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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

            Hmm...my 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. http://www.marchesauxpuces.fr/index.p...
                        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!

                            2. There are not many bakeries or cafes right by your hotel but stroll over to Pl. Denfert-Rochereau (a big transport hub) where there is a branch of Paul for take out pastries, etc. On the first block of Blvd Gen LeClerc is a branch of Moisan which has excellent organic bread and other goodies. Always a line late morning and middle of the afternoon. Neither Paul or Moisan have seating. You will find simple cafes for morning coffee or light snack right on the place or just around the corner on rue Dagerre. Will save you euros rather than take the hotel breakfast, unless it is included with the room. Edgar Quinet has a good market on Wed and Sat mornings.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: PBSF

                                Thanks so much for the tip on patisseries and boulangeries near our hotel--that's precisely the kind of information I was looking for!

                                Does the Edgar Quinet market have breakfasty types of things available on Wednesday mornings? I guess even just some fruit would be great. I was thinking it'd be nice to grab some breakfast there, head over to the Catacombs, and then have lunch afterward at one of the creperies nearby (maybe Josselin).

                                1. re: abstractpoet

                                  The Edgar Quinet market has stalls for fruits (nothing cut up) and stallsl selling bread and viennoiserie. The market has no seats or any hot drinks sold. An alternative for breakfast is one of the cafes on Pl Denfort-Rocheau.

                              2. OK, here's the most recent update of our itinerary:

                                Day 1, Saturday (Christmas Day)-
                                - We arrive, check into our hotel, probably around noon. Walk down to Blvd Gen LeClerc to maybe get some pastries/bread at Moison (if it's open) or see if there are any cafes open where we can grab a quick bite.
                                - Spend the afternoon at the Pompidou Center (as one of the few places we're interested in seeing that's open on Christmas.)
                                - Rest up back at the hotel before heading over to La Cagouille for dinner (we have a reservation already).

                                Day 2, Sunday
                                -Head over to the original Eric Kayser to grab some bread and pastries.
                                -Walk over to the Notre Dame to attend the 11:30 international Sunday mass.
                                -Spend the afternoon walking the Champs Elysees, especially to check out the Christmas market (just to look, not to shop). I've been told to keep my eye out for a raclette/jambon/onion sandwich
                                - Stop at Fouquet's for a fancy drink (a citron presse or a grand creme or a Monaco?)
                                - Go up the Arc de Triomphe (hopefully it'll be getting dark by this point)
                                - Depending on how we feel, maybe we'll head back to the hotel to rest up; otherwise, head straight to dinner at the Au Dernier Metro (where walk-ins should be OK?) and then walk over to the Eiffel Tower afterward.

                                Day 3, Monday:
                                - Check out the St. Ouen flea market, possibly have lunch at the Petit Salon (recommended by mangeur)
                                - Head over to Montmartre proper, walk up to the Sacre Coeur, and leave some time for exploring the neighborhood (not sure if it makes sense to do this before or after the flea market).
                                - Tentative plan for the rest of the day is to spend part of the afternoon exploring the Marais, and then have dinner at L'Epi Dupin.

                                Day 4, Tuesday
                                - Early AM visit to Musee D'Orsay
                                - Walk over to have a hot chocolate at Angelina
                                - Still need to plan another half day here + a dinner

                                Day 5, Wednesday
                                - Check out the Catacombs (just a short walk from our hotel)
                                - Maybe check out the Edgar Quinet market that PBSF recommended? The afternoon of this day might just be more low-key.
                                - Head over for an early supper at L'ars du Felafel before going to the Louvre for the discounted admission at 6:00.

                                - Day 6, Thursday:
                                This whole day is still largely unplanned. I was thinking about maybe half a day on Ile Saint Louis, including a visit to Berthillum for ice cream. Still need a dinner for that night, not necessarily specific to any one area.

                                - Day 7, Friday:
                                Our flight is at 1pm, so we'll probably just grab some breakfast and get ready to head out!

                                For the two dinners that we have left, the places at the top of our list are:
                                - L'Ami Jean
                                - Either Robert et. Louise OR Le Bis du Sevaro for steak
                                - L'Ebauchoir (though their 13.5 euro lunch also seems like a good deal)

                                We also need to squeeze in a lunchtime visit to Rue Cler one day for the various food shops there.

                                Any further input would be greatly appreciated!

                                Also, we were thinking about just giving our concierge at the hotel our list of three or four top picks for the two days we need to fill (Tuesday and Thursday) once we arrive and have them call and try to secure those dinner reservations for us. Does that seem do-able? I'm intimated about trying to call myself, since I don't speak any French.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: abstractpoet

                                  "Head over to Montmartre proper, walk up to the Sacre Coeur, and leave some time for exploring the neighborhood (not sure if it makes sense to do this before or after the flea market)."

                                  You could take the #85 bus southbound on rue Rosiers (the main street of the flea market) and get off at Jules Joffren, and get on the Montmartre bus to the top of the hill.

                                  1. re: abstractpoet

                                    One more question: Is there a place that makes excellent croissants (plain or chocolate) in or near the 14th? My rec for "best" croissant is the Au Levain du Marais (in the 11th), but that seems kind of far out of the way to go first thing in the morning, and not near any of our planned destinations.

                                    We fly out tomorrow; thanks everyone for all the help so far! Will definitely report back (and try to check the thread a few more times along the way).

                                    1. re: abstractpoet

                                      Paul is not bad, Moisan is good. The croissants and other viennoiserie are very good at Le Moulin de la Vierge on the corner of r. Daguerre and r. Fermat. The rest of the places on Daguerre are to be skipped.

                                      1. re: PBSF

                                        Just also want to mention that the first block of r, Daguerre (off Gen LeClerc) is a daily market with a decent produce stand for fruit, cafe, etc. Also a Monoprix with a pretty good food section; convenient for buying a few things for hotel consumption.

                                      2. re: abstractpoet

                                        My favorite croissants are from Des Gateaux et du Pain, on blvd. Pasteur, in the 15th. For me, it's worth a walk! Their other viennoiserie are also fabulous. I also agree about Paul. It would be fine enough in another city with limited options, but there's much better in Paris, and with limited opportunity to consume, I personally would travel further for better.

                                        1. re: Nancy S.

                                          Des Gateaux det du Pain is excellent but that is a long trek on a snowy morning before coffee; for the hardy and true croissant fan. For about the same distant, mind as well trek north and hit pastry heaven of Herme, Mulot, Laduree, etc at Bonapart/Seine; at least those are near sights.

                                          1. re: PBSF

                                            I suppose we can always just hop on the metro--we'll probably end up getting one of those weekly passes anyway. We've left one day fairly open on our itinerary, for revisiting any favorite neighborhoods and I suppose, if my wife is game, for quixotic food expeditions!

                                    2. Hey, abstractpoet!

                                      I hope you have as much fun on your stay as we have had giving you ideas about our favorites and what we'd do if we were there with our spouses for our first visit!!! HA!

                                        1. Thanks again to everyone for your advice! We had a great trip, though (after all that) both the St. Ouen flea market (few of the types of stalls we would have been interested in were open) and Montmartre in general (amazing how there isn't a single tourist visible in "Amelie," isn't it? =)) kind of bombed--but at least we scored a great baguette, some Bordier butter (smuggled home successfully), and some Henri Leroux caramels out of it!

                                          If you're interested, you can read the rest of my (quite long) report here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/756864

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: abstractpoet

                                            amazing how there isn't a single tourist visible in "Amelie," isn't it? =))

                                            The "Amélie" area is only a couple of blocks from the intersection where buses leave off tourists going to Sacré Coeur, but the tourists never wander far from Sacré Coeur. Go figure.

                                            1. re: Parigi

                                              Maybe the buses don't allow them enough time to wander around?

                                          2. my daughter and I stayed at the Marriott Rive Gauche the xmas before- 1)knopff mapguides provide excellent bistros and brasserie choices for the area. 2) The hotel actually provides a fantastic spread at night if you stay on the executive club/concierge level. I hate to say it but the three hour FREE repast of red and white wines, charcuterie, breads, and deserts kept us in some nights...no regrets after long days out. LOVE that hotel, even better than the Marriott Champs Elysee.

                                            12 Replies
                                            1. re: alaskanexile

                                              If you are on a budget you would not have spent extra for the exec floors (unless you are a Marriott gold card holder). Wouldn't the extra cost of the room go a long way towards a decent meal at a local restaurant like Le Regalade?

                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                all miles and points- :) however, as the wine was flowing freely and spread quality, as well as the complimentary bottled water and breakfast buffet...the extra cost worth way, way more than the upcharge...plus a great way to meet fellow travelers from all over europe and america- it was like a club. we had great lunches, and later while staying on the Elysee, hit places at night. If you have had a full day, Phil as far as value: unbeatable.

                                                1. re: alaskanexile

                                                  The club floors are not unknown to me as I usually stay in them on business. But when I am travelling on my own money I tend to find the price difference isn't that great value and the range and quality of foods/wines can vary enormously so it is a bit of a lottery. I prefer to save the cash and have the freedom to spend it on the town (I get quite tired of hotels).

                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                    I'm like you, Phil. On business trips, of course I prefer an efficient hotel chain. On my own I shun them and prefer to stay in places that allow me to get more into local life - especially in terms of eating local - instead of being in a foreign enclave.

                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                      there were two surprises:the nightly repast, and the quality of it. It is a 65euro upgrade. For two we received breakfast, room bar items (stocked daily) all day bottled water, coffee, soda...and then the wines, charcuterie, small plate meals and desert trays. I am in the business (restaurants) the wines were decent cotes du rhones and white burgandy...really, the value surpassed 200 euros a day.

                                                      1. re: alaskanexile

                                                        You really consumed €100 a day in food and wine (each) in the exec lounge - I am impressed. I am astounded you found any room to eat anywhere else!

                                                        Remember €65 will buy a set meal for two in Paris in quite a few places, even possibly Le Regalade which is a short walk from the hotel.

                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                          breakfast and dinner? Come on- you are being unnecesarily "gauche"...:)) are you not the one Phil who earlier mentioned 200euros is a normal dinner..starting? You and Parigi are far more (i think) knowledgable about Paris than I, but 65 euros for comfort, wine, breakfast and dinner...oh it also got me free wifi! I mean who are we kidding here:)) It was my daughters 16th; I am in the restaurant biz, the non tourist places i studied for weeks on end before our arrival were wonderful. She has great memories for life. But since I am a huge Dumas fan, my favorite was an accident:: Le Pot de Terre on Rue Mouffetard near the Pantheon...in a cramped 15th C. stone cottage, with pics of the Three musketeers and D'Artagnan on every wall, corner and nook. They even had a D'Artagnan beer! (Unfortunately, i drink wine). But a 16euro lunch- another 17euros for a red wine, (passed it to some quebecois nearby)...i was in heaven.

                                                          1. re: PhilD

                                                            and yes, like Porthos, I am an old "musketeer" (every marine a rifleman) so: my capacity for wine, meat and cheese is prodigious....

                                                            1. re: alaskanexile

                                                              "my capacity for wine, meat and cheese is prodigious."

                                                              As I respectfully agree to disagree with you on other points, I must admit these capacities that you cite above are all blessings, which I envy.

                                                              1. re: Parigi

                                                                i would love to hear your favorite local Parisian restaurants...i subscribe to a blog or two that visits them, but always welcome an informed opinion...

                                                  2. re: alaskanexile

                                                    FWIW, we got the hotel via Priceline and thought it was well worth the money (no exec floor notwithstanding). The concierge was especially great with helping us make restaurant reservations--especially helpful since a lot of places were closed over the holidays.

                                                    Having Moison and some decent cafes (we liked Cafe du Rendezvous for a simple, no-fuss breakfast) nearby was great, as I noted in my post-trip report (linked upthread).

                                                    1. re: abstractpoet

                                                      great hotel, best staff i've had abroad. Actually loved the location, too.