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Jan 25, 2012 11:28 AM

3 nights and four days in Paris in March: Overwhelmed where to make reservations........HELP

I didn't want to do it, I really didn't, same old posts where should we eat...... but I am completely overwhelmed and decided to do it. Where should we make reservations??? :) Any help is so appreciated.

Here's the situation: 2 friends (women), staying at Relais Christine near St. Germaine on Saturday, Sunday, Monday nights. Getting in early Saturday and not leaving til 3pm Tuesday so lunch on those days are also possibilities.
Money not really a concern. We are New Yorkers so we like atmosphere & lots of people around. We eat everything. Trendy, hip, happening is okay too as I am single, my friend is not. Not my first time, but it is my friends 1st time in Paris so touristy is cool, but really want to just eat the best meals possible. To us that doesn't mean the most expensive just the best food to make the most of our very short time there. :( Also, wine is important to us as well.
We will be doing a lot of walking, exploring, shopping, some museums (prob Louvre and D'Orsay), wine bars. No schedule yet. I think we would like to make reservations for at least 2 of the nights, but willing to do 3 nights. Also open to fabulous lunches which could dictate where we end up exploring that day. I am also aware our 3 nights are not ideal as many places are not open sunday/monday.
We definitely want traditional French Bistro meals in the mix. Probably 2 big meals a day is a lot, right? unless we do some late late night after some nightlife. Location is not an issue, we are New Yorkers and don't mind taking the train and cabs everywhere. Thank you so much.
I will ask our concierge to make these reservations for us.

Here are some of my thoughts:

Les Papilles for our first big meal in Paris, right off the plane Saturday. Then spend the rest of the day walking it off, exploring. Maybe a later meal that night, or just snacks and wine.

I got nothing beyond that. Help.

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  1. I would also like to add that I have been reading the Paris boards endlessly, making lists, reading food blogs, etc etc. so the effort is there, and probably the reason why I am so overwhelmed about where to eat.
    I would also like to add that we would like definitely like to do a fancy dinner at least one of the nights a la Comptoir, L'Atelier, Spring, along those lines if our concierge can get the ressie for us. But which one? What night? Would lunch be better? I want to be very specific when I email our concierge the instructions. He sent us a list as well and not one place was mentioned on Chowhound. So funny. Thanks again. Not going to wing this trip on less than stellar food.

    3 Replies
    1. re: lorivida

      Of your list, I would choose Spring. The products and the cooking there are superb. You can reserve by telephone a month in advance.

      1. re: lorivida

        Of your list, l would pick L'Atelier de Robuchon off Bd St Germaine. The dish of foie gras stuffed squab (or sometimes pigeon ) wrapped in cabbage leaf with fleur de sel served with his justifiably famed pommes puree is a fav of mine. One can spend an enormous amount of money here, but l get the stuffed bird twice with a glass or two of wine and walk out for less than 100 euros.

        1. re: lorivida

          Thanks for starting this thread. I'll be in Paris Saturday and Sunday next month (first time since 1981!) and was thinking along these lines, too, lots of great info. FYI I emailed Spring asking if a reservation would be possible (their website says no reservations by email) but I did get a reply confirming it, so it may not be necessary to phone or rely on the concierge. Worth a try, anyway.

        2. Table d'Eugene is one of my current favorites, open Saturdays.
          Chatomat, hot, hip and delicious, is open on Sundays.
          Saturne is open on Mondays and would not make a New Yorker feel out of place.

          None of these places have a party atmosphere. Saturne is smartly designed, the others small dedicated-to-food dining rooms.

          You don't mention how you are leaving town on Tuesday, but consider that if your plane leaves at 3, you won't have time for lunch in town. By train? Possible but tight for other than simple bistrot + cab. And should you be taking the Eurostar to London, be aware of long time-consuming lines for boarding.

          18 Replies
          1. re: mangeur

            thanks for your reply mangeur!! Excellent.
            We have a 3:25 out of Nord to Amsterdam. I read you only need to be at the train station 1/2 hour before which is 3pm. And of course we have to make some time to get to the train station but it's close yes? Time for lunch I think.

            1. re: lorivida

              For me it would be too close to have a complicated lunch. You'll have to consider not only the travel time to the train station but time to orient yourself at the station once you arrive to locate your train, etc.

              1. re: Nancy S.

                No long check in times for trains to Amsterdam so 30 mins is more than enough time - no passport control unlike London trains. If you eat at 12:00 or even 1:00 then more than enough time - after all if you work in Paris you only get 1 hour for lunch and many still eat in restaurants.

                1. re: Nancy S.

                  One easy solution is to have an early lunch at Chez Casimir, which is a 10-minute walk to Gare du Nord.
                  12:30 lunch chez Casimir.
                  2:30pm end of lunch.
                  2:45pm Gare du Nord (am calculating that you are unfamiliar with the Gare and are slowed down by your luggage).
                  3:25pm. Sleeping off the wonderful lunch...
                  Don't forget to reserve.

                  (Just read Parnassien's msg below. Very similar to mine. But Chez Casimir and the Gare du Nord are so near that I would not think the luggage was worth going back and forth about.)

                  1. re: Parigi

                    Sounds good but we wouldn't feel comfortable bringing large suitcases to Chez Casimir. Probably frowned upon by the restaurant as well, I would think? Better to leave at Gare du Nord (you are correct in that we are unfamiliar with the Gare)..
                    Our other option is to leave them at the hotel, and find something close to Relais Christine. Eat, then a quick pick up and off to the train station. That might actually make more sense, depending upon how much of a pain and time waster leaving our luggage is at the station.

                    1. re: lorivida

                      Then it is best to leave at Gare du Nord, not at the hotel.
                      Gare du Nord is very close to the restaurant.
                      If you leave the luggage at Relais Christine, you have to plan about an hour after lunch to go back to your hotel and schlep back to Gare du Nord next to your lunch spot.

                      After all, Chez Casimir is quite used to luggage-laden travelers stopping off for a last meal. But it's your call. Are you one of those people who genetically can't travel light? :-)
                      Am going there for dinner next week and will ask the patron if he lynches people with luggage. :-)

                      1. re: Parigi

                        No, I do not travel light. Ha. And I am continuing on from France to Amsterdam, then Israel for 10 days so I can guarantee my suitcase is big and will be filled. Plus a carry on possibly. My friend will also have a big suitcase. I am afraid too much for a restaurant but if you could find out if we would be lynched, that would be wonderful. Otherwise we will have to leave earlier and store at the station.
                        Again, we do have the other option of not eating at Chez Casimir, and finding a good lunch
                        closer to the hotel. :)

                        1. re: lorivida

                          According to Google map (which you should look up and print out), Chez Casimir is an 8-minute walk to Gare du Nord. It gives you better time control if your resto is within walking distance to the Gare.

                          1. re: lorivida

                            Get your train tickets sorted after you've dropped off your bags and before you go to lunch. Unless you've purchased your tickets directly through the Thalys or SNCF website(s) the reservation numbers will not work with the automated kiosks so you'll need to queue to see an agent. Keep in mind that you're eating lunch in Paris not NYC and the service can be slow as all hell.

                            1. re: Pedr0

                              We did purchase our train tickets already because it was cheap, and the price nearly doubles purchasing the same week. However, the email confirmation I received said this:
                              At the train station, prior to boarding the train, please be sure to use a self-service kiosk to input your e-ticket number and print your ticket.

                              Do you think that's not the case as you stated and we will have to wait in line for an agent?
                              You're right about the timing and being in Paris not New York. If we drop our bags and get to the restaurant by noon, we will have at least 2 hours there before we need to head back to the station, wait in line for our bags and get to the train. That entire process should not take longer than and hour and 25 minutes.

                              I hope Chez Casimir can feed us in 2 hours. LOL
                              Do we need a reservation for lunch?

                              1. re: lorivida

                                Generally, you don't need a reservation for lunch unless you're going to some really fancy place.

                                Sometimes the confirmation numbers that you get over the web don't work in those kiosks eg: If you purchased your ticket through If you purchased your tickets directly from -or- you'll be fine.

                                Better to be safe. I'm missed a few trains departing Gare du Nord/Lyon when lunch ran a bit longer than expected.

                                1. re: lorivida

                                  Sometimes Casimir has tables; other times it turns people away. Do you want to risk?
                                  Chez Casimir is not fancy; it's just very good. Anyway it is always safest, - and is also the polite thing to do vis à vis the restaurant, - to reserve.
                                  If you don't reserve, you risk being turned away at the last minute. If you reserve and turn out you don't need to, you lose the time of a phone call. No brainer.

                                  Since I am going there next week, I don't mind reserving for you. You can email me at li dot nancy at noos dot fr and give me a name for reservation, number of persons, date/time, your contact tel in Paris.

                                  1. re: Parigi

                                    Thank you that is so nice. I will email you my specifics later today or tomorrow. I agree it is better to make the reservation. It is very far in advance, we will be going on Tuesday, March 13th.

                                  2. re: lorivida

                                    You can exchange your email confirmation for a ticket at any SNCF boutique. There are several dozen located around Paris. One in your quartier is at 79 rue de Rennes. However, there is also one in basement complex of the d'Orsay museum. It would likely not take you over 5 minutes to get tickets in hand there, also benefiting from dealing with a real (patient and pleasant) person rather than the gare machine. You will probably be asked to show the credit card with which you bought the ticket, so have it at hand. (I'm also not sure that the gare machines recognize credit cards without the chip, another hazard.)

                                    1. re: mangeur

                                      oh thank you that was super helpful and will be a big timesaver on Tuesday so we can make the most of our last meal in Paris.

                      2. re: lorivida

                        leave your luggage at the consigne/ left luggage at the Gare du Nord, then walk (5 mins) to Chez Casimir for lunch at noon... factor in a half hour waiting in line to retrieve your bags

                        1. re: Parnassien

                          oops, let me add Albion on rue du Faubourg Poissonière @ rue des Messageries... new wine bar with food... 10 minutes walk from Gare du Nord

                          1. re: Parnassien

                            Albion is on our short list for "want to try" dining rooms. Great idea!

                    2. Parnassien you rock. That is exactly what I was hoping to get on this board and what we will do on Tuesday.

                      Okay, now what about the other 3 days and nights????? LOL

                      Nancy, is Spring worth it? Reading mixed reviews. When would be the best time/day for us to go?

                      If I have to get some reservations in 1 month in advance, I only have until Feb. 9th. So please please please Paris foodies, I need all your thoughts no matter what they are.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: lorivida

                        I have only been to Spring for dinner (several times) and I think that it offers an excellent price/quality ratio.

                      2. Bistro au Vieux Chêne:
                        Has a nice old-skool paris look about it though it isn't actually old. Menu for 30€ including wine!

                        Frenchie is always a good option too:

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Pedr0

                          Loving all the suggestions. I promise I will not disappear and whatever we decide I will update this post when I return to New York at the end of March. It would be helpful if we could get more specific suggestions for Saturday, Saturday night, Sunday and Monday.
                          Should Les Papilles even be on my list as our first meal?
                          What about this Chez L'Ami Jean I keep reading about or even Chez Denise. Can my concierge even get a reservation at Frenchie for beginning of March? So many questions. I love the Albion idea so far. And the Spring. And the Bistro for 30 Euros including wine! love that. The website is all in french would you consider that more traditional French Bistro or Modern Bistro. We want a mix.
                          Lastly, do people like when the OP responds so much as I do, or is it better to just let people chime in from my original post. I am on the computer quite a lot so I enjoy it, but if it's annoying I will stop. I do not want to annoy, I just want the best possible recommendations. I wish someone would just plan my stay. :)

                          1. re: lorivida

                            I adore Les Papilles. It has often been our first dinner in Paris. But if I had only 3 evenings to look forward to, I'm not sure that I'd cash one here. Maybe lunch Saturday if you don't go over board but beware the portion size and robust food.

                            1. re: lorivida

                              Chez l'Ami Jean and Frenchie, both of which are indeed very good, are closed Sunday, as are many of the better restaurants. Spring is also closed Saturday lunch.
                              Dans Les Landes which is open Saturday is a casual and hip spot serving great tapas. The waiters are painfully yummy too. On rugby night, the rest of Paris must have ugly guys only, because all the cute ones seem to jam the in DLL.
                              Café des Musées is open Saturday and Sunday. The location of this nice bistro is just right for visitors sightseeing in the Marais.
                              Lastly, I vaguely remember the basement of the Relais Christine has a beautiful secret: part of the old city wall of Paris, more Medieval than Roman although everyone refers to the old city wall as the Roman wall.

                              1. re: Parigi

                                Frenchie is also closed on Saturday but open Monday.

                              2. re: lorivida

                                I think Chez L'Ami Jean should be on your list - would be a fun Sat. night dinner.

                                1. re: lorivida

                                  Bistro au Vieux Chêne is a pretty traditional type brasserie.The old style places with great but simple menus are somewhat of a dying breed in Paris so I do recommend it. It's closed on the weekends so maybe check it out on Monday.

                                  Les Philosophes in Le Marais serves an excellent brunch on Sunday. It's not quite New York caliber but you won't have to wait an hour.

                              3. The original comment has been removed