Experiencing Parisian and Provencial Living in a Week – Please Help!
My boyfriend and I are visiting Paris, Nice and Monaco in a week. Can you please advise me on our food plans? Our goal is to get a taste of Parisian and Provencial living in an affordable way, although we’re willing to splurge a bit if it’s something that shouldn’t be missed. We’ll be staying at an apt in the 16th arr in Paris. Any suggestions are appreciated.
Thu 10/1: Crepe lunch in Latin Quarter (Le Pot O’Lait?); Dinner at Josephine “Chez Dumonet”
Fri 10/2: Visit Notre Dame Market to gather food for picnic lunch in Versailles' gardens; Dinner at either La Table d’Eugene or Frenchie (I really want to try Frenchie, but I’ll already be in Montmartre, so La Table is more convenient. Is Frenchie worth the trek after a long day?)
Sat 10/3: Visit Passy & President Wilson Markets to gather food for apt and picnic lunch in Musee Rodin's gardens; Dinner at Chez L’Ami Jean (How do I make reservations? I’ve emailed them, and been calling for the past few days with no answer.)
Sun 10/4: Visit Gerard Mulot for picnic lunch in Luxembourg Garden; Dinner at Chez Jenny
Mon 10/5: Suggestions for Haute cusine lunch prix fixe for under €50? (Do you recommend Dominique Bouchet, which I’ve heard is affordable, La Table de Joel Robuchon, which costs €55, or another restaurant? Guy Savoy and Le Cinq are obviously out of the question for us, as they cost €100.)
*Should we try L’as du Falafel, Wally Le Seharien or Le Café du Marche instead of picnic lunch one day or in place of Haute lunch?
**We’ll also try Berthillon (ice cream), Jacques Genin (chocolate), Dubois (cheese), Angelina’s (hot chocolate), and Eric Kayser, Pierre Herme and Pan du Sucre (breakfast, pastries)
Mon 10/5: Dinner at L’Ane Rouge
Wed 10/7: Socca lunch at Cours Saleya; Dinner at La Merenda
*We’ll try Patisserie Lac (pastries) and Arlequin (gelato)
Tue 10/6: Any lunch suggestions?; Dinner at Le Saint Benoit, La Maison du Caviar, Le Grill or Mandarine? (Which should we try for food, view and not too pricey? Le Louis XV is too costly.)
*We’ll try Laduree (macarons)
Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone! Here's a review of all the places I tried...
Josephine “Chez Dumonet” – It was an excellent introduction to French food for us! The artichoke salad I ordered was forgettable, but I thought the Duck Confit was perfectly prepared. Its skin was crispy but not greasy, and its meat was moist and flavorful. The Grand Marnier souffle was light and fluffy. However, they apparently soak the bottom with Grand Marnier, and, those last bites were way too harsh for me. I thought the waiters were really accomodating, and loved their red wine recommendation, but service was a bit slow. I really enjoyed its 1930s light fixtures and décor, and would definitely go back.
La Table d’Eugene – I enjoyed the cozy, inviting nature of this restaurant. I loved my mushroom risotto, which was actually more akin to macaroni than anything else. They were truly able to draw the flavors from the mushrooms they used. I nearly licked my plate! I thought the rabbit medallions were good, but not outstanding. They were moist, but I didn’t find the flavor very interesting. The daily special dessert of roast figs, almonds and ice cream was delicious. The figs were the best I had while in France. Service was so very slow though, and we even switched waiters halfway through our meal because our initial waitress stopped coming around to us.
Chez L’Ami Jean – I thoroughly enjoyed my dining experience here! Immediately upon entering, you enter an older, more rustic world consisting of wooden tables and chairs, a small bar decorated by hanging meats, and an inviting tray of charcuterie. We were, luckily, the first ones there for dinner, and were seated in a corner by the window with more elbow room than patrons at the other seats and the nice breeze from outside. I really enjoyed my mushroom risotto (again!), which was more like orzo this time. I slightly preferred the flavor of La Table d’Eugene’s, however, although my boyfriend preferred Chez L’Ami Jean’s. The duck I ordered was moist, tender and perfectly-cooked, slightly red in the center, and paired with a bowl of mashed potates and a puree of something else I can’t recall (except that it was delicious). My spread of various desserts was also tasty.
Le Cinq – My birthday lunch here was the best I’ve had in my LIFE! We went for the prix fixe lunch—we each had the opportunity to select an appetizer, main course and dessert, but because they also serve courses in between, we had a total of 6 courses for 78 euros. The food was not only delicious but it was also presented beautifully. My favorite part of the meal, however, was the service. Servers were warm and friendly, and we never had to wait for the next course or more water. As another Chowhounder said, we felt right at home. The sweetest part was when my boyfriend mentioned it was my birthday, and they surprised us with a candle on my dessert and chocolate that said Happy Birthday in French. They even took a photo with their digital camera, printed it on photo paper, and put it in a card for me. It was the most amazing eating experience.
Notre Dame Market – It is a 10 min walk from Versailles, and offers 6 big blocks of fresh bread, produce, charcuterie, cheese, etc. It was our favorite in France, and was certainly cheaper than the ones in Paris.
Passy Market – It was convenient for us, as was midway from our apt to the metro. Its products were good, but it was small and pricey.
Raspail Market – We checked out the market on Sunday, as it’s organic that day. I especially appreciated the array of seafood, particularly oysters!
Berthillon’s ice cream – I thought it tasted better than Haagen Daaz! It’s smooth, and the flavors are delicious.
Eric Kayser – Their pain au chocolat was delicious, but their café au lait was especially small, and the plastic cup nearly burned my hand off.
Gerard Mulot – Their Croque Monsieur was drenched in butter and really good. Their macarons were tasty but a bit dry, as was their brioche.
Pierre Herme – They had the best macarons. They were moist and their flavors were unique.
L’Ane Rouge – I honestly wasn’t wowed by their bouillabaisse. I thought it was a bit bland, and extremely overpriced! I thought service was good, however.
La Merenda – It was our favorite restaurant in Nice. I loved the tomato tart and the oxtail stew with polenta! The chocolate mousse wasn’t anything special, however. Service was great, and I loved the cozy feel of the small restaurant. I would definitely try it again.
Socca – Unfortunately, we weren’t able to try Mme Therese’s socca, but we did try it at a local street shop, and it was delicious! It was a savory, tasty alternative to a crepe, and it was the perfect snack.
Chocolatier Lac – I thought their macarons were really good. I especially liked their flavors. Their chocolate was also tasty.
Good question. Poor service at Eugene is surprising. We have always had excellent and timely service there. In fact my husband and I have remarked how multi-tasking both the head waiter and waitress are, how they react to the slightest eye contact or nod of the head. And we've usually been there on Friday or Saturday nights. Another case of a dining room taking on a life of its own.
Absolutely agree about the waitstaff; terrific and attentive and prompt; I too usually go weekend nights; it's packed and they handle it seemlessly (except when a drugged-looking relative of one came buy and our stalwart Police had to take him away.
But recall, this is a neighborhood place not a downtown Palace, we're lucky in the nabe to finally have a resto of quality.
Great eats, bravo!
- I also love Paris's Frenchie and L'Ami Jean and Nice's merenda.
- Re the socca in old Nice, quite tasty but I can't stand the lady.
- If Monaco were suddenly not part of the French Riviera, I would not miss it and would consider the Riviera improved.
- Question: what o what do you mean by "Notre Dame Market – It is a 10 min walk from Versailles"? Is this market in Paris or Versailles?
In response to some of your comments...
On Eugene, the service was slow compared to the other restaurants we tried in France (both Paris and Cote d'Azur included). If I were to rank all the restaurants I tried by service, it was the slowest. In fact, we had to ask for the check 3 times after dessert. However, it happens. I'm not discounting its food or value, as I still enjoyd my meal. They may usually have great service, and we were unlucky.
On Monaco, we only had a quick lunch there, and went for the cheapest place we could find, a small hole-in-the-wall cafe with a friendly owner that caters to the people that work around Monte Carlo. Thus, I can't really add any insight into Monaco's food. However, I did enjoy the glitzy, over-the-top sights on the day trip, as it was unlike anything I've ever experienced. I did enjoy visiting St-Paul-de-Vence even more though.
On Notre Dame Market, although that's its name, it's in Versailles, and is a 10 min walk from the Chateau. Sorry for the confusion.
That's for the help, everyone.
In Paris... I've decided to try Frenchie over La Table d’Eugene for dinner, will visit Raspail Market along with Gerard Mulot for picnic fixings since they're close by, and will try Le Cinq for lunch, since it's my birthday that day anyway, so a splurge is definitely okay!
In Provence... As I'll be doing a day trip to Monaco, should I do dinner there or back in Nice, where I'll be staying? I've been having a difficult time selecting an affordable but good restaurant in Monaco, and La Zucca Magica sounded interesting in Nice. Also, it seems that the 1E bus to Monaco from Nice stops running before dinnertime? Any suggestions?
You can get great picnic fixings on Blvd St. Michel at Oteiza. Wonderful Basque goodies. And last fall, the breakfast pastries from Boulangerie Monge in the 5eme were spectacular. Get some if you can.
The ice cream in Nice Old Town is at least as good as Berthillon, imho. The name of the shop escapes me at the moment.
Will be going to Chez Dumonnet next week, will post before you get here. Been some unfavorable reports politically on Chez Jenny lately, would skip. Although more money 78€, think the lunch at Le Cinq should not be missed, was treated better and more generously than any family has ever treated me. l am a picnic lunch fan but prefer Maoz in the warren near St Michel over l'as Falaffel. Chez l'Ami Jean crew are in NY until 9/29, you can call then. If l could eat only one thing on your list it would be the socca at Cours Saleya, it was mindblowing. There are two, one cooked over wood crates in center of market, one away from Corniche almost across from the wood one in a stand, they are both stellar, try both. At Dubois make sure to get the 4-5 YO comtè, 40€ a kilo, but may be one of best cheeses ever eaten.
I think your Paris plans are pretty good.
I loved "Frenchie" and went twice in two days, but I have not be to Eugene so can't compare, however is it really that easy to get to and back from even if you are in Montmarte? Keep ringing CLJ it is the only way, best to ring at lunchtime, have you got the time-zones right?
Markets are OK, but shops just as good, instead of Notre Dame market (I didn't know about it) head towards Maubert metro stop and go to "Laurent Dubois" which is the top cheese shop, and there are other good picnic supply places near by. Gerard Mulot is a great pastry shop, but you could also pick up some other things from the St Germain covered market opposite.
If you can Haut Cuisine lunch you must. It is really completes a Paris trip, wonderfully decadent and great fun. I don't think North African food in Paris is really much better than in other cities, but maybe the falafel is worth it for a lunch instead of a picnic as the Marais is fun.
Mandarine in Monaco has a great view of the harbor and is a comfortable restaurant. Foodwise, I thought it was good, not great. I'd definitely return though if I had the chance. I believe the four-course dinner was 70E when we were there in May. They have a great lunch deal though which is 20-20E for two courses.