10 Day Foodie Trip to Paris in April 2011
My partner and I will be making a trip to Paris in April and need some help with our food itinerary. At the moment, we're planning to visit some of the fine dining establishments, casual cafes and bistros and eat lots of pastries and desserts (because my partner has a really sweet tooth). These are the places that we've shortlisted so far. Would appreciate if you could give your opinion on whether these places are complementary cos we want to make sure that we don't end up eating too much of the same thing. One thing is we're planning to visit Bras at Lagouile and we're concerned that the food might be similar to the other fine dining places that we've shortlisted.
The restaurants we've shortlisted are as follows:
Les Comptoire du Relais
Cocottes des Christian Constant
Bistro Les Papilles
I have some other questions which might sound stupid but here goes...
1) Do restaurants in France/Paris serve tap water or do we always have to order bottled water?
2) Would it be too ambitious to have a 3 course dinner meal at say, a place like Frenchie after having a 3 course lunch at LeDoyen?
Please do let me know if there's any place which is worth trying.
Thanks in advance for your help!
Wow! A 10 day foodie trip to Paris.
A few years ago, I did a five day foodie trip and almost killed myself (well, not literally). It was great but definitely overdone.
What I found was that after spending almost four hours having lunch at Restaurant Guy Savoy, one had to spend the next four hours doing nothing but walking (and we were lucky we could even manage that) just in order to have enough appetite for dinner at Taillevant that night. Five days of that, and coming home to nothing but salads and grapefruit was a necessary and welcome change.
I'd say if you're keeping things to three courses per meal, you shouldn't have that problem, though. If you do any extended course tasting menus for lunch, plan on a light dinner and vice versa.
"1) Do restaurants in France/Paris serve tap water or do we always have to order bottled water?"
"2) Would it be too ambitious to have a 3 course dinner meal at say, a place like Frenchie after having a 3 course lunch at LeDoyen?""
You might be able to do it but would you enjoy it? In your pacing of restos, perhaps you should try to think in terms of enjoyment instead of endurance.
One good meal a day is plenty. For me, one meal is usually enough to cover a 1.5 day period. Your list is mostly a good one. For example, Allard is not the worst resto in Paris, but try to eliminate places like it when your list is so full already. Why give yourself a full stomach from Allard and jeopardize your enjoyment at your jext meal?
If you're in your twenties and plan to do serious walking between meals, you might be able to manage and even enjoy 2 major meals a day but if you do a major restaurant meal for both lunch and dinner you will not be able to enjoy bread and pastries or other fabulous foodie snacks that Paris is so well known for. In the high end restaurants, even though you may be having the 3 course lunch, there will be many in between the courses treats offered, so it's way more rich food than just 3 straight courses.
For us (middle aged, walking lots, total foodies in great physical shape) we find we really don't enjoy more than one serious meal a day. And sometimes after a real blowout (Le Cinq, Dumonet, etc) we skip a restaurant meal entirely the next day and just snack. And Paris is full of such wonderful pastries, bread, pate, and cheeses that we don't want to "waste" all our eating capacity (or money!) on full restaurant meals.
And yes, you can ask for a carafe of tap water in any restaurant.
My vacations are coordinated around dinners. (I prefer a special dinner to lunch, since I aim to visit as many museums, galleries, architectural highlights, etc. during the daylight hours and eat a small breakfast and a snack to tide me over until it's time for an important dinner.) In any case, I can go for two weeks eating and drinking multi-course meals at dinner without feeling overwhelmed (but then I do need to resume a regiment of salad and fruit). Accordingly, whether you indulge in a special lunch or dinner, I agree that I great meal a day is a sensible limit, to preserve your appetite for the subsequent meals. From your list, I would endorse all of your "Lunch" options, your "Dinner" option, and from the "Others" category, I would select Saturne, Frenchie Les Cocottes (or its sibling Cafe Constant), and I would add Spring, L'Agape and Passage 53.
For pastries, my favorites are Hugo and Victor, Pain du Sucre, Des Gateaux et du Pain and Jacque Genin for the chocolate mille feuille and his most fabulous caramels.
Thanks for all your suggestions so far. Really comes in useful. Yes, definitely have to do tons of walking and stick to a salad and soup diet after I return from my trip.
Forgot to ask another question. If i'd like to visit some food markets where I can see produce and enjoy some street food at the same time. Which ones would you recommend?
The market at Bastille on Sundays ('til 1:30 or so) is enormous and my personal favorite. Lots of good produce, amazing spreads of seafood. I don't usually get anything to eat on the spot but I know I've seen a variety of different offerings. It gets pretty crowded though - if you want a more quiet and leisurely pace you might prefer one of the smaller weekday markets. If you go to this link there's a list of all the markets by day of the week.
Yeah the market on Richard Lenoir is great. My other faves are Maubert and St Eustache, which are more compact but with real maraîchers.
You can find their hours and days, plus other markets in every arrondissement here:
The article is very informative, but the one most important info - the hours - is a little off. It says that several morning markets end at 3pm. No way. Morning markets start closing after 12:30.
Thanks for the suggestions and the links. I guess the sad part is that I'll be looking at all the beautiful produce but yet can't buy any of them since I prob won't get a chance to cook. Still, I reckon it would definitely be a nice thing to put the markets into the itinerary just to see the side of living in Paris.
Jumping on this thread because:
A) Will be in Paris at the same time, considering many of the same places.
B) Have done trips with big lunch/big dinner many days in a row
C) Was, much like you, considering Bras.
With regard to the meals - I'm 30, I run daily, and its not unheard of for me to walk 10+ miles a day during a visit to a pedestrian friendly city like Paris. I just recently did a 7 day trip to Los Angeles and Las Vegas where I did three meals a day - it can be done, but towards the end the only thing I wanted was a salad.......pretty much been my diet for the month since. :-)
For me, the experience is as important as the food - as such, when I travel I tend to do a lunch that is appetizer/main/dessert followed by large dinners.....but in Paris I'm seeing myself doing big tastings at lunch and cafe/bistro style dinners. As much as it would be kind of awesome to do Savoy and Gagnaire in a single day I probably won't because one experience could mute the other.
It is all very dependent on the person, I wager - I can eat, no doubt there - but I really want each experience to stand out.