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May 31, 2012 08:37 AM

Need help deciding on my budget to-eat list (Paris, Nice, Avignon)

Hi All, NYC CHer here, 6 of us (4 in the 20s, 2 in the 50s) will be visiting France on a budget for 9 days in late June. While some of us are not crazy about alcohol and cheese, we are open to whatever that tastes good. It’s our first time to France and will be spending 4 nights in Paris, 2 nights in Nice, and 2 in Avignon. Other than sight-seeing, eating well is our top priority. Being from NYC and of oriental descent, would prefer to sample food items that are not readily available or done well at home.

Paris rocks when it comes to fine dining, but are there any cheap eats options? I’ve done some research on Chowhound and the internet in general, and have come up with the following list for inexpensive sit down meals, hope to get some inputs from the expert foodies here as to which one to stick to and which one to ditch and if there are better/cheaper/centrally located alternatives out there. Thanks in advance.

Paris (Staying at the Clarion Etoile Saint Honore on rue du Faubourg Saint Honore | 8th Arr.):

Little Breizh
Creperie Broceliande

Bistro Dinner (On the cheap):
Le Bistrot Lorette
Restaurant de la Tour
La Cordonnerie

Quick Bite (Lunch):

If we were to have one Lunch at a Michelin Star Restaurant in Paris, where would it be? (Any Michelin Restaurants that accept walk-ins?):
La Truffiere
L’Atelier Etoile
Les Fables De La Fontaine
Or should I skip all of the above and go for Saturne?

Small Plates (Do we need reservation?)
Dans Les Landes or Semilla

Nice (Staying at the Quality Suites Nice La Malmaison on Boulevard Victor Hugo):
Flaveur (lunch)
Chez Acchiardo (lunch)
Chez Palmyre
Le Dauphin Nicois
Voyageur Nissart
La P’tite Cocotte

Avignon (Staying at Etap Avignon Centre on Boulevard Saint Dominique):
Le CO (lunch)
Why Not
Chez Francois
L’epice and love
Au Tout Petit
L’atelier De Damien
Ginette et Marcel (Quick Bite)

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  1. For many, of not most, of the restaurnts you cited, the websites Paris By Mouth and Lefooding give their lunch and dinner prices.

    I counted about 13 eateries for your 4 days in Paris. One major meal a day is plenty. Two major meals a day, and you start enjoying less instead of more. Especially if you are here in the summer time, why not get food from the great markets and picnic.
    Saturne is great. It is wine-focused.
    In general I would cut out all the didly snacky places on your list. They are not bad but are not unique. You're zipping through France, staying a couple of days in each place. Why not eliminate all the average stuff - the kind of place you won't remember - and choose two, three nicer restaurants per week.

    I would keep Dans Les Landes, Saturne (and tell everyone to try good wines, won't kill them), Flaveur, Le Palmyre, Da Acchiardo.
    Saturne and Flaveur should be the highlight of your trip. Flaveur esp must be reserved long time in advance. Do now.

    I am also of Asian descent. We have snack in our DNA. France is not like that. People here don't snack much but have real meals. May I suggest that for this trip you try to adjust to the French concepts of meals, if for nothing else, at least for a fuller cultural experience, instead of snacking a lot and not being happy with the larger meal portions (a complaint from all my relatives that I am sick of. :-) ) If you stick to the latter, you won't enjoy the restaurant experience as much, not in the way it deserves to be enjoyed.

    Ah, wines and cheeses. I won't be a missionary pest about it but but but.
    I like it but don't love it the way my French friends do. Again, may I suggest: since you have this wonderful trip, do try the best things that France has to offer, and that would include wines and cheeses. And there is really idiotic secret about about them: The cheese makes the wine better. The wine makes the cheese better.

    Do your suites in Nice have a kitchen? If so, you are not far from the old town. I urge you to get an assortment of stuffed ravioli from Barale (7 Rue Ste Reparate) and heat them at home.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      Thanks Parigi, I realize my list is rather long at the moment thus I'm hoping fellow Chowhounders could help me cut it down, probably looking at a total of 10-13 sit down meals (lunches and dinners combined) at most. The prices for the listed eateries are all acceptable, slightly more may be okay if the food is whole lot better. Great idea on picnic, which markets would you recommend for quick lunch time bites?

      1. re: gac101

        The best market with lunch-time bites would be Marché aux Enfants Rouges. Afterwards you can get great Italian ice at Mary's on rue Dupuis.
        Or, get very good Banh Mi on 7 rue Volta, then picnic in the Jardin Anne Frank.
        They are all in the (upper) Marais.

        I hope you don't mind my suggesting above that you snack less and try to get good and hungry for a real French meal. Many of my Asian relatives had trouble with that. :-)

        Sorriest, your hotel in Paris is in a boring posh place not near any good market.
        Here is a list of all the markets in Paris and you can see which ones fit into your sightseeing plans.

        1. re: Parigi

          Sounds great, will definitely look into visiting a market or two. I'm actually not a fan of snacking myself, but might have to accomodate the others in the group. I suppose some pastries from a local french cafe would do should they really crave a snack.

          We are open to travel for good food, as long as the place is not terribly far from the metro. Just submitted an online reservation request for Flaveur, let's see if I'll hear back. Going to look at Saturne now. Also, is calling the only way to make a reservation at Dans Les Landes? Not really confident about my French vocab...

          1. re: gac101

            The staff at Dans Les Landes and Saturne speaks very good English.
            But always, to be polite, in any country I learn enough to say: "do you speak English?" in the native language before I launch into my reservation request. -- But that's just I.

            Don't forget to report back on how the eating plans translate into reality, which you seem to have done with your 2010 Barcelona trip. :-)

            1. re: Parigi

              Agree with your reservation preamble. I tweak it somewhat by asking, instead, "do you understand English?" Many people are able to understand more than they are willing to speak, so we may well accomplish our goal with little input on their side so long as they get straight the time and number of people and any other special request or query.

              1. re: Parigi

                Wow, Parigi, I didn't realize you were among the first and most helpful responders to my old BCN thread until I looked it up. Seems like you're the resident chief here. Keep up the good work.

                When calling to make reservation, when is a better time of the day to call?

      2. Wherever you choose, I would reserve ahead. You can always cancel if you change your mind. Keep in mind you are traveling in France in summer and there are many more tourists than at other times of year. Walking in, in general, is not a good idea. Risky at best.

        1. Agree on Flaveur in Nice, and Saturne in Paris. If wine not your strong suit, l feel La Truffiere would be an expensive mistake. One simple bistro as Chez Denise or Auberge Bressane would give you an excellent meal with no emphasis on wine or cheese.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            Thanks Deluca, I've seen Chez Denise being mentioned here many times, going to take a look now that you brought it up again.

            1. re: gac101

              Flaveur in Nice is a must. As for the advice would be to listen to Parigi, DCM and Mangeur...they are a trio to follow for sure.

              1. re: sistereurope

                And report back this time ! Don't be a jerk.
                (I mean gac101, I don't mean sistereurope.)

                1. re: Parigi

                  My bad Parigi, my mom got sick on our last trip to Spain, so ended up eating mostly cafe and Carrefour fare. I would make sure to take notes this time after each meal and report back. I'm also thinking, what will be a good SE Asian place in Paris if the group insist on changing it up in the middle of the trip?