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Au Pied de Cochon, Bofinger, Chartier-which is most fun?

OneMoreBite Nov 9, 2009 02:02 PM

I know, I know, these places are touristy, but I've been to Paris many times and am taking my 20-year old niece who has never been. This type of brasserie is, imho, an absolute must for a first-timer. Maybe not the most spectacular cuisine in Paris, but oh, the atmosphere! I've been to Au Pied de Cochon more than once so I'm quite familiar w/it's pros & cons. However, I've never been to Bofinger (mostly because I try to avoid the evil Group Flo!) so I'm leaning toward Bofinger just so that I can see it. Of course, either will be a fun experience for my little cupcake. The whole idea is atmosphere and fun! Please 'hounds, weigh in if you have strong opinions on which is the better choice. I'm throwing Chartier into the mix also so please feel free to weigh in on that as well. (I'm talking about dinner, either on a Friday around 10:00 p.m. or Sunday around 9:00 p.m.) Thank you!

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  1. PhilD RE: OneMoreBite Nov 9, 2009 02:39 PM

    I would add "Lipp" to the list as I think the people watching is far better, especially in the front section. OK they are rude, the food is sub par and the prices are high. But for me it still attracts a lot of the old monied residents of the 7eme and that adds lots of characters. Bofinger has lots of similar attributes, but for me it doesn't have same "class".

    1. ChefJune RE: OneMoreBite Nov 10, 2009 05:56 AM

      I've never been to Chartier or Lipp, but I have been to both the others, and I preferred Au Pied de Cochon. The onion soup was fine, and it was a great place for lunch on a chilly October day after shopping at Dehillerin.

      If I were to go back to one or the other, it would be APC.

      6 Replies
      1. re: ChefJune
        Parigi RE: ChefJune Nov 10, 2009 06:12 AM

        If you were to point a gun at me to choose from the 3, and if somehow I did not have to queue, then my choice at gunpoint would be Chartier, not because its inherent qualities, but because of the original sin of the other two places.
        And if I could add a touristy spot to the list, it would be Le Train Bleu. Look at that ceiling and your forget your food ! Get blotto drunk and take a night train to Venice…

        1. re: Parigi
          John Talbott RE: Parigi Nov 11, 2009 06:26 AM

          Point a gun at me and I'll squeal Astier for fun, whoops it's not on the list, tant pis.

          John talbott

          1. re: John Talbott
            RandyB RE: John Talbott Nov 11, 2009 08:09 AM

            Shoot me, but I really like the choucroute at Bofinger. I avoid the lines by getting it takeout, and also avoid the French abhorrence of people who share meals. I find that one order is enough to feed two people. Ok, maybe I add a green salad and a baguette.

            I think with the TVA drop a single order costs around 17 Euros in the restaurant but only 15 Euros to take out.With two orders I can invite two people to dinner and have leftovers.

            I should note that I live within walking distance of Bofinger, so takeout is particularly easy. I've only actually eaten inside at lunch. It is a beautiful place, and you don't get the tour groups eating there at lunch time nearly as much as at dinner.

            1. re: John Talbott
              Delucacheesemonger RE: John Talbott Nov 11, 2009 09:40 AM

              There is the difference, fun perhaps, never when l was there. very pushy waiter, cheese selection that was boring at very best, nice wine list but eventhough very near my apartment, would not take a free meal ar Astier.

              1. re: John Talbott
                mangeur RE: John Talbott Nov 11, 2009 05:13 PM

                In my wildest dreams I can't equate Astier with "fun". In fact, it is hard for me to suggest an adjective for current Astier. Sad might be one. Stale another. Boring close behind.

              2. re: Parigi
                Peech RE: Parigi Dec 5, 2009 11:37 AM

                I like the atmosphere at Au Pied de Cochon, but for that Wow! factor the setting of Le Train Bleu is tough to beat.

            2. j
              JmVikmanis RE: OneMoreBite Nov 11, 2009 01:16 PM

              I don't know Chartier, but I prefer Pied de Cochon to Bofinger and think your 20 year old would also but I really like Parigi's idea of Le Train Bleu as the ultimate knock her sox off place to see even though I can't speak to how "fun" it is--I'm thinking you can make it fun no matter what.

              13 Replies
              1. re: JmVikmanis
                PhilD RE: JmVikmanis Nov 11, 2009 03:01 PM

                I agree about Le Train Bleu for the decor, it is a must do. But, it is nearly 100% tourists so lacks the old style Parisian atmosphere of a big brasserie. Is "Pied de Cochon" the original building, I had been under the impression it was re-housed when Les Halles was redeveloped, it always looked a bit high street chain" to me. I am happy to be corrected.

                1. re: PhilD
                  Parigi RE: PhilD Nov 11, 2009 03:17 PM

                  "Le Train Bleu as the ultimate knock her sox off place to see even though I can't speak to how "fun" it is"

                  I'll let you in on the secret fun part: You notice those murals depicting all the resorts where one could go taking the overnight "Train Bleu": Orange, Annecy, etc.
                  Did you notice the mural on the ceiling? It depicts the ultimate vacation: heaven.

                  1. re: Parigi
                    John Talbott RE: Parigi Nov 11, 2009 04:41 PM

                    I gotta demur. The food at Le Train Bleu just doesn't match the decor.
                    And Bofinger while dazzling, bored my 10 yo's in March.
                    Au Pied - decadent enough, Chartier - crowded enough.
                    When I was 20 I thot Maxim's (which has reopened for its 9th life) and the Tour d'Argent were the cat's meow.
                    But as someone who has some professional interest in "fun" in both my day and night jobs, I seek a definition OneMoreBite.
                    Fun as in ha ha = McDo's on the C-E.
                    Fun as in bizarre = La Casserole in the 18th
                    Fun as in joyous = Le Ciel de Paris where you can see everything but the Monster
                    Fun as in exploding tastes = Ze?

                    1. re: John Talbott
                      PhilD RE: John Talbott Nov 11, 2009 07:45 PM

                      John, isn't "fun" in this context all about the "romance" of Paris, I believe a first trip for someone in their '20's needs to include the classics, albeit the faded classics.

                      A first trip to Paris needs to include the history, the glamour and the style. Nice food is important but without the other elements it sort of misses the point. After all what is special about sitting in the "low rent hotel dining room" that is ZKG.

                      1. re: PhilD
                        OneMoreBite RE: PhilD Nov 12, 2009 03:22 AM

                        I'd like to think we will be avoiding the "busloads of tourists" simply because the earliest we eat dinner is 9:00 p.m. Correct me if I'm totally wrong on that. As for fun, I should have been more specific. None of the four definitions above apply. What I have in mind is a crowded, bustling room, people talking & laughing, wine being poured with abandon, table hopping (if the French did that), good people watching, in other words a party atmosphere. Thanks to all for the excellent feeback!

                        1. re: OneMoreBite
                          souphie RE: OneMoreBite Nov 12, 2009 03:28 AM

                          Well then try Chez l'Ami Jean, Chez Denise, Joséphine, Adrienne, Le Quincy -- places where people go to eat serioulsy.

                          1. re: OneMoreBite
                            Oakglen RE: OneMoreBite Nov 12, 2009 05:34 AM

                            You have described Balthazar in NYC. The French do not table hop and never pour wine with abandon. Brasserie Balzar fits your other requirements; the gurus on this site don't like Balzar, but you will find the atmosphere upbeat and the wait staff friendly and without "attitude". And there is no American section. If you must have great food as well, Souphie's list is just fine.

                            1. re: Oakglen
                              Parigi RE: Oakglen Nov 12, 2009 05:37 AM

                              Gurus? Quels gurus? Ronin maybe...

                              1. re: Parigi
                                Oakglen RE: Parigi Nov 12, 2009 06:32 AM

                                Ronin; my favorite Paris chase scene. Anybody know where that Montmartre cafe is; the one where the movie begins and ends?

                                1. re: Oakglen
                                  Parigi RE: Oakglen Nov 12, 2009 06:43 AM

                                  (Sorriest for this off-topic reply holding up western civilization here)

                                  You mean the café below the stairs to the Butte? Rue la Vieuville and rue des Trois Frères (actually a block from Amélie's grocery store, and 2 minute walk from the theater in Le Dernier Métro).
                                  Try this nifty website:

                                  1. re: Parigi
                                    Oakglen RE: Parigi Nov 12, 2009 10:25 AM

                                    Thanks much Parigi, been there, walked there, never would have figured it out. Reality can be so sobering. Especially the Tex-Mex part.

                            2. re: OneMoreBite
                              PhilD RE: OneMoreBite Nov 12, 2009 11:09 AM

                              OMB - your 9:00pm strategy is sound. However, it falls apart a bit if 99% of the patrons are tourists i.e. like Le Train Bleau

                            3. re: PhilD
                              Parigi RE: PhilD Nov 12, 2009 03:38 AM

                              "Nice food is important but without the other elements it sort of misses the point."

                              Hallelujah brother Phil !

                    2. souphie RE: OneMoreBite Nov 12, 2009 03:44 AM

                      By the way, why is Flo evil and not Les Frères Blanc or Gérard Joulie?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: souphie
                        Parigi RE: souphie Nov 12, 2009 04:26 AM

                        You'd have to point a gun at me to make me go to any of them.
                        But with some, you have to pull the trigger.

                        1. re: Parigi
                          Busk RE: Parigi Dec 5, 2009 05:46 PM

                          +1. They're all lousy. Isn't Wepler still independent?

                          For the OP's benefit, I'd pick Chartier for the booze... again. It still attracts a lot of locals: students. PdC and Le Chien Qui Fume are better than Badfinger, but I'm sure I'm one really bad enforced dining obligation at one of the first two away from blacklisting them forever.

                      2. p
                        parislovernyc RE: OneMoreBite Nov 15, 2009 09:55 AM

                        If you decide to go to Bofinger, insist on sitting downstairs in the main room. If they take you upstairs, just leave. It is dreary and boring. We took my partner's two children (in their 20's) to Bofinger for all the reasons you describe, but sitting upstairs was awful and I regret we stayed.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: parislovernyc
                          S_B_Russell RE: parislovernyc Dec 9, 2009 11:23 AM

                          Agreed. The main floor is much nicer at Bofinger.

                        2. John Talbott RE: OneMoreBite Dec 5, 2009 02:09 PM

                          Hoo boy, fun vs Wow. I don't know what to say regarding a 20 year old.
                          Yes Le Train Bleu has dazzling walls but one could go to Bon Marche's Dept store (not Food Hall) and have the Wow.
                          For me at 20, Le Tour d'Argent and Maxim's were Wow and the bistrot/brasserie/etc on my street was fun.

                          1. hychka RE: OneMoreBite Dec 11, 2009 05:47 PM

                            Haven eaten at all three, and a father of three daughters, who traveled to Paris with us, my advice is that all three are an experience to be savored. But, none are "fun" for a twenty year old. My daughters liked the falafel places in the 3rd.

                            However, given the choices offered, I'd go to the foot of the pig place because it is mentioned so often in literature: and the neice will be able to say, "I ate there with my once removed parent (aunt/uncle/whatever...fill in the blank).

                            OTOH realistically, you have chosen three great places and can't miss.

                            Good luck!

                            1. j
                              johnmarseille RE: OneMoreBite Dec 18, 2009 08:01 AM

                              Chartier, then PC then Bofinger

                              1. Jake Dear RE: OneMoreBite Dec 25, 2009 03:32 PM

                                I agree with PhilD’s comment that “ ‘fun’ in this context [is] all about the ‘romance’ of Paris” – and to me, that certainly includes these classics, even if some are “faded” (and even if one is owned by Flo, which I know many consider evil).

                                Over the past 10 years we’ve had three dinners under Bofinger's beautiful dome (as noted earlier, sepecify that when you reserve, and don’t accept a seat upstairs). All have been OK to quite nice – and we’ve even enjoyed the reputedly diffident waiters there. To us, Chartier is a lower-class (but certainly fun, loud, and friendly) cafeteria/ dining hall. By contrast, we found PdC to be rather glitzy -- it did not charm us . . . .

                                (For a big bustling brasserie, we’ve recently liked Terminus Nord. We also recently tried Marty, which remains independent -- but we were not impressed . . . .)


                                1. d
                                  dcbbq RE: OneMoreBite Dec 28, 2009 02:47 PM

                                  We had a wonderful late lunch at Chartier recently, with very good food and a particularly jolly atmosphere (in part because 750 ml of wine seemed to come with each person's lunch). We arrived around 2:30 pm and the place was full and bustling, but there was no line.
                                  I've eaten at Bofinger only once, and enjoyed both the setting and the food. It was February and we were seated in the main room with no reservation and no wait. Just down the block there's a very artistic chocolatier-sculptor, and your niece will love to look in the windows.

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