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The Best of Paris

My husband and I will be traveling from NYC to Paris in May. We're used to eating at some of the best and most innovative restaurants in NYC and really want to experience the best of Paris...both high end and casual dining. Between all the amazing fine dining experiences - if you were going to have one or two at most, which would you recommend? Alain Ducasse? Guy Savoy? Joel Robuchon? L'Astrance? Pierre Gagniere? Le Cinq? Taillevent? They all sound amazing. As for more relaxed/bistro dining, I've read all the recommendations on previous Chow posts, but am looking for real stand-out experiences.

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  1. That depends on what you're looking for. For innovation, you should turn to Astrance and Gagnaire in priority. For high luxury, probably le Cinq, le Meurice. For extra fun, Savoy or Le Cinq. For top food, Ledoyen or l'Ambroisie. L'Arpège is in a class of its own with its emphasis on vegetables and its relatively casual ways. I suppose it is innovative, and it can be heavenly.

    My advice is to read as many blogs as you can, including browsing my Picasa gallery ( picasaweb.google.fr/zejulot ) which features most of these restaurants. Then close everything and pick what you remember first.

    Bistrots mentioned on this board all look for real stand-out. Discout fine dining (I'd say Régalade, Ami Jean, Acajou, Pétrelle...), traditional bistrots (Joséphine, Denise, Georges porte Maillot, Auberge Bressane, Quincy...), new nouvelle (Chateaubriand, Bistral, Pré Verre,...), wine places (Papilles, Fish, Willy's wine bar...)

    1 Reply
    1. re: souphie

      Soup of course is the King of Haute, but if you want what he calls "hipster" places - shout out. I'm into the new & different and lower class eats: La Grille & Grand Ourse for example.

      John Talbott's Paris (which also has pix altho' not as good as Soup's which are really cool and crisp.)

    2. Well, "the best" in a city like Paris with so many "bests", is ultimately, of course, a matter of personal preference.

      Looks like you have in mind the 3-star Michelins, I believe they are down to 10 now in Paris, (Taillevent, Le Cinq and Grand Véfour having been demoted a couple of years back). This is a certain type of experience. Some consider these places too formal, and not relaxed. Others love the opulence and royal treatment. But the meal at these places will certainly be a memorable event, and usually evaluated more on whether "it was worth it" than the actual food itself.

      But with the names you've thrown around, you won't go wrong.

      10 Replies
      1. re: menton1

        Thanks so much for your replies. We're totally open to one or two night of very formal, fine dining. Its now just a matter of picking the right place. We're thinking about hiring a private car and driver to go to Champagne/Reims for a day. Any recommendations? The concierge at our hotel offered to arrange for us but theyre asking over 1000e for the day, which seems absolutely absurd.

        1. re: NYCityGal

          Since you call yourself a gal, how about renting a car and driving to Les Crayeres? It's not like it's Naples or Bangkok. French roads/hiways are cool and even a geezer like me can do it. If you book for dinner and a night, you'll wake up to the most spectacular sight out your window down the lawn that I can recall.

          1. re: John Talbott

            Seconded. And I'm pretty sure they organise Champagne tours. What's more, there's no reason for you to drive to Reims when it is a 40min TGV ride.

            1. re: souphie

              I second the TGV rec. First class on the TGV is really nice. BTW, it doesn't make the tourist lists, but Tours is a wonderful town 1 hour by TGV from Paris. A 3 min taxi from the gare is the terrific Charles Barrier restaurant, top drawer in every way. Tours is a very very cool town. Most people miss it. A nice day trip by TGV.

              1. re: menton1

                Where would you recommend staying/eating in Tours? Also, if you had to choose between Tours or Reims which would you choose?

                1. re: koc2281

                  Tours is a very nice medium size town. I'm more familiar with it than Reims. A VERY hip OT site:

                  http://www.ligeris.com/index_en.php

                  Hotel de L'Univers is the top hotel in Centre Ville. Best resto is Charles Barrier that I mentioned above. There are many other lower key choices all around the centre and around Place Jean Jaurès. Don't miss the great Vouvray wines!

                  1. re: koc2281

                    I like Tours better than Reims; the latter seems to have suffered more during the war, although the cathedral and adjacent museum are certainly worth seeing. I just read about a restaurant/hotel near Tours (Bourgueil) that looks inviting: www.manoirderestigne.com. In Reims I enjoyed a dinner at La Table Anna (probably ten years ago, yikes!).

                2. re: souphie

                  TGV, definitely. Our MO is to take the TGV from Paris to the city nearest our destination, THEN pick up the rental car for more finite touring. SNCF has a relationship with AVIS that allows you to pick up keys for your rental car from the SNCF ticket agent at the gare, and return them there if the Avis agency is closed, i.e., after hours or occasionally the lunch hour. Very easy and convenient.

                  1. re: mangeur

                    I was going to post the same advice; I hate driving back into Paris, the TGV is so much more civilized.

                  2. re: souphie

                    I've never been to Tours, but I really enjoy Reims. There are several beautiful cathedrals worth a visit, and many Champagne houses. The caves have many historical stories to tell.

                    And both Assiette Champenoise and Les Crayeres are restaurants/auberges worth a detour.