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Oct 8, 2009 01:00 PM

Mid Priced meals in Paris

I'll be travelling to Paris next week for 6 days with my wife. My first, her second time to Paris. She's super excited, she walks around with a big smile on her face saying "paris, paris, paris" with a french accent.

We both love to eat good food and have not qualms with trying new things. We've set our food budget to 80E for the both of us and can spend more but we'd like to stay on budget. We want to be able to buy gifts for family and friends...

We plan on making lunch our big meal of the day and having small snacks for dinner or bread and cheese.

This seems reasonable given some of the recommendations that I've read on the boards here. I'm responsible for picking where we eat, and this is the list of places I'm considering:

Josephine chez Dumonet
Chez L'Ami Jean
Les Cocottes de Christian Constant
Le 24
Le Tute
Le relais d' isle

We're not really wine drinkers but we'll probably have a glass or two with our meals.
I want to have duck confit and foie gras at least once while we're on the trip.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

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  1. You MUST go to Josephine chez Dumonet. Order the duck confit (widely believed to be the best and crispiest in Paris) and the Boeuf Bourguinonne.

    Also consider Aux Lyonnais, walking distance from the Place de L'Opera. It's an Alain Ducasse restaurant, but very casual, excellent bistro food, and they have a great formûle (prix fixe) dinner for around 30E that is just fantastic.

    Be aware that a lot of good restaurants aren't open at lunch, so you may need to rethink your lunch/dinner strategy, but almost every good restaurant has a formûle on their menu, so you can eat inexpensively and well almost anywhere.

    Finally, check out for more recommendations -- he's an American expat living in Paris and has lots of great ideas for affordable meals and shops to visit (great bakeries and cafes, Laduree and Maison du Chocolat, etc).

    And don't worry about the foie. It's everywhere. You won't be able to avoid it! The problem will be trying to ONLY eat it once. We just returned from Paris and once ate it for lunch and dinner in the same day. Whoof!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Francoise

      A lot of good restaurants aren't open for lunch? Maybe a few are, like Pétrelle, Lasserre Ducasse and Savoy three days a week. But most restaurants are open for lunch and dinner.

    2. Is Chowhound hypnotizing me or did I just see the same thread 2 days ago?
      O here:
      Of your list, I don't know Le relais d' isle. I esp like Dumonet (your more classic fix), Chez L'Ami Jean and Frenchie.
      With wine you may go over your budget a bit, but your meal will be memorable…
      If next week's weather is nice, you may consider picnicking for lunch and go out for a good dinner every two days.
      Bon séjour.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Parigi

        LOL I saw that other thread a little bit after I posted mine. Its similar and I did look at the recos on there. Thanks for your tips.

        @ Francoise, I'll look into Aux Lyonnais. I have been reading about David for the past 2 weeks. That's how I found about Dumonet before I saw it all over the place on chowhound. Good to know that not all places are open for lunch.

        From a business perspective, I find it interesting that restaurants are only open for lunch and do not do a turnover or only have one turnover. My mindset has always been to try to maximize profit, thus higher turnover and more tables... I guess its just different in France with a greater emphasis on relaxation and enjoying whats important rather than chasing $.

        I will try to make reservations when we arrive, but should I make reservations before we go? I don't speak French so I was a little wary at how well this would work, I was going to try email.

        1. re: joelovesfood

          As for some of the restaurants open only for dinner, I don't think the chefs do that in order to relax more and visit their mistress (or maybe I shouldn't break your dream). From what I see, they put in a whole hard day's work for just one meal, making everything from scratch.
          For your well researched list, yes reserve now, esp with Frenchie and L'Ami Jean.
          I do know Frenchie's Grégory speaks English. Dunno re L'Ami Jean. How's your Basque? :-)

      2. By Relais d'Isle do you mean the Chalet des Iles in the Bois de Boulogne? If yes, I have only been there once and to a cocktail reception hosted by a company, but it is charming, get to it by a small boat, can't really comment on the food.

        8 Replies
        1. re: f2dat06

          Le relais de l'isle - I saw it on listed as the number 2 restaurant, it had a decent number of good reviews. It will probably have a lot of tourists, but I don't mind tourists, since I'll be one myself! As long as the food is good and the atmosphere is nice, then I'm a happy guy. I don't quite understand why people try to avoid restaurants that have a lot of tourists.

          1. re: joelovesfood

            It is the first I have heard of it (le relais de l'isle). Maybe Tripadviser has got it right, give it a go and let us know.

            But I tend to like Chowhound because I can get a feel for the regular reviewers and work out if their taste matches mine. I understand what people like John Talbot and Souphie like, their tastes doen't always coincide with mine but I understand them enough to navigate through that. I also know they eat out a lot and thus have good comparative standards: a meal for them isn't a one off.

            in your OP you say it is your first trip to Paris. It will be interesting to hear your views on the number of tourists when you return - I think it gets 14 million visitors a year - and why many Chowhounds like to try and avoid them. A restaurant that is full of tourists in Paris is not going to be good, and those that cater specifically for tourists don't have the standards many of us like to find in a meal.

            PS - your first four choices are really good, the other three I have not tried. Without wine/coffee you should get away with under €80 in three of them (Josephine Chez Dumonet probably not)

            1. re: PhilD

              I will definitely be back on to report how the "eating" trip went. I may have to increase my food budget. I agree with what you say about restaurants that cater to tourists, and steer away from them. If I wanted to have "food court" food, I can get that at the mall. After attending the festivities for Obama's inauguration, the idea of lots of tourists doesn't scare me so much.

              I have been reading the boards and see lots of good things about La Regalade, so I will add that to my list of places to try to visit.

              I'm salivating thinking about all the good food that people have recounted in their reports. Counting down the days... only 6 more!

            2. re: joelovesfood

              Le Chalet des Iles? Just lunched there yesterday, invited by a client.
              Dependabe brasserie-level food. -- When you are in a brasserie like that, order "defensively". Don't order things that are too sophisticated.
              Birds flew and out of the open pavilion, percheed chirping on the chandelier, stole a piece of bread from a couple for whom it was obviously a marriage proposal lunch. The boat ride was enchanting.. The whole chalet looks vaguelyChekhovian, even though it was built for Empress Eugénie.
              If you don't have a car, it may be difficult to get there.

              1. re: Parigi

                I ate there a little over a year ago and found it not at all hard to get to by public transportation and a moderate schlep but had a disasterous experience.

                There are so many other exciting good places in the 12th - Cartouche Cafe, Shan Gout and A la Biche au Bois).

                John Talbott

                1. re: John Talbott

                  Uh, my Chalet des Iles is not in the 12th but in the other corner of Paris, the Lac Inférieur of the Bois de Boulogne. Dunno if any metro or anything goes near there.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    Whoops, I'm talking about the Chalet des Iles Daumesnil on the Reuilly island in the Daumesnil lake in the Bois de Vincennes,

                2. re: Parigi

                  Parigi, I think you sum it up well. The food is fine and enjoyable but it isn't the main reason to visit. For me it is a nice location and a was a good change from the usual venues, when you live in Paris it is sometimes nice to get "out of the city" and Chalet des Iles sort of does this. We went by taxi and it wasn't too expensive from the 7eme.

            3. If you have not already read my recent report, here is a link :
              Le Petit Celadon may be above your range, but Monsieur Lapin should fit the budget. Also, they speak English. We were handed English menus, had to ask for French, though it is not touristy and we were probably the only non-French customers that evening.

              4 Replies
              1. re: rrems

                I'll add M. Lapin to my list to consider.

                General question about prix fixe. Do we both need to order the prix fixe? I'm used to ordering a la carte since I don't really eat dessert. Savory vs. sweet tooth.

                My wife will definitely appreciate having dessert included. She would be happy to start and end with dessert.

                1. re: joelovesfood

                  Lots of the "menus" (prix fixe) will be priced for two and/or three courses, so you don't need to have dessert if you don't want to, and your wife could skip the starter.

                  However, I suggest going for cheese rather than dessert and staying with three courses. Most places should have cheese, although their may be a supplement. If it isn't listed simply ask I am certain many will be accommodating.

                  1. re: joelovesfood

                    At M. Lapin, there is a 2-course prix-fixe offered at lunch, at dinner it is 3 courses, and you can substitute cheese for dessert. You can also order a la carte. In any restaurant, each diner can order any prix-fixe or a la carte. The only time the whole table must order the same thing is with tasting menus.

                    1. re: rrems

                      Excellent. I didn't think about ordering a cheese course. I love cheese and was planning on going to Fromaggerie 31 - (I think I spelled that wrong) for lunch/snack, which I read has a cheese tasting menu. I will probably go for the 3 courses and just end with good cheeses.

                      Thank you for the tips and ideas!