Overwhelmed by choices! Where MUST we eat for our one week (perhaps ever) in Paris?
Oh, please forgive me, this has been asked before, I know...but there are so many suggestions floating around, my head is spinning. In October, my husband and I will be taking our long-delayed honeymoon (I'd say 31 years is a delay, wouldn't you? ;-) trip to Paris. I last went in 1976; my husband has never been. Given our modest lifestyle, we may never be able to return.
SO, I'm humbly seeking your list of can't miss eating experiences. We will be staying in an apartment in the Marais district. We'll probably be moving around the city a lot during the day (so lunch suggestions---and we're not adverse to making lunch our "big meal"--could be anywhere in the center city) but probably would prefer someplace closer to the apartment for dinners. We are adventuresome eaters; have no aversions. BUT we are hoping the majority of our meals will "traditional" French ones--Breton style, Provencal, Parisian, Alsatian...both seafood and meat, etc.
I'm budgeting up to $200 Euros per person, per day, for everything (transportation, sightseeing, and meals) but we can eat cheaply some days, to make room for splurges on others. So, consider this a request for a Paris Bucket List, of sorts:
IF you had one week to taste Paris--the humble and the almost grand (can't afford grand), the sidewalk cafes and the food stands, venerable old restaurants and up and coming ones, which would you recommend? We don't need to be cutting edge, but we don't want to be Snookered Tourists, either. Atmosphere is nice, but delicious food prepared with integrity is better.
We were in Paris for four nights earlier this summer and we dined out every day at restaurants popularly featured on this board, either for lunch or for dinner (but never two in one day). I must warn you: Paris is exceedingly expensive for people traveling on the US dollar and the lousy exchange rate (approximately 1 euro = 1.43 USD when we were there) and we did exceed our food budget by a good amount. Now, there are no regrets, but when you add the wines to the bill as well as any extras or substitutions to the fix price menu, the bill does tally up. At Les Regalades, Chez L'Ami Louis and Les Papilles, we always had the fixed price menu plus two glasses of wine apiece and the bill still came out to around 50-60 euros a person.
Two summers ago we rented an apartment for the week and ate all but one dinners at home, shopping at local supermarkets, cheesemongers, street markets, butchers, speciality/gourmet stores and while the meals were generally simple (lots of fresh breads and cheese and pates with fruit and salads, simple grilled meats, all served with wine) we ate just as well as we did this year at the restaurants, but at a fraction of the price.
So - you can eat very well in Paris even by avoiding restaurants. Fabulous patisseries offer a wonderful range of scrumptious pastries for only a few euros. Fabulous cheesemongers. Fabulous gourmet stores that sell slabs of excellent pates. Delicious takeaway roasted chickens. Wonderful selection of wines. For lunches you can easily pick up baguettes with myriad filling options for only a few euros and sit at a park bench and watch the world go by. In the late afternoon find a cheerful cafe or brasserie for a drink and perhaps a small snack. Then in the evenings have the pleasures of heading back to your flat and making a meal from the wonderful range of food items from various neighborhood shops. Then afterwards take a stroll down to the Ile de St. Louis to admire the view of Notre Dame at sunset and stop for a scoop of ice cream at Berthillion's. Now that would be a very pleasant and enjoyable Parisian experience.
I will also add this - one excellent place to eat out and not expensive at all is Cafe Breizh in the Marais district. It specializes in traditional Breton style crepes - the buckwheat kind. The quality of ingredients in both the sweet and savory crepes are superb, and you can also order Breton oysters on the half shell, as well as from an excellent range of Breton/Normandy ciders. We ate there twice on our last trip, once for lunch and once for dinner, and both times the bill did not exceed 15 euros per preson.
You are all so kind and helpful! I forgot one question: my sweet husband has fallen in love with the Julia and Paul Child eat sole meunier scene in her book, and the movie "Julie and Julia." He is dying to have this, as to him--bless his sentimental heart--that meal defines France. Any recommendations as to where we'd have the best luck tracking down something that approximates his fantasy?
If your wanderings take you near the Canal St. Martin, I'd recommend Philou (12 av Richerand, tel. 01 42 38 00 13, Metro Goncourt) for really inventive cooking by chef Phillipe Damas that won't bust your budget. No point in telling you what I ate there (lobster salad and beef cheek stew) because the menu will be totally different in October.
And if you happen to be near Place Pigalle or leaving the Musee Gustave Moreau around dinner time, I'd recommend the Bistrot Lorette, at 43 r Notre Dame de Lorette 75009 (01 42 81 13 87 Metro St Georges), wonderful food and lovely service at 30E for 3 courses. One caveat: they don't take reservations from tourists because they've been burned (it's a tiny place and a couple of no-shows would be death to their business plan). But when my wife and I showed up around 7 pm when they opened there was a free table and a friendly welcome.
As long as you focus on lunch prix-fixe menus, many of the starred restaurants will fit your budget, as well as a number of outstanding bistros etc. Interestingly, most of the popular spots constantly mentioned on this board lack bargain menus. In the evening, try the upscale cafes like Cafe Constant.
Thank you, Simon and Tulip! We are going to try standing outside Frenchie looking hopeful, some evenings before they open, to see if we can beg an early seating, too, I think. Any opinion on Auberge Nicolas Flamel? I've seen some poor reviews recently, but a friend dined there in March with rave reviews--but she's a die hard Rick Steves groupie, and he can do no wrong, as far as his guides go. ;-)
I understand about the RS devotes. We gave friends who are the same. While I think his guides are very good for most info, things to do, transportation, hotels, etc., I don't always agree on food. I've never had an aweful meal at a resto from his nooks, but most of our favs have come from other sources. You are right to trust the folks on this board.
Personally we've enjoyed a couple of places I'd recommend to you...both in the 7th. Auberge Bressane & Fontaine de Mars, both discussed on this board. The second not always favorably, but our experience was nice. Also, the dinner boat cruises while touristy & only good not great foodwise, can still be a romantic, memorable experience.
From recommendations here we are trying out Les Papilles & the Hidden Kitchen supper club on our next pass through. Again, just remember to relax & enjoy the city. You'll have an excellent time, esp. seeing things through your hubbie's eyes for his first time in Paris.
One other thought, visit Montmarte in the evening, if only for a drink. Beautiful place for a stroll!
Have a great time!!!
I second le reminet for lunch. A few years back I had a lovely meal at the Dome du Marais. My new favorite is out a ways -- la Regalade in the 14th. There's an offshoot on St Honore, but the original is worth the trip. Both are 34 euros/3 courses at dinner.
Allard is very traditional - and good in my experience, as is Chartier (also very cheap), but you need to go late for lunch to avoid the lines. Jadis is much more modern.
John Talbot's blog is an good resource - he always tells what he had and what it cost - and he actually has a very extensive list of restaurants rated on, as I recall, an 8 point scale (per his taste).
A must-do for anyone with an apartment in the Marais is the market on Sunday.
A museum pass makes for a much more relaxing visit. And if you go once, it will not be your last visit
it's a very subjective question, but here are a few suggestions:
-- assuming you like oysters, Huitrerie Regis would be a very memorable experience...
-- for one of your somewhat fancier-but-not-over-the-top lunch meals, maybe Monsieur Lapin...
-- in the course of a week, you may want to try one N. African (e.g. Le Souk) and/or West African (e.g. Le Manguier) meal...ditto Lebanese takeout from Al Dar...
-- for Provencal food, maybe Chez Janou (in the 3rd and likely only a short walk from your home)...i've had some hit or miss experiences there, but i still like it a lot
-- while cheese shops abound, i'm very fond of the one on Rue St. Louis (on Ile St. Louis, on the right, near the end of the street if you are heading towards Notre Dame)...also for picnics, the smoked salmon and other salads to go at Autour du Saumon is a good place to start shopping for a heavenly picnic...
These are just a few of the places i enjoyed and returned to often when i lived there for a few months last year...i'd also advise leaving your food itinerary somewhat flexible, as part of the joy of wandering and dining there is that randomly discovered place you stumbled upon...have a wonderful trip and please report your impressions here after :)
I'm sure you'll receive ample replies for specific places, but the most important thing IMO is to relax & enjoy yourselves. Don't try too hard to make it the trip of a lifetime & it will be.
Since you'll have an apartment be sure to take advantage of the markets. Enjoy a picnic or two as well.