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Paris Restaurants Around Christmas

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Hi Everyone -

My family of four and our friends, another family or four, will be spending several days together in Paris around Christmas this year. We are going to be there beginning on Friday, December 23 until Monday, December 26. We have two boys, twins age 15, and our friends have two boys, age 15 and 13.

All of the kids are experienced travelers and enjoy good food. In the past, we have found that with the kids we have the best luck with places that serve great food but are more fast-paced and casual than a typical haute cuisine, three-star restaurant (we have frequently done well at places that serve small plates for example). Toward that end, we have booked a table at L'Atelier du Joel Robuchon Etoile for dinner on Christmas Day. All of the adults in the two families have been to other L'Ateliers in the past and loved them and we think this will work well with the kids.

However, I am struggling with where to book for Friday, December 23 and Saturday, December 24. We have multiple challenges -- a large party, the weekend and Christmas Eve. I have read quite a few of Chowhound posts on this topic and know that hotel restaurants are often a good bet at this time of year and, as to the smaller places, one needs to call in advance to find out whether they plan to be open around the holidays. Unfortunately, most of the best hotel restaurants tend to be more formal and elaborate and may not be a good match for our group with all of the boys. So I am focusing more on smaller bistros with great food. I am thinking that it would be fun to try a more traditonal bistro one night and then one with more creative cooking the other night (not wedded to this, however). The adults all love wine as well so a good wine list is important.

With apologies for that long introduction, the places I am considering for Friday and Saturday night are as follows:

-- Frenchie (I believe only open on Friday, not Saturday?)
-- Josephine Chez Dumonet (also only open on Friday?)
-- Les Papilles
-- Chez L'Ami Jean
-- Itineraries
-- Christophe

I would really appreciate any thoughts on the above places given the size and composition of our group and the time of year. I'd also love any thoughts on any other places we should consider.

Thanks so much for all of your help.

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  1. Frenchie is a small bistro with a hush-hush intimate atmosphere. It may not be good for a large party.
    On the other hand, Les Papilles (downstairs) and chez L'Ami Jean would be very good.
    I like Christophe very much but am also unsure of its suitability for a large party.
    Other good bistros with good food and animated ambiance suited for large parties are:
    - Chez Casimir
    - Dans Les Landes
    - Café des Musées
    - Le Quincy (this is time-machine traditional.)
    You can search their reviews here and elsewhere online.
    Goes without saying that with 8 persons, it is best to reserve.

    Saturday 24th is a challenge for everyone without a kitchen. Most everything in Paris will be closed. It is too early to know which restaurants would be exceptionally open.

    And it is generally agreed here that the best way to eat well on xmas and new year is to rent an apartment and have one's own kitchen and stock up on foie gras and smoked salmon and reserve raw oysters from the neighborhood poissonnier, instead of going out to eat expensively plus badly. Otherwise most of us on the board have the hardest time coming up with a good-eating option for those dates.

    Bon séjour.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      Parigi -

      Thanks very much for your response. Great suggestions. Just curious, if we end up having to go the hotel-restaurant route on Saturday, December 24 (because everything else is closed), can you please recommend a place that might be a more comfortable place for a larger group which includes several teenagers? The boys will be well-behaved and dressed up so that is not a concern.

      I am thinking Le Bristol possibly. My wife and I have been to Le Meurice and loved it but it's probably too ornate and intimate-feeling for our group and I think they are closed on Saturdays anyway. I suppose Le Cinq could also be a possibility.

      Thanks again!!!

      1. re: Tennyson

        If you're thinking of Le Cinq, then definitely Le Cinq. I bet the place will look magical xmas-y too. :-)

        1. re: Tennyson

          Septime has a large table in the front room. It's fabulous, with an atmosphere that I think you will like. Perhaps they will be open.

      2. We use to spend Christmas and New Year's in Paris every year. Many of the French restaurants are not open on the 24th and 25th but we have had some great ethnic meals, especially Chinese on Christmas and Christmas Eve.

        From your list. Papilles has n excellent wine list and it is reasonably priced. Also like Christolphe. Not sure if either will be open.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jock

          I was going to say -- Chinese is a good bet for Christmas Eve; they're frequently the only place in the neighborhood that's open.

        2. Second all of the above comments and add a caution about Itinerairies. While the cooking can be (note: can be) quite good, it can also be quite modern and the service is guarantied to be slow paced.