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What is it about Paris?....

JeffW Apr 8, 2013 05:32 PM

What is it about Paris that gets into ones craw, and can cause anxiety in the quest of wanting to experience the best? We should be thrilled beyond compare (and we are :) ) about arriving on May 6th. for our first trip to Paris in 26 years, but all we do is obsess and read, (begetting confusion) and read, and read...and read (begetting confusion). In the meanwhile, I see the days flying by before our trip, and I know that staring into space isn't helping this situation, as now reservations might be a huge issue. How many times have we been told "Wherever you go in Paris, you can't go wrong"....well how many stars are in the sky? This may be a true statement, but it's not really helping us.
Somewhere out there is a kind man or woman who won't mind this angst ridden post....someone to understand this present "ostrich like" mentality that these two fellows with hearts of gold are finding themselves in...Hey, at least we are having more conversations between us than I can remember :)
So before annoying anyone out there from my moaning, let me throw out what we know, and what we need to know.
We will be in Paris for 6 nights. Our concierge feels fairly certain that he will be able to book us at Septime. We do have a reservation at Spring, and it's all but certain that Chez Dumonet needs to be on our list. We have 3 remaining nights, and we are toying with a blowout for one of those nights. If inclined to believe my sincerity in this post, I'd like to throw out some names, and anyone out there, please have at it....yay or nay. For us, first and foremost is food quality. Of course we love great atmosphere, but this takes 2nd. place. I guess I'm a nervous traveler, and love to feel welcomed wherever I go. We are considering L'Arpege, or L'Ambroisie for our big ticket night....ABSOLUTELY, feel free to suggest anything instead of those 2. We were hoping for L'Astrance, but they will be closed for the week we are in Paris Other restaurants to round out our trip might be Les Tablettes, Thomieux, Yam'Tcha, and Ze Kitchen Gallerie. I've just listed 6 restaurant possibilities for 3 nights of dining :)
Posts like mine have been around for ages, and I know they will be after our trip to your city has come and gone.....Could I make one last ditch effort for guidance? Well here it is.....HELP!!!!!
Thank you all so very much.

  1. g
    gardengorilla Apr 14, 2013 03:27 PM

    I am that soul that understands your post as I am in the exact situation. We leave May 15. We have nothing booked. We are Paris NOOBS. Now I am really freaked out....do we need to always book? It feels so constraining.

    7 Replies
    1. re: gardengorilla
      JeffW Apr 14, 2013 04:37 PM

      Just read your profile. Looks like you are traveling from Canada. Big trip for you! Actually, maybe it's closer for you than where we are heading from...Los Angeles. Not 30 minutes ago when I was at the market, I was speaking with the woman who runs the cheese department. She and her husband travel a lot. She tells me to just be spontaneous and I'll do fine! Never did that EVER in my 57 years on the planet....but she may have a point. We'll be flying home on the 12th. Have a safe and TASTY trip. I do have one fun memory of our first trip to Paris, over 26 years ago. We were with my in-laws, and we were all at a metro station. My hubs got a pastry from some vendor inside the station, and to this day he says it was the best thing he'd ever eaten!!! How's that for spontaneity?

      1. re: JeffW
        PhilD Apr 14, 2013 06:18 PM

        Paris is a city that rewards spontaneity. Lots of small neighbourhoods filled with interesting shops, or small museums, or sunny terraces on which to enjoy a simple snack and drink. Its a great place to just meander around.

        There is no point in chaseing across town for the "best" of anything, the best from across town is probably pretty close to the best a few streets away. Paris is full of great quality produce and produce shops. If it tastes good enjoy.

        BUT, and its a big but. Not everything in Paris is wonderful, there is industrial cheese, mass produced chocolate etc etc. So research your neighbourhood, have a few destinations thought through so you don't fall into tourist traps. Common sense is useful, don't buy any less carefully than you would at home.

        And a bigger BUT, don't ever believe restaurant choices can be spontaneous. You must book or you will be disappointed. There are lots of great restaurants (and lots of bad ones). However, there are lots and lots of hungry locals who always book, plus lots of well prepared tourists who always book. So the lucky find, which has a table is rare. The spontaneous decision to try a top restaurant will often end in disappointment.

        1. re: PhilD
          Beach Chick Apr 14, 2013 06:31 PM

          Well said PhilD..

          1. re: PhilD
            John Talbott Apr 14, 2013 06:38 PM

            Phil, I think we're on the brink of a new movement - to boycott all Best Of posts. Sunshine said it well - who has eaten oysters at every place, every month in every known state of mind. We live in Paradise, go to the corner cheese, wine, horsemeat, chocolate, bread, etc, etc, etc, store - there's a better place in the 6th, the far reaches of the 15th? ah, ok.

        2. re: gardengorilla
          John Talbott Apr 14, 2013 06:27 PM

          Relax, reserve same day for lunch, eat big, enjoy, shop at wine and food shops, go to museums, parks, eat at home, sleep.
          But if you plan on eating at night, reserve far in advance, esp ffor CH faves.

          1. re: gardengorilla
            ChefJune Apr 15, 2013 01:34 PM

            you DO need to book. You can always cancel if you change your mind or find some place you'd rather go.

            1. re: ChefJune
              gardengorilla Apr 16, 2013 09:40 AM

              Ok. I think we'll book a couple of places for dinners at least. Of course many seem to be closed on Sundays, unfortunately we still have to eat. A friend of ours lives in Paris so we have secured a booking with him ;)

          2. Lmonach Apr 14, 2013 07:58 AM

            We are in Paris now and had the same anxiety in planning our 7 night trip. So far we have loved just about everything. We had lunch at Les Papilles - rustic, big portions, delicious. Dinner at Spring - refined, elegant without being stuffy, yummy. Dinner at Chez L'ami Jean - too much food in the tasting menu, but all of it was excellent - this was also the only restaurant that had a bustling feel to it, we're American, so we didn't mind, but it isn't as calm an experience as the others. The asparagus soup, chicken jambonettes and rice pudding were well worth the bustle.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Lmonach
              JeffW Apr 14, 2013 09:53 AM

              Well if that wasn't the nicest gesture. Thank you so much for responding to my original post of a few weeks ago. I don't know you of course, but how could I not be happy that you and yours are having a wonderful time in Paris! We leave 3 weeks from today, and while we only have one set reservation for Spring, our concierge assures us that we will be going to Septime when he makes the reservation, 3 weeks in advance to the day. We've decided on Chez Josephine, as well as Bistro Paul Bert, and I'll be asking our concierge to reserve for us there as well. Now only 2 more restaurants to figure out! Less angst now....but not much less :) Anyway Lmonach, enjoy every bit of your remaining stay in Paris. Thank you again for your kind response.

            2. John Talbott Apr 9, 2013 05:31 AM

              Agree as always with Pti:
              Spring, Chez Dumonet and Septime are super and of the others I'd rank them Ze Kitchen Galerie, Les Tablettes, Yam'Tcha (except for the chairs), Thomieux.
              I'll leave the blow out meal competition to others since that's really not my rayon.

              1. Parigi Apr 9, 2013 04:05 AM

                Jeff, I can't improve on the others' suggestions. Just to remind you that you are now agonizing over the choice between A-'s and A's. Unless you are so deliriously orgasmically happy you walk into the 16th century wall on your way out chez Spring, I don't see how you can blow it.

                1. d
                  don515 Apr 9, 2013 03:56 AM


                  Sounds like you may be out of our league we spent our anniversary dinner at Fish La Boissonnerie in St. Germaine. Run by 2 guys from California! Drew is a lot of fun and Juan is the wine guy. They have a sister wine shop so anything you like they will pack up so you can check them as baggage.



                  3 Replies
                  1. re: don515
                    PhilD Apr 9, 2013 04:46 AM

                    Jeff - Californian? Drew is a Kiwi and Juan is Cuban/American

                    1. re: PhilD
                      don515 Apr 9, 2013 07:38 AM

                      last stop before Paris was California

                      1. re: don515
                        mangeur Apr 9, 2013 07:59 AM

                        This is true.

                  2. p
                    Ptipois Apr 9, 2013 02:38 AM

                    Yes, relax. You've got Spring on your list and Chez Dumonet and Septime almost certainly booked. Why worry? You're fine.

                    Paris is not only a city with destination restaurants. It is also a place to abandon yourself to and a little unplanned time is in my opinion mandatory, even if that means munching on a sandwich on a cafe terrace on, for instance, Place Voltaire (which has nothing remarkable). Stopping at unremarkable places lets you get the deep vibe.

                    You've got to choose between fairly-priced lunch menus at starred places, that is something I would do: Le Cinq, as suggested by Oferl, is great. I also recommend La Grande Cascade in the bois de Boulogne, the terrace in May will be heavenly.

                    By the way, all your other suggestions are good. Yam t'cha is notoriously difficult to book. Les Tablettes is one of my favorite places. Thoumieux is a little calibrated (think Costes) but okay.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Ptipois
                      JeffW Apr 14, 2013 07:04 PM

                      Les Tablettes has been reserved for our first night...thank you's to yourself and John Talbott....now only 1 more night to stress over....and like the Duke Ellington song title "I'm beginning to see the light" :)
                      Cheers and thanks again

                    2. Beach Chick Apr 8, 2013 10:09 PM

                      I love when I don't have plans a couple of days.
                      Versailles in the mix?

                      1. mangeur Apr 8, 2013 06:34 PM

                        It sounds to me, Jeff, like you've done your homework and have little to worry about. Why not just flip a coin for your remaining nights? You'll know your hearts' desires if you experience remorse for the results. With your list, assuming you've vetted it against your tastes, you can't go wrong. Good luck and enjoy!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: mangeur
                          JeffW Apr 8, 2013 09:48 PM

                          Indeed, but now I need a "six sided" coin :)

                          Thanks for responding...Kinda funny. All of my original angst about restaurants....man, what a blessing in life to be stressed about that! Life is pretty darned good.

                          1. re: JeffW
                            law_doc89 Apr 8, 2013 09:58 PM

                            When it comes to food and dining, Paris is way above other cities. Yes there is pretension, and exploitation. But when you do it right, the memories you will have are incomparable to any other place you go. Lots of 3 star restaurants now have shadows that are more exciting and accessible, so check them out.

                            1. re: JeffW
                              oferl Apr 8, 2013 10:15 PM

                              Eventually it is a bet :-) But not one that we should feel really upset if loosing at, or so.. I've had some cases in past trips to the city (and to others for sure), that i tried let's call it "hot board places", saw zillion of pictures before, and didn't like it, totally, but not the end of the world of course, can be a bit frustrating, but for sure 100% responsibility on the selection is ours, otherwise people will stop giving recs.. :-)
                              And regarding your questions - if your capacity is high, i had the most memorable tasting menus but for lunch, at Chez L'ami Jean (full menu, best 3 meals ever) and Le Cinq (lunch menu price is reasonable for expirience, without taking their very pricy glass of champagne offered at start, as good as it might be).

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