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Apr 11, 2012 11:45 PM

In Paris Apr. 21-26, need foodie options near the 8th?

Hi, Hounds!

My wife and I are headed to Paris so soon it's scary. I've waded through a ton of posts, but it's really tough to figure out all the options, geography, etc.

I'm sure we'll figure out some options on our own, but I'd love it if some of those in the know could point us towards some good choices that are "ChowHound Approved" and within our budget (and hopefully within easy walking distance or easy Metro hops from our hotel). I'm just not familiar enough with the city, and how difficult or easy it is to get around, to judge anything that's not easy walking distance.

We're staying near the Arc de Triomphe in the 8th, but also near the 17th and 16th, since they all come together right at the Arc. (Le Méridien Etoile hotel, 81 Boulevard Gouvion Saint-Cyr) Again, not sure how easy it is to get around... the 7th isn't far at all from the 8th, but the river is in the way... is that not even a consideration at all, or it crossing a big PITA?

We're primarily looking for modestly-priced (but still excellent!) locations, to the extent possible, although we'll be able to splurge up to 50-80 euros (each) for the 25th, a birthday dinner.

I'm sure we're looking for the same thing thousands of others are, nice places with fabulous food and impossibly cheap prices, that aren't touristy and yet cater to those with extremely limited college French (from well over a decade ago, at that)... hey, dream the impossible dream, right? ;-) Still, I'd be super grateful for assistance here, since this is confusing the heck out of me.

Help me, ChowHound, you're my only hope!

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  1. Sorry to tell you but the Meridien Etoile is in the 17th and just a few feet from not being in Paris at all. And a good 15-minute walk from the Arc de Triomphe at a fast-clip Paris style or 20 minutes stroll American style. The location is not exactly ideal but in easy reach of some decent to good restaurants on the avenue des Ternes like the historic Ballon des Ternes. In terms of quality, Sébillon on the avenue Charles de Gaulle on the Neuilly side of the boulevard Périphérique (very busy major highway that mercifully you walk over rather than under to get to Neuilly) is your best bet for the birthday dinner. It's a lovely old-school Art Nouveau brasserie justly famous for its leg of lamb (from the Aveyron region). I have ordered other dishes here but most were somewhat disappointing so, if you are not into lamb, I'd go elsewhere. And the same for Chez Georges bistro on the boulevard Pereire, just a few mins from the Meridien. Very well known for its lamb (dunno why the Porte Maillot should be so lamb-centric but it is). Can be 100% tourist if there is a big event at the nearby Palais des Congrès but locals try to squeeze in when they can. Again elsewhere would be better if lamb is not on your to-do list.

    If you like fish/ seafood, that elsewhere should be Rech, a repolished Art-Deco gem in the Ducasse empire, on the ave des Ternes/place des Ternes (less than 10-min walk from your hotel). Love this place! It can be a wee bit pricey but, o thank you lordy, there's a prix fixe "formule" for both lunch (32€) and dinner (54€) that fits nicely into your budget. And a word of warning: the place des Ternes has lots of chain restaurants like Chez Clement and Indiana which should be avoided.

    For a real foodie experience, I'd try Caius and/or Zinc Caius on the rue d'Armaillé (10-minute walk). They do a fab prix-fixe (15€ or so) for lunch at Zinc Caius but it's a bit small and too popular for a lingering lunch. The main Caius across the street is much more comfortable and has a very inventive neo-bistro menu (think hibiscus sauce) that can get pricey if you stray from the 42€ prix fixe. Somehow it's under the normal Chowhounder's radar... but it shouldn't be.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Parnassien

      Wow, you're totally right about being in the 17th... although it's right along the border of the 8th, according to the neighborhood maps I'm seeing, nowhere near the outside edge of the 17th. I could swear I saw a zip ending in 008 somewhere, but clearly I was looking at the wrong thing at the time, because the zip is 75017. Juggling too many browser tabs!

      I lived in Manhattan for several years and the fast walking stuck, so walking shouldn't be an issue... fortunately. A friend of my wife's told her we shouldn't worry about distances too much, since, like NYC, nearly every part of the city is a 15 minute Metro ride away... is that true? Because I was considering trying out Septime but were worried about the distance.

      Big fan of lamb and fois gras. Not so much for fish (although I love shrimp and lobster), Sébillon sounds great, I'll look into that. And thank you so much for the detailed information, this should help tremendously! We'll definitely have to check out the Caius pair, since it's so good and so close. :)

      I wish we were staying somewhere in the 5-6-7th, but we didn't have a lot of choice in the matter, and it's hard to argue with "free hotel".

    2. Dude, you are going to have an absolutely LOVELY time. Don't worry too much about being "just a few feet away from not being in Paris at all". The bus and subway systems in Paris are superb (cheap, clean, efficient, wonderfully fast), and thoroughly Anglo-friendly. Ratp even has a website that helps you plan your trips, so if you bring your iPad, you will make out great using a combination of the iPad, the Ratp site, and your yelp app. Fwiw, though, it's also pretty handy to have a little book of maps in your pocket or bag when you go out. I like the Michelin map book: 1 page (ish) per arrondissement, and available from, I think, most major book sellers in Paris.

      And no, crossing the Seine is NOT a big PITA. Quite the contrary, incredibly pretty, if you choose to walk! Paris is a walker's paradise at this time of year. SO beautiful!

      Finally, if you do bring your iPad/iPhone, you can buy the Michelin Paris restaurant app for it. I know, I know... Very old fashioned in their approach to what is good food. But very reliable if you are looking, for example, for delicious, less expensive bistros.

      8 Replies
      1. re: linengirl

        Ooh, also great tips! I'll definitely be bringing my iPad, and now you've just given me a reason to carry it around with me. LOL Is it possible to use US-based AT&T data service over there, somehow, or can everything be done offline (and using wifi at the hotel and random hotspots)? Heading over to look at Ratp now...

        1. re: CompuDude

          The english-language RATP apps for iPad is a very scaled down version. The French apps for smartphones is way more useful even if your French is limited. I suspect you can probably only download the full apps once you are in Paris because of the GPS coding

          I'd recommend using the bus rather than the métro from the Porte Maillot. The routes are a sightseer's wet dream. The #82 from the ave Malakoff goes to the Trocadéro, across the pont d'Iéna to the Eiffel Tower, the Ecole Militaire, Les Invalides, Montparnasse, the Notre-Dame-des-Champs part of Saint Germain des Prés, and finishes up at the place Edmond Rostand/ boulevard Saint Michel next to the Luxembourg gardens. The #73 from the avenue de la Grande Armée goes to the Arc to Triomphe and then down the Champs Elysées (much better experienced when you are safely insulated in the insides of a bus from the plague of touristitis) to the place de la Concorde, crosses the river and ends up at the Musée d'Orsay.

          I'm a born-and-bred Parisien and hardly ever use the métro. I love the sights and sounds of Paris way too much to get marooned underground getting from A to B. I know buses seem much more intimidating to non-French-speaking tourists but, with a little prep and good maps and the RATP apps, they are a cinch. Just like métro stations, bus stops are named and announced electronically on board; The same bus pass that you use for the métro are good on the bus. If you get lost, so what? That's part of the fun for any tourist. And if you can't figure out where to catch the return bus, just hop on the métro for getting back to your hotel.

          1. re: Parnassien

            Still more excellent information. Thank you SOOO much!

            Some last-minute wrangling MAY end up allowing a change of hotels to a Westin (I think?) in the 1st. If that happens, I'll post back, else I think I'm going to try to get a res at Neva.

            We're big fans of molecular gastronomie, it's a shame my wallet can't support my habit as well as I'd like. ;-)

            1. re: CompuDude

              Keep in mind Neva is on the side of the 8th closer to the 9th so about 3km or so from your current hotel. It's actually closer to the Westin than Le Meridien Etoile. If you do end up at the Westin, I like Bistro Volnay which is very close. But wherever you end up I wouldn't limit yourself based on location and think that Septime is worth traveling for.

              1. re: CompuDude

                Maybe, just maybe you can fit in a 3-plate lunch (35€ excluding wine) at Akrame on the rue Lauriston in the 16th (very near the Arc de Triomphe) to satisfy the demands of both taste buds and wallet. But don't expect to go away with a full tummy. Not totally molecular but close enough. For comparison at dinner, a modest 4-plate meal with the cheapest wine pairings would run around €90 each, and 120€ for 6 plates.

                1. re: Parnassien

                  As it happens, we were able to change our hotel after all,we are now staying at the Westin in the 1st. Arr. I shall post another thread!

            2. re: CompuDude

              Please just go down the rabbit hole at a major metro station and ask the ticket agent for a GRAND PLAN #2. It's free. On one side is the big easy to read metro map. BUT on the other side is the big easy to read bus map. As Parnassien advises, buses provide one with an unmatched tour of Paris. Unlike the metro where you go down one hole and come up another, the bus takes you through neighborhoods and lets you knit the town together, making it your own. We NEVER take the metro when there is a comparable bus, and there almost always is.

              1. re: mangeur

                Good tip. We shall try, despite my personal prejudice against buses.

          2. I wish I could edit my thread title, but I guess the hotel is in the 17th, although right near the boundary with the 8th, for anyone else responding. Thanks for the catch, Parnassien!

            1. We have two suggestions from our trip last September:
              1. NEVA CUISINE, 2, rue de Berne, near the Gare St. Lazare. (I think we posted a full review last September - search for Neva Cuisine. The people who run this restaurant REALLY CARE.

              Neva's kitchen is run by Chef Beatrice Gonsalez; her husband runs the front of the small house (seats maybe 30 or so), and Vanwick Tranchant handles the pastries and deserts. Beatrice and Vanwick opened this contemporary French restaurant a bit more than 2 months ago, after leaving the one-star they had worked at together (we did not get its name). We were lucky to get in since they have been consistently fully booked over the past few weeks.

              While they provided us with a menu in English, and our waiter did a good job of explaining dishes to us in English, it sounded like almost all the patrons spoke French.

              The menu is limited in scope, with 4 entrees, 4 plats and 5 deserts (one being the pastry chef's surprise of the day). But, it is not in any way limited in quality and imagination.
              For 36E, you get an entree, a plat and desert. Or, 2 of the three for 29E. Some of the choices come with a well-deserved supplement of a few euros.

              EVERYTHING WE ATE WAS WONDERFUL, and up to the quality of the best food we had in Paris on this trip (including Michellin 3-stars Le Bristol and Le Meurice, as well as smaller, more intimate places like Le Petit Verdot, Monjul, Josephine Chez Dumonet and Cristal de Sel).

              2. Monjul, 28 Rue Blancs Manteaux 75004 Paris, France, 01 42 74 40 15. We have been there two years in a row. Sort of a French version of WD50 in New York - very inventive, a fair amount of molecular gastronomy, really pleasant service. This is a fun place to try new things.

              4 Replies
              1. re: kziskin

                They worked together at La Grande Cascade. I like Neva too. Which one is the husband, the taller or shorter guy?

                1. re: PattyC

                  My wife thinks the taller guy is the husband - my memory has faded with age and chemo brain, so I have no idea.

                2. re: kziskin

                  Wow, Neva sounds fantastic. I hope I can score a reservation! Thanks!

                  1. re: kziskin

                    Just wanted to check back in and say THANK YOU SO MUCH for the Neva recommendation. It was the only place on the big list of Chowhound recommendations that we were able to score a reservation, and wow was it amazing! I hope our next trip to Paris we can hit it again, along with some other CH faves.

                    We started with the fois gras and shrimp ravioli... The shrimp ravioli was excellent and the fois gras was massive in quantity and delicious, although cold and not seared (which is more what I am used to). I had the Argentinian beef steak which was melt-in-your mouth tender, even if it was undercooked by my standards (sue me, I prefer my meat medium well and French chefs tend to ignore that order). Fortunately, I can tolerate a wide range, and still appreciated the meal. My wife, ever more brave than I, tried the sweet breads on the enthusiastic recommendation of the waiter, and absolutely loved them. I tried a couple bites, and have to say it was quite good, although the thought of what it was still gave me pause. I wish we knew whether they're always that good or if it was just part of a spectacular presentation by a skilled chef. We washed everything down with a lovely bottle of Pinot noir and walked out for €126, including tip... A darned good price for all we had, IMO! We'll definitely be returning to Neva the next time we make it to Paris, and recommending it highly to friends and relatives headed that way.

                    We did end up staying at the Westin in the 1st Arr., so most of my research on places to eat ended up useless for us, between a radically different location, inclement weather (low 40's and raining, mixed with both of us being very sick with chest colds, really knocked some fun time out of our trip), conflicting plans with others, etc. Hopefully our next trip will work out better, and be better planned.