Le Reminet ou Cafe Procope? Or something else?
We will be visiting in early spring and have never to Paris before. I have some college French and have been using Rosetta Stone. (Which I think helps, but still panic if asked a question in French...)
We are arriving from London and staying in the Marais, near the St Paul train stop. Our first night we are meeting a friend at Le Pixel (just across Pont Neuf) and then heading off on our own for dinner. After dinner we hope to take a Seine cruise leaving off of Ile de La Citie.
Initially I thought Le Reminet, but not sure now after reading reviews on CH. Cafe Procope is well reviewed in guide books but doesn't seem to do well on Yelp/TA.
I have a pretty good feel for the other days:
--May Day--leaving up in the air b/c of the holiday. Les Deux magots or Eggs & Co? Dinner (depending on what's open) Dans Les Landes? Cafes Musees? La Tartine (near apt)
--Thurs--Breizh cafe after a long day at Verseille
--Le Fumoir before the Louvre. Breaks at Willi's wine bar and Angelina. Les Regalades for dinner.
--Maris "Food by Mouth" wine tour. Already booked. (only 1 ticket left!) Chez Dumonet for dinner.
I would love any comments on our other days. But wonder if we should be going somewhere other than Reminet or Procope our first night...
Le Procope is an interesting history lesson, not a pleasant gastronomique experience. But, the setting and prices are attractive enough so why not? (if you can tolerate mediocre cuisine and lots of other tourists). Le Reminet may have mixed reviews but, foodwise, it's heads above le Procope. You might also like to look at restaurants closer to the Vedettes du Pont Neuf: most restaurants don't open for dinner until 7 or 7:30pm, meals are very slow affairs in France, and the last departures of the Seine cruise are 10pm and 10:30pm. A 3-hour window is certainly sufficient but, since this is your first time in Paris, it might be better to play it safe. There are a cluster of restaurants on the delightful place Dauphine just minutes from the boat landing: Quai Quai, La Rose de France, Ma Place à Manger, and, le Caveau du Palais (great terrace but somewhat overpriced ordinary nosh). If you want cutesy and trad, Au Vieux Comptoir on the rue Lavandières-Ste-Opportune just north of the Ile de la Cité is much liked by some ardent Chowhounders. If you want to sample the sparkle and buzz of St Germain des Prés, even more possibilities: my own particular favourites are the trad with modern twists Bistrot de l'Alycastre (but somewhat pricey/ 50 to 70€ for a full meal but, if budgeting, you can share a starter and a dessert or go for a 2-course dinner) on the rue Clément... and the le Chardenoux des Prés (neo-bistro) on the rue Dragon.
May Day. It's traditionally the day for huge parades from the place Denfert-Rochereau in the 14th to the place Bastille for rallies and demonstrations in the late afternoon/ early evening. The events severely affect traffic (including métro) in the St Paul quartier just a 10-minute walk from the Bastille. Last year there were also two large right-wing counter rallies at the Trocadéro and the Palais Royal that made getting around Paris even more difficult... dunno if there will be any this year. In any case, be prepared for a certain inconvenience in getting to and from wherever you decide to eat and large crowds on the rue Rivoli/ rue St Antoine and quartiers around the Bastille. If you stay close to home, La Tartine might not be a good choice that day and there are in any case better options in the St Paul quartier. Especially between the rue Rivoli and the river. Au Bourguignon du Marais on the rue François Miron/ rue Jouy for very trad burgundian cuisine, Métropolitain on the rue Jouy for a more hip note, Bistro des Compères on the rue Charlemagne for a sweet and affordable bistro du quartier. I'd normally also suggest the similarly sweet L'Epouvantail on the rue Jarente near the place des Vosges but, some years, there are impromptu and somewhat rowdy May Day gatherings in the adjacent place du Marché Sainte-Catherine. If you want to get out of your neighbourhood, Dans les Landes would indeed be a good choice... I'd suggest avoiding the St Paul station and instead walk down towards the river to Pont-Marie or Sully-Morland for a direct no-change métro to Censier-Daubenton. In the unikely case that Dans les Landes is closed, other good options on the same métro line from Sully-Morland: Au Bon Coin on the rue Collégiale (Censier-Daubenton or Les Gobelins métro stations); or Lilane on the rue Gracieuse (rue Monge)
Louvre. The only time I like Angelina is very early in the morning before the staff become exasperated and unpleasant, when the pastries are fresh, the place is sparkling clean, and the lines of clueless tourists are short... so I'd suggest a very expensive breakfast (including the justly famous hot chocolate) there before you tackle the Louvre... after 11am, be prepared for very long waits and gruff service. Le Fumoir is indeed surprisingly pleasant despite being so near the Louvre but is better as a café or bar outside of meal times. A wander through the Palais Royal gardens (coming from the Louvre, nearest entrance via the courtyards to the garden is between la Comédie Francaise and le Nemours café) to Willi's wine bar is indeed a great way to shake off your post-Louvre glazed-eye museumitis. As well as a wander through the nearby covered Galerie Vivienne and Galerie Colbert (the 1820s version of a shopping mall) for some afternoon tea at the very civilized A Priori Thé. If the weather is agreeable, the terrace of Café de l'Epoque on the rue Bouloi/ rue Croix des Petits Champs is fab for a sit-down, snack, and people-watching.
Some recent reviews of Le Reminet, including ours, have been pretty good. And if you book through la fourchette.com, you can get 40% off.
I've never seen a good review of Le Procope, at least not one that I would trust. We were there 10 years ago, and the best thing I can say about it is that my generous father-in-law paid. If you are looking for something of opulent style with pretty good if not great food, check Le Train Bleu. The most amazing and over-the-top train station restaurant ever, also in all the guides. -- Jake
re: Jake Dear
I too like Reminet and discourage Procope but if If I may suggest a plan that gives a full spread of experiencing Paris's restos, here's a way to find:
Best meal period.
6, rue Bailleul in the 1st (Metro: Louvre-Rivoli)
Open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday, lunch Wednesday-Friday
Lunches now 44, 6-course dinner menu 76 €.
Le Casse Noix
56, rue de la Fédération in the 15th, (Metro: Bir-Hakeim or Dupleix)
Has a variety of formulas, menu-cartes and specials that run one anywhere from 16 to 35 € for a meal.
Best of a bad lot of brasseries
Le Brasserie de l'Isle/ile St. Louis
55, quai de Bourbon in the 4th (Metro: Cite or Pont-Marie)
A la carte 35-40 E.
62, ave des Ternes,17th (Metro : Ternes)
Closed Saturday lunch and Sundays
A la carte about 50-60 €.
New and dazzling
2 Rue de Berne in the 8th (Metro: Europe)
Closed Saturday lunch and Sundays
Lunch menu, 29.50 for 2, 36 E for three courses, a la carte considerably more.
Classic and classy
Le Tour d’Argent
15-17, quai de la Tournelle in the 5th (Metro: Cardinal LeMoine, Maubert-Mutualite)
Closed Sundays and Mondays
Lunch menu 65 €, a la carte 200 €.
French with a twist
Ze Kitchen Galerie
4, rue des Grands Augustins, 6th (Metro: Saint Michel)
T: 01 44 32 00 32
Closed Saturday lunch and Sundays.
Menus: 26.50-39 (lunch), 80 (dinner) and a la carte 90 €.
Old and new
Le 122: Bistrot d'Hier et Aujourd'hui
122, rue de Grenelle in the 7th (Metro: Solferino)
Closed weekends, open for lunch Mondays-Fridays, dinner weekdays except Thursday and has an "afterwork apero-dinatore" from 6:30-10 PM except Thursdays.
Lunch formula at 16,50, menu-carte at 35 and 20 €.
On top of Montmartre
Au Clocher de Montmartre
10 rue Lamarck in the 18th, (Metro : none, Bus : Montmartrebus)
T : 01.42.64.90.23
A la carte about 35 E
Elegant but lively
14, rue des Capucines in the 2nd, (Metro:Madeleine)
Has a 42 E forced choice lunch "menu," and a la carte runs one from 50-75 E.
Wine bar/bistro a vins
30 rue Gay Lussac, 5th (RER: Luxembourg)
Closed Sunday and Tuesday and Thursday nights
Menu 28.50 €.
re: John Talbott
We had very mediocre food au Clocher de Montmartre. Not colossally bad, but I would not go back.
Instead, why not the nearby Le Coq Rico ? I thought it got better since it opened.
La Table d'Eugène, in your 'hood, John, is still very good, both food-wise and budget-wise. Are you keeping it for yourself ? :)
Oh Parigi; we always agree but on this stuff in my "'hood"; but Coq Rico is a tourist rip-off, 92 E for a chicken? - a chicken? I agree, however, that the Clocher de Montmartre has deteriorated since it opened (as I said elsewhere, Herrah went "one bridge too far,") but the Table d'Eugène holds up year after year very well indeed,
And in the "'hood"; do not forget Sens Uniques and Lui l'Insolite - which no one mentions.
re: John Talbott
re: Jake Dear