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Dec 7, 2010 12:44 PM

Paris: Vicinity of Marriott Rive Gauche (14th arrondissement), Christmas week, on a budget

My wife and I will be visiting Paris (from the SF Bay Area) for a week during Christmas. We arrive on the 25th. It'll be my first time in France, or anywhere in Europe for that matter, so I'm very excited--mostly to eat, of course.

We'll be staying at the Marriott Rive Gauche, in the 14th, and would love some budget-friendly recommendations for that general vicinity. Obviously we plan to eat and visit all over the city, but it'd be nice to have a couple of go-to spots in the neighborhood, for when we feel too tired (or too cold) to venture far from the hotel.

We'd be particularly interested in any cafes (for coffee/breakfast in the mornings and/or inexpensive evening meals), bistros, patisseries/bakeries, and street vendors of note in the area.

Like I said, we do arrive on Christmas Day, and I'm still trying to figure out what that means in terms of places being closed, both restaurant-wise and sightseeing-wise. Tentatively, we're thinking about doing La Cagouille for dinner that night, because I believe it'll be open and because it's gotten several positive mentions on this board. Good choice? Does anyone know if they'll be doing a regular menu (with regular prices) for the holiday, or if there will be some kind of special menu (with a corresponding mark-up)?

We do plan to semi-splurge on at least a couple of meals, so if there's a great place in the neighborhood that isn't so budget-friendly, feel free to mention it anyway.

Thanks in advance for the help!

(Oh, and perhaps it's relevant to mention that neither my wife nor I speak a lick of French!)

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  1. La Girondine, on Arago, has lunch menus around 15 Euros, as I recall. They specialize in seafood, so you could spend much more. I haven't been there for some time so you might want to check it out on Google etc.

    1. How about the original La Regalade at 49, avenue Jean Moulin?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Nancy S.

        Thanks, Nancy. What do you recommend at La Regalade? Seems like the Grand Marnier souffle is pretty famous.

      2. Here are a few of the other restaurants we're considering so far, some of which are near our hotel and others are just places recommended by various sources:

        - L 'Epis Du Pin (in the 6th, on Rue Dupin)
        - Chez l'Ami Jean (often mentioned on this board)
        - A la Biche au Bois (a favorite of blogger David Lebovitz for traditional bistro fare, especially game, but the response on this board seems lukewarm)
        - Robert et Louise (in the 3rd, for steak--Francis Lam loved the thick 40-euro steak for two, cooked rare)
        - La Coupole (fairly close to our hotel; recommended for the seafood platters, but I've heard it's gone so far downhill that it might not even be worth going to for that these days?)
        - l'As du Felafel (for lunch one day, probably)
        - Fouquet's for a fancy drink (we'll probably want to spend an afternoon walking the Champs Elysees, especially if the Christmas market will still be up--but is it OK to just get a drink here and not order food?)

        Would love your thoughts on any of the above!

        We're booked for La Cagouille for dinner on Christmas, but haven't made any other reservations yet. La Regalade, recommended by Nancy, is also still on the list of possibilities, as is Oakglen's pick of La Girondine.

        We plan to spend a good half-day, at least, in Montmartre. We've heard the creperies on the main stretch there are good--any particular one we should look for?

        Also, our tentative plan is to check out the Catacombs after checking into our hotel on our first day (if the Catacombs are even open on Christmas Day!), since it's just a short walk from the hotel. Anywhere good to grab a quick, casual bite near there? It doesn't even have to be a restaurant--could be a street vendor or a bakery. A good baguette or croissant would hit the spot.

        25 Replies
        1. re: abstractpoet

          I live very near Montmartre. Could you tell us what is considered the main stretch? I ask because there are dire touristy areas there that must be avoided.

          1. re: Parigi

   friend just said the main "place", which upon further research I assume is the Place du Tertre. I imagine that this might indeed be touristy, but are there good crepes (or other chow) to be had?

            In Montmartre, we do plan to do some of the typical touristy things, like the Sacre Coeur and the big flea market.

            1. re: abstractpoet

              Place du Tertre and its restos are humiliatingly bad.

              If you must play tourist there, play Amélie tourist and visit the excellent rue Lepic and rue des Abbesses market and food shops. And check out the side streets like rue Durantin, rue Houdon, rue Véron, rue Tholozé for a real Eugène Atget-Montmartre feel.
              And one doesn't have to eat dumb there. The good eateries are also on the side streets: Le Restaurant, Guilo Guilo, Mon Oncle and Café Burq used to be nice until they became so damned hip. Le Coquelicot is a no-fuss nice spot for breakfast-quick lunch- bakery.

              1. re: Parigi

                Miroir (on Martyrs I think) is good and so is Mon Oncle if they ever show up; I don't think Guilo Guilo is worth the E's and another denizen of this forum and I were disappointed by Le Restaurant, which I remember put out good stuff 21 years ago. On my side of the Mont only the Table d'Eugene is worth a detour

          2. re: abstractpoet

            "We plan to spend a good half-day, at least, in Montmartre. We've heard the creperies on the main stretch there are good--any particular one we should look for?"

            Do you think you have possibly confused the name Montmartre with Montparnasse? I occasionally say one when I mean the other...probably an aging thing. The reason I ask is that there are many more creperies around the main drag of Montparnasse than Montmartre, which really doesn't have a main stretch.

            1. re: Laidback

              Laidback, you are an ace sleuth.
              The combo of Montparnasse and crêperies makes much more sense. In fact Soup has his underground crêperie there - sort of his family secret.

              1. re: Parigi

                See my post below, they're on rue du Montparnasse and then some scattered around as far as boulevard Pasteur. There is no way the crêperies are in Montmartre though of course there must be a few, as everywhere else.
                Rue du Montparnasse is a few steps from La Coupole. It is lined with crêperies.

              2. re: Laidback

                Well, the one rec I'd received definitely didn't mention Montparnasse, but since Montmartre clearly isn't known for crepes, I'm happy to ditch that line of inquiry. =) And now that you mention it, I did just hear that there's a good crepe stand near La Coupole, on Montparnasse, and that's relatively close to where we're staying too.

                That said, I'm still looking for a place to have a casual, lunch-ish bite to eat at Montmartre--not really a sit-down restaurant, preferably. If not crepes, is there anything else that'd be good? Are Rue Lepic and Rue de Abbesses (mentioned upthread) the best spots to look? Street food/ethnic food is fine. Looks like Le Coquelicot might fit the bill.

                We'll be in Montmartre on Monday for the market, if that helps--don't know if that eliminates some places.

                1. re: abstractpoet

                  The markets in Paris are closed Monday. I think Coquelicot is open Monday, but am not 100% sure.

                  1. re: abstractpoet

                    Will you tell us what market it is that you will visit on Monday? You mentioned that you were planning on going to 'the big flea market'. I don't know one on Montmartre unless you are thinking of Clignancourt/St. Ouen, which I would guess would be closed December 24 through 26.

                    This is just my guess, so if you have better information...

                    I would definitely recommend that you take the charming little Montmartre bus from either Pigalle or Jules Joffren. It will take you on a winding ride up, over and down Montmartre. When you see a place you might like to investigate, get off and walk for a bit. And get back on wherever you wish. You will most probably find a place that beckons you for that simple lunch.

                    1. re: mangeur

                      The market is the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen (is that the one you're referring to?), which is normally open Saturday-Monday. But if it isn't going to be open that Monday (the 27th), then that does change things a bit--we'll still go to Montmartre, but then it wouldn't necessarily have to be on the Monday, and maybe not at the same time of day.

                      The best I can find on the Internet says they're open all year round, including public holidays. Anyone know? Anyway, to stay on-topic, I don't think that affects our quest for a quick bite to eat in the area! =)

                      1. re: abstractpoet


                        Looks like you are correct. However, note that not all stands are open on even normal Mondays.

                        Our favorite place for a quick lunch at St. Ouen is the Petit Salon de Manger, under the ramp to the car park in the Marche Serpente. See the P in the center of the map.
                        The Salon is a tiny deli stand that offers hot plats du jour and excellent salads and quiches. You tell them you want a plate and point to the salads and cold cuts that you want. We usually have 3 salads or 2 and a piece of quiche or slice of pate. Comes with a bread basket. With coke or wine and a coffee, our tab is usually around 22€. The man who ran it for years has semi-retired and his two adorable boys now work the counter. There is a little heated enclosed room with tables across the aisle where you can eat in comfort .

                        1. re: mangeur

                          Awesome tip, since if we can just eat at the market, then all the better...

                          1. re: mangeur

                            Quite correct; the flea/etc markets step down Mondays anytime.

                            1. re: John Talbott

                              Just to be clear, John, you are saying that even those who do open may close early, like noonish. Or...

                              1. re: mangeur

                                It seems to me that many fewer places are open Monday than Sat & Sun.

                              2. re: John Talbott

                                But it doesn't even open until 11am on Monday, yes? So I guess the long and short of it is we should get there by 11 (or even a little earlier) OR swap out our schedule and go on Sunday instead, switching our Champs Elysees afternoon to Monday. (See itinerary below.) If we did that, maybe we'd save Montmartre and the Sacre-Coeur for a different day.

                                We're not big shoppers, so we're going more just to soak in the vibe (my wife loves flea markets but is frugal and picky when it comes to actually buying stuff). Maybe it doesn't make much difference in that case?

                                Either way, I think we'll check out the Petit Salon if we're hungry while at the market; otherwise, we'll either eat at Le Coquelicot, or just grab something from that row of award-winning boulangeries (does Le Granier really have the best baguette in Paris?).

                                1. re: abstractpoet

                                  "my wife loves flea markets but is frugal and picky when it comes to actually buying stuff"

                                  Maybe the Paris flea market is not for you then. The prices are quite high and somewhat standardized, unlike other flea markets. Mangeur can advise you much better. But when I antique hunt, the Paris flea markets are not my destinations.The atmosphere is singularly lacking too. It is in a series of dusty lots outside of Paris. The eatery there is quite funky. Hope it is open.

                                  1. re: Parigi

                                    Quite right. Clignancourt is a warren of permanent shops. There are finds to be made but few bargains.

                                    In the other direction in the 14th, however, is the weekend market at Porte de Vanves, at the end of the #95 bus line. This is about as close to the beginning of the chain as one finds in Paris. In fact, pickers buy here to resell to dealers at Clignancourt. It begins at the corner of Julia Bartet and runs along Avenue Marc Sangnier, around the corner and back across the street. This is our weekend morning haunt. There is a different mix of dealers Saturday and Sunday mornings.

                                    (Quite decent gyro pitas at the corner.)

                                    1. re: mangeur

                                      Ah, great tip! And the Porte de Vanves has the added advantage of being quite a bit closer to where we're staying. Will definitely keep that in mind...

                                      1. re: mangeur

                                        Does anyone think any of these traders are going to be out during Christmas week? Give the weather and how the holidays fall I imagine a lot will take the whole week off (the same with lots of restaurants and food shops).

                                        1. re: PhilD

                                          Very good point. If you were my husband, however, we'd be on the 95 bus heading south to see who turned up to sell. As they say, what else are your going to do in a small town... ;)

                                    2. re: abstractpoet

                                      By the way, is there a good cheese shop in Montmartre? A baguette + cheese sounds like it'd make a great lunch!

                                      1. re: abstractpoet

                                        Practically next to the award-winning boulangerie le Grenier à Pain (38 rue des Abbesses) is a good fromagerie, maybe at N°32.
                                        Further down the hill, la Ferme St Hubert (36 rue Rochechouart) has excellent cheeses

                                        1. re: abstractpoet

                                          Two in northern lower Montmartre - Virginie on Damremont and Quatrehommes on the rue du Poteau

                        2. Fairly close to your hotel my wife and I have enjoyed l'Avant-Gout, Marcab, Au Diener Metro, le Bistrot de Breteuil and le Comptoir (for lunch). None is expensive or we would not have eaten there as I'm a cheap chowhound. The first three are very good. The fourth is lots of fun and has lots of choices. The last one is excellent. Au Metro Diener is our 1st night "go to" place because it is a casual place, full of life and the food is very good.

                          Get that falafel.
                          We'll think of you on Christmas Day!
                          Have fun!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: hychka

                            Au Dernier Metro looks great for our budget, and great as an option for walking in on, say, Sunday night, when a lot of other places will be closed...thanks!

                          2. There's always La Rotonde, Sensing (rue Bréa), Le Parc aux Cerfs (rue du Montparnasse) and the crêperies on the upper part of the same street.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Ptipois

                              I second La Rotonde and Le Parc aux Cerfs (50, Rue Vavin right behind Le Select), both open 7/7!