurants and whether or not these restaurants are a must go to or too similar to others.

        Le Table Joel Robuchon - 55 Euro lunch. Heard great things about it.
        L' Ami Jean - Very popular on the board. Must orders?
        La Regalade - 32 Euro pre-fixe dinner. Must orders?
        Jospehine Chez Dumonet - do they have any dinner or lunch pre-fixe specials? Must orders?
        Itineraires - 34 Euro pre-fixe dinner. Latin Quarter
        La Rotonde - ?
        La Regalade - 32 Euro pre-fixe dinner
        Chez Denise - price?
        Cafe Jadis - ?

        Casual eat and snacks:

        Macarons - Laduree, Pierre Herme, others not to be missed? Wife loves these.
        Ice cream and gelato - Giolitti, Caramelle
        Breads - Poilane, Boulangerie Kayser
        Cheeses- Fromagerie 31
        Steak Frites - Le Pelais de L' Enrtrecote
        Croque Monsieur - ??

        Sorry for the randomness and the incomplete info but hard to gather information on a place I have never been to and have to rely and other sources.

        I would love to find out the places that you could recommend in Florence. Would like to find out the other restaurants you are planning to eat in Venice, Rome, or Cinque Terre if you are going to any of those.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Tony


          What a coincidence! We're going June 13th-16th, flying to Venice after, then going through Florence/Rome. I haven't been to Cinque Terre personally, but my roommates in Florence spent a weekend there. They said it was breathtaking, real memorable. They rented scooters for an afternoon and said it was a blast, maybe something you can look into.

          I thought Joel Robuchon might be a bit too formal for my tastes, which is why I don't have it planned - I'm not sure a polo shirt and khakis would fly there, but there are many people on the boards who would know better than I.

          Keep in mind (something I found pretty frustrating) a lot of places are not open Sat/Sun, even Monday. I think L'ami Jean fell into this category, as well as Regalade and Denise. You have an extra weekday though, so hopefully you can squeeze them in.

          I chose Rotonde because it is around the corner from where we are staying (Central Hotel Paris, near the Montparnasse station). But, it is also supposed to have decent food, and is open on Sunday.

          Josephine Chez Dumonet, I believe, only takes reservations two weeks in advance, so still waiting on them. L'ami Jean hasn't replied to my email asking for a lunch reservation either.

          I like your casual eat and snacks list, definitely will add it to my itinerary. We have a place in NYC (Bouchon Bakery) who supposedly makes fantastic macaroons, but I didn't find them terribly delicious...maybe Paris will change this.

          Gelato - wait for Florence and Rome!! Florence, two great places, Grom and Perche No. Try Perche No's biscotti gelato, absolutely out of this world. My last meal in Florence after living there for 4 months. Rome there is a place called Della Palma, I believe they're near the Pantheon, great stuff there. Had my camera stolen there, but I'm going back nonetheless.

          Florence restaurants, there are so many. Acqua al 2's blueberry steak and pasta sampler are must-haves, in my opinion. There is a small neighborhood place near Piazza Girolamo Savanarola called Edi House, only open for dinners. Best pizza in Italy that I had, along with superb gnocchi. Trattoria ZaZa has excellent ribollita (Tuscan bread soup), another dish you must try. La Giostra is run by family with Hapsburg royalty blood, very quirky man but excellent crostini and champagne to kick off a solid primi and secondi. If you get tired of Italian food, go to Turkuaz, it's north of the Duomo. Addictive chicken/lamb kebabs (I had 10 and got a free t-shirt!). That's off the top of my head...I am sure there are tons more, just ask.

          Rome, one place stands out: Il Tunnel. Small neighborhood joint, not in the tour books or anything, but BEST pasta I had in Italy. Home-made, perfectly al-dente, seasoned wonderfully, just delicious. Can't miss it.

          I could go on but, getting tired and the bed is calling!

          1. re: CGengomics

            I'm probably too late to offer these suggestions, but when in Rome, some of the best gelato is at Giolitti's -- about 80 flavours and everyone who works there is mean, so it must be a sign of how good the gelato is that it's always packed.

            Also, do no miss Dar Poeta in Trastevere for what I think is the best pizza in Rome. Second best is a place nearby called "The Morgue" ("orbitorio") by the locals, on Trastevere. Its real name is "Ai Marmi". People fight over which of these two make the best pizzas in Rome.

        2. When I was in Paris last Fall, Souphie took me to the best cheese shop I've ever been in in Paris, Laurent Dubois in Maubert. We also went to Oteiza, a fabulous deli-like shop on Blvd St. Michel that features Southwest products... the best ham and also duck. Imho, you both would be well served to shop those places, pick up a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine and make yourselves a fantastic picnic in the Luxembourg Gardens (nearby Oteiza!) or walk over to the Tuileries (one of my favorite picnic spots).

          1 Reply
          1. re: ChefJune

            ChefJune - Thanks for the tip of the cheese shop and deli shops. Grabbing some cheese, loaf of bread, bottle of wine for a picnic sounds like a great idea.

            CGengomics - Yeah, it is a crazy coincidence. When I first read your post I was like post was meant for me to read and gain some insight on. Thanks for letting me know about reservations for Josephine Chez Dumont. Also thank you for the tips on Italy!!

            Yeah, the casual eats and snacks list is a must. So many goodies, pastries, snacks, etc to try.

            I would love to hear more info from the board on restaurants and must eat snacks and goodies. The information found on chowhound is so valuable. Thanks to everyone!!

          2. I have a more general question for the Paris-experienced hounds out there: what are the main dishes one orders in Paris? I'll have my GPS with me to translate (slowly, and probably inaccurately), but other than steak & frites, what are the signature Parisian dishes? I have read veal is very popular. Foie gras, we will obviously have as well. But what words on the menu should I be paying attention to, and if I see them it is a "must-try"?

            5 Replies
            1. re: CGengomics

              Canard (duck) and agneau (lamb) spring immediately to mind, but be careful! "Riz de veau" is sweetbreads, not veal with rice as I have seen in some translations.

              1. re: ChefJune

                I'll chime in with our favorites for our two visits to Josephine Chez Dumonet. My husband loved the duck confit and the veal chop. I had the chateubriand with bernaise sauce both was that good. The grand marnier souffle is just spectacular. You need to order it with your entree. And I can't forget the warm artichoke salad. We're going back again next year on our way back home from Israel. The staff is very sweet..

                1. re: DaisyM

                  Awesome, thanks! I just had my reservation confirmed at Josephine for 8pm on the 15th...I'm expecting it to be the best meal out of them all!

                  Also for those Hounds traveling soon, it might be worth to check recent prices on hotels if you haven't prepaid. My Barcelona hotel went from 115 Euro to 95, and I renegotiated my Rome hotel from 100 Euro to 90. Not that I'm expecting to actually save the's more to splurge on additional delicacies.

                  1. re: CGengomics

                    Bien sur!

                    Have a wonderful trip, and be sure to post a report when you return.

                2. re: ChefJune

                  Sweetbreads are "ris de veau" (s, not z). When a foreigner orders this, kidneys or other offal, the waiter will sometimes ask if the customer likes that item (to avoid potential disappointment due to misunderstanding). I personally like sweetbreads in small quantities accompanying something else (the way I had them at le Bristol once), but find them too fatty as a main dish.