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France for the first time

Hi guys,

I'm a Japanese-Australian in France for the first time. I will be visiting Paris from August 24-28 with my meat-loving boyfriend, and then to Marseilles from 28-30.

For Paris, I wanted to have a mixed bag of culinary experiences. I was just wondering whether you guys could give me some advice. Here are the places I think I want to visit:

One 3* Michelin establishment:
I have narrowed down my choices due to budget constraints and many of the restaurants closing in August to:
Le Bristol
Le Pre Catalan

I am leaning towards Ledoyen because of the location and interior of the restaurant looks so quintessentially French.

I was thinking of a range of these bistrots for dinner. Also wanted a good recommendation for steak and frites for the boy.

L'Ami Jean
Le Regalade
Le Chateaubriand

For this type of restaurant, how far do I have to book in advance?
I would like some more recommendations for this category. My budget for dinner is around 35-40 euro per person, not including wine.

Patisseries and sweets:
Sadaharu Aoki (just wanted to compare to Tokyo)
Pierre Herme (again, Tokyo comparison)
Christian Constant
Gerard Mulot

I know these are more cake/macaron-centric. Does anyone have recommendations for croissants and other pastries? I am staying in the 14th arrondissement.

Open-air markets:
I would like to have a picnic for lunch one day, where is a good example of a typical Parisian open-air market?

Also, anything else worthwhile would be warmly received. Thanks so much!


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  1. Congratulations, for someone coming for the first time, you've done your homework and I think here you're dealing with our personal preferences, you cannot go wrong anywhere.
    The one place you'll probably get some different feedback on is markets, I think the Marche des Enfants Rouges (not really open air but seems it) is neat but mainly because of the prepared food stalls along with the fruits and veggies; the bio Rasphail and Batignols and Marche d'Aligre is also fun. The streets around Poncelet have both outside produce, fish, etc. and inside stuff (Alleose cheese for example)

    2 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott

      Yvonne, JT meant "Marche des Enfants Rouges", not "Marche des Enfants". It sells food not children, don't worry.
      I prefer the weekly maraîcher markets for their quality and freshness. Besides the ones JT listed, I like very much the weekly markets of Baudoyer (Wedn afternoon) and St Eustache (Thursday afternoon, Sunday morning). Besides having high quality fresh food, these two markets, like the Maubert market (Tues, thurs, Sat mornings), are near the Seine, where you can have your picnic afterwards.
      But the weekly market nearest you in the 14th would be the Raspail market (Sunday morning).
      Yvonne, do a search on this board and you can easily find links to the list of open-air markets. If I give it one more time, am afraid that the ever alert mods will expell me for spamming.

      1. re: Parigi

        Thanks for the catch Parigi, I've corrected it, hummm, wonder what that slip of the tongue means? As a psychiatrist I don't even want to explore it. Selling children? Oh my.

    2. My favorite patisseries are Pain du Surcre in the 3rd and Des Gateaux et du Pain in the 15th. The latter has excellent croissants in addition to spectacular pastries. However, I believe Pain du Sucre will be closed during your visit, but Des Gateau et du Pain returns from its vacation on August 26. Gerard Mulot is also wonderful for breads and pastries, and it too returns from its vacation on August 26. In response to my inquiry about vacation closure, the manager at Pierre Herme wrote that the shop at rue Bonaparte will be open "at the end of August", so I'm not sure what this means.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Nancy S.

        It seems quite difficult to figure out which places are closed. I also wanted to try the ice creams at Berthillon - is that closed in August too?

        Also, in regards to restaurants, how far ahead should I book? And do I need to book bistrots even for lunch?

        1. re: yvonnez

          Berthillon does close during the summer, though I am not sure for how long. Personally, I do not think Berthillon is that great; I much prefer Amorino, a small chain with multiple locations, one very close to Berthillon.

          Regarding reservation timing, you should book the three-stars now.

          1. re: yvonnez

            While Berthillion may be closed their ices are sold all over the Ile St Louis; agree however with Amorino and you can also check out an article in Figaroscope on ices that gives pros and cons on:
            Martine Lambert
            Le bac a glaces
            It Mylk
            La Tropicale
            A la Mere de Famille
            Gelati d’Alberto .


            1. re: John Talbott

              Their gelato is excellent, but the pistacchio paste they sell at Pozzetto is worth the trip in itself!

              1. re: John Talbott

                I heartily second A La Mère de Famille.
                Plus Caramello on rue des Martyrs.
                Except for the absurd long lines, Berthillon has nothing on them.

          2. I also booked La Table de Joel Robuchon because I thought it was good value at 59 euros. What do people think of it?

            4 Replies
            1. re: yvonnez

              Hi, I have made a lot of similar choices but you will be there before me. I would be really grateful if you would post a report.

              1. re: panaroma

                Hi - I will post a report, but I will be running around Europe all of September, so if you can wait until October, definitely will post up here.

                1. re: yvonnez

                  I'm curious for your report too - have similar restaurant interests, ideas and budget for our trip in October! Thanks!

              2. re: yvonnez

                I think the lunch deal at la Table is a great thing. Everything else Robuchon-branded is overpriced, alas.

              3. I just had a fabulous meal at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. From everything I hear you are better off here than at La Table. They do take reservations and they are incredibly charming. Gaya, across the street is also good (Pierre Gaignaire)

                We also had a fabulous meal at Fables de la Fontaine. Fresh fish in a very congenial setting.

                1 Reply
                1. re: croquembouche

                  "They do take reservations"

                  be careful, for dinner, they only take reservation for the first service @ 18:30, after that it's first come first serve.

                2. As for steak/frites, you may be able to walk to La Vache au Comptoir, 13 rue D'Odessa, in the 14th. Reasonable prices.

                  1. I've booked for Le Chateaubriand - how much ahead do people usually book for CAJ and Le Regalade?

                    5 Replies
                      1. re: yvonnez

                        Just curious, what time did you get for Le Chateaubriand. I tried to get a 9 or 9:30 reservation, but they would only give me 8:30 for Tuesday, August 31.

                        1. re: Nancy S.

                          That sounds about right. Many bistros have 2 "services" (shifts), around 8 and around 10. A table at 9 or 9:30 would mean straddling 2 shifts.

                          1. re: Parigi

                            They gave me 7:30 on 26 August - I thought it was a bit early, but me on my Australian stomach would probably be hungry by then and I might even be able to sneak in a late supper.

                            1. re: yvonnez

                              They tried to give me earlier than 8:30, but I negotiated until I settled for 8:30. It sort of makes me wonder whether they are saving the "better" times for others.

                      2. croissants/bread in the 14th; Dominique Saibron, place d'Alésia; Du Pain et des Idées, bd Pasteur; Moisan, at Denfert; Bosson, on bd Blanqui @ Barrault may not be far, depending on where in the 14th your are. Same for Mayer, 100, rue du théatre, and Pichard, rue Cambronne. And many more, I'm sure. The bakery on Mouton-Duvernet@Boulard has very good éclairs.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: souphie

                          Dominique Saibron is open in August ? What should I try there ? Everything looks good on the website !

                          1. re: Glaff

                            The boule bio, The millefeuile. All "tournicotis" (formerly known as "escargots" when he was le Boulanger de Monge).

                            1. re: souphie

                              Were the "escargots" the ones Kerstin brought back for me/us?

                        2. Is CAJ and Le Regalade closed for August?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: yvonnez

                            Yep. Régalade reopens mid-august, actually. Can't remember the exact date, but their answering machine does. CAJ is closed all of August.

                          2. La Régalade reopens the 16th of August

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: The Paris Kitchen

                              Too bad about CAJ - I guess I'll just have to try La Regalade in both locations instead.

                              Has anyone been to Le Severo? Is it any good? I want some traditional bistro French.

                              1. re: yvonnez

                                Excellent, esp the Cotes de Boeuf, ate last at the Bis de.....
                                6.2. Le Bis de Severo, 16, rue des Plantes in the 14th,, open Tuesday to Saturday night. Another seemingly trite neighborhood place that was unexpectedly good (although to be honest, it has garnered pretty good reviews.) It was advertised to me once upon a time as a seafood place – ha! It was more like a meat place with at least six steak type mains. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We entered to the screams of a two year old that didn’t cease until one or the other parent escorted her out and finally, blissfully, left altogether. Our eyes scanned the menu but the only thing that jumped out at us was an outrageously priced cote de boeuf (70 €); but hey, somedays…… We started with a fantastically tasty boudin noir with a tartly dressed salad, then on to the cote de boeuf from Limousin, done charred on the outside, pink/raw in the interior and finished with a divine crème caramel. We topped this fine meal off with Illy coffee and two poires by Brana, excellent. The bill (we had the el cheapo wine @ 13 € for a not disgraceful Cahors, to rationalize our choice of the expensive meat) was 114 €.

                                1. re: yvonnez

                                  Sévero has its ups and down, but at its best, has some of the best meat in town. It's not a traditional bistrot. It's a tiny, packed wine bar that only offer meat choices and has no soda.

                                  The topic of traditional French bistro has been discussed ad nauseam, as we say in Latin. They're great for steak -- French steak, that is: grass fed, usually not very aged, and with a distinctive taste.

                                  1. re: souphie

                                    I think the Bis de....... is more of a resto than Severo; true, beef is the centerpiece. And yes we've beaten the bistro horse to death.