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Mar 14, 2013 01:17 PM

Returning in mid-April, this time on my honeymoon! - PARIS questions

Hello again, CHers in France.

Long time lurker on the France board, and more active on the Manhattan one. You were all so helpful to me when I brought my mother on her 60th birthday trip to Paris a few years ago, and also when I was there on a solo trip - thank you so much! This time, I am returning with my husband-to-be, who has never been to France before. We will be there from April 12 - May 1 and will definitely be spending a large chunk of time in Paris, most likely 8 - 10 days. Either in the middle of the trip or at the end, we are planning to spend a few days in Bourgogne and perhaps even Lyon for a day or two.


2 Michelin Lunches
In Paris, I am planning on two Michelin lunches, almost definitely at Ledoyen and L'Arpege. I've been to Ledoyen for lunch and loved it. I went to Le Cinq twice, once to take my mother out for her 60th birthday and the other time to treat my sister for her 25th, so don't need to go back there. L'Arpege was a wish on all of my previous trips, but I never made it, so I think I will have to make it a "must", although if there are strong suggestions from all of you, I'll definitely consider them. The only other place I was seriously considering was Pierre Gagnaire, but I was worried that it might be too risky from some of the reports I've read.

As for the rest of the meals, I would like to separate them into four categories -
1) As we are huge pastry fans (for instance in NYC, one of our favorites is Dominique Ansel and we've probably tried every good bakery in the city), we will definitely make pastries and viennoiseries a priority in the morning and for light lunches. In the past, I loved Seurre, macarons and some croissants at Laduree, the millefeuille at Jacques Genin (which now seems is the only thing I can order there other than a surprise pastry of the day?), La Patisserie des Reves. I am curious to try Des Gateaux et du Pain, Marletti, Pichard, etc. Any other new and strong suggestions?

2) Quick, light, and hopefully (but not necessarily) cheap-ish meals. I'm thinking Le Pot o Lait or Breizh Cafe for buckwheat galettes. Picnics outside with cheese from Dubois, charcuterie from Verot, bread, fruit, a bottle of wine (I'm guessing it's legal to drink wine outside in France? I don't usually care, but my SO is a lawyer... :P). Cuisine de Bar? Rose Bakery? Any other thoughts?

3) Casual, sit-down places that are more on the cheap side - say 30E/person and just sharing one bottle of wine or maybe 3 glasses between the two of us. As I mostly didn't go out to eat on my solo trips, I am really at a loss here. I saw Les Papilles, Dans les Landes, etc. mentioned here. I don't remember if they were 30E/person or not, but I'm looking for things in whatever price range they are in. Any strong suggestions here? I really don't have any clue.

4) Casual to semi-casual places in the mid-range. Not Michelin prices, but don't have to be cheap. I want to return to Chez l'ami Jean. Last time I missed my reservation at Josephine Chez Dumonet due to a cancelled flight, so am thinking of going there, though I recall there being specific things to order that make the experience much more enjoyable and memorable and worth the price tag. I also saw many recs for Saturne. I'm interested in one very old school "French" meal, such as Michel Rostang (or many JCD fits this bill?), La Petrelle, Senderens. I am also interested in a few of the newer, more modern places like Saturne, La Bigarrade, Pierre Sang Boyer, La Table d'Aki, etc. Is it worth trying to go to Le Comptoir du Relais? What are your recommendations for old school and newer, more modern places?

I know that's a lot! We are first about the food above ambiance, but if we can get both, that's also great. We also don't mind traveling cross town or to a neighborhood a bit out of the way to get somewhere. We don't know where we are staying yet.

I will have a separate post for Bourgogne and Lyon, but I'll ask a preliminary question here as well. We arrive at noon on a Saturday (4/13) and leave in the late afternoon on a Wednesday (5/1). Where would you stick the Bourgogne days and Lyon days? As mentioned in the beginning, we are thinking of 3 - 4 in Bourgogne and maybe 1 - 2 in Lyon. Is that good or should we tweak the number of days? Should we go on a weekend or go during the week? In the middle of the trip and then return to Paris?

Thank you in advance for all your help and I promise to report back on our trip!

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  1. The only question I can glean from your very well-researched, well-remembered and well-planned schedule is "I also saw many recs for Saturne. I'm interested in one very old school "French" meal, such as Michel Rostang (or many JCD fits this bill?), La Petrelle, Senderens, and also interested in a few of the newer, more modern places like Saturne, La Bigarrade, Pierre Sang Boyer, La Table d'Aki, etc. Is it worth trying to go to Le Comptoir du Relais? What are your recommendations for these?"
    La Petrelle is the only "one very old school "French" meal" I see, Senderens is not the Senderens of our youth, Saturne, La Bigarrade, Pierre Sang Boyer, and La Table d'Aki are not "old school" by my lights. But they are wonderful and think too about Garance, Pirouette, Clandestino and Petit Champerret.
    And PS, I certainly think Josephine Chez Dumonet fits the "old school" bill.

    1 Reply
    1. re: John Talbott

      Hi John!

      Thanks for your thoughts. I always enjoy your wealth of knowledge, both here and on your site. In my original post, which I have now edited, I meant that Saturne, Bigarrade, PSBoyer, and Aki were NOT old school, but more modern.

    2. <we are thinking of 3 - 4 in Bourgogne and maybe 1 - 2 in Lyon. Is that good or should we tweak the number of days? Should we go on a weekend or go during the week? I>

      As in Paris, many restaurants are closed on weekends. Are you going to Burgundy to taste wines? If so, be sure you have appointments. There are very few drop-in tasting rooms. and if not, I would spend more time in Lyon. There is SO much to see, do and eat there!

      I will respond on your special thread in more detail.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ChefJune

        Thanks, ChefJune! I know you're a big fan of Lyon, so I look forward to your advice in that area. Good to remember about Paris over the weekend, so I'll plan accordingly. I am in the process of setting up wine tastings through my wine shop in New York, so we will have appointments. I will ask more detailed questions on the other thread which I will post shortly.

      2. Congrats on being about to get married!

        I would pick l'Arpège for the formal dining -- bearing in mind both the food and the ambiance are very different (to my mind, more enjoyable and digestible) from other Michelin three stars and the lunch menu is good value. It's open Monday-Friday. My husband and I had amazing honeymoon lunches of our own there:

        For semi-casual, I don't think Le Comptoir du Relais is in the same league as La Table d'Aki or Josephine Chez Dumonet and would pick one or both of the latter two. At dinner, la Table d'Aki is all fish. JCD is meaty, old-school and has fantastic decor.

        I'm not crazy about the service or vibe at Saturne and I wouldn't pick it out of the "modern" places. Instead, you could try going to Septime, Spring or Rino -- would be more economical to go to these at lunchtime when they offer great value lunch menus and then try one of the funky Paris wine bars in the evening.

        It's never that ideal to be in Paris from Saturday to Monday, given restaurant and other closures. When planning our own forthcoming trip to Burgundy, it seemed like you might be able to eat well there on a Sunday, as some places stay open over the weekend and close instead midweek, less the case in Paris. It all depends where exactly you want to eat, however. In Lyon, Daniel et Denise is only open Monday to Friday and it's worth timing the Lyon portion of your trip for that.

        5 Replies
        1. re: johannabanana

          " At dinner, la Table d'Aki is all fish"
          At lunch too - the guy is a fish guy. But a great fish guy.

          1. re: John Talbott

            My understanding was that at Table d'Aki there can sometimes be a meat option on the set lunch menu, whereas at dinner the menu is exclusively fish. Perhaps this has changed?

            1. re: johannabanana

              I don't know about today, but the first time John Talbott's Paris reported in, there was indeed a chicken choice but by July it was all fish all day.

          2. re: johannabanana

            Thanks, johanna!

            I read your honeymoon posts very thoroughly and enjoyed reading about all the wonderful things you did. Congratulations to you as well!

            Yes, I think we have our two Michelin lunches almost nailed down. Once I set the schedule, I'll email/call Ledoyen and L'Arpege to get reservations. Do both of them accept email reservations? I remember that I had to call Ledoyen, but that was maybe 4 - 5 years ago. At L'Arpege (I see you went twice), did you go with the regular three course tasting? And are there special requests (i.e. off menu items, substitutions, extras, etc.) that you or anyone else on the CH board recommend that I make?

            What "funky Paris wine bars" do you recommend? And what would you generally order there?

            Yes for Daniel et Denise! I've been looking into that. I'll ask more questions about that on the other thread I'm going to post on Lyon/Bourgogne.

            1. re: j.jessica.lee

              I always call l'Arpège but I think you can email. The lunch menu is many more courses than 3! If you arrive early and tell them when they ask that you have no time constraint, lunch can easily last 3 hours.

              Personally I would not make any special requests or menu additions -- we have been there twice since our honeymoon and it isn't necessary. I would recommend saying, when they bring the menu to your table, that you don't need to look at it and that you are happy to give them "carte blanche". You will not be charged any more than the 130 euro set menu but you may well be treated more generously and be brought more impressive dishes that are not on the set menu (as well as dishes that are, of course). You're essentially giving the kitchen more leeway and not being picky about what exactly you have.

              For wine bars there is a very good list here:

              In case it's useful, here's my report on our last trip to Paris:

              P.S. do report back! The trip you planned to Paris/Italy with your mother was fun to watch in its planning but you didn't write very much about it afterwards.

          3. Chez Janou would probably qualify as a casual - semi-casual, they have delicious rabbit and so many different types of absinthe to try! And the chocolate mousse- to die for! I lived in paris for a year and frequented it! never let me down.


            15 Replies
            1. re: joharkins

              Thanks, joharkins! I'll definitely look into this place. Though I'm not a huge fan of absinthe, I most certainly love rabbit and chocolate mousse. :)

              1. re: j.jessica.lee

                Well, if you love Chocolate Mousse, I have to tell you that the one I make is a recipe I got years ago at Chez La Vieille. I haven't been there in a long time, but it's the best I've ever had. So you might want to try to find out if they're still making that recipe!

                1. re: ChefJune

                  It depends how long since you've been there. It's changed hands twice in the past 3 years.(Adrienne Biasin, Del Burgo and most recently a Japanese guy) if you mean Chez la vieille adrienne, in the 1st across from Spring, I doubt they've kept the same recipes, but maybe.

                  1. re: John Talbott

                    It was Adrienne when I was there, and she was very old. They'd have been foolish to dump that recipe. So good and so easy!

                    1. re: ChefJune

                      I'm not very good at this social stuff, but I could go and ask. I like challenges, like returning stuff to Dept stores where the ladies are busily discussing their weekend assignations. I'll be down there next week at the new Lobster Roll place Cheers Factory - I know, worse name than Ze Kitchen Galerie, but hey - coool, maybe.

                        1. re: ChefJune

                          Ok, yah but it's not East Coast lobster, but Brittany ones, which this Dude is trying to reconstruct from trips to Maine over the past (I guess 30 years) so who knows.
                          I can be bought, so I'm going, but the place opens officially April 2

                          1. re: John Talbott

                            Oh lobster rolls! How I love them! I get my fix at Luke's here in NYC and am headed to Boston for a week next week. Planning to get one there then as well. These are indeed intriguing. How are Brittany lobsters different from Maine lobsters in taste? Please let us know how the Cheers lobster rolls are.

                            1. re: j.jessica.lee

                              I'm afraid Cheers is the PR firm and the place is called Le Lobster Bar de Paris, 41, rue Coquillere in the 1st.
                              As for the difference there's another thread titled Lobsters in Paris that has a description by Chef June "lobsters in Europe are not the same species as those we eat on the East Coast. European lobsters are of the spiny variety, with considerably less meat, but still very sweet and delicious."

                              1. re: John Talbott

                                Hm, no. European lobsters are not "the spiny variety". I refrained from commenting the first time, but since this is repeated I have to make a small remark.

                                European lobsters are Homarus, just like American lobsters to which they are very close. Homard breton is slightly different from Maine lobster: smaller claws and the body is a bit thinner. In vivo the shell is dark blue (hence the name "homard bleu"). The flesh is firmer and less sweet. I haven't noticed that it had "considerably" less meat than the American lobster. Considering that it has a thinner shape, it probably has a little less meat.

                                There are spiny lobsters in Europe, not Homarus but Palinurus, and they are called langoustes, they tend to live in warmer waters (in the Atlantic, south of Cornwall and there's plenty in the Mediterranean).

                                European lobster may also be found in the Mediterranean but is rather rare.

                                1. re: Ptipois

                                  Glad you didn't let this point sit there and fester. I might add to your explanation that langoustes, called spiny lobsters in the U.S. are clawless and have a slightly more iodine taste, but are delicious in their own right.

                            2. re: John Talbott

                              So as not to double post I'll post my reaction to the Lobster Roll Bar on a new thread.

                      1. re: John Talbott

                        And according to A Nous Paris today, Chez La Vieille has yet another new Japanese chef.

                      2. re: ChefJune

                        Oy! Sounds like heaven. I recently made a chocolate pudding by Alice Medrich with dark Valrhona cacao powder and 85% Valrhona chocolate. No eggs involved, very simple. It was a divine recipe. I'm guessing that's what this is like. God help me if I get there..... Thanks for the tip. And I think we have decided (almost) to stay in the 6th. Just around the corner from CJD and Bread and Roses. Figure it's best to stay near the boulangeries/patisseries I want to have morning pastries at. And thinking of going to Coutume for coffee nearby. What do you think?

                        1. re: j.jessica.lee

                          mmm anything chocolate by Alice Medrich is going to be a WINNAH!

                  2. Hello everyone. Thanks for all the great advice as always. As I said on my other post, my fiancé (it's his first experience on Chowhound), has been blown away by all the goodwill and amazing advice. His life will never be the same.

                    So I have been busily making plans and reservations and will share what I have so far.

                    SATURDAY (arrive around noon at CDG)
                    - check in to hotel (in 6th right by JCD)
                    - have a little snack somewhere to tide us over until dinner
                    - dinner at Chez L'Ami Jean (reserved); I read about the change in menu formats here, but can't seem to remember. Is there a la carte or only set menu? Also, it's been three years since I was here last - any new must-order dishes if they are n the menu?
                    - we plan to have breakfast at several of the pastry shops around us (I planned our location based on the boulangerie/patisseries I wanted to breakfast at), such as Des Gateux et du Pain, Pierre Herme, La Patisserie des Reves, etc.
                    - I saw that Coutume is nearby. I know they have select pastries from PdR available. Do you know if it would be ok for us to bring our pastries here and have it with the coffee?
                    - lunches we are planning to keep simple, saving our stomachs and waistlines for dinners, except for our two Michelin lunches
                    - dinner is still up in the air; I am considering Axuria, Dans les Landes (provided they are open, I've been trying to make a reservation on La Fourchette, but the site is being weird...), waiting at Le Comptoir du Relais, Chatomat, any other thoughts?

                    - lunch at L'Arpege, very excited! Johannabanana suggested that we tell the kitchen to go carte Blanche for the meal. I am just double checking - they won't charge extra for this? We are happy to do a little splurge, but don't want to walk out having spent a thousand dollars, or worse, Euro....
                    - did those of you who did lunch at L'Arpege feel the need for dinner afterwards? I know that the meal is relatively light for the Michelin lunches. I do remember not feeling even remotely hungry after my lunches at Le Cinq and Ledoyen.

                    - we may do a light lunch a Cuisine de Bar or Rose Bakery or have a salad somewhere
                    - dinner reservation set at Josephine Chez Dumonet; I've heard conflicting reports here about the price to value ratio, but figure that ordering a half portion of the foie gras, and either half the boeuf and the confit canard or sub in the pigeon millefeuille along with a dessert should keep it okay. Which dessert? Souffle? Millefeuille? Tarte tatin?

                    - this might be our Versailles day, we will bring a picnic with goodies from Verot right around the corner from our hotel, cheese from Dubois, fruits, and baguette
                    - dinner reserved at Saturne, at the bar facing the kitchen as instructed in a previous thread, although I am now thinking maybe we should do Septime. Thoughts on this? Apologies for the question, as I've read many a France CH bemoan the eternal question.... I'm not exactly clear, even after reading reports and blogs, how exactly these two are different.

                    - lunch reserved at Ledoyen!
                    - I know that no dinner will be required. Although I am aware of my fiancé's hunger levels, and can guarantee he will be hankering for a light dinner later on. Our reservation is at 12:30. Any suggestions for a good, light dinner after this lunch?

                    - I was considering doing one of the Korean or Japanese "fusion" places, namely Pierre Sang Boyer or Table d'Aki. From what I gather, Aki is more on the side of Japanese, while PSB is a bit more even on French and Korean. Any other of the fusion places that you recommend? For those of you who have tried Jungsik in either Seoul or NYC, is PSB in that vein?

                    - leave Paris for a week

                    We return the next Saturday and have Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. We leave on Wednesday afternoon. If there is anything we have left out, please feel free to add here. We are also thinking that if there is something that really spoke to us our first week, we may return at this time. I am half tempted to add a Pierre Gagnaire lunch at this time. Thoughts on that? I was also interested in adding Pirouette either this week or the first week. Thoughts on that?

                    We will also try Breizh Cafe or Le Pot O Lait or Josselin at some point during one of our light meals or lunches. I am also definitely going to Genin and Marletti and Hugo et Victor, as well as having the ice cream at Constant again. I also want to try Berthillon at the original. We will also have one meal at Kunitoriya, as I'm sure we will feel the need for straight up Asian at some point during our trip. We will try to have North African while we are in Provence. And we will try the macarons from Larnicol. I read about dancing on Montorgeuil on Sundays. Is this still happening? Also, we are planning to hit two markets while we are there. If you had to pick your top two markets, what would they be?

                    Thank you all so much again. You can look forward to a lot of reports to read come May.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: j.jessica.lee

                      Sat- l have not been to dinner after the change so l cannot help you here.
                      Sun-Only a personal view but just having been at Le comptoir for dinner, l enjoyed Dans Le Landes a bit better, It also provided a more partyesque atmosphere.
                      Mon-l ate dinner after lunch at L'Arpege, but as you heard not after Le Cinq or Ledoyen.
                      Tues-l and my friends always order the full portions of everything and share around the table, works great. If you order a 1/2 of the boeuf bourguignon you will regret not having more. l love their Gand Marnier souffle.
                      Wed-l far, far prefer Saturne to Septime, again personal choice, the room, the bread, the wine list, the food.
                      Fri-l enjoyed Jungsik very, very much. PSB is NOT in same category, not in same zipcode. Have nothing better for you.
                      Foll Week-Agree with Kunitoroya, go at off times can be a real zoo. l assume you are speaking of the divey one on Rue Sainte Anne

                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                        Thanks, Deluca!

                        I was finally able to get a reservation at Dans Les Landes for the Sunday, so that is set. We will try the dessert you spoke of in another thread. Keeping Saturne, very much looking forward to that, and will keep your advice in mind at Josephine Dumonet. As for Friday, considering the comparison with Jungsik, we will not go with PSB, but are now trying to decide between Table d'Aki, Pirouette, and Le 6 Paul Bert. Anyone have thoughts on these to complete our first week in Paris before heading out to Provence and Bourgogne? I guess we really can't go wrong with any of them, but if anyone has strong opinions/thoughts on them, I'd welcome them.

                        Thanks so much!

                        1. re: j.jessica.lee

                          Sorry have not been to any of those three, looked in the window of 6 Paul Bert this week and it looked great.
                          On Saturne make sure you get the back room or kitchen view tables, the front room constantly has door opening for smokers and arrivers and is too busy for me.

                          1. re: j.jessica.lee

                            "Table d'Aki, Pirouette, and Le 6 Paul Bert"
                            Been to all three; totally different; Aki small, Japanesy fishy, one man show, few choices; Pirouette, big, bright, big menu with lots of wines overlooking square; 6 Paul Bert, bigger too, choices between the two, very gastrobistro.
                            You cannot go wrong with any one.

                        2. re: j.jessica.lee

                          Please report your lunch at Ledoyen, it is part of my short list.

                          1. re: Maximilien

                            Will do, maximilien. You can also read my report from a few years ago on CH as well. I loved it, and that is why I am going back on this trip.