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6 days in Paris, and couple of questions about specific restaurants

Hi there,

My husband and I will be leaving for our belated honeymoon to Paris and Italy in couple of days. Since he is swamped at work (byproduct of taking 3 wks off), I have had to do a lot of research on my own for all things related to the trip... (and I'm kinda swamped at work too).

So...the trip framework is set, and I've done my fair share of perusing the chowhound board for restaurant ideas, but wanted a bit more feedback.

Sunday: we get in the morning. I was planning on Le Comptoir du Relais for dinner, since they don't take reservations anyways. We are not set on lunch, although I was thinking Relais de L'entrecote for steak and frites.

Monday: open

Tuesday: Have reservations for dinner at Au Petit Sud Ouest, mainly because foie gras is illegal in CA and it looked like it specialized in foie gras? Also they were very responsive with their email in setting up the reservation, which has not been the case with some other restaurants.

Wed: Day trip to Versailles, so hopefully do a picnic for lunch. Dinner, I'm waiting to hear back from FL Restaurant regarding reservation

Thurs: Hopefully lunch at Spring, also waiting for confirmation. Dinner is open, and I was hoping to go to Perre Sang, before 7.

Leave for Rome on Fri morning.

My questions were: We do want an authentic parisian bistro experience at least once. Is Chez Josephine Dumonet a good place for that, and what are the chances without reservations?

Also we heard that oysters are great in Paris during this time of the year. Any recs specifically for oysters, or are they just everywhere.

Anywhere else other than Pierre Sang, Les Cocottes and Le comptoir for restaurants without reservations... is the wine bar of Chez L'ami Jean worth it for dinner one of the nights?

Thank you so much in advance, just getting some feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. " Is Chez Josephine Dumonet a good place for that"

    Yes

    "and what are the chances without reservations?

    Less than slim.

    "Also we heard that oysters are great in Paris during this time of the year. Any recs specifically for oysters, or are they just everywhere."

    My fave is to order from the 'hood poissonnerie ahead of time and have them shucked and laid out on a bed of ice for us to pick up.
    If you don't have a poissonnerie near you, or if you are staying in a hotel…
    My fave, which is the fave of a few other hounds also, is Pleine Mer on rue de Chabrol. We reserve normally because we despise being turned away at the last minute, and because we wanted to make certain the owner had enough oysters.

    If you are blithe about being turned away at the last minute from good eateries and are ok eating anywhere after that, do try your luck.

    "is the wine bar of Chez L'ami Jean worth it for dinner one of the nights?"

    There is no wine bar chez L'Ami Jean. Chez l'Ami Jean is itself worth it for dinner one of the nights. Reserve one week in advance for week nights, or 2 weeks in advance for Fri or Sat night.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      Thank you so much for your feedback!

      Thanks for your honest "less than slim" chances at Chez Josephine, lol.

      We are staying at a hotel, so I appreciate the suggestion for Pleine Mer. I'll look into making reservations.

      I tried to make reservations at Chez L'ami Jean, but it won't take online reservations, and there is no email address that I could find on their website. Is phone call the only way to make reservations there?

      Thanks much!

      1. re: spicychow

        "Is phone call the only way to make reservations there?"

        I always call, but I'm a local. And out-of-town friends ask me to call there to reserve, so I think calling is the efficient way to reserve.

        1. re: Parigi

          Just sent an email to the hotel asking them to make reservations for us for Chez Josephine Dumonet and Chea L'ami Jean. Should have asked them weeks ago, hopefully we can still get in.

          One other question, what do you think of Au Petit Sud Ouest?

          1. re: spicychow

            If you like the idea of an all-duck menu, then Au Petit Sud Ouest fits the bill. Their magret is cooked perfectly (assuming you order it rosé, that is), and they have a nice confit de canard and cassoulet as well. They have toasters on the table so you can have fresh toast with your foie gras. Best of all, the owners are two of the nicest people. I think it's a great place to get your canard fix.

            1. re: juliemarie8

              thank you!

              The emails I've gotten from the restaurant were very pleasant and warm, so it makes sense that the owners are very nice people.

              Trying to make sure I get my foie gras fix... I wasn't even a big foie gras fan, but now that it's illegal in CA, I definitely want my fill in France!

    2. I was able to make reservations for lunch at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Etoile on Monday and dinner reservation at Chez Josephine Dumonet for dinner.

      So now it looks like Sunday dinner: Le Comptoir du Relais

      Monday: Lunch at L'atelier de Joel Robuchon, dinner at Chez Josephine Dumonet

      Tuesday: Lunch is open, Dinner at Au Petit Sud Ouest

      Wed: Picnic to Versailles/day trip

      Thurs: Possible lunch at Spring, possible dinner at Chez L'ami Jean

      Fri: leave

      Does this seem pretty decent? Not sure how heavy the food will be at Joel Robuchon, so it might be a little too much from Sunday to Tuesday. Could we order a la carte (light) at Chez Josephine?

      Any feedback will be much appreciated, thanks!

      4 Replies
      1. re: spicychow

        Monday looks like too much rich food in my opinion. I cannot do a serious lunch and dinner in the same day without hitting food overload. I'd move CJD to Wednesday dinner after Versailles and the picnic lunch. Enjoy a long, rich lunch at Joel Robuchon and hit a wine bar for tapas for a late supper that night (Verjus, Willies, etc) Thursday is a lot of food as well, although Spring isn't as heavy as your other choices, it would still be too much for me in one day. On Tuesday, I'd skip a planned sit down lunch and get a great sandwich at a boulangerie and indulge in a few pastry stops during the day. Some people can do 2 major meals a day without hitting food overload (I'm thinking of Uhockey here!) but I think most of us hit an overload and it loses its enjoyment.

          1. re: Nancy S.

            Thank you both for your input. That's what I was thinking too.

            And thanks for the suggestions, Plafield. I'll try to move CJD to Wed night once we get to Paris (I've had to ask the hotel to make the rezzies for us, and it's been a bit of a hassle) But if I can't, we will just have to grin and bear all the food. It might be doable, since I'm thinking we will do the 37E lunch special at Joel Robuchon and maybe split the famous beef bourginon at CJD.
            Most definitely we will have a light lunch on Tuesday if we need to do all that eating on Monday.
            This is all a great problem to have, I'm not complaining!! :)

            1. re: Nancy S.

              Agreed. It's not that I become too full of food but rather that I begin to enjoy new experiences less, am more but not necessarily astutely critical, am less easily pleased. That's not to say that I was a pushover early on but that I become jaded and care less for the food on my plate regardless of caliber.

        1. Sorry I'm late to the party but my friends have answered beautifully; you're in fine hands with a good schedule, excepting where to lunch in Versailles which in my opinion is hard unless you to to Gordon Ramsey's palace.

          1. 'Wed: Day trip to Versailles, so hopefully do a picnic for lunch. Dinner, I'm waiting to hear back from FL Restaurant regarding reservation.'

            Friends stayed with me this week and went to the market in Versaillles to get picnic stuff, and had a great time doing this.

            The new style of chef driven restos such as Rino, Septime, Pierre Sang Boyer, Caius, Vivant, Saturne, or Le Galopin should be tried. They are usually tasting menus with little to no choices on what you will be eating with 'orange' wines to experience as well. The plates are generally arranged carefully and each portion is a taste or large taste. Before devoting too many of this style to your reservations, perhaps try one and see if this is a style you like, and then belly up to more of the same.
            Places like CJ Dumonet, CLA Jean, and even Pleine Mer are simple old style places with copious portions, oysters at PL are served by the dozen in a variety of sizes for the best bargain price in Paris. Frankly these places l prefer, but again only opinion, as l find the chef driven places pleasant but in the end somewhat unsatisfying.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              I tried making reservations at Septime, but it wouldn't let me via their website. It would say the date is available, but after clicking through everything, it would tell me to pick another date. So I gave up on that.

              I'm thinking of trying out Perre Sang Boyer on one of the nights we don't have a reservation. I understand they don't take reservations anyways, so it will be perfect, although we will make sure to get there early.

              Thank you for all the feedback. I'm actually looking forward to the picnic at Versailles. Hopefully it won't rain on Wed! :)

              1. re: spicychow

                "it wouldn't let me via their website"
                As has been said before, this is not the US of A: few places have reservations available via the net; one must telephone, best just before service, thus 11:30 AM and 7 PM our time.

                1. re: John Talbott

                  lol, yes, I've found out through this experience. So strange that some restaurants don't have a website, even. Will appreciate the restaurant even more, once I get there.

                  1. re: spicychow

                    Just recall that the French began to go onto the Minitel in 1978; long before we got hooked on the net.

            2. I was able to confirm reservations at Spring for lunch on Thursday. Still not sure about dinner at CLJ, but at this point, I think we can do without it. Not that we would turn it down if our hotel concierge manages to get a reservation for us.

              It's looking like a lot of places, but we are very excited! It's our first time to Paris, so we just want to enjoy it all.

              Thank you to everyone that have pitched in, I appreciate it!

              16 Replies
              1. re: spicychow

                "we are very excited! It's our first time to Paris, so we just want to enjoy it all."

                If you overdo, you don't enjoy it all. You actually enjoy less. Do think pacing pacing pacing.

                1. re: Parigi

                  Yes, I agree. If we feel like we are overdoing it, we will modify as we go along. I was so worried we wouldn't have any reservations since I started so late on the restaurant portion of our trip, but now we seem to have more than enough. So I'm not complaining! I'd rather have too many than not any.

                  1. re: spicychow

                    Also, Paris is definitely entering winter. 9°C tomorrow, which is standard winter temp. I would not picnic anywhere under 9°C...

                    1. re: Parigi

                      oh no, I was so focused on rain, I forgot that it's so cold over there. I live in LA where it's in the 70s right now. I think 9 degrees celsius is about 50 here. Hm, maybe not the ideal picnic conditions :).

                      1. re: Parigi

                        I was chilled to the bone today; at Versailles it might be worse; sure you don't want to book with Gordon as a fall-back?

                        1. re: John Talbott

                          is there a casual, grab and eat type of lunch place near Versailles? I did want to get a great croque monsieur/madame sometime while in Paris. Maybe it's a stereotypical touristy thing to do, but there are certain images when I think of Paris, and that is one of them. Or do all Parisian cafes have that readily available. Oh and so many people have told me I have to get L'as du Falafel. Need to do that sometime too.

                          1. re: spicychow

                            My recollection of the food available AT Versailles is that it was less than lousy.

                            1. re: spicychow

                              "is there a casual, grab and eat type of lunch place near Versailles?"
                              Let me tell you, that old age and aging, like tmrw's execution, bring incredible clarity to such a question. I first went to Versailles in 1953 and have gone back since with visitors, kids, grandkids and other worthies almost every year, and I've tried all the places inside and outside. In the summer, the Avenue de St Cloud's places on the median look great, but are forgetable even when it's 80 degrees F.
                              The only choices are to go to Chez ******expletives deleted, Ramsey or a mere 6 km back to the Ville d'Avray and the restos around the Etang Corot http://www.lafourchette.com/2_restaur...
                              Sorry but in my opinion, it's grim in Versailles.

                              1. re: spicychow

                                Re Versailles, the Marché Notre Dame in the Carrés Notre Dame just off the avenue St Cloud is one of the best markets in the Paris region. The covered section is pretty much daily but very sparse on Mondays and on Sunday afternoons and tends to slow down between 1 and 4 when stallholders take a lunch break. There's also an open air market on Tue, Fri and Sun mornings. If the weather is good, you can find all the fixings for picnic here. If the weather is bad, you can have a lunch on the hoof by just browsing and grazing at the market (some stalls also sell "plats cuisinés"/ cooked foods). For a sit-down meal, l'Angélique on the avenue St Cloud @ rue du Maréchal Foch is super but expensive and seems to have been overlooked by other posters. Incidentally, if it's raining you can take a bus from the rue du Maréchal Foch straight to Les Trianons. Once inside the Château and gardens, there are a couple of restaurants/ snack bars. None are memorable but the overpriced croques monsieur at the Angelina outposts inside the château and, better, at the Petit Trianon (not sure if it's open during the winter) are decent enough.

                                1. re: Parnassien

                                  That sounds great, I'll def look into the market area. One bad meal won't be so horrific when we have so many great ones (I hope) lined up. I've been wanting to see Versailles since I was little, I doubt anything would get me down from the whole experience.

                                  1. re: Parnassien

                                    Once again, a thoughtful and detailed response.

                        2. re: spicychow

                          <It's looking like a lot of places, but we are very excited! It's our first time to Paris, so we just want to enjoy it all.>

                          imho, better to have too many rezzies than not enough. You can always cancel (even at the last minute) if you've just had too big a lunch. Splitting the Boeuf Bourguignon at JCD is a great idea, but there are so many other fantastic items on their menu (including the foie gras) you are likely to splurge there...

                          1. re: ChefJune

                            yes, my thoughts exactly! I was worried about it, and my hubby was like, what is the big deal, we will cancel if need be. So I'm glad we have enough rezzies to fall back on. Plus we were always planning on eating and drinking our way through Paris and Italy. We kinda do that on a daily basis now anyways. :)

                            1. re: ChefJune

                              Perhaps it's gratuitous to say but it's important to call to cancel if you do.
                              Some of these places operate on a thin margain.