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Paris - suggestions for excellant dining-in meals

  • b

Our family of four will be staying in Paris (St Germain -- rue du Vieux Colombier) in an apartment for a week. We have brought up our children, now teenagers, to appreciate fine food. More by home cooking than fine dining to be honest. We all appreciate great food. And I would love for us to be able to eat great local cuisine every meal and have a very memorable foodie experience.

Paris will be our final destination of a 4 week Europe trip. We are renting apartments where possible on this trip, except for southern France (Nice and the Luberon) where we will be in BBs. I expect to dine out more in southern France because we will not have a kitchen and we will budget for that. But sadly the Paris budget will be constrained and I don’t plan on being able to frequent many restaurants/bistros. Realistically, we will likely eat lunch out quite a bit while touring Paris, and I know there are many threads here with valuable information that I will be reading. For dinner, the apartment location makes it easy to return to for a rest, freshen up, dine and then out again in the evening.

My goal seems impossible, but maybe not. I would like to eat as well as a meal in great restaurant but by dining in, not out. But I don’t want to cook! I do love to cook and we will have a well equipped kitchen, but I don’t want to spend the time cooking because I would rather be out and about as much as possible.

So I am hoping for some suggestions please. Idea’s for menu planning. Shopping. Markets. Close to rue du Vieux Colombier. I suspect how I might accomplish this in Paris would be different compared to what I would do at home and I’d love to get some insider tips. All I know at this point is there are going to be plenty of great places to purchase food that might make up a picnic lunch or appetizers. Cheese and meats. And I can get fresh produce for salads and those are easy enough to make in the apartment. But it would be nice to have some hot meal entrees that don’t require much cooking effort. Pasta and sauce seems like an easy choice, but that seems to be too much like what I’d do at home, and not very Parisian either. Another option I thought of is getting hot entrée’s to-go from a bistro, if that is possible. And I should add I could splurge on these meals. Feeding a family of four on 50 euros should result in a great meal at a fraction of what it would cost in a restaurant.

I have to admit I have not searched the boards for threads on this subject specifically. I have read a lot of restaurant threads. People’s lists to critique are great reads. And I know about some of the blogs on restaurants, such as Mr. Talbots (which I will use to select on restaurant dinner meal on the left bank and also places for lunch). If anyone knows of a posts/threads that cover my subject, please let me know.

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  1. You will be near Bon Marché - the Grand Epicerie has many options for take out. Also near the Raspail market (Tues, Fri and Sat) where you can buy rotisserie chicken and amazing roasted potatoes. There also seem to be a ton of take out chinese/vietnamese places in that area - not very French but good in a pinch.

    1 Reply
    1. re: florence

      Most takeout food ranges from ok to good, never really that good...
      unless you go to the top caterers like Constant, etc., in which case you must be prepared to pay more or less the same prices as restos if not more.
      Your best bet is to research on simple recipes like omelette with cèpe, veal shank, etc., that allows you to take full use of the fabulous markets yet does not stick you in the kitchen all day.

    2. Thank you both. Searching on Grand Epicerie resulted in a hit on a similar thread.

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7291...

      And Spring Boutique sounds promising.

      Sure have lots to work with now.

      4 Replies
      1. re: b.mac

        You are also a block or so from an excellent Monoprix which carries many of the same shelf goods as Bon Marche slightly cheaper. Also not bad produce. Good alternatives when your market supplies run short.

        1. re: mangeur

          Thank you for informing me about Monoprix. Slightly cheaper for the same stuff and close location is perfect. I need to scope out some bakeries and cafes too. I think the apartment owners can help with that but will search the archives too.

        2. re: b.mac

          "And Spring Boutique sounds promising." yes but selective in ways that Bon Marche & the Galeries are not and so are more comprehensive, ie Bellotta-Bellotta, foie gras, Aoki, etc.

          1. re: b.mac

            Bon Marche as it is close is a good starting point. It is a good one stop shop where you can basics and treats. They have a good selection of fresh vegetables and salads, they have and good butchery counter, also fresh fish, and all the dairy/milk you need. They also have a great set of deli counters that include all the usual pates, cheeses etc for picnics as well as lots of ready made dishes that can be bought by portion/weight. They also have pre-packed goods so you can pick things up rather than negotiate the ordering process.

            We shopped their for two years, and also tried Monoprix etc. Whilst Monoprix may seem slightly cheaper it wasn't what we found especially on basics. I suspect Bon Marche is actually thought of as more expensive because it has a broader choice and some better quality items.

            Down from Bon Marche you have rue du Bac which has a good fish shop (tried their carved to order smoked salmon), some local bakeries and Barthelemy which is one of the better cheese shops in Paris. In the other direction you have Marche St Germain which is (to be frank) a bit dull. You are in the middle of a fashion shopping area so fewer food shops than some other residential areas.

          2. where will you be in the Lubéron?

            4 Replies
            1. re: boredough

              We are staying just outside Saint Saturnin les Apt at a BB. I have lots of restaurant rec's for the area. And the owners also offer table d'hôte dining for 24 euros per person. And I hope they have some recommendations for foodie shopping in Saint Saturnin les Apt and bakery and cafes too. What I don't have yet is a restaurant rec for Cassis (or maybe surrounding area like Bandol). We'll be spending a full day in Cassis as one day trip.

              1. re: b.mac

                "Saint Saturnin les Apt at a BB"

                Are you stay at Mas Perréal? Say a big hello to Kevin for me.
                My fave resto down there is Bartavelle in Goult which is very near St Sat, but must reserve.

                1. re: Parigi

                  Kevin didn't have the right accommodation for my family at the period we will be there. He recommended another BB who's owners he is friends with. He was very adamant the BB itself and the owners will not disappoint. It's not an old house which means less charm, but there plenty of upside. I will be interested to see how it goes. Bartavelle terrasse looks classy and charming... thank you.

                2. re: b.mac

                  Is Le Castelas in Sivèrgues one of the recommendations (not far from the 'real' Apt)? If not, you should put it on your list....

              2. This might not be as close as you'd like but around 83 Rue de Seine there's a grocery store, Champion. Next to it is a place to get rotisserie chicken, prepared meat things and foie gras. One store down is an outlet of the ubiquitous bakery, Paul. If you go to google maps and use the street level view, you can walk by them.

                Those stores saved us a TON of money a couple of years ago and we hit the foie gras pretty hard. At cafes a small coke cost about five or six dollars. At the supermarket, we could get 2L bottles of coke for two bucks or so.

                From Paris we went on to Provence (St Remy de Provence) and found a largish supermarket, Intermarche. It was a lot of fun running around that store.

                1. For breakfast I suggest that you send someone out for baguette and croissants. You will quickly find an acceptable bakery near your apartment. From your shopping stores, take out some cheese, fruit preserves and blood orange juice...add coffee... and you have breakfast. Add a fried egg or two for the big eater.

                  For lunch my best advice is a picnic near where you are sightseeing. Most of the bakeries sell acceptable sandwiches or bring your own along in a sack.

                  For supper we are big on opening a bottle or two of an interesting wine (always buy several different ones because you never know how the pairing will go and learn from mistakes and surprise victories) and eating from little cartons of deli like treats you can find in open air markets and some bakeries such as olives, relishes, meatballs, couscous, grape leaves, humus and many other little specialties. Add cheese and maybe some sliced meat and more baguette. Finish with a special pastry chosen special just for each of you.

                  The legendary street side roasted chicken is another instant supper if you have been buying "sides" in the stores or markets. Another instant supper is a quiche or two along with sides.

                  I also like to bring home a falafel to munch on with wine and cheese.

                  See? Except for brewing coffee and maybe frying an egg, you cooked at home without turning on your stove. And, everyone will love it!

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: hychka

                    We also stayed once at an apartment on the same street. It is a wonderful area and you are right around the corner from Poilane. Perfect place to get wonderful bread.

                    1. re: hychka

                      "The legendary street side roasted chicken is another instant supper if you have been buying "sides" in the stores or markets."

                      And don't forget to buy an embarrassing quantity of the potatoes roasted underneath. These were not only fabulous at dinner, but leftovers were cut up and re-fried for breakfast with those wonderful extra-fresh farm eggs fried sunny-side-up on top.

                      1. re: mangeur

                        Where did you buy the eggs? I bought eggs at President Wilson market in the 16th, but they didn't seem as "just hatched" as the ones I can get at Union Square Market her in NYC.

                        1. re: Nancy S.

                          Yes, the bucolic, bustling French market with farmers travelling into Paris to sell their wares fresh from the field or barn is, I am afraid, often an illusion. Yes they are well used by locals but this is simply because of convenience - think about how many supermarkets and greengrocers you see in Paris - the twice weekly local market is for regular shopping.

                          Many of the stalls are simply sell the same produce from Rungis as normal shops. To find the gems from markets (and those food streets like rue Cler) you need to be very circumspect about what you choose. Just because it is from a market doesn't make it good, doesn't make it cheaper, nor does it make it better than an established shop.

                          1. re: PhilD

                            Agreed. This is why I seek out Joel T. for vegetables at the two markets in the 16th. The eggs I bought were the most expensive ultra fresh, but they did not seem just out of the hen. Any suggestions as to where I might find some?

                          2. re: Nancy S.

                            I've lost the precise designation, but by law in France, eggs are labeled by freshness. They start out, and as I say I forget the precise wording, as "extra fresh". If they are not sold in several days or during the prescribed time that qualifies this designation, they must be relabeled to the next level. We've bought them at markets and also at premium shops such as Bon Marche, although you should be able to find this labeling at any good store.

                            I compare this with the premium eggs we brought home yesterday from Trader Joe's that have a "good through" date of December 1. =:0