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recommendations for st germain de pres, paris

My sister and I are taking our mother to paris for her 80th birthday, and are looking for recommendations for places to eat and/or watch the world go by. First time for mom and neither my sis nor I have been in many, many moons (think 10-15 years). Mom is enamored of the romance and history of paris, so anything she can brag to her friends about would be good. Sister and I just love great food...

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  1. Could I respectfully ask why just StGdP? You can be anywhere in 20-30 minutes by Metro, areas that have more exciting food, have you looked at recent threads, lots of ideas are out there.

    2 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott

      I defend those who want a resto in a given neighborhood. Firstly, it is unpleasant to go into a smelly metro after a good meal. Secondly many people - starting with yours truly - consider the walk home after a good meal an extension, and enhancement, of the evening's pleasure. Lastly, one of the diners is 80 years young. If she wants St Germain, St Germain it should be.

    2. Also, what's the budget?

      1. I wonder what restaurants would impress the mother's friends. Most of my friends have never heard of the restaurants we patronize until well after the fact. In fact, our hotel man laughs that he often reads about them after he has made our reservations. (Thanks to Figaroscope, JT, CH et al) So I'm wondering what do most people think of as quintessentially Left Bank Paris.

        Maybe a mid-morning coffee or tea at Cafe Flore. http://travel.yahoo.com/p-travelguide...

        A lunch at Deux Magots. http://travel.yahoo.com/p-travelguide...

        Afternoon coffee and a pastry at Laduree on rue Bonaparte. http://www.laduree.fr/public_fr/maiso...

        Dinner. Hmm. I think I have to go with Allard. http://www.paris-eating.com/596.htm

        Perhaps her friends have heard of Le Comptoir? Lunch or try booking for dinner. http://www.paris-paris-paris.com/pari...

        And a taste of yesterday, Les Charpentiers. http://www.paris-eating.com/618.htm

        1 Reply
        1. re: mangeur

          I'm thinking that mangeur's response may be in line with what the OP is looking for. Re the "hmmm . . . Allard," I'll say: We've been twice but not for a few years, and I know it gets knocked a bit on these boards, but it oozes charm, we still recall fondly the lamb's shoulder with olives, and two groups of friends of ours who recently went totally loved it.

          If you are looking for something very small with contryside feel about it, I'll also mention -- just north of St. Sulpice -- "Au Bon Saint- Pourçain." Last year there we enjoyed a simple dinner of marinated leeks, rabbit with tarragon in aspic, chicken in a tarragon cream sauce, and blanquette de veau -- washed down with a reasonably priced Irancy. It's a good value. The solo businessman dining next to us didn't realize it was "cash only" -- and they let him go after he promised to return the next day with cash. That tells you something about the feel of this little place. 10 bis, rue Servandoni,

          Also in the SGdP area, for breakfast: "La Patisserie Viennoise." Great hot chocolate is served at this little salon de thé near the medical school; fine pastries, too. 8 rue de l’Ecole de Medecine, -- Jake

        2. If you are staying in the Saint-Germain-des-Pres area, it is a short (very short) walk to Ile de la Cite (Notre Dame) and Ile St. Louis where there are many wonderful bistrots to be discovered plus the best ice cream in Paris (Berthillon.) Or walk a bit more into the Beaubourg (Centre Pompidou) area. I would avoid the Greek restaurants and their ilk in the small touristy streets of the left bank, as the food is fair at best, and overpriced just for tourists. Specific recommendations by others can be iffy at best, as they are based on someone's particular tastes and point of view. Try this: look for smaller out of the way bistrots in the neighborhood where you are staying and in the areas where you tour, read their posted menu (French law requires that restaurants post menus with prices) walk in and take a look around. If the diners seem to be having a great time and the waiters seem happy, you probably will not be disappointed. If the place is the opposite, be afraid. Be very afraid. The other thing about recommendations is that a small place someone fell in love with last year may not be there this year. Just think of what the economy has done to dining out in this country. My daughter, who lives in France, tells us that some wonderful restaurants have gone. Take a chance, but most of all, explore and enjoy!

          1. Mangeur has a point.
            For small bistros with decent bistro food and bistro ambiance in St Germain, I like the ones on rue Guisarde (au Machon 'Henri, Brasserie Fernand). Try to go on rugby night. Rue Guisarde is crazzzzzy.
            Les Papilles too can be easily walked from St Germain.

            1. If money allows, I cannot think of a better place than La Tour d'Argent for lunch to celebrate an 80th birthday. It is not that far from St. Germain and will certainly impress your mother. The lunch menu is reasonably priced... considering.

              1 Reply
              1. re: monchique

                I'd go along with the Tour, I think it fits your criteria "watch the world go by...... romance and history of paris," there are some photos of my meal there a few weeks ago at http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/...

              2. Thanks to everyone who responded! As to why StGdP: mom is not that physically mobile and getting in and out of the metro might be more of a hassle that she wants. we are staying in the neighborhood because of its central location, so I'm looking for places nearby that she might enjoy....

                17 Replies
                1. re: radishlegs

                  Taxis are a much better choice for your mother's age and very easy to get in Paris (taxi stations everywhere, or stop a roaming one or get your hotel / restaurant to call for one). Not that expensive for 3 people. Also it is much nicer to see Paris from a taxi than from the metro... Metro is fine (just) to go from A to B if you are a) fit and b) working!

                  1. re: monchique


                    We had a similar situation last winter. FWIW, we wound up at Allard and were not disappointed.

                    1. re: Busk

                      Anyone tempted to go to Allard should read Francois Simon's Croque-Notes yesterday (it's not posted on the website but will be tmrw). Ouch.

                      1. re: John Talbott

                        C'mon, John. Teasing's not nice. You have to give us more than this.

                        1. re: mangeur

                          I didn't mean to tease.
                          A problem is that I recycled the paper after reading and knew I'd be able to access it tmrw on line. But from what I recall, a friend induced him to go, they had between them only a couple of dishes, the wine was outrageously priced (and Fig pays), and his pal said something like (if you read between the lines) "How come when I eat with you, the biggest shot in town, we have such lousy meals?"
                          I promise to have the link when I post the Digest on JT's P this week.

                          1. re: John Talbott

                            Fair enough. And probably true enough. However, the people I know who have enjoyed Allard don't read Firgaroscope and very probably were looking for a different kind of experience.

                            We need another guinea pig to check it out for us. ;)

                            1. re: mangeur

                              "We need another guinea pig to check it out for us. ;)"
                              Sounds like another job for Soup and me. If he just returns my wallet.

                              And it wasn't in Figaroscope, which doesn't reappear until Wednesday, it was in the Saturday Figaro. It will be on line tmrw, I'm sure.

                              1. re: John Talbott

                                I truly wanted to hate Allard: have bad food, be sat next to some loud, Long Island tourist caricatures, or be overcharged, but it didn't happen.

                                I think Simon's periodic thrashing of Allard may be having some positive effect...

                                1. re: Busk

                                  This is exactly what I have been suggesting. It works for whom it works.

                                  1. re: mangeur

                                    You can see why Allard has a lot of qualities, food aside, that would not endear it to Parisians who dine out a lot.

                                2. re: John Talbott

                                  Good point, JT. Allard. I've always wanted to go. That and Pré Catelan, and then I could return your wallet. When I'm back from my weekend at l'Arnsbourg, that is.

                                  1. re: John Talbott

                                    Busk wrote, "I think Simon's periodic thrashing of Allard may be having some positive effect..."

                                    This is an interesting point. Since the internet, same old doesn't always stay same old.

                                    And John, I need to ask about said wallet. As the song goes, "big enough for two but not for three"? Oh, well, I can dream.

                                    1. re: mangeur

                                      Hey, I'm sure Soup and I would love two more a table. Maybe not on my wallet, but.....

                                      1. re: John Talbott

                                        Nobody's mentioned La Ferrandaise, a little gem on Vaugirard just off Bd. StMichel.

                                        Also La Maree Verte, a little more traditional French, really great photos of Ocean liners of the 40s and 50s adorn the walls. Just off Blvd St Germain.

                                        1. re: menton1

                                          "La Ferrandaise"... First several meals were outstanding. Then, for us, it went sharply downhill. YMMV...

                                          1. re: mangeur

                                            No kidding, my two meals there were fine. Hummmm.