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Oct 25, 2011 11:12 AM

Recommendations for first night in Paris? (St. Germain)

My mother and I will be in Paris in the next couple of weeks, a full week from Saturday-Saturday. I've been to Paris several times (all solo trips), she's never been. The apartment we're renting is on Rue Bonaparte, just off of Boulevard St. Germain. Any recommendations for dinner that night within walking distance? I know we're going to be tired. Nothing too fancy, because we may be too worn out to properly enjoy the experience!


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  1. St Germain des Prés is incredibly busy on Saturday nights. Hordes of suburbanites. So booking is essential. Unless you want a simple omelette et frites at a people-watching café like le Flore or le Mabillon on the boulevard St Germain, some crêpes from one or other of the crêperie on the rue des Canettes, or steak frites at no-reservation Le Relais l'Entrecôte on the rue St-Benoit (be there at 7pm with all the other early-eating non-French tourists or expect to wait at least an hour for a table on Saturday night).

    In a 5-min walking radius of the Place St Germain: Bistro de l’Alycastre on the rue Clément (my favourite bistro in St Germain des Prés, updated classics, about 50 €); Comme à Savonnières on the rue Guisarde (second favourite, lovely ambiance, under 40 € if you choose wisely); Huîtrerie Régis on the rue Montfaucon (shellfish only, tiny restaurant, take-out, less than 30 €, but not a good choice if you have a big appetite or want a full meal); and le Petit Vatel on the rue Lobineau (cutesy and VERY small, around 40€).

    11 Replies
    1. re: Parnassien

      Rue Guisarde is a very good bet. If Comme à Savonnières is full, you can always try le Machon 'Henri or Brasserie Fernand. But if it's rugby night, all bets are off. Rue Guisarde is rugby epicenter. The street is slick wet from spilled beer. And the cutest guys of Paris congregate there and do something called the Marathon de St Germain, where you have to go to a great number of bars and drink a given number of bottles of beer in each one, but no one could give me the right numbers. But you are probably safe right now when all the French rugby fans are still depressed arboring their new non-moustache.
      Aux Fins Gourmets is a very good traditional restaurant and is apart from the crazed rue Guisarde but is still very close to you. Must book.

      1. re: Parigi

        Give any of these places a call around 6pm and you'll get a table at 8 or earlier. At Henri, people pop in the door and sign up for a later table or first available. It's easier to call. FWIW, Henri is at #8 Guisarde,

        1. re: mangeur

          le Mâchon d'Henri, which I love when I'm starving and have had an after-work siesta, is maybe not the best choice for the travel weary ... even when I'm bright-eyed and bushy tailed, i'm (nicely) exhausted by the end of a meal there.

          1. re: Parnassien

            Really! Interesting. It's one of our Sunday night "no brainers". Portion warning: they are using large plates and filling them. I can't do an entree AND plat there anymore.

            Do you do the griottes en kirsh for dessert?

            1. re: mangeur

              i'm usually semi-conscious by dessert ... it's lyonnaise revenge on us delicate parisiens ... but maybe i should eliminate the starter so I can manage the afters... i love cherries ... and my grandmother says that they are essential for avoiding gout (a fate that, I fear, would be inevitable if i ate here too often) :)

              1. re: Parnassien

                l take cherry pills, they and avoiding beer helps a lot

              2. re: mangeur

                What's wrong with having just main? :-)

                1. re: Parigi

                  Nothing at all! But faiblesse oblige. It makes me feel like I'm a cultural traitor. It's so American. Or, even worse, German.

                  1. re: Parnassien

                    And Asian and African. Lots of people can't do a Lynnais marathon à table.

                    Rumor has it the national rugby team may faire un saut tonight to rue Guisarde, nicknamed rue de la soif for rugby fans.

                    1. re: Parnassien

                      Not so at Henri. There are several neighborhood people whom we see with some frequency who never have more than a main, "pot" of wine and coffee.

                      We often split an entree and the griottes, choose separate mains and are always warmly hailed by both the weekday and weekend waiter and the chef when we arrive or if they happen to see us walking past the door.

                      1. re: mangeur

                        EPIGRAMME, 9 rue de L’Eperon, is just around the corner. Quiet enough to gentle you into Paris, and very much enjoyed my last meal there, admittedly, a few years ago now. Anyone been recently?

        2. Sola, very near to the Maubert- Mutualite metro stop. we were just there this last week. excellent, not too fancy and very satisfying

          1. If you like oysters, Huitrerie Regis would be a magical start to the trip...a couple dozen oysters, maybe some oursins, w/ their delicious brown bread and butter, glasses of Sancerre, and tarte tatin after if you like...


            1. You won't be able to get in Saturday night but do go to Brasserie Lipp while you're in Paris, marvelous old fashioned service and great jarret de porc and choucroute!

              1. Chez Dumonet/Josephine, an easy bus ride, has half portions, for your Mum, divine desserts, and no stress dining. Must book. Otherwise, Bistrot Mazarine, a 'hood fave, but you cannot book. Do avoid the restos around the place du Buci, too touristic. Bon appetit, Chic Fille

                3 Replies
                1. re: chicfille

                  Josephine Chez Dumonet is only open Monday to Friday so not ideal for the first night which is Saturday. Also the OP is six months old and they were due to arrive shortly after.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    I know this was posted in 2011, but for others who might have the same question, FISH restaurant on rue de Seine between rue de Buci and rue Jacob, is very popular. Reservation needed. This is my vacation neighborhood of thirty years and the vacation apartment that I rent is across the street from FISH.

                    One of my best friends owned an apartment on the rue Bonaparte for many decades, so I know the location and FISH is an easy walk from there. My friend managed, for nearly thirty years, the hotel on the same block as FISH, and walked to work daily from his apartment on rue Bonaparte(10-15 minutes).

                    Plus, one of the owners of FISH is English speaking, Kiwi I've heard, so English is understood there if one needs to use it.

                    1. re: foodolicious

                      We are still awaiting reports of Fish's new chef ex Helen Darroze i believe so should be good. Anyone been nice he joined?