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Oct 10, 2011 09:17 AM

Paris: First day advice?

I am heading to Paris Thursday evening with my 11-year-old daughter and classic, ageless, mother in law. :) We probably will get to our hotel in Vincennes by about 2, and I know I will be way too antsy to hang around Vicennes on the first day.

So I am thinking about taking the metro into Paris, doing a short walking chocolate tour, and then doing dinner. I have never been to Paris, so I really know nothing. Very little French, very little about prices, and very little about the city.

This is the walk I was thinking we'd do:

And then I think we'd probably like a lively bistro, moderately priced (less than 30 euros per person, hopefully) nearby.

My questions: Will we be too full after walking around eating chocolate to want to eat dinner? How expensive will the chocolate be? And does anyone have advice on a good restaurant to try?

Thanks for your help! I will report back when we return.

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  1. Do you mean the metro Vincennes or the suburb Vincennes. If the latter,e how far are you from the metro?
    I ask these questions because I think for your first day, no matter how antsy you anticipate yourself to be, you could suddenly be hit by jetlag, or your family could be too jetlagged, and it is best to stick to restaurants and (self-guided) walks that are not too far from you, so that you could go back home and crash out any time you want (need).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Parigi

      We are a 10-15 minute walk to the metro in Vincennes, which I believe is right outside the city. I travel a lot, so I know my m.o. in foreign lands, but you're right: Everyone else might crash.

    2. My 12 year old daughter was able to take a catnap at Jacques Genin while we sipped coffee and tea, and that made all the difference, there is an exceptional tea room there with plush, comfy chairs in a spacious environment. You can't find better chocolates, pastries, or caramels.

      By the time you get to dinner, your energy level may be depleted sooner than your hunger.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Steve

        I agree Génin is better than a chocolate tour. -- Wait, Génin IS a chocolate tour.
        Génin also could be reached on the n°1 metro line from Vincenes. You get out in St Paul and can take Hotel de Sully to Place des Vosges and the jardin St Gilles Grand Veneur rose garden. By then Génin is a straight-arrow 10 minute away.
        I also agree that maybe you should be prepared that not everyone can last until dinner, or through it. Maybe an early bite at the casual but very good Finkelstajn delicatessen on rue des Rosiers could do the trick. Jake Dear and we got a very good sandwich and nosh there recently, justement for our rose garden picnic.

      2. If you want a reasonably priced restaurant with excellent food, consider Cafe Breizh in the Marais district. The speciality is crepes, both sweet and savoury, but it's downright excellent with a wide variety of savoury fillings. In traditional Bretton style, the crepes are buckwheat and the cafe also offers a nice selection of excellent Normandy/Brittany ciders. When we were in Paris in July, we ate at Cafe Breizh twice and found it to be excellent value because while not a fancy place with relatively simple food, the quality of the ingredients was comparable to the fancier restaurants we went to, and the dishes are quite filling too.

        The restaurant has a website for you to peruse.

        Plus, it's a great place to take a young child. Jacques Genin is also just up the street.

        1. To add another vote for Genin, here it is. His caramels are unparalleled and as a huge bonus for tea/coffee/chocolate his store at 133 Rue Turenne is roomy and very comfortable. One block walk from Republic Metro stop using Rue Beranger or Rue Chabrol. If you are very tired on weekdays a small nap in the comfy chairs is available. Jacques and his staff are very welcoming. A brief warning , if you get the hot chocolate for your daughter then in a moment of parental power you rip it out her hands as is the finest beverage in the city, child welfare may be called and your trip might be compromised.

          1. the first day in any new city should always be by bus ... see, feel, breathe Paris ... so much better than being caccooned underground.

            ask your concierge if you are anywhere near the #86 that runs from the Chateau de Vincennes and Porte de Vincennes to St Germain des Prés ... if you are and if you have a Paris Visite travel card, take the bus to the St Germain des Prés choco-ghetto (Pierre Hermé, Patrick Roger, Gérard Mulot, Debauve & Gallais, Pierre Marcolini) ... bus stop is called Seine-Buci (one stop after "St Germain des Prés") ... you can even have have a choco-themed meal at "une Dimanche à Paris" in the Cour du Commerce St André (entrance at about 130 boulevard St Germain near rue de l'Ancienne Comédie) ... if you want a more trad, very lively, and cheaper bistro, hop in taxi for short ride (6 €) to "Les Pipos" at 2 rue de l'Ecole Polytechnique @ rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève... (in case the driver can't understand your pronunciation, make sure you have a pad and pen so you can write it out)... then take métro from St Michel to Chatelet/ change RER/ ligne A to Vincennes... whew!

            save Jacques Genin and the Marais/ Haut Marais (lots of walking) for another day when you are rested enough to truly appreciate it

            1 Reply
            1. re: Parnassien

              honestly, Un Dimanche a Paris is worth only a visit only because it shares an alley with Premiere Pression Provence and a cute leather notebook shop. The pastries neither look nor taste good, and are way overpriced. I feel like the quality and presentation are about as good as a street-corner boulangerie/patisserie but they charge 4x the price because of the immense real estate.