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Treating my mother to her first trip to Europe/Paris - how does this combination of meals sound?

Hello again CHers! Thanks to your incredible advice, I enjoyed an amazing time/meals/food in Paris back in September. I am back now, performing in Prague. My mother has never been to Europe before, so I am flying her in for my last concert and then taking her around Prague, Paris, and parts of Italy! I have wanted to treat her to this trip for a long time, so I am very excited to show her my favorite places.

Last time, I went to Ledoyen, Chez L'Ami Jean, Le Pot O Lait, and visited many shops and bakeries (I fell in love with Seurre and Landemaine and Christian Constant - thanks CHers!!). Absolutely adored the food at Ledoyen and CLJ.

My mother and I arrive in the afternoon of December 8 and fly out in the morning on December 12. That gives us about 4 days. She does not have too many dislikes and as she has never been to France, I want to steer more towards places that serve French classics. We are staying in St. Germain but are very savvy with the metro and are willing to go anywhere. I am thinking:

3-STAR MICHELIN LUNCH
-Le Cinq because it has such an aura of occasion and my mother has never been out to fine dining before
-Ledoyen because I absolutely adored the food and experience there last time
-Pierre Gagnaire because I am very curious - might not be the best time to experiment?

CHEZ JOSEPHINE DUMONET
-so my mother can try the duck confit or boeuf bourguignon for a very traditional French cuisine experience

PLACE LIKE CHEZ L'AMI JEAN
-return to CLJ because I loved it so much last time (had cote de boeuf and a lobster app) and would like to try more menu items
-try LRSH because there might be more room and my mother will be more comfortable there and I haven't tried it before and have seen many glowing reports
-Le Comptoir because I've heard so many great reports and have never tried it

CASUAL DINNER
-Le Verre Vole
-Les Papilles
-perhaps a plateau de fruits de mer somewhere?
-try another creperie? Breizh? Or return to Pot O Lait?

As always, I'm looking out for the best bakeries and croissants and desserts. I'm interested in trying the apple tart from Poilane - can anyone tell me about that? Anything new and exciting since September?

I know you all get swamped with the same requests all the time and I appreciate your patience and willingness to help us anyway. You've never steered me wrong! Any other suggestions other than places on my list would also be very welcome.

Thank you!!!

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  1. Congratulations on your concert in Prague.

    All your analyses are good.

    When you write:
    "PLACE LIKE CHEZ L'AMI JEAN
    -return to CLJ…
    -try LRSH…
    -Le Comptoir…"

    does it mean you want our advise on choose one from the 3 ?

    In that case my one general advice would be to have the rich meals as lunch. Many older persons - and not so old persons - can't enjoy a gargantuan dinner so well.
    For example, Les Papilles is a huge meat&potato place, very good indeed. But I find lunch more enjoyable, after which you can walk it off in the nearby Jardin de Luxembourg.
    Ditto Chez l'Ami Jean and Joséphine Dumonet.
    Bon voyage.

    31 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      Thank you Parigi!

      Yes, I mean that out of those, I would probably want to try one of them.

      I have been also seeing reports on Saturne that sound very good, but I don't understand exactly what kinds of food they are serving. Can someone clarify?

      Thank you again!

      1. re: j.jessica.lee

        "Les Papilles is a huge meat&potato place"

        Oops when I wrote the above, I do not mean Les Papilles is a huge place. It is not. I meant it is heavily meat-focused.

        1. re: Parigi

          I will toss in some sand here and argue, as I do with my husband who almost always eats too much at Les Papilles: just because they put it on the table does not mean that one has to eat it all. One serving of soup; some, not necessarily half of the meat; often a green salad instead of cheese and sometimes split a dessert.

          And we often walk home (northeast corner of the 7e) after dinner here.

          1. re: mangeur

            I walked home to the 9th after the last Papilles dinner ! Had to.
            And didn't finish any of my courses.

        2. re: j.jessica.lee

          I've only been to Saturne once, for a lunch in October. I had a squid salad, lamb with vegetables, and a pastry with fruit on it for dessert. All delicious--I plan to return! The lamb was called Doublon de Barèges (castrated lamb which lives for two years in the Pyrenées, spending summers in high mountain pastures, before slaughter). Lovely Sauvignon Blanc from Sologne called Quartz, and a very nice natural Rhone red vin de table called Le Canon by Hirotake Ooka.

          1. re: fanoffrance

            By the Poilane apple tart, I'm guessing you mean the (open) small one. They're good but the (closed) chausson aux pommes is perhaps better, especially when still warm. JCD is a great place to go by the way and not just for entirely traditional cooking.

            1. re: johannabanana

              The best chausson aux pommes that I have had in Paris is from Des Gateaux et du Pain. It's spectacular, especially if you buy one when the shop opens around 8am, when the chasson is warm.

              1. re: Nancy S.

                Good to know! Thank you both. Have either of you also tried the chausson aux pommes from LPdR? I tried that one and really liked it, though I did wish the apples had been in pieces rather than in a puree.

                johanna, at JCD what are your favorite main dishes and must-order dishes? Also, between the souffle and the millefeuille and apple tart, which two would you pick? :)

                1. re: j.jessica.lee

                  I have to say, I don't love the pastries and La Patisserie des Reves. I much prefer Hugo and Victor, especially their mille feuille.

                  1. re: Nancy S.

                    We've only been once to JCD, very much liked it and plan to return. Ate pigeon layered between discs of potato with a potent sauce (extremely good), andouillette (mainly because it was cheap and we were intrigued, but also very good) and, to start, stuffed morels, and prawns. We had the souffle and I can't really imagine ordering anything else for dessert.

                    Haven't been to LPdR. (Our other go-to patisserie is Pierre Herme, where we like the kugelhopfs.) If you love millefeuille, though, I strongly recommend having lunch at l'Arpege (which is well-priced for that sort of establishment), asking them to choose what to serve you (it won't cost any more and will be more fun and various) except for insisting on having the millefeuille at the end!

                    1. re: johannabanana

                      I'll never forget how frustrated I was that there was so little filling in the millefeuille at l'Arpège. Didn't dare ask for more, of course... I wonder if they had just scraped the bowl clean?

                  2. re: j.jessica.lee

                    Might say to split an entree of their fois gras with an old bottle of St Croix Du Mont, after that nothing mattered. It was PERFECT.

                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      My hubby is still dreaming about the foie gras entree we had at JCD last month. It was humongous and we just slathered in on our toast, no worries about making it last here, we could barely finish it.
                      We've decided that our only splurge on our short trip late this week will be lunch at JCD, that's how much we loved it!

                      JO

                      1. re: parisjo

                        Chère Jo,
                        Foie gras should always be eaten like a (preferably big) piece of meat, and not buttered, spread around in a thin layer.

                        1. re: Parigi

                          Wow, thank you all for the replies! JCD is definitely on my list now.

                          Unfortunately, as my mother really cannot stand foie gras (!!!!), we won't be ordering that. Perhaps we will split either the boeuf bourguignon, pigeon millefeuille, or the duck confit and then split an entree? Any entree recommendations? And dessert recommendations other than the souffle?

                          Still trying to decide between Le Cinq and a return to Ledoyen for lunch.... I guess I can't go wrong though! It's my mother's first three star Michelin experience after all!

                          DCM, I saw the post about your trip with uhockey to Tacconelli's - looked wonderful! Wish I could enjoy the foie gras at JCD, but that will wait for another time.

                          1. re: j.jessica.lee

                            "my mother really cannot stand foie gras"

                            "Wish I could enjoy the foie gras at JCD"

                            Excuse me, you mean she can't stand it and won't let you have it either?

                            1. re: Parigi

                              I think she's saying that since the foie gras is huge, she'd rather not have it by herself if mother is not eating it. At least that would be MY reason for not having it; I usually like to order things that my dining partner would like too, thought that's almost never a problem because DH likes way more things than I do.

                              1. re: Parigi

                                Oh no, not at all!

                                But if I didn't have someone to share it with, I could not even begin to finish a portion. I love foie gras but cannot eat more than a little... She'd love for me to order it if I like it, but I'd rather have more things that both of us can enjoy. :)

                                1. re: j.jessica.lee

                                  I see. Sigh. Too bad what my French girlfriend calls the "baggie dog" is not yet in the moeurs.
                                  Still think you should get the foie gras. Don't be dainty about it. Foie gras doesn't do dainty.

                                  1. re: Parigi

                                    That is quite a rec! I'll have to reconsider!

                                    Parigi, thanks to you and someone else on the board, I devoured about half of the Seurre and Landemaine bakeries in September! Thank you for the great rec! Any other favorites of yours you can recommend to me? Anything! Bakeries, casual places, high end, food shops, anything! Those bakeries were goldmines!! I definitely need to go back, although it will be a bit far from St. Germain... I was three blocks away last time. :)

                                    1. re: j.jessica.lee

                                      You know Seurre is closing its doors at the end of the year, boohoo.

                                      1. re: j.jessica.lee

                                        If you are in St. Germain, you must, must go to to the bakery of Pierre Hermé, at 72 rue Bonaparte at the corner of pl. St. Sulpice. For me, a pastry baker, I find their plain butter croissants are perfect. (I'm avoiding getting into an argument about "best," but you can start with Hermé as your standard.) Pains au chocolat, too.

                                        Also try the incredible pastries, especially with chocolate. Deadly. For the chocolates themselves, I am partial to la Maison du Chocolat, Jacques Genin, Jean Paul Hévin, and Pascal Le Gac in St Germain en Laye.

                                        1. re: RandyB

                                          I agree with the Genin rec, their chocolate millefeuilles is heaven in layers! I never like millefeuille, don't like chocolate pastries nor pate feuilletee and I nearly cried of joy when I ate that pastry! Hot chocolate there is pretty amazing too, not sweetened and served with sugar on the side. Lemon tarte is so light and intense I'm salivating onto my keyboard!
                                          Pierre Herme is of course amazing if you can stand the lines, if I'm not there before it opens and before the huge line, I just don't bother. the DH is a huge fan of the green tea croissant at Sadaharu Aoki

                                          1. re: kerosundae

                                            Yes, I do love Genin's chocolate millefeuille. It was wonderful.... I want to try another one of his pastries this time as well. Eclair perhaps? Or Paris Brest.

                                            I was not the biggest fan of Pierre Herme's composed pastries and his macarons, but I must say I did love his caneles and pain au chocolat. Thanks for reminding me to go back and get one!

                                            1. re: j.jessica.lee

                                              I like the chocolate mille feuille much better than the vanilla version. I also liked the eclair (though I only wish it wasn't as chilled). I'm a fan of pastry cream eclairs, so I also like the Gerard Mulot and even the Laduree version.

                                              1. re: Nancy S.

                                                Souphie got me for once to try Genin's chestnut millefeuille. Til then, I was loyal to chocolate, with vanilla second. Anyway, it is now my second fav after chocolat.

                                        2. re: j.jessica.lee

                                          There's another Landemaine at Voltaire if you're visiting the east end of town, also another one on rue Clichy.

                                          1. re: kerosundae

                                            Another Landemaine? I'll have to try to get there!

                                            1. re: j.jessica.lee

                                              yep, there are 3 total. I wish they would put one here on the south end of town, or just transplant one of the 2 that are up north--the people in the 9eme should share the love!

                                              1. re: kerosundae

                                                "the people in the 9eme should share the love!"

                                                Easy to say…

                                        3. re: Parigi

                                          The baggie dog is fine -- just ask.

                2. Thank you all so very much for your replies! I think I've come up with a tentative selection.

                  12/8: Arrive at 6:30. 9PM at Josephine Chez Dumonet?
                  12/9: BF - Pastry and coffee on the way TO BRUSSELS (yes, my mother has to meet someone for business there for lunch); L - in Brussels; D - ? (maybe plateau de fruits de mer? nothing too heavy as we're doing Le Cinq for lunch the next day!)
                  12/10: BF - Pastry and coffee at a bakery; L - Le Cinq; D - light snack
                  12/11: BF - Pastry and coffee at a bakery; L - Breizh cafe? Someplace with a great croque monsieur (my mother's favorite sandwich - any recommendations??); D - possibly at a friend's home, if not, La Regalade St. Honore

                  What do you all think of this itinerary? Any swaps or swap-outs? Any other suggestions? Too ambitious? Any RED LIGHTS?

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: j.jessica.lee

                    Sounds good. I for one am not thrilled about Breizh café -- go if you're in the neighborhood, but don't cross town for that. All others are very interesting, plus you know you like them. I would not skip CAJ, but hey, that's me, and sure LRSH and JCD are pretty good.

                    1. re: souphie

                      For someone who want to eat a crepe in a restaurant, made with high quality butter, ham, cheese, etc. (together with good cider), where would you suggest as an alternative?

                      1. re: Nancy S.

                        @NancyS. - I know that souphie highly recommends Le Pot O Lait. I went last time on his recommendation and it was delicious! Very buttery, very filling, lovely crispness on the outside. The only problem was that I guess it had been recently painted and the strong fumes of paint were extremely overwhelming. I'm sure the stench is gone now. The beautiful Bretagne butter has seeped into the walls by now. :)

                      2. re: souphie

                        Hi souphie! Thanks to your and other CHer's many helpful hints and advice, I had a really amazing food experience in Paris a few months ago - many, many thanks. Especially as I adored my meals at both Ledoyen and CAJ.

                        Yes, okay, I will reconsider Breizh. As for LRSH, JCD, and CAJ - we may only have time for one of those, unfortunately. IF I had to choose one (I have been to CAJ, not the others; this is my mother's first trip to Europe), what would you recommend for a dinner? My only reservation about CAJ was that it is quite crowded and I wasn't sure if my mother would be okay with that and being rushed or not. If I do go back to CAJ, what is another must-order for me? On your rec, I got the cote de boeuf last time and loved it.

                        As for Le Cinq vs. Ledoyen - you already know how much I adored my meal at Ledoyen last time. Have you been to Le Cinq recently for lunch? How is it doing food-wise compared to Ledoyen? I suppose as it's my mother's first time to Europe and her first three star Michelin experience, I should go for the one with a great sense of occasion, but I thought Ledoyen seemed special as well.

                        Any advice on what to do for lunch instead of Breizh?
                        Now I need to start thinking of a good moules frites places in Brussels and also a Liege waffle place.... The research never ends!

                        1. re: j.jessica.lee

                          How many in your party? If 3, ask for the south window table at CAJ. Plenty of room. We also were not at all rushed. The table next to us arrived after we did and finished before we did, but we were never hurried until we asked for the bill, which came promptly.

                          1. re: mangeur

                            Ah... We will be only two. The last time I went, I went with a good friend and we were wedged between two couples. You weren't kidding when you said "elbow to elbow"! I personally don't mind too much since the food is awesome, but I worry about my mother.

                            @mangeur, I'm guessing that your opinion is that between CAJ, LRSH, and JCD your pick for ONE would be CAJ for a Paris first-timer?

                            1. re: j.jessica.lee

                              No, only that the space seemed to worry you there. For a first timer...I always start with Les Papilles because it is such an easy segue. In the CAJ, LRSH, and JCD debate, I'd probably choose JCD, if portion size doesn't intimidate you. I really don't care for the service at LRSH and found much/most of the food sub-par. Besides good food, I like to have a first timer experience a civilized atmosphere and service.

                              Where we have been knocking socks off our first time guests is L'Table d'Eugene: quite excellent food and adorable service. But let's keep this between you and me.

                      3. re: j.jessica.lee

                        Croque Royale avec frites at Chez Flottes; for veggie types, the Croque Provencal works. Sit in the bar or at the bar; have the house wine in a carafe. Easy & cheap; a fine, quick stop when you are passing by Concorde.

                      4. Hello all,

                        We finally made it to Paris after having our flight cancelled yesterday due to the snow. That meant that we missed our reservation at CJD! Unfortunately, the only day we can possibly reschedule for is Saturday and they are not open then.... So I am trying to figure out where else to get an experience and food like that. CAJ is not open on Saturday either, right? Les Papilles perhaps? Or Le Petrelle? Or perhaps head to Le Pot O Lait? Any recs for places that do duck confit and boeuf bourguignon really well? It's my mother's first time to France, so I want her to try things like that.

                        On a happier note, we have our lunch reservations set for Le Cinq tomorrow! Very excited!!

                        Will report back, I promise. After four days of non-stop eating in Italy, I was worried our stomachs would be begging for mercy by now, but I think we'll be okay. :)

                        Thank you all again for your help!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: j.jessica.lee

                          You could try l'Auberge Bressane in the 7th, which Souphie recommended to us a couple of years ago for that kind of food. I'm guessing it's still excellent and, although I'm not sure they have bourguignon on the menu, they do cook very traditional French fare including a famous chicken with vin jaune and morels. As well as the sort of old-school desserts you order at the beginning of the meal etc. The interior is charming (if unable to match Josephine Chez Dumonet) and the service is great, extremely French. Have a great trip!

                          1. re: johannabanana

                            That chicken dish is outstanding, but for duck, try Au Petit sud Quest, not too far away and near the Ecole Militaire metro station (maybe a block away).

                            1. re: Oakglen

                              Report on the trip?