Proposal trip (!!!)
I’m surprising my girlfriend with a trip to Paris (and a marriage proposal) in two weeks.
Will be arriving early Saturday morning and staying until Tuesday afternoon. We’re mid-20’s, pretty much broke (but I’ve been saving!), and this is going to be more of a “romantic” trip (in the loose, free-spirited sense) than a luxury trip. We’re staying at a "budget" but charming hotel in the 12th (Hotel de la Porte Doree). We’re not foodies per se but we know enough to recognize quality ingredients and thoughtful preparation, and we both love the experience of enjoying a throughtfully-done meal for a few hours. We’re looking for casual, comfortable but good-quality dining, at up to ~E50-60/person (including wine) a night. Lunches, lets say ~E15-25/person. We simply cannot afford Cinq, Taillevent, etc. Since we’re only in town a few days, we’ll stick with traditional French – provincial is fine. She does not eat red meat.
I plan on proposing in Jardin du Luxembourg under a tree on Saturday afternoon. I’d love to get a picnic lunch for this purpose. Any preferred Saturday markets between the 12th and 5th/6th? I see Maubert is open Saturdays. Thoughts?
I plan to dine near the Eiffel Tower that night, just to give her the stereotypical fairy tale experience (she's never been to Paris). I have a Zagats from 09 which recommended Bon Accueil; it has a totally magical location but seems it has gone downhill since their old chef left. I’d love Coccettes, but the stools just don’t seem fitting for a day of this magnitude. Any comfortable but charming places you could recommend in the 7th in that price range? My brother recommended La Fontaine de Mars.
Sunday, I plan on doing some touristy stuff – Notre Dame, St. Chapelle and probably Orsay for a bit. Any recommended bistros around the Louvre, Orsay for lunch?
At night, I’d love to sit on the steps of Sacre Coeur with a bottle of champagne and overlook the city for a while. Afterwards, we could grab a late dinner in Montemarte or even down in the 1st/2nd/3rd/4th. Any preferences? Obviously, I’d love to get in some place like Frenchie (if its even open Sundays) but its just not going to happen. I had thought about L’Ardoise in the 1st, but again, based on an old Zagats. I’ve also considered Au Vieux Comptoir.
Monday, we’d do a quick jaunt to the Arc / down Champs-Elysses in the morning (pop into Laduree) and then run through Pompidou after lunch. I have had a lot of trouble finding a good spot in the 11th that’s open for Monday dinner; currently leaning toward Chez Paul.
Thanks in advance!
What a great trip! I'm that it will be fantastic.
For the picnic, I am not familiar with Saturday markets in the area, but a place to procure a lovely picnic is the Grand Epicerie at the Bon Marche Department store. Everything you would need is there.
As for restaurants near the Eiffel Tower, I've been to Bon Accueil and really liked it, but it was two years ago. I've also been to Chez l'Ami Jean, which is in the area, and love the place. It's not as quiet as Bon Accueil, but the food is really good.
In advance, congratulations, and best wishes to your fiancee.
I've got a reservation in at Bon Accueil.
My concern with CAJ is the informality and loudness of it all. Obviously, the proposal will be happening earlier in the day, but the environment seems a bit un-romantic for the "celebration" dinner after the proposal.
That said, I'm only judging this based on reviews online. If you feel differently, please let me know.
Thanks so much!
Congrats I'm sure you will have a great trip.
I just ate at Cocottes and that is definitely NOT the atmosphere that you want to top off a day of romance and the food was mediocre.
I thought La Fontaine de Mars looked charming but didn't eat the food there so I can't tell you about that part but it was really atmospheric outside. Bon Accueil was on a nice street (again didn't eat there but walked by to check it out. Both had outdoor seating which if it is a nice night would be a must in my opinion.
Romantic tip: there is a very quiet bench you can sit on to watch the tower sparkle over the roof tops at night away from the crowds. It is on the avenue de la Bourdonnais btw Rue St. Domnique and Rue de Monttessuy -- you can see the sparkling tower away from the remainder of "bus load" tourists as it turns to dusk. I just did it and it was incredibly relaxing and romantic. I like that view of the tower much better than standing right underneath it, which you can walk and do for a minute or two but the bench is better.
Your hotel is just a couple of blocks from Vandermeersch bakery which is famous for its kugelhofp, a light and only slightly sweet breakfast or tea cake baked in a fluted mold. You could pick up a small on and take it to a cafe for breakfast. (In theory, you can bring your own bread product to a cafe or coffee bar as long as they don't sell the same product.) Note: they make these only on weekends, so Sunday morning is your time-frame.
Vandermmersch = 278 Avenue Daumesnil
I love L'Ami Jean but am not sure it's the place for a romantic dinner. Very tight quarters, as in with your neighbor and not your date, and very loud.
La Table d'Eugene is on the flats north of Montmartre. You can take the munchkin Montmartre bus from Pigalle metro stop. It winds up and over and all around the narrow streets of Montmartre. You could get off at Sacre Coeur, have your champagne, get back on a bus (in the same north direction) and get off at Jules Joffren. From there, Eugene is a short 2 or 3 block walk. You can take the metro back south at Jules Joffren. Note: Eugene is closed Sunday and Monday, so Saturday is your window.
Table d'Eugene = 18 rue Eugene Sue 01.42.55.61.64
Gowest's super tip of the viewing bench, note that the twinkle show takes place on the hour and lasts for 10 minutes.
Thanks. I'm glad someone knows of something around the hotel in the 12th. My choices in my price range were a soulless moden box in Monteparnasse or something a bit more charming necessitating some extra time on the Metro. I opted for the latter. We'll likely be spending most of our day out on foot, but I love the idea of her waking up in the morning and feeling like "ahhh this is Paris" more than "ahhh this is the Motel 6 in Cleveland." To me, that is worth the extra 10 min on the Metro each way.
I'm a sweet fiend so we'll definitely be visting Vandermeersch. Thanks for the tip!
Congratulations, hope everything go your way.
For a jardin de Luxembourg picnic. Pierre Oteiza (18 Boulevard Saint Michel) has excellent Basque cold cuts and other goodies. -- However I find the jardin des Plantes more romantic than the Luxembourg.
Search on this board under Paris and market. You'll get a list of markets and their opening days and hours.
Chez Paul in the Bastille is a nice bistro. But again don't propose there unless both of you are willing to shout.
Sunday. Don't eat dumb at Orsay. You are right next to the Seine. Picnic by the Seine or on Pont des Arts.
Dining near the Eiffel Tower. My fave for food would of course be Chez l'Ami Jean. Romantic? It's the kind of resto where the diners in the next door shout back to you: "SHE SAID YES SHE WOULD MARRY YOU !!!" But it is indeed a bustling controlled chaos kind of place that I love and would miss if I were not living in Paris (and do miss regularly even as I live in Paris). I would still recommend it for the food and the fun atmosphere, but don't propose there unless you are ready to shout and she is ready to shout back.
La Fontaine de Mars is much more comfortable. Food is good but nothing like Chez l'Ami Jean.
Montmartre on the Sacré Coeur side is very riffraffy and not romantic. Yuck.
I would save my bottle of bubblies to drink in the allée des Brouillards (goods pot to propose. See google images). In fact that whole section west of the Sacré Coeur is much more Montmartrois charming (west of rue Chappe, north of rue d'orsel rue Houdon, east of rue Constance, south of rue Caulaincourt).
Nice bistros near there, mid-range: Pétrelle, Pantruche, bistro Lorette. (But the first two are in better locations.)
L'Ardoise is ok, sans plus. Near l'Ardoise is l'Absinthe, on a very chic and charming square. Used to be one of my fave bistros. Then the reviews went thumb-down. Recently thumbs seem to be turning up again though. Romantic? Yes.
Right now dinner on Saturday is between Bon Accueil, Fontaine, and possibly Florimond.
We could possibly do CAJ on Sunday if open. I was sorta thinking we'd tough out Comptoir de la Relais for the Sunday no-reservation meal, but I'll look into Petrelle and Pantruche as other options. I think I'm going to pass on l'Ardoise -- the more I think of it, the less excited I am about it.
Luxembourg is my choice for sentimental reasons -- I had one of the best days of my life there a few years ago and have sorta idealized it as the proposal place. I know there are likely more romantic places in Paris but they'd be places I don't know or haven't been to. The sentiment is important I suppose.
We both like a little riffraff, but I think we'll spend some time on the allee des Brouillards as well. I have never been and it looks spectacular. Thanks for the tip!
Monday dinner in the Marais is between:
A La Biche au Bois
Anyone have a preference? Would it be impossible to get a reservation at this point at either?
Also, please keep in mind that this will be a few days after the proposal, and after an afternoon of Pompidou / random wandering through the Marais. So, need not be the most romantic place.
As other posters have dealt with the restaurants well, l will mention a few lovely gardens that l use to read and would like to propose there myself. Both are reached off the Pont Neuf. One is sort of the prow of the Cite ship, small on the Eiffel tower side of the bridge. Small, intimate with water on both sides.Across the street is the Place Dauphine, odd as it is grassless, but beautiful as peaceful, and kept perfectly.
I've been to both places, and both are tempting. As I said above, I'm a little stuck on Luxembourg, but man the point of Ile de Cite would be perfect. Maybe I can re-consider, although it would be a major change of plans at this point. We'll definitely need a photo or two there.
Is the padlock thing still going? Is it cheesy? I like the idea of doing it, honestly, but don't know if its still allowed or if its just consider a tacky tourist sentiment. Probably on Pont des Arts.
"Is the padlock thing still going? Is it cheesy?"
Yes ! No !
It is very romantic. Must do. If pont des Arts is too crowded (one of these days the bridge is going to be covered, covered with padlocks), go to the quieter and no less romantic Pont de l'Archevêché in the shadow of the Notre Dame de Paris. Hey you can have a romantic dinner at Le Réminet just on the other side of the river. Must reserve, or you just get to watch the other romantic couples eat.
Your jardin de Luxembourg story is very touching. Go for it.
And please report back. Give us all the details. I can't stand it when all the other proposers disappear after generating war&peace-length threads here.
OMG.....I have to tell my padlock story! We both loved the Pont des Arts (it was our most local bridge to cross from left to right) and decided on our last night that we would crack the champagne (bought in Champagne of course!) and attach the padlock. Had some difficulty finding a shop to purchase said padlock, finally found a dodgy shop somewhere in the 15th I think, and purchased the 3E padlock, v excited. So we found a spot, as the sun was going down,cracked the champagne, settled back, had a kiss, got out the padlock (already written on), I turned to key to open it and - THE WHOLE TOP OF THE STUPID THING FLEW OFF and went straight - and I mean straight like an arrow -through the slats and into the river!
Oh how we laughed until we cried....and then laughed again....and drank some more....and kissed some more....and decided that it was just not meant to be but we had a memory that would absolutely last forever!
This was our honeymoon for a very joyous second marriage.....
PS I also think it would be a great proposal spot, at sunset with champagne - just make sure to get a non dodgy padlock!
Congrats!! Not sure if Sacre Coeur is the safe place to go at night. Some guys might wrap something around your fingers and hold you for ransom. Haven't you heard?
How about a night cruise on the river??
Quick update, and I'll elaborate more later, but it was a success! She said yes!
I proposed right at the most western point of the little park just past Pont Neuf on Ile de la Cite (thanks for the tip whoever it was!)
It was quiet, and private, and the weather on Saturday was perfect and sunny.
After she said yes -- and after many tears of happiness -- we spent Saturday afternoon in Luxembourg with a bottle of champagne and a nice picnic lunch.
Thanks again, everyone. I will provide more details tomorrow! For now I need some sleep.
Alright, it's been a while, but I promised a long review, so here it is. The last month has proven to be quite crazy with us both moving cities and planning the wedding. And her father fell ill for a while (but is improving).
I did the proposal right after we'd dropped our bags off at the hotel and showered. She had never been to Paris before and had dreamt of the day ever since she was a little girl. We took the Metro to Chatelet, got off, and ended up on the Pont Neuf bridge -- her first view of Paris. Already, she was quite emotional. Then I led her down the stairway to the little park at the end of Isle de la Cite.
Here, it was so quiet and peaceful. You could hear the river rushing by, the wind blowing through the trees. The forecast was for low 60's and rainy -- it ended up being a brilliant day with blue skies and 70's. I took her right to the point of the island, and the setting was so perfect. I proposed right then and there, and she said yes, and we sat around a bit letting it soak in.
Afterwards, we did cheese from Dubois and meat from Oteiza with a baguette and Moet straight from the bottle right by the fountain in Luxembourg. That night, after accumulating a bit of a wine buzz, we ended up at La Fontaine du Mars. It was okay. The day had been so memorable that I didn't mind being a bit non-plussed about our meal. I had duck confit, and it was good enough, but nothing special.
Afterwards, we did the view of the tower from the Champs du Mars and avenue de la Bourdonnais. We were so tired at this point that we went home to sleep after strolling through the park a bit.
And we slept... all the way until 15 min before out 12:30 reservation at Le Reminet the next day. So unfortunately, we had to skip out here, which I felt bad about (but we needed the rest!). We spent the day sightseeing a bit, grabbing a quick croque monsier for lunch, doing some hot chocolate and macaroons at Angelina. We ended up on Montmarte around 19:00, with a bottle of wine, taking in the city and just talking.
We stayed up on Montmarte until around 22:00, when we decided to take a chance at getting into Le Comptoir du Relais. Luckily, they had a table out front. We had a delicious dinner -- starting with escargots, ending with filet du boef for me, vegetables for her (she's a bit of a veg), a delicious cheese platter, and a rum cake. I know this place has its share of detractors, but this was one of my most memorable meals in years. Everything was just very well done, and our total bill was EUR90. No complaints.
The next day we did more sightseeing, interrupted with lunch at L'Aus du Fallafel. We both regularly frequent Middle Eastern restaurants around Detroit, which has an incredibly large Arabic-speaking population, and we agreed that the fallafel was perhaps the best we've had. After this, we became a bit overwhelmed with sightseeing and decided to take a mid-afternoon nap.
After this, it was straight to Pompidou for some bizarre art, and then over to Chez Paul in the Marais for a very old-school, very classic French bistro dinner. Everything was incredibly well done. While not as good as Le Comptoir, it was light years ahead of Fontaine IMO. Again I opted for duck -- my favorite food -- and it was quite good.
And that was about it. A whirlwind, unexpected luxury of a trip. We're planning a wedding for May 27, 2012, and our theme is -- you guessed it -- a night in Paris. And, if you're ever on the Place de Arts bridge directly across from the most western point of Isle de la Cite, look for a giant padlock with M&A May 14, 2011 written on it. That's us.
Thanks everyone for your tips! Sorry for the delay in responding!