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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 http://raileurope.com. If you purchased your tickets directly from http://voyages.sncf.com -or- http://thalys.com 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: http://www.qype.fr/place/83975-Au-Vie...
                        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: http://www.qype.fr/place/560262-Frenc...

                        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. I loved loved loved Josephine, Chez Dumonet last month, and I don't see it on your list anywhere. It's a very festive place with wonderful food and great old wines at crazy good prices.

                                1. Here's what I have so far based on all posts:

                                  lunch ?? (1st meal in Paris/needs to be amazing. traditional bistro anyone that's open and near our hotel as we will be hungry coming off the overnight from NY. Ready for some deelish food and wine. Casual. /????) Maybe Fish??

                                  dinner: Spring/Table d'Eugene/Chez l'Ami Jean/Josephine, Chez Dumonet/Café des Musées/Dans Les Landes (when is rugby night in Paris???)

                                  lunch: Les Philosophes in Le Marais/
                                  dinner: Chatomat/Café des Musées/Dans Les Landes/is Spring (open?)/Josephine, Chez Dumonet (open?)/

                                  lunch: or dinner: Saturne/ Bistro au Vieux Chêne / Frenchie

                                  Tuesday lunch: Chez Casimir

                                  I need to check on whether some of those are open on certain days to fill this in. Days are not as important as we will be doing so much but I will bring a list with me of all my top places and which neighborhood they are in, so if we are in that area we will check it out and if it's open, maybe pop in. It is the dinners I am most concerned about for reservations!!!!!

                                  21 Replies
                                  1. re: lorivida

                                    Why has you dropped Pappilles for your first lunch, it meets your requirements perfectly? I like Fish but it isn't what you want, good for a change on long trip but not good for a short one. Pappilles does have good size portions but do as my wife did don't finish it all: you help yourself to the main from the serving dish so that is not as rude as it may seem.

                                    I also like Les Philosophes but probably wouldn't recomrnend for the food, yes great for people watching and grabbing a salad etc for lunch but again in a short trio...?

                                    1. re: PhilD

                                      I dropped Pappilles just for that reason. I was thinking such a big lunch would make us tired for our first afternoon exploring the city. We also want to have a long, enjoyable dinner Saturday night so I was thinking that would just be too much. I suppose we wouldn't have to finish. Is it rude in Paris for us to share an entree' or tasting? Us "girls" do it in New York all the time so we don't eat as much, would that be horrible at Pappilles? I hate to drop a place that is so loved and would be a wonderful first taste of food.

                                      1. re: lorivida

                                        We have only visited Les Papilles at dinner. Early on, lunch was a much simpler affair, but from what I read one can now have the same meal, lunch as dinner. So...you are brought a garnished soup plate followed by a tureen of soup for two, or whatever the table. You serve yourself and can well stop after one ladle. Then a copper pot of (usually braised) meat and vegetables, which you again take only what you want, or enjoy the entire pot! A small piece of cheese with a spiced fruit (e.g., prune), a luscious panna cotta celebrating a seasonal fruit. So if, unlike my husband, you can control your intake, you will experience a perfectly seasoned meal in a generously hospitable room, hosted by Bertrand Bley who has run the NY marathon for years. So... go? If you want a perfect start to your visit AND can leave a portion of what you are served on the table! Whatever wine you don't finish, Bertrand will package up for you to take back to your room. Enjoy!

                                        My earlier reservations were that it can be an enormous meal, leaving one without much space for a festive Saturday night dinner. But if you pace yourselves, it can work.

                                      2. re: PhilD

                                        <you help yourself to the main from the serving dish > PhilD: not if you're a party of two. We were each served our own Osso Buco.

                                        and we weren't served any cheese. At Dinner.

                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                          That is quite weird. We have most often been a party of two, have never been served the main course individually, and have to deflect the cheese course, which comes automatically. (I try to remember to signal the waiter when he removes the main and tell him that I prefer the green salad, which they cheerfully bring.) Perhaps they decided that a large chunk of meat might be too unwieldy or potentially messy to serve from the casserole.

                                          1. re: mangeur

                                            Do you know whether you may order a la carte at Papilles at lunchtime?

                                              1. re: jock

                                                Bertrand has often told us to order the parts however we wished: only the marmite, soup and marmite, marmite and dessert. As the website says, tout est possible.

                                              2. re: jmk38

                                                I don't know what to do. I read on these boards the thing to do is order the chef's menu for 35 euros I think. But now I'm thinking this meal/place might just be to hearty for lunch with a dinner later.
                                                I suppose a la carte would be the thing to do to eat less, however it still seems like a lot for us for this at this time.

                                                Not the worst problem in the world to have. :)

                                                Still concerned about those dinner reservations if anyone would like to chime in on my lists.

                                                Leaning toward Chez L'Ami Jean for Sat. night

                                                1. re: lorivida

                                                  How's this? Just go to Papilles for lunch. Tell Bertrand the truth: that you have a big dinner planned but didn't want to miss the chance to sample his fabulous food and sweet hospitality. Then, "how should we order so that we get a taste of Les Papilles without stuffing ourselves?"

                                                  He is adorable and his staff is kind. I am sure they will work with you and you will not feel out of step.

                                                  1. re: mangeur

                                                    Mangeur offers very good and accurate advice. You are served the starter and main in big dishes, you eat what you want and leave the rest. The food is wonderful so the only danger is a loss of self control...go early and then walk and book a late dinner (like Parisians) at 9 or 9:30.

                                                    1. re: mangeur

                                                      I do like this line of thinking and advice very much! Thanks Mangeur. I am so excited for Les Papilles and Bertrand. Then we will book a late late dinner like PhilD suggests. Hmmmm, where should that be? :)

                                                      1. re: lorivida

                                                        For dinner Chez l'ami jean is a good option as it serves very late. My one reservation is that it is similar (but far from the same) as Pappilles and if you don't try Sat night you will miss it as it is closed for the rest of your vidit.. I was going to suggest Saturne for Saturday as it is a great contrast but it is a very good Monday evening dinner as a lot is closed. Maybe try Frenchie for lunch on Monday or better still Au Passage (or Dinner - i think they are both open) which is very much of the moment and very special (it won't last as more and more tourists andguides find it). Joesephine is great but only open Monday to Friday and i think it is too similar to others on the list - variety is sensible.

                                                        Le Chateaubriand and its wine bar Le Dauphin have not been mentioned, both challenging in terms of the food they serve and both with a very fashionable clientele (and i am told the best looking FOH staff in Paris - my partner ignores the pretenders at the Costes places). I like them both and think they illustrate (along with Saturne, Agape Substance etc) the cutting edge of paris whilst Pappilles and l'ami Jean hark back to tradition (with Frenchie and Spring i the middle).

                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                          Extremely helpful reply. Wow, I am so so glad I decided to seek out some advice for my trip. I need to think about those options PhilD for a bit, still have about a week before my goal to make final decisions.

                                                          Are Le Chateaubriand and Le Dauphin open on Sunday? Is Spring? I think that might be the night for one of those.

                                                          1. re: lorivida

                                                            Neither Chateaubriand nor Le Dauphin nor Spring is open on Sunday. Also, Saturne is closed on Saturday. I thought that Frenchie did not serve lunch any longer, but I could be mistaken.

                                                            1. re: Nancy S.

                                                              I also thought Frenchie didn't do Saturday any more. Sorriest for the confusing write upthread.

                                                          2. re: PhilD

                                                            I disagree that Les Papilles is similar to Chez l'Ami Jean. They are no more similar than I am the pope.

                                                            1. re: Parigi

                                                              If you plotted restaurants on a line with the traditional on one side (say Le Cinq) and the modern at the other end (Saturne) i woud argue that there would be a cluster of restaurants on this line including Pappilles, Chez l'ami Jean, Comptoir, Jadis which are more simiar than they are different. They represent the old bistronomique movement which has morphed into the mainstream as they have become more common.

                                                              OK l'ami jean has a broader menu, it is bigger and it has a bit more ambition. But the Pappilles menu would fit easily into l'ami jeans menu and it wouldn't stand out as any different to the regular dishes. Put s Saturne or Le Cinq, or Spring, or Au Passage dish on the same mennu and it woukd stand out as a different style of dish.

                                                              I love them both but always think you need care when selecting restaurants. If you want to do a vertical taste test of similar styles go to both. But on a short visit i would suggest greater varierty is a better option.

                                                              Parigi - hope you look good in purple....

                                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                                "Parigi - hope you look good in purple...."
                                                                Kiss my ring.

                                                              2. re: Parigi

                                                                And I don't think Les Papilles is similar to Chez Dumonet. I was at the two back to back...

                                                                1. re: ChefJune

                                                                  Who mentioned Dumonet...? Although iI do think it is in the same space as Pappilles in terms of food, more traditional yes, and a more classic bistro but never the less they have probably more similarities than differences on th plate than either compared to a Saturne or Au Passage.

                                            1. I think you're getting pinned, wriggling, to the wall with your desire to have your first meal (Sat lunch) in an "amazing traditional bistro" near your hotel. Since it's your friend's first time in Paris, maybe something a little lighter and quicker than Les Papilles so you can spend the afternoon exposing her to Paris and not just the insides of a restaurant. In terms of setting, food, and atmosphere, Les Papilles is certainly a very agreeable place but for me, a major flâneur and people-watcher, the real minus is the clientele which tends to be a little, um, montone (trying not to offend anyone). My suggestion: Tie your eating in with your sightseeing. 1) Maybe a walk across the Pont Neuf, down through the Place Dauphine to Sainte Chapelle in the Palais de Justice, and then over to the Rive Droite for a one-plate + dessert quick lunch at the cutesy bistro Au Vieux Comptoir on the rue Lavandières Sainte-Opportune behind the Chatelet or the wine bar La Robe et le Palais on the same street. And then a stroll to Notre Dame. After N-D, take the Batobus hop-on hop-off river shuttle (but 15 € for a day pass so maybe a wee bit pricey for just a single journey) from the Quai Montebello (steps down to the boat stop across from la Bouteille d'Or restaurant/ rue Frédéric Sauton) to the Port Bourdannais/ Eiffel Tower. After the Eiffel Tower, a tea-ish snack at Carette on the place du Trocadéro.

                                              Spring is not open on Sunday or Monday and no lunch service on Saturday so your only possibility is Sat dinner. I love the food... until i get the bill and then it's an OMG! So I only keep it as a lunch option now when I can do a cheaper prix fixe and-- sigh-- no overpriced wine. Septime on the rue Charonne in the 11th is much closer to 7th heaven for me... creative cooking, top quality, great service, interesting clientele, and great prices. But I wonder if the stark minimalism will appeal to foreigners looking for the charming neighbourhood bistro conjured up in dreams. As for the more trad and cutesy places, Josephine/ Chez Dumonet is closed on Sat + Sun. And so is Chez Denise. So both get moved to your Monday options. BTW, next time you are in Paris, try Chez Denise for a post-clubbing meal at 3 or 4am when its true glory and character are revealed.

                                              For Saturday night in St Germain des Prés, you have to compete with the suburban hordes. Since it's a jet-lag day, I wonder if you will be in a fit state to appreciate a heavy trad bistro meal. 1) Maybe just an omelette nature + frites + salad at the very see-and-be-seen Café de Flore on the boulevard Saint-Germain @ the rue Saint-Benoit will be more suitable. 2) Or a steak frite dinner at the no-choice no-reservation Relais de l'Entrecôte on the rue Saint-Benoit. Hardly the best steaks in Paris (but far far from the worst) but the lively ambiance will certainly keep you awake. Peak times (and long lines) are from 8 to 10pm so you should try to get there at 7pm to save yourself a wait. 3) Since money is not a big concern, you could sample some of the best modern French cuisine at Agapé Substance on the rue Mazarine (very near your hotel). I can't afford to eat here often but I wish I could... the food is artful and delicious and the clientele is wonderfully trendy but laid-back. For an after-dinner drink and people watching, I suggest the mezzanine bar at l'Alcazar, also on rue Mazarine or Café la Palette on the rue de Seine. 4) Or maybe just a plate of oysters at Huîterie Régis on the rue Montfaucon just off the bd St-Germain or a fruit de mer platter at Bar à Huîtres on the rue St Jacques in the Latin Quarter (walkable from rue Christine) or the better Montparnasse branch on the boulevard Montparnasse (a quick no-change métro ride from Odéon or St Michel to Vavin) or Le Dôme, also on boulevard Montparnasse at Vavin. 5) If you still want a full, heavy meal in a trad setting, the Bistrot de l'Alycastre on the rue Clément is my first choice (and actually not so heavy). Second choice would be almost any restaurant on the rue Guisarde (Mâchon d'Henri if I was starving and had enough time for the 20-hours of steady digestion required after a meal à la lyonnaise here, Comme à Savonnières, Chez Fernand, etc ... but on a Saturday, all buzzing with life and all with good trad cooking).

                                              Whew! And we still have Sunday and Monday to go! :)

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: Parnassien

                                                I also love Agape Substance. Dining there makes for an excellent evening.

                                                1. re: Parnassien

                                                  i don't even know what to say to that right now. Sounds like the best day ever and you're right, my friend (and myself) will want to get out there in that beautiful city. Wow. I"m not sure I could even do that for someone coming to NYC. :)

                                                  Sunday and Monday are becoming a concern as everything seems to be closed!!! ARGH. No more jet lag, we will want some great meals. Let's do it. Parnassien, drinks on us 100% no joke.

                                                  Just a side note, we are both extremely into live music so if anyone wants to suggest any Jazz or other types of music to see one night, or even a favorite bar/place that has live music is a big plus

                                                  1. re: lorivida

                                                    All the big jazz names play at New Morning.
                                                    Otherwise, Swan Bar has very good Jazz musicians who are not "name" names.

                                                    1. re: lorivida

                                                      Deal. Since you like jazz, pre-dinner drinks at Point Bulles on the rue Clément just off the bd St-Germain at around 7pm on Sunday. Full of whizz-kid Lebanese bankers but a very pleasant place. Even if I can't make it, Point Bulles should be on your list. But jazz is Sunday evening only.

                                                      The Centre Tchèque on the rue Bonaparte sometimes has very good jazz nights in its very atmospheric vaulted cellar. But you would have to google "Paris-Prague Jazz Club" closer to your arrival to find what's on (if anything) that weekend.

                                                      The music theme inspires another suggestion. La Closerie des Lilas on the boulevard Montparnasse. A very historic Parisien landmark still buzzing and sparkling. The Piano Bar is a prime watering hole for the chattering classes. There's also a restaurant and a brasserie. Food is generally quite good but never amazing. The setting and ambience are the selling points. And open 7/7. Wheee! Even if you don't do a meal here, the Piano Bar is a must-do. And easy to get to from rue Christine (short no-change métro trip from Odéon or St Michel to Vavin or a 6 or 7€ taxi ride).

                                                      1. re: Parnassien

                                                        Done. sounds great for pre-dinner drinks on Sunday.
                                                        Now on to the dinner part. Going to reread all of these posts later tonight and see what our options are for dinners so far. Feeling scattered. :0

                                                  2. Anyone have an opinion on these Sunday night dinner options:

                                                    Café Constant
                                                    Les Fines Gueules
                                                    Cafe des Musees
                                                    Fontaine de Mars
                                                    Violon d'Ingres

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: lorivida

                                                      Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire is amazing. Expect to pay 250€+ per person though.

                                                      Would call right away to get a reservation.

                                                      1. re: lorivida

                                                        How did (Pierre) Gagnaire sneak into that list? It's really an expense-account restaurant. The food is superb, almost ethereal, but you could feed a village in Somalia for 6 months for the price of a meal for one here. And, other than the taste buds having occasional orgasms, not much fun. The ambience is very subdued, very upmarket, and a bit reverential as befitting a temple of gastronomy. Or did you mean le Gaigne in the Marais?

                                                        Drouant is a bit of an institution. Usually populated by bankers. I'm too young to enjoy it. Nor would I imagine the place Gaillon to be very happening on a Sunday night. Everything else in the immediate vicinity is closed.

                                                        As for the others, all are quite acceptable. Violon d'Ingres has the higher degree of cuisine (and prices) and the decor is more sleek and chic rather than charming. La Fontaine de Mars is textbook bistro, quite good trad grub, but often overwhelmed by tourists which slows service down. In March, it will probably be a little less touristy. The no-reservations Café Constant is its celebrity chef's attempt to democratize good food. Loved it when it first opened but now it's always full every time I try to snag a table (I'm parisien and a late eater) but it's probably easier closer to 7pm. Les Fines Gueules collides with my notions of a correct price/ quality ratio but the food is still good and the ambience is lively. The quartier is both impressive and delightful ... the place des Victoires on one side and the Palais Royal on the other. But most of the other eateries/ bars that contribute to the area's charms are closed on Sunday night. Café des Musées is one of the best values in Paris. Love it ... but it's well touted by guide books so you are likely to sit next to folks from Tulsa, Oklahoma or Yokahama, Japan.

                                                        I'd add Mini-Palais in the Grand Palais. I dunno why it's not recommended more on Chowhound but it's one of my Sunday stand-bys. And a place that fits all appetites and times of the day... restaurant, bar with food, and salon du thé. Purists may not like the fusion tendencies but I do. Quite sylish without the fashion tyranny that you find elsewhere in Paris. And the setting, maybe a little too grand at first sight, is pitch-perfect and relaxing. If the weather is not too miserable, the stunning colonnaded terrace might be open. With piano bar. And after dinner, you get to walk home across the glorious Pont Alexandre III and then along the river.

                                                        1. re: Parnassien

                                                          My suggestions are:

                                                          Violon d'Ingres
                                                          Agape Substance

                                                          At Spring we have a very dissappointing food. Passage 53 I personally didn't like, but my compagnion was absolutely excited about the place. Anyway it is interesting to try.

                                                      2. Not sure where Relais Christine is, but on Blvd St. Germain near the Odeon Metro stop is the chocolatier, Patrick Roger. Don't miss! Souphie counseled me to skip the "fancy stuff" and just get the bars. All I can say is WOW! Especially the Cote d'Ivoire bar. brought back 3 different kinds. That was our fave.

                                                        14 Replies
                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                          "Not sure where Relais Christine is"

                                                          Between Odéon and the river

                                                          1. re: Parigi

                                                            Then she'll be pretty darn close to Patrick Roger's chocolate. That could be dangerous....

                                                          2. re: ChefJune

                                                            Oh believe me, Patrick Roger will not be missed! Thank you. Cote d"Ivoire, check.
                                                            I have been away in tropical paradise (Costa Rica, I know poor me) so I apologize for the radio silence. I am back in New York, and now full on planning for Paris!

                                                            Right now I am really struggling on Saturday dinner and doubting I'll even get reservations. It's between the hip and modern Agapé Substance (Could be lunch also as it's near our hotel),
                                                            Chez L'Ami Jean or even Frenchie since that is closed Sun and Mon. Or is it closed Saturday/Sunday. Still not clear on that Frenchie place. Untouchable?
                                                            Can I get a reservation anywhere or too late? Better to email or have concierge call directly????

                                                            1. re: lorivida

                                                              Franchise is closed on Saturdays. Agape Substance is great. We sat near the kitchen and were charmed and delighted all evenings by David Toutain, the chef.

                                                              1. re: Nancy S.

                                                                Yes, thank you I looked it up on their website. I emailed the concierge to try and make us a reservation at Frenchie's for Monday night. We'll see if he can do it.

                                                                As far as Saturday, I was thinking that is the only night for both Chez L'Ami Jean and Agape Substance as they are BOTH closed Sunday and Monday.
                                                                I was leaning toward L'Ami Jean because it is more hearty and traditional for our first semi-jet lagged dinner (remember we do not live there!!) and I'm trying to keep our first afternoon open for exploring the city. But.....maybe we should just book lunch at Agape since it's near our hotel, explore, and do a late dinner at L'Ami Jean. Is that just nuts?

                                                                1. re: lorivida

                                                                  Concierge just emailed and said no go for Frenchie on Monday night. I'm kind of bummed.

                                                                  1. re: lorivida

                                                                    I just realized that you are coming in mid March. I should have warned you it is probably too late to reserve at Frenchie. I just made a reservation there for April, and could not get the later sitting which is all full. Booked the early-bird geezer 7pm hour, duh.

                                                                    A very good substitute for Frenchie is Saturne. Sorriest I don't remember whether you have booked it already. Saturne has a very similar appeal as Frenchie, very good food with a modern take ma non troppo, not bank-breaking, very good wine focus. And its reservation scene is less grim. If you reserve now, you should be able to get a table for March.
                                                                    Besides Chez Casimir, I don't remember which restaurant you have reserved. I think for such a short trip, if you can get in either Spring or Frenchie or Saturne, you will have an excellent representation of the Paris neobistro. IMHO, you don't have to do all 3.

                                                                    1. re: Parigi

                                                                      Thank you I was thinking of Saturne for a good Monday backup since hearing about the Frenchie let down. My other option for Monday was Au Passage but leaning toward Saturne. FYI: the Concierge told me he needed 3 weeks to make a Frenchie reservation, which technically I did email him in time, so either he didn't get the message in time and then the weekend kicked in or he just couldn't do it.) All good.

                                                                      We already booked Chez L'ami Jean for Saturday night (it was either that or Agape Substance. I'm hoping I made the right decision but L'ami Jean seems like it would be a fun foodie adventure for our first night. Can always change)
                                                                      We do have Chez Casimir for Tuesday lunch.
                                                                      Sunday is wide open so far, I was seeing how the other nights pan out but, Cafe des Musees, Mini Palais, Chatomat and even Comptoir (prob not) are on the list. Definitely some pre dinner drinks and jazz to start the Sunday evening.

                                                                      1. re: Parigi

                                                                        I was surprised to see you say Saturne, Frenchie and Spring are interchangable. Yes they are modern but very different modern. Spring is modern sparse french, Saturne is Noma nordic, and Frenchie is Jamie Oliver inspired mod italian/euro. I would further say Spring aspires to Michelin style food, Saturne seems more purist/foraged, and Frenchie is casual but executed very well with intense flavours.

                                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                                          No I am not saying the 3 restaurants are 3 clones.
                                                                          I would not have suggested that the poster could choose one of the 3 (which does not mean interchangeable either, sigh again) if she has 2 weeks in Paris and has time to explore and finetune the exploration.
                                                                          If there are only 3 dinners in a given Paris trip, and Saturne, Frenchie, Spring are the 3 restaurants, the dining experience becomes one-dimensional, however excellent the cuisine.
                                                                          In case it was not clear, Phil, the 3 are not clones.
                                                                          Furthermore, the 3 are not clones.

                                                                          1. re: Parigi

                                                                            You know that, I know that, but how many other readers do? I thought it worthwhile making that distinction for the greater good.

                                                                            1. re: PhilD

                                                                              PhilD I will agree that it is helpful to know the distinctions. It also makes my choices more difficult for a 3 night stay. I would be curious what you would do in my case PhilD for Sat. Sun and Monday dinners knowing you will not be back in the city for quite sometime.

                                                                      2. re: lorivida

                                                                        Lori: where are you arriving FROM on Saturday? If from New York, it seems to me you have a very long day planned, and not allowing for jet lag. If you're arriving from elsewhere in Europe, jet lag probably won't be an issue.

                                                                        I just know for myself that when I first land I'm fine... up until about 5 o'clock when I crash. So in that vein, I'd book lunch at Chez l'Ami Jean, sight-see your way back to your lodging and then see how you feel.

                                                                        Monday evening? Is Josephine, Chez Dumonet open on Monday? I'm sure you'd like that. Maceo I know is open on Monday. and very good.

                                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                                          we do have a long day planned and yes we have a red eye from New York getting in around 11am. I decided not to plan a big lunch Saturday so that we could spend the afternoon exploring the city while we do have some energy, and not have a big sit down meal inside. We will probably head back to the room late afternoon and nap and hit a late dinner at Chez l'Ami Jean. There is no way we are going to bed early our first night in Paris!! A couple of hours sleep and maybe some alcohol will do wonders. :)

                                                                          Josephine/ Chez Dumonet is also on my Monday list as is Chez Denise. I wanted to do a mix of traditional and modern for dinners so was just waiting to see what panned out.

                                                              2. Late to the discussion and a lot of good recs... We were staying in the area and had an issue with a reservation and had to find a back up. Right next door to Relais Christine is Le Christine. No affiliation that I know of but we had an excellent meal there last May.... Definitely within stumbling distance!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. If anyone has already mentioned this, I do apologize. You will be staying on rue Christine, yes? If so, you will be almost directly across the street from a lovely place called la rotisserie d'en face. They specialize in hearth roasted things, but the Hereford steak (Irish) that I had there last month, with bearnaise sauce was phenomenal. It is a lovely little place. Written up in Michelin. Quite traditional. No foam, no tweezers, lotta bacon and mushrooms...

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: linengirl

                                                                    "No foam, no tweezers"

                                                                    Am going to steal this.

                                                                  2. Ps: relaid Christine? You lucky, lucky creature! It is SO charming!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: linengirl

                                                                      Thank you linengirl that place sounds great. Yes, we are very excited to be staying at Relais Christine.
                                                                      Update on my reservations:
                                                                      Chez L'Ami Jean for Saturday night.
                                                                      Our concierge told us that Agape Substance is closed for vacation the week we are there. oh well
                                                                      Could not get a reservation for Frenchie or Comptoir so we chose Au Passage for Monday night. dinner. That could and might change but stands as of now.
                                                                      Leaving Sunday open.

                                                                    2. delayed post. thanks again for everyone's help. Chez L'ami Jean was everything I could want in a Paris restaurant.
                                                                      You all rock.

                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                      1. re: lorivida

                                                                        Thanks for reporting back. Late posts are the best. Means you did not forget.

                                                                        1. re: Parigi

                                                                          Aww, of course I didn't forget. :) This thread helped me so much you have no idea. Chez L'Ami Jean was truly unforgettable.
                                                                          I tried posting earlier but it kept getting deleted because I mentioned a certain "incident" with an oyster at a specific restaurant I went to Sunday night that unfortunately was not positive. Such bad luck for such a short time in Paris.
                                                                          This "incident made me unable to make my reservations at both Chez Casimir on Tuesday lunch, and Au Passage on Monday. I managed a crepe at L'Avant Comptoir and a light croque madame at Cafe Du Flor right before I left but that's pretty much it for 2 days. :( So sad I will have to go back and now I know to make those reservations early. Frenchie, I will see you one of these days!!!

                                                                          1. re: lorivida

                                                                            what was the price range for Chez LAmi Jean?
                                                                            We are going to Paris in April - Fri/Sat/Sun - so will need three lunches and three dinners - looking for French Bistro - we are from NY and we don't particularly love the fancy expensive NYC restaurants.

                                                                            1. re: mboxermd

                                                                              I wish I could remember or look up exactly what our dinner cost however my friend paid that night. It was nothing at all like those fancy expensive places, you will love it. In fact on a Sat. night it was casual, crowded and with a very local feel on a quiet residential street not far from the Eiffel Tower. I remember they had some price fixed menus which looked like a good deal but we didn't do that. We had some apps, 2 entrees, a nice bottle of red and dessert and i don't remember it being more than 200 euros total. Probably less. Lived up to the hype for me the food was fantastic and memorable. Do not hesitate to make a reservation and go hungry! Enjoy.

                                                                              1. re: lorivida

                                                                                Any other restaurants either lunch/dinner that you thought were great that we shouldn't miss - combination of great food, fun atmosphere and not going to break the bank. Which area was your favorite for walking around and eating pastries and chocolate?

                                                                                1. re: mboxermd

                                                                                  I recommend reading very carefully through this thread and taking notes. It's a goldmine I got so much valuable information here from the lovely Chowhounders! Personally I was there for such a short time and unfortunately got sick so had to cancel many reservations so nothing else comes to mind. I absolutely can't pick one area that was my favorite for walking around I loved it all, but where our hotel was in the 6th near St. Germaine was really fun with lots of wine bars, shops, and restaurants. It really is a perfect area to stay and very central to everything!

                                                                                  1. re: lorivida

                                                                                    Lorivida, you bring up a terribly good point. The information is here, on this or other threads that relate to a request for recommendations. But it requires reading and making judgements rather than having someone else prioritize addresses for you.

                                                                                    1. re: mangeur

                                                                                      Agreed Mangeur! It's worth the time to dig in to Chowhound and read read read the posts and do searches on specific restaurants that intrigue you.

                                                                              2. re: mboxermd

                                                                                Depending on your ordering can vary very much. Have had lunches for 150 euros/pp or 35 euros/pp. Last time in a few months ago was Jego cooked for us menu,and 7 course with wine, not too much wine, was 70 euros/pp.

                                                                        2. It is almost impossible to have a bad meal, so relax. Avoid obvious tourist places. Reservations are usually only a problem for very high end, so relax. My one recommendation is that you do not try to have more than one big meal a day. Most places will be available for light fare at lunch time if you get hungry, but hold out for supper, and take it slow.

                                                                          I have managed to have a mediocre meal only once, when I succumbed to curiosity and fell into a tourist trap on the left bank with a prix fixe, and even that wasn't so bad. The French care a lot about quality, so even their fast food is of fairly high quality, the sandwiches at the Louvre are better than many meals one can get here in the USA, so don't sweat it. Enjoy yourself and take it in slowly.

                                                                          I highly recommend Aux Fil des Saisons not too far from the Place de Republique.

                                                                          1. Went through this entire post. We will be going to Paris in May for a week and got a lot of good suggestions from this discussion.

                                                                            Just had a few questions:

                                                                            1. Any changes good or bad about any of the places discussed in this thread?

                                                                            2. Are there any places that would be considered "not to miss" on a trip to Paris? I think we have plenty of time to make reservations and we are coming with another couple who also enjoy eating great food. We definitely want to mix it up since we will be there for a week.


                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: funk74

                                                                              <Are there any places that would be considered "not to miss" on a trip to Paris?>

                                                                              As has been said so often on this board, what is "not to miss" to me may be "avoid at all costs" to someone else. Timing and state of mind have a lot to do with one's experience in any restaurant, and that can't be quantified.

                                                                              and fwiw, a week in Paris is just a drop in the bucket. ;)

                                                                            2. Buy the 4 day museum pass at the first museum. It saves the hassle of waiting in line and reaching for 8-10 euros for each entry and let's you jump to the front of the line. Do not get overtired on museums. For example, break it up into two hour sessions. See the Louvre when it opens up at 930 then at 12 go for lunch (usually two hours or more). Make sure you go to the Louvre in the evening 1830-2030 and then dinner. Also buy a carnet (a 10 tickets for 12.7euro instead of 1.7euro per ticket) at the first metro with a credit card. This will help you get anywhere in Paris. A Plan de Paris (or mapbook) or a local cellphone with google maps (expensive data plan) will let you explore anywhere without worries.

                                                                              Everyone has an opinion on food and really depends on your tastes for decor and ingredients and techniques. Good sights are local ones like : davidlebovitz.com, timeout.com (paris), tripadvisor.com (paris). Lunches are the way to go because they they are usually 1/3 to 1/2 cheaper than dinner and also jet lag makes it difficult to start eating at 2000h or so. We just left Paris yesterday and loved the following place for lunch Sola (French/Japanese), Spring (nouvelle cuisine), L'Ardoise (modern bistro), Yam t'Cha (French/Cantonese), Comptoir de la Gastronomie (duck/fois gras), Tonneuax de Halles (steak frites) and Les Coucettes (modern bistro). Do your research, go to where the locals are going and make reservations.

                                                                              Try to combine the sights you are visiting with where you plan to dine do you aren't rushed. Paris is simply the best for its ambiance, its ease of getting around, its sights and its food.