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12 hours in Paris on a Sunday in the summer, advice for one memorable meal

I will be arriving in CDG at 12:30pm on a Sunday afternoon this June, with a connecting flight at 11:20pm that same evening.

My wife and I love food and food in Paris in particular, and I'm looking for some help with a restaurant recommendation even though we are only in the city for less than 12 hours.

We've visited Paris twice in the past two years and tried Guy Savoy, L'Astrance and Le Cinq for lunch, and L'Atelier and La Table de Joel Robuchon for dinner. We've loved all those experiences. Given our time constraints, we really only have time for one large meal, either a late lunch at 2pm, or an early dinner at 5pm.

Probably prefer the early lunch so we have plenty of time to get back to the airport. We are open to trying one of the famous Parisian classic bistros, or one of the haute cuisine places. The main problem is knowing which ones are open on Sunday and serve lunch. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

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    1. re: hychka

      I'll let the OP respond, but I'm not sure it does.

      Traffic on sunday at lunchtime is easy, so if you plane is on time and baggage claim and customs are fast -- an extraordinary conjunction of facts, in my opinion --, you may indeed be in town (just) before 2. That's risky already.

      Then, 2pm lunch and 5pm are just not possible at most Paris restaurants. The 2pm lunch may fly in some places, maybe le Cinq and le Bristol, but not a 2.30pm.

      This leaves brasseries, none of them having anything Savoy/Astrance/Robuchon like (all of them closed on sundays anyway). le Café de la Paix is probably the highest end food that you can get around the clock.

      Having tried a similar configuration already, I know La Fontaine de Mars will wait for you until 2.30pm, is a classic Parisian bistrot, and is open on sundays.

      1. re: souphie

        Obviously if you can check the bags through to the next leg when you get on the plane this will save time with baggage reclaim in Paris, but you probably can't do this if connecting to another European destination as you will need to clear customs.

        But as Soup says 2:00pm is pretty tight. A couple of thoughts, Balzar has last bookings at 14:30, Brasserie Lipp goes from 11:30am to 1:00 am so no issue there, and Le Comptoir serves all afternoon. I am afraid the food at these places isn't in the same league as the restaurants you mention but the top tables don't serve much past 14:30

        1. re: PhilD

          Le Comptoir indeed probably is one of your best options there.

          1. re: souphie

            Hm... with only 12h in town, I'd probably choose I nice sunny terrrace wherevever it will be around lunch time and soak the atmosphere. While the food at Le Comptoir is fine, it's not particularly comfortable (uneven side walk), very cramped, tables very close together, etc. and sort of noisy as well, plus it's difficult to snag a table at peak hour.
            Your chances are a lot better at any of the brasseries on Bldv. Montparnasse, not so quiet either, but the chance to get a table let's say at La Rotonde, Le Sélect, etc. is far better.
            Should you be around L'Ecole Militaire, try Le Tourville or L'Esplanade, both with wonderful sunny terraces and acceptable food (it's Costes Bros, I know)..

            1. re: Dodo

              And another Costes place Thoumieux is very grand and serves until 14:30 on Sunday....although no terrace.

              1. re: PhilD

                Good suggestion, Phil. After all, it could as well be raining...

                A nice place in the 7th is Pasco. Superb view over the Invalides and open on Sunday as well.
                http://restaurantpasco.com/

            2. re: souphie

              Another option in the 7th is La Cuisine. We have enjoyed a couple if nice Sunday lunches there. They have a nice terrasse for a sunny day but again only serve until 14H

              1. re: dennis855

                Thanks for all the suggestions. We are on a layover to South Africa (for the World Cup!) so I'm guessing we won't have to wait for baggage claim, but I agree that there's always a chance we don't get to the city till 2:30PM. How long does it take to get from CDG to the city? I vaguely remember a taxi ride taking 30-40 minutes. Does it take a lot longer using public transit?

                I currently have made a reservation at Le Cinq for 14H as a backup, but we are hoping to try something new and something a little less formal, so I'd still welcome any other suggestions. Are places like L'Ami Jean/Frenchie/Yam'tcha (some of the highly acclaimed bistros) all uniformly closed for lunch or early dinners on Sunday?

                1. re: kewlly

                  Yes. I'll maintain my Fontaine de Mars rec.

                  1. re: kewlly

                    Could I suggest you not check bags or ship them, the baggage delays in Europe have become impossible and planes are routinely 30 min late because they can't get their air controller problem unified. To get back OT tho, Sunday at 13:10 when you clear immigation, by cab it's 40-60 min to Soup's rec - the Fontaine de Mars and ironically longer (on Sunday) by RER plus Metro.
                    You can forget L'Ami Jean/Frenchie/Yam'tcha til next time.
                    For less formal recs than the Cinq I'd go with:
                    Drouant
                    16-18, place Gaillon, 2nd (Metro: Quatre-Septembre)
                    T: 01.42.65.15.16
                    Open everyday
                    Plat de jour 20 €, Lunch Menu 45 €, Menu-carte 67 €.

                    1. re: John Talbott

                      Drouant does look interesting. On their website, the latest reservation time for lunch is 1:30pm, and the earliest reservation time for dinner is 7pm, so that might be difficult. I guess I could do a 7pm dinner and try to leave for the airport by 9pm. That may give me a lot more options.

                      1. re: kewlly

                        They do have a neat bar area to the Right of the entrance and a nifty bartender (disclosure: Felice and I were invited for and got comp'd to "cocktails" that were pretty good and I'm not a cocktail person) so you might find out when it opens and go there for some tapas and wine and only order one dish inside in order to make your flight.