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Feb 8, 2012 08:21 AM


My husband and I are going to Paris next week for 3 nights/4days. I have been many times but it will be my husband's first visit, so I'm quite anxious and hoping that he will have a good time. Although our visit is short, we plan on eating well, sightseeing, and spending Sunday at Les Puces de Saint-Ouen.

We are both from the NYC area and enjoy eating out. Ambience and service is just as important to us as good food. His favorite restaurant in NYC is Aqua Grill. He prefers quiet intimate places. I often feel like I have to twist his arm to try new things, but when he does he enjoys himself (i.e. Aldea - he loved it). Me on the other hand, I am much more adventurous overall. Since this is his first time (and a surprise birthday trip for him), I'm going to to restrain myself and all the places I want to try and keep him in mind.

So with all that being said, my goal is to gradually introduce him to the Paris that I love. I would like him to experience the traditional places and not necessarily the "hip" new places (maybe that's for our next trip). rI've ented an apartment near Place des Vosges and plan on having a light breakfast every morning. My husband LOVES sweets and chocolates, so I'm sure that part of Paris will win him over.

I've done extensive research on Chowhound reading the boards going back 2 years, as well as, fooding, David Lebovitz' blog; and I've printed out Patricia Wells dictionary in preparation for the trip. And this is my proposed itiinerary. I apologize for the very long introduction but wanted to make sure you have enough information to comment. Thanks so much in advance!

FRIDAY (early afternoon flight arrival)
LUNCH - Breizh Cafe
DINNER - Les Papilles
I've already made reservations for 7:30pm. I opted on the earlier side since it will be a long day for us.

BREAKFAST - coffee, crossaints, baguette, cheese in the apartment
LUNCH - open
DINNER - Aux Passages
I have 9pm reservations. But after reading the boards I'm wondering if this is a good choice. My other choices are Au Fils des Saisons or Le Galopin. It might be last minutes so I'm worried about where I can get in.

BREAKFAST - coffee, crossaints, baguette, cheese in the apartment
We will be spending the day at the flea markets at Les Puces de Saint Ouen and Montmartre/Sacre Coeur.
LUNCH - Coquelicot Boulangerie
DINNER - Les Cocottes. No reservations required so I thought we would wing it.

I'm hesitating going to Chez L'Ami Jean, Josephine Chez Dumonet because I feel that will be too overwhelming for my husband - i.e. tight tables, atmosphere, etc.

Again, I thank everyone in advance for any comments and insights, and I promise when I return to provide an update.

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  1. Dumonet is not particularily tight seating.
    Go to Porte De Vanves for a flea market open Sat and Sun 8-12, it is memorable. for the last 10 years l view at Clignancourt and buy at Vanves.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

      Indeed! We have gone to Clignancourt on Sunday and seen items being unpacked that we saw for sale at Vanves on Saturday.

      1. re: mangeur

        Thank you Delucacheesemonger and mangeur for the tip on the flea markets. I'll adjust our itinerary accordingly. We'll be going to Porte de Vanves on Saturday instead of Sunday.

        I am now reconsidering Dumonet.

    2. As you've been and your husband hasn't and you want to show him the Paris you love, why don't you just go to the places you went, or walked by and wanted to go in and make it very personal

      1. Oh, another suggestion, go to one fantastic restaurant like Guy Savoy, Jules Verne, Tour d'Argent, Grand Vefour etc. as these are not to be found anywhere else in the world.

        1. Your husband is a lucky guy.

          A few suggestions:
          1. Chez l'Ami Jean is hectic only at dinner. Lunch is very leisurely there.
          2. Café des Musées near chez vous is a charming bistro with good but not too challenging food. It may fit your scheme of gradual conversion of your husband.
          3. Chez Casimir is a very good bistro that normally is not hectic, but one of the last times I went there with a few hounds for an early bird geezer dinner (7:30pm), the place was full and hopping. Next to us were two large tables of French folks whooping it up. The hounds interrogated me: what's this BS about the French never eating early? What's this BS about this place being low key? What's this BS about the French being quiet and tourists from our neck of the woods are the loud ones?
          Yes I was wrong and wrong and wrong.
          And we had a blast. The atmosphere could not have been more French and more joyous. When the legendary cheese platter came, the patron and one of the hounds engaged in a guessing game replete with some not very elegant gestures (from the patron). I do recommend highly that you offer your husband this experience. He will not want to leave! The food is wonderful bistro food, very user-friendly, nothing too weird. Lastly, among all the better bistros, Chez Casimir is relatively easy to reserve...
          4. Le Galopin may be a safer choice than Au Passage. Follow your instinct there. :-)
          5. For your very short stay, I personally would not spend a precious afternoon at the Puces. The Puces is not that atmospheric a Parisian site. And its prices are not actual puces prices at all. Its wares and prices are just like regular antique stores, except they are in an outdoors dusty place.
          A nice Sunday afternoon walk au chaud could be the covered passages ("Passages Couverts") that can take you from the Louvre all the way to the 9th (Jardin du Palais Royal, Galerie Vivienne, Galerie Colbert, Passage des Panoramas, Passages Verdeau/Jouffroy), culminating in a pastry and tea at Valentin in Passage Jouffroy. But if you do this walk Saturday when the boutiques are open, you may end up spending all your money in the fabulous vintage shops along the Passages. (One hound ended up pawning his underwear for vintage Hermès scarves for his wife...)

          Have a great time and remember to report back.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Parigi

            Note, though, that on Sat. night Le Galopin serves only a pre fixe tasting menu.

            1. re: Parigi

              Thank you Parigi for your feedback and suggestions. I've decided to change our itinerary.

              1) Friday Lunch - Breizh Cafe or pick something up at the markets

              2) Friday Dinner - Les Papilles. Should I move to the reservation to the second seating?

              3) Saturday Lunch/Dinner - In your opinion - Chez l'Ami Jean, Chez Casimir or Dumonet? Or should we opt to go here for lunch instead of dinner (if it's open). We will probably walk around the covered passages like you suggested.

              4) I plan on cancelling Aux Passages. Is it possible to dine at one of the 3 lunch options above AND have dinner at Le Galopin or is that too much food?

              5) Sunday Lunch - TBD

              6) Sunday Dinner - Les Cocottes

              Thanks again.

              1. re: i3prosecco

                Le Galopin is not a lot of food. Serving sizes are comparatively modest and courses are well paced.

                1. re: i3prosecco

                  <Friday Dinner - Les Papilles. Should I move to the reservation to the second seating?>

                  My experience was that the proprietor told me what time we were going to eat. I requested 2nd seating, he said "7:30!"

                  Good luck!

                  1. re: ChefJune

                    Ok - that's exactly what happened to me. I asked for a 9pm reservation and he came back with 7:30pm!

                    1. re: i3prosecco

                      I presumed they were fully booked for 9:30 and said yes to the 7:30, since it was my last night in Paris. We were not rushed at all.

                  2. re: i3prosecco

                    "2) Friday Dinner - Les Papilles. Should I move to the reservation to the second seating?"

                    Earlier diners tend to be non-French. Never a concern for me, but it's a concern for others.

                    "3) Saturday Lunch/Dinner - In your opinion - Chez l'Ami Jean, Chez Casimir or Dumonet? Or should we opt to go here for lunch instead of dinner (if it's open)."

                    - Chez Casimir may not be so good weekends even if it is open. On Saturday/Sunday it serves a buffet all day long, instead of its regular menus, to mixed reviews.
                    - Chez l'Ami Jean, I always prefer the more leisurely lunch. Saturday evening is a mad house, but not without a degree of fun. If you are concerned that your husband may not be able to take it, he may feel more comfortable with the lunch atmosphere.

                    "4) I plan on cancelling Aux Passages. Is it possible to dine at one of the 3 lunch options above AND have dinner at Le Galopin or is that too much food?"

                    This is probably my prejudice: I think any time you have two good restaurant meals in the same day, you are diluting your enjoyment instead of augmenting it. I know if I were a visitor to Paris, I would want to have 5 meals a day. (I did have 5 meals a day in Bangkok, - and came home thinner, - but that's a different cuisine... )

                2. I was just at Dumonet for the first time, and I wouldn't say that the seating was particularly tight, and it was in no way "overwhelming," other than the food was VERY good.