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paris: i need to choose between le florimond and la fontaine de mars

my husband and i went with friends 4 years ago to le florimond. it was a lovely evening...the service was gracious and the food was very good. the decor is sort of ...eh. i said that it reminded me of a really really solid upper east side neighborhood restaurant in manhattan. the menu was about 35 eu plus whatever supplements and, of course, wine. it was not an inexpensive evening but it was my 50th bday dinner and it went off beautifully - everyone was happy.

we are visiting paris again and one evening will have guests - my goal is to put together one evening with dinner and then a walk under the eiffel tower and over to the trocadero. (hope the weather cooperates.) it is actually one of our guest's 50th bday dinner this time. it has come down to 2 choices - balancing food; cost; location; and atmosphere. le florimond or la fontaine de mars. it will be a special occaision but in a warm and easy way - our guests are not at al fussy and would be uncomfortable in a very fussy restaurant but are looking forward to some meals more luxurious than they usually treat themselves to. my husband and i are nyc foodies and love great food with fun warm surroundings.

even tho le florimond is a bit longer walk, i have the choice of either for a dinner with our guests. i read a comment by phild in another thread where he felt le fontaine was a bit 'disney' and i keep thinking that too....

so...please put me out of my misery. which would you pick? (i was thinking chez dumonet but i think it's much too far of a walk and, perhaps, too long of a meal to do the whole evening...but i'll take input on that too.)

thanks. we leave in a week and it's about time i figure this out so appreciate any response from those in the know (or just with an opinion!!!))

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  1. "even tho le florimond is a bit longer walk, i have the choice of either for a dinner with our guests. i read a comment by phild in another thread where he felt le fontaine was a bit 'disney' and i keep thinking that too...."

    I have already explained that it was not disney, that locals also go. Since you are starting this thread, you obviously don't want to go to La Fontaine de Mars, for very strong reasons of your own, but you really want us to agree with your decision.
    La Fontaine de Mars is not the only resto in Paris. If you don't want to go, don't go. You don't need our approval.

    "so...please put me out of my misery. which would you pick?"

    Whatever that is not La Fontaine de Mars.

    La Fontaine de Mars
    129 Rue Saint-Dominique, Paris, Île-de-France 75007, FR

    2 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      no need to be snippy. it has taken me a while to figure out and sort out what will be good for all of us. in fact, i have a reservation at la fontaine but was questioning it. that's why i asked specifcally - and would still like to hear from anyone else with an opinion - about these two restaurants which they would pick. you said it was not disney but another poster in these forums, whose comments i find interesting, said it was. that's why i'm posting a specific post to see what others think.
      geez....no need to be gruff.

      1. re: redgirl

        Florimond is mirror of yesterdays traditional bistro; I feel at home there. Fontaine is more institutional, with a huge menu and a fine kitchen. Both are good, but I use Fontaine only as a backup on Sundays.

    2. Coincidentally we just came back from a long weekend in Paris where we went to both restaurants. We usually go to Florimond once a year (for my husband's favorite dishes: boudin noir & "grandma's stuffed cabbage") - and Laurent (the host-owner with the cartoon tie) always remembers us. Although it's been 4 years for you, a "welcome back" from Laurent is certainly possible. In any case, I would suggest requesting one of the few outdoor tables, if you go. As for Fontaine de Mars, the terrace is big and tables for 4 look out onto a small "place", which is preferable to the street scene at Florimond, but as we sat around trying to enjoy a pre-dinner drink, we felt rushed by the staff who, apparently, wanted to turn the table (something that Florimond has no interest in doing). Price-wise the 2 restaurants cost us about the same (within 2€), but that was a function of the extremely reasonably-priced house wine at Fontaine, where we ordered à la carte (don't remember seeing a prix-fixe menu). The advantage for you at Florimond is that you know beforehand what the meal will cost - 35€ for 3 courses is quite reasonable by French standards. And for the food itself, our friends (who hadn't been to either before) preferred Florimond to Fontaine - and we would agree.
      One last point in case it is news to you (it was news to us): the Eiffel Tower light show, which starts on the hour once it's dark, has been reduced to only 5 minutes (from 10). Don't miss it!

      1 Reply
      1. re: boredough

        Our tab at Fontaine is always higher; we don't usually order the Plat de Jour (20 Euros) which changes daily, or the prix-fixe lunch (about 25 Euros). Their Dover Sole is quite good, but then it should be at 40 Euros.

      2. As a native, I think that Le Florimond is a more authentically old-school Parisien experience. I do also like La Fontaine de Mars but it does try a little too hard to be a picture-postcard version of a French bistro. Even worse, the last time I was there, the waiter laughingly mentioned that we were the only French customers in the restaurant at that time. A fluke, I think, but still a good example of the touristy appeal of la Fontaine de Mars. And a reminder to eat later at night like a proper parisien.

        I always think the Eiffel Tower is much better from afar. So what about forsaking the 7th for the 16th and eating at LES MARCHES DU PALAIS on the rue Manutention? Very sweet place. Then you take the steps up to the avenue Président Wilson (which is itself quite picturesque here with the Palais de Tokyo on one side, the Musée Gailliera on the other, and a superb view of the Eiffel Tower from the top of the rue Manutention steps. And then stroll up the avenue Président Wilson (but lifeless for a long stretch after the place d'Iéna) to the place Trocadéro/ palais Chaillot or walk back to the river and take the quai to Chaillot (and CARETTE on the place Trocadéro for desert etc) or the Eiffel Tower.

        1. Just to add some colour to my Disney remark. I often used to take visitors to Paris to these sorts of restaurants because that's what they expected. We had two lists, the one for the foodies and the ones for the non-foodies.

          We soon found that many of our visitors wanted the "Disney" restaurant experience and were quite disappointed with our "food first" approach. We learned that it was far more satisfactory to head out to a Bofinger or Lipp than Chez l'Ami Jean (CLJ). In fact one memory that stays in my mind is taking a good friend who is very much "meat & potatoes" to CLJ - he hated it, the food was far too weird.

          That said we lived a short walk away from La Fontaine and only visited once: on a regular basis we happily strolled past it to get to CLJ , or to a Constant place especially "Les Fables de la Fontaine". And whilst La Fontaine is a perfectly acceptable restaurant (and may suit your guests perfectly), given is demographic, there is probably more risk here of being seated next to the family from the mid west with two petulant teenagers (maybe that is my hang-up I was in a room full of them).

          1 Reply
          1. re: PhilD

            thanks to all. and thanks phild - really appreciated your further thoughts. our guests would feel a bit 'at sea' at clj but i think that le florimond will suit them as a celebration but not over the top. additionally, we're taking them to either chez casimir or le hangar and i'm hoping to go to Les Papilles either with them or before they come - and then we have a last night dinner reserve at L'Ecailler du Bistrot - so i think everyone will be happy. really...thanks all. i enjoyed the discussion and it helped me understand what i want to do.

          2. I love Le Florimond..
            Laurent is a wonderful host and he seems to remember us too..
            I still jones for the lobster medallions with a cantaloupe beurre blanc that was sublime.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Beach Chick

              My vote goes to Le Florimond. You find dishes you won't find that much anywhere else. Besides, I do not really like the menu at La Fontaine de Mars. But that's me.

              La Fontaine de Mars
              129 Rue Saint-Dominique, Paris, Île-de-France 75007, FR

            2. Went to both last August. Loved Le Florimond!!! Can't say the cream puff was all I hoped it would be, but we got great pix from it. The stuffed cabbage was a soul filler. Laurent made us feel we were in his home. We made friends with the couple sitting next to us. Lovely evening. Excellent food. Tables a little crowded, but not as bad as Ze Kitchen. We were so looking forward to Fontaine de Mars. It "looked" perfect. The nicest setting I could imagine. Must admit, we also were a little caught up in the Obamas having gone there for a date. Nothing was right with that meal. First we watched all three people at the table next to us get food prepared wrong. Our dishes were either tasteless, over or undercooked. After seeing what our neighbors went through, we didn't see much hope in sending ours back. From that point on, our mission was to get out of there as soon as possible. Too bad. It was our last evening in Paris. When I went inside to use the restroom, the atmosphere inside was so jolly. Filled with French people, not tourists. It seemed to be the place you would go to be where it's at. Unfortunately, it wasn't that for us.

              6 Replies
              1. re: MirandazFood


                I miss Paris. I hope you have a fabulous time and eat everything in sight! Start early and eat and oggle, and breathe and shop and drink, and then drink everything in.

                cuz you never know when is going to be your last time there!

                Go big or stay home,


                1. re: Luna2372

                  thank you all and thanks luna. well, we leave tonite and will wake up tomorrow in paris! (ok...at the airport...then the slog on the r.e.r.!)
                  so....amazingly, at the moment we are not reserved for either of these. i had to make some choices and yes, i nixed la fontaine about a week ago. we may make it to le florimond this week - my husband and i alone before our guests come. we really enjoyed our meal there (my 50th bday dinner) 4 years ago. but for the week our guests are in, we're going to josephine chez dumonet - a drop early 7:30 - but then a nice walk up to the eiffel tower.

                  excited that our reservations include:
                  josephine chez dumonet
                  le baratin
                  le philou (the choice of our parisian friends)
                  l'eccallier du bistrot

                  and we're hoping to also make it to:
                  les papilles
                  le comptoir
                  chez casimir
                  le hangar

                  a lot of thought and a good list for, hopefully, some really good meals. thanks for all the input to ch france board and will report!

                  1. re: redgirl

                    Have a great time Redgirl. We are going back in mid-August, so I'm looking at your list for suggestions. Please post when you return!

                    1. re: redgirl

                      Bonjour redgirl!
                      How was your trip?

                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        hi beach chick: WE'RE STILL HERE!!!!! :::she says jumping up and down with delight!::: we have 2 more nights in paris then we're off to the dordogne for 3 nights then one last night (a monday...boooo.....) in paris then it's all a long-vacation memory.
                        tomorrow night is our l'ecallier du bistrot reservation and we're all looking forward to that. i took photos at le baratin and will post when i get a moment but know that we had a really good satisfying solid meal there and loved the place.

                        1. re: redgirl

                          Have a wonderful time redgirl and so happy and very jealous..in a good way for you!