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Upcoming trip to Paris (Yay!)

y
yyc_mom Sep 27, 2012 09:57 AM

Thank you to all the faithful Chowhounders who answer so many posts. I have read so many posts and seen so many recommendations, that I am overwhelmed.

My husband and I will be coming to Paris in just over a week for a romantic vacation. Please take a look at my plan and offer suggestions. We will be staying in an apartment on Ile de la Cite, and are planning to shop at markets, bakeries, wine shops, cheese shops (for my husband), and chocolate shops (for me) in addition to our meals out.

Unfortunately, our home renovation project is dragging on and on, putting us on a more restrictive budget than I'd like. My goal is 120 euros a day total food and drink budget for the two of us. Some days more, some days less. I am hoping to keep this in line by limiting the amount of wine we drink at restaurants, and purchasing wine instead to drink with our "picnics" at our apartment.

Saturday: we arrive midday. No particular sightseeing planned, just a day to get on our feet. Maybe a snack or meal at Terrior Parisien. Do I need to reserve? How far in advance?
Sunday: Lunch at Breizh Cafe. Eiffel Tower.
Monday: Louvre. Maybe Le Comptior de Tunisie for lunch? Or L'Office or Chez Casimir?
Tuesday: Sacre Couer. Lunch at La Table Eugene.
Wednesday: Lunch at CLJ (reservation made). Musee d'Orsay.
Thursday: day trip to Versailles. Dinner at Dans Les Landes or Les Papilles?
Friday: no plan yet. Dinner at Saturne or La Regalade?

There are so many other places that sound good... Zinc Caius, Au Passage, Agape Substance, Grand Pan, Reed, Lao Viet... would Spring, CJD, or Le Cinq be too expensive? Should I substitue any of these in our schedule? Any other suggestions?

One final question, I enjoy drinking tea (not coffee)... is this something I should plan to prepare at the apartment, or can I find good places to get tea as I'm out and about?

  1. Parigi Sep 27, 2012 10:40 AM

    "My goal is 120 euros a day total food and drink budget for the two of us."

    Does this include the restaurant dinners?

    Some days more, some days less. I am hoping to keep this in line by limiting the amount of wine we drink at restaurants, and purchasing wine instead to drink with our "picnics" at our apartment.

    "Maybe a snack or meal at Terrior Parisien. Do I need to reserve? How far in advance?"

    Yes. 1 week to be safe.
    Terroir Parisian is a restaurant. You can, if you want order just a main dish. It would be strange to order a snack.

    "Sunday: Lunch at Breizh Cafe. Eiffel Tower.
    Monday: Louvre. Maybe Le Comptior de Tunisie for lunch? Or L'Office or Chez Casimir?
    Tuesday: Sacre Couer. Lunch at La Table Eugene.
    Wednesday: Lunch at CLJ (reservation made). Musee d'Orsay.
    Thursday: day trip to Versailles. Dinner at Dans Les Landes or Les Papilles?
    Friday: no plan yet. Dinner at Saturne or La Regalade?"

    All your choices are good ones. I'd choose Dans Les Landes over Les Papilles absolutely. And could you tell us something about Le Comptoir de Tunisie?

    But since you have an apartment with a kitchen, why wouldn't you want to avail yourself to one of the top enjoyments of France, which is to visit a market and buy fresh food?
    There are no markets or butchers or cheese shops that I know of on Ile de la Cité, which is very central but very touristy-oriented, but you can go to the excellent nearby Place Maubert market and Place Baudoyer markets where you can find all the great specialty food shops you are looking for. You can find their hours easily on the internet or on this board. Remember the published hours tend to cite the closing time as the departure of the last cleaning crew, LOL. Remember for a morning market, stalls start closing at 12:30 and most stalls will be closed by 1pm. For an afternoon market, they start closing by 7:30pm and will have not much left by 8pm.

    "There are so many other places that sound good... Zinc Caius, Au Passage, Agape Substance, Grand Pan, Reed, Lao Viet... would Spring, CJD, or Le Cinq be too expensive? Should I substitue any of these in our schedule? Any other suggestions?"

    Your list is a good one. Your alternative list is a good one. No reason to substitute one with the other.
    Actually I would throw out a place like Breizh Café. Nothing wrong with it. Nothing outstanding either. Why not give yourself at least a couple market-ingredient meals and enjoy this non-tourist pleasure.

    "I am hoping to keep this in line by limiting the amount of wine we drink at restaurants, and purchasing wine instead to drink with our "picnics" at our apartment."

    May I suggest a variation.
    I the petit bourgeoise would dine out less, or at least not every day, but if I were dining out, I would not want to deprive myself of wine, or ration myself, and save the drinking for later in the apartment. Wine and food go together, not consecutively.
    If you dine out most days instead of every day, you will have a very comfortable budget either dining out or eating at home. Go for it. Enjoy it to the max. Max in food quality instead of restaurant quantity.

    "One final question, I enjoy drinking tea (not coffee)... is this something I should plan to prepare at the apartment, or can I find good places to get tea as I'm out and about?"

    Your call.
    Mariage Frères has two very nice tea salons, one in St Germain, the other in the Marais, both within walking distance from Ile de la Cité. Not every café off the street has good tea. It is one things that I never get used to in France. Even in otherwise extremely sophisticated restaurants, they only serve one generic tea. Or two, the second usually called "thé de Chine". Imagine seeing on the menu of a French restaurant in Hong Kong a dish called "fromage de France" !!
    If you enjoy good teas, therefore choose your tea salon well or have a cup of your favorite tea at home.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Parigi
      John Talbott Sep 27, 2012 11:18 AM

      Boy oh boy, this post by yyc_mom and reply by Parigi (disclosure: I'm in love with her) should be enshrined in the archives and popped-up everytime someone wants a week's resto plans in Paris.

      The only thing I can add is that in response to "There are so many other places that sound good... Zinc Caius, Au Passage, Agape Substance, Grand Pan, Reed, Lao Viet... would Spring, CJD, or Le Cinq be too expensive? Should I substitue any of these in our schedule? Any other suggestions?" If I were you I'd book a trip back ASAP to hit these.
      As for whether Le Cinq is too expensive, it sure is for me. But if you've never had his food, that changes my reaction.

      1. re: John Talbott
        y
        yyc_mom Sep 27, 2012 12:05 PM

        I am also in love with Parigi, and I have just been reading her posts!

        I have not tried any of these restaurants before, it has been 15 years since I last visited Paris. While I certainly hope to visit again before another 15 years passes, I am unfortunately unlikely to find myself back in Paris ASAP. Whenever I do return, I will be much more likely to have my children in tow, which would change the restaurant equation.

        1. re: yyc_mom
          John Talbott Sep 27, 2012 12:29 PM

          OK, now I'll repeat my annual lecture 85bis in my course 101 "Basic Eating out with kids from 3 months to 87 years in Paris," the bottom line of which is go anywhere with kids of any age (well, I draw the line at 77) as long as you have the requisite number of chew-toys, coloring books, stickers, electronic devices, jump-ropes, Harry Potter books and walkers.
          If you don't get treated royally in any place in Paris, call me up, I'm listed on the Minitel - whoops, France Telecom.

          1. re: John Talbott
            y
            yyc_mom Sep 27, 2012 06:48 PM

            While I am happy to dine out almost anywhere with my children, when they are with me, I prefer to have more meals at places they will enjoy, not endure. Additionally, when they are with me, I worry more about whether or not they are getting enough sleep, exercise, etcetera. Therefore, when we're travelling as a family our schedule changes, and our restaurant choices change. We might pick 1 or 2 places solely to please the adults, but other places are chosen with other considerations in mind. I am enjoying planning this trip just to please myself and my husband.

      2. re: Parigi
        y
        yyc_mom Sep 27, 2012 11:58 AM

        I was originally on the plan you suggest, to eat out less and eat in the apartment more. But the more I read about all the wonderful restaurants, the harder it became...

        So, for max in food quality, of the places I list, are there 2-3 places not to miss? Alternatively, are there any other places like Breizh Cafe that are not outstanding?

        Le Comptoir de Tunisie - I was looking around for ideas on North African and/or Vietnamese or Laotion places to go. I found a few posts, including this one which mentioned Le Comptoir de Tunisie: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/863780. It looked like it might fit nicely with the itinerary, and provide a small change of pace.

        1. re: yyc_mom
          Parigi Sep 27, 2012 12:23 PM

          Justement I came to chowhound looking for love. Eureka !

          "for max in food quality, of the places I list, are there 2-3 places not to miss? Alternatively, are there any other places like Breizh Cafe that are not outstanding?"

          As I said, your list was a good one. Even Breizh Café. I just don't find it, or any crêperie, to be a destination resto. If I were in the 'hood and were tired and hungry, Breizh Café would be welcome, but I would not cross town for it.

          Of your list, I find the food at L'Office , La Table Eugene, CLJ, Dans Les Landes, Saturne especially exciting. CLJ and Saturne would be my choice for a celebratory choice, such as for a bday or a good friend coming to town.
          Locals reason differently from you the traveling leisure class.
          We rôturier locals have one bday every year. You jetsetters want to concentrate 10 years worth of bday celebration dinners in one week in Paris. :-)
          Et pourquoi pas?

          1. re: Parigi
            John Talbott Sep 27, 2012 12:40 PM

            "celebration dinners"
            Hummmm, I'd go a bit farther back - and back to other threads and posts:
            My last birthday blast was at Spring, the one before that the private room at Le Petit Colmbier, the one memorable one before that was at Jamin (Robuchon era) and then in a decreasing time-line Ducasse, Senderens and Guerard.
            Now the choices are really numerous - who says El Bulli (even dead) rules?

            1. re: Parigi
              moto Sep 27, 2012 03:13 PM

              we know how you love CLJ, and since you've brought it up in a 'celebratory' context, your opinion, always valued, would be appreciated in this context -- meeting a friend in Paris for lunch (haven't seen for 37 years), leaning to Septime rather than CLJ, because he wears hearing aids and the latter has a rather loud reputation. if he has a preference (a French native) of course that's our choice, but otherwise, is Septime better for conversation ? merci beaucoup, Parigi tai-tai.

              1. re: moto
                Parigi Oct 4, 2012 02:25 AM

                Sorriest I missed this.

                I don't remember Septîme having a noise issue, although I would not call it hush-hush quiet.
                On the other hand, lunch time chez l'Ami Jean does not have a noise issue either, unless you are - as I like to be - next to the kitchen, in which case Jégo screams right into your ear at his staff. But he would be the sole noise source. :-)

                "Parigi tai-tai."

                I wish I were !

            2. re: yyc_mom
              hill food Sep 28, 2012 12:24 AM

              wow Ile de la Cite - what a great location.

              y'know I tried a VN place in the Left Bank once, and was just... unimpressed. I can't make a blanket judgement based on that once of course, but considering the history between France and Indochina, I was sort of surprised the kitchen was so cautious, technically it was good, it just didn't have, something. made me wonder if the food had been 'dumbed down' the way most Chinese places are in the US (does Canada suffer that too?).

              1. re: hill food
                Parigi Sep 28, 2012 01:01 AM

                "made me wonder if the food had been 'dumbed down' "

                If you pick any resto off the street, you are likely to find the dumbed-down version, even for French food.

                1. re: Parigi
                  hill food Sep 28, 2012 01:14 AM

                  I suppose that's a truism for any city and any food. I just sorta like going to the 'not likely' place anywhere but thought VN was a safe bet. I've found good sushi in Rome and bad (really bad) Chinese there. good Italian in Germany and a great German bakery in Puerto Rico, French-Polish in San Diego, it goes on.

                  it's all a crap shoot. and I'll keep playing.

              2. re: yyc_mom
                p
                Ptipois Sep 28, 2012 03:17 AM

                For Tunisian food, two solutions with more tables and more choice:

                - Incredible plebeian (i.e. best) couscous at Chez Hamadi, rue Boutebrie. No doubt the best couscous in Paris. And cheap.

                - Browse through the rue Richer / rue du Faubourg-Montmartre / Folies-Bergère area for a large selection of Jewish Tunisian restaurants. The food is a bit oily, not very varied (except for the places that serve different types of tfina, the slow-cooked Shabbat stews), but tasty.

                - You'll have a similar selection of Jewish-Tunisian joints on boulevard de Belleville (mostly on the North sidewalk) serving nice grillades with vegetables and frites. Also "complet poisson", fish couscous, baballes and banatage, all traditional "tune" dishes.

                But just try these places if you happen to be passing through the neighborhood, except for Chez Hamadi which is worth travelling for.

            3. y
              yyc_mom Sep 27, 2012 08:49 PM

              Okay, I booked Saturne online tonight for Friday's lunch. We will call a few days in advance and request the bar stools. :)
              DH will call La Table d'Eugene tomorrow to reserve.
              We are trying to figure out what to do on Saturday when we arrive. We will be jet lagged, and I am not sure what time we will want to eat. I have read that Dans Les Landes is easy to get in on short notice. If we call an hour or two in advance to reserve a spot for late afternoon (say 2-6ish), will we be able to get in?

              I am taking Parigi's excellent advice, and just planning 4 meals.

              Saturday: Dans Les Landes (timing?)
              Tuesday: Lunch at La Table Eugene
              Wednesday: Lunch at Chez l'ami Jean
              Friday: Lunch at Saturne

              We will shop at markets and specialty shops for our other meals. I have been compiling the information from here: http://www.discoverfrance.net/France/... on a spreadsheet that I can print out and carry around. My husband thinks I am crazy.

              I will report back!

              1. Delucacheesemonger Sep 27, 2012 11:58 PM

                Just to note, l am in love with Parigi as well. Your list, your alternative list, and your final list is wonderful. l could add a dozen more, but why bother, good job on your part. When you go to the closeby Maubert market, you will find Dubois cheeses, one of the best in Paris.
                You are very close as well to Oteiza right on St Michel, a very famous Basque store, with great hams, sausages, cheeses, and even a decent piperade for your picnic needs.
                l would also go to the Bastille market, open on Thursday and Sunday mornings for a very large and bustling market, the ham guy, oh my.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                  Parigi Sep 28, 2012 01:01 AM

                  But you love Dubois moire than you love me.

                  1. re: Parigi
                    Delucacheesemonger Sep 28, 2012 01:58 AM

                    If you only ate cheese, l would not have to choose

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