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Sept Trip Planning (I have done lots of Research)

Hi everyone,
I have been researching for weeks on your site and elsewhere in anticipation of my first trip to France in Sept. We are traveling from Toronto as a couple and have a tentative route mapped out. A few things about our tastes:
- I am happy to spend money on food, but it must be worth it.
-I prefer innovative unique food to old school classics (i.e. I wasnt a fan of the French Laundry for example, but LOVE Eleven Madison Park in NYC)
-We will have a car but for dinners at least will want to eat where we stay
-for the most part I would like to leave our days open for touring.. and we will eat wherever we eat and focus more on planning out the dinners.

Here are my lists of possibles so far. I would love any additional tid bits of advice you can give me.

Paris Sunday-Wednesday (4 nights) - looking for 2 less expensive dinners (under 150 pounds for the two of us including 1-2 glasses of wine), and two more expensive meals. This could include ONE VERY expensive meal if its excellent.

La Meurice
Pierre Gagner
L'astrance (dont actually know the cost on this one, any ideas?)
Laterier st germaine de joel
Mirazur
Septime
Frenchie
Spring
Chez ami jean
Pain vin fromage (for fondu, cheap dinner one night)
Breizhcafe (for lunch crepes)

STRAUSBOURG (wednesday night- need two meals, a lunch and dinner)

Au Crocodile
Maison Kammerzel
Gurtlehof
Umami
Bureheisel
Anything else casual for lunch?

LYON (thurs-mon- again 2 more expensive dinners and 2 less expensive)

Guy Lassausaie
Mere Brazier
Paul Bocuse (is this worth the $$ if I'm not a huge fan of old school cooking? is it boring?)
Le Spendid
Daniel et denise
Le cepe
le gourmand de seze
les trois domes
magali et martin
Bernachon (for breakfast)

NICE (Mon-thursday- all of the below options are closed monday, any ideas for Monday?)

Aphrodite
Le Flaveur
alto tapas
l'aromate
Le cote margais

Other places we will be visiting in the day via car:

Rhone Valley
Loire Valley region
Provence
Burgendy

Thank you all so much for your help in advance,

Abbey

www.abbeyskitchen.com

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  1. (For Paris, I've got no experience with the other cities.)

    I thought French Laundry was innovative (when I look at the images), at least compared to more traditional french cuisine.

    You do not need/want a car in Paris.

    If wanting to experience 2, 3 stars restaurants, it might be cheaper to go at lunch, where some/most of them offer lunch "specials" and probably cheaper to order 1 bottle of wines instead of individual pours

    The Meurice is the most fancy (grandiose) restaurants in your list.
    Pierre Gagnaire is very good, even it it looks very wild, it is quite rooted in traditional french cuisine.
    L'Atelier Joel Robuchon is fun, but only takes reservations at the earlier seating in the evening (18:30) or you have to wait in "line".

    Have a look at the board's favorite : Le Cinq.

    Frenchie (the restaurant) is nice (fixed menu) , but I really much enjoyed their Wine Bar (but need to get there at opening, or wait in line).

    As for L'Astrance, Saturne, and Spring, I have no experience there.

    AFAIK, Mirazur is not in Paris.

    Max.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      I looked at Le Cinq and while the food looks fabulous (especially would LOVE the dessert cart), I dont think my partner will like wearign a jacket. Acually, I know he will hate this. He does not like restaurants that insist on jackets when its hot.
      Do any of the other 3 michelins require a jacket? And do any of them have a dessert cart (I know, maybe it's silly, but I am obsessed with dessert).

      1. re: hungryabbey

        All 2, and 3 stars restaurants "require" a jacket; especially in the evening; They expect you to dress for the part.

        I would not go to those restaurants without a jacket, except maybe L'Atelier Joel Robuchon; but would dress well (nice pants, shirt, shoes and a nice v-neck (or something similar).

        I don't remember Le Cinq having a proper dessert cart, but a cart for post-dinner mignardises..

        1. re: Maximilien

          Ah well. After additional research I see that re: jacket. He will just have to cope in the heat and hope they have AC

    2. (just curious)

      How long is this trip ? it seems you want to travel all over France; even if the country is small, it still can take hours from one major city to the other; and if you intend to eat "good" at lunch; it might not be fun to drive (or be driven) after.

      M.

      1. 1. Do you mind quoting prices in euro? I am not sure which "pound" you are using in Toronto. Quoting euro would be clearer and would surely get you more response from the locals. Thanks.
        2. Fondu is a strange thing to have in September. If that is a particularly favorite medium of yours, ok. But you say "cheap dinner". Would other forms of cheap dinner also do?
        3. Is "Pain vin fromage" a restaurant name?
        4. Mirazur is in Menton, not in Paris.
        5. "Other places we will be visiting in the day via car:
        Rhone Valley
        Loire Valley region
        Provence
        Burgendy"
        Wow. Have you done research on, say, Google maps regarding the distance?
        For example, just Provence alone, from one end to the other, it is the kid of huge distance that takes all-day driving. There is only one freeway, and the kind of Provence that is worth seeing is not necessarily near the freeway. Could you give us more info on your itinerary?
        Thanks for helping us help you.

        1. Thank you for all your replies so far. Some responses:

          - we wont have a car until Alsace
          -I personally dont see us slowing down for a 3* meal in the middle of the day. Its not our way of doing things, even if it is cheaper.
          -Thanks Max I will check out le cinq dont know how I missed that.
          -My mistake on AFAIK and Mirazur (I must have mixed up my lists)
          -Oh dear, I am sorry about the pounds. I am also planning a trip to London so I have my currency mixed up. I meant an expensive meal is more than 150 or so euros together (and yes, I know, some will be 2-5 x that), and a less expensive meal is below that.
          -Fondu.. I didnt know it was strange. I just want it! We have no fondu restaurants really here, so I thought it would be fun. But yes, other forms of the less expensive, casual meals I mentioned would be great.
          - Yes, Pain Vin Fromage is www.painvinfromage.com/
          - As for itinerary, we are working on that with my travel agent, but she seemed to think it was doable. .Maybe not?
          I think it will go something like.. Paris (stay in Paris), then to Strasbourg for one night (stay there), then drive to Lyon, while in Lyon go on a day trip or two to Burgundy, Loire, Rhone. Then while in Nice, go to Provence (its only 2 hours).
          -the trip is 2 weeks
          5. "Other places we will be visiting in the day via car:
          Rhone Valley
          Loire Valley region
          Provence
          Burgendy"
          Wow. Have you done research on, say, Google maps regarding the distance?
          For example, just Provence alone, from one end to the other, it is the kid of huge distance that takes all-day driving. There is only one freeway, and the kind of Provence that is worth seeing is not necessarily near the freeway. Could you give us more info on your itinerary?

          6 Replies
          1. re: hungryabbey

            Sounds to me like you are biting off way more than you'll be able to chew comfortably. Unless you love running around like a scared rabbit. You will have very little time to see anything, anywhere. You could easily fill the whole two weeks in Paris alone and not begin to see or eat all you'll want to once you are there.

            Nice is in the far Eastern corner of Provence (in fact wher Nice is is called the Cote d'Azur) and although there are other villages you can visit from there, It is not nearby to what most of us here think of as Provence (the areas known as Luberon, Bouche du Rhone, etc.).

            Lyon is worthy of several days all on its own. It would be a shame to not see the beauty, history, and gastronomy that make it so special Burgundy will be at least a couple of hours drive away from Lyon. If you were planning to spend 2 weeks in Lyon, a day trip up there would make sense.

            1. re: hungryabbey

              There is no "Provence" (per say) it is a large region.

              Where in Provence you want to go ? If you only want to do highways, then go for it; but you will loose all pleasure of being in France.

              Don't think about doing the "Loire" region if staying in Lyon; especially if you want to go down towards the Rhone region.
              Or even doing Strasbourg for only one night!!!

              I suggest to seriously review your itinerary. driving 2, 3, 4 hours one day is ok, doing it everyday is NOT fun at all.

              Max.

              1. re: Maximilien

                Ah damn. Fair enough. I hear you.
                Okay.. well, then, lets reevaluate I guess. What do you suggest I do so I can see as much as I can in my time.

                We will be coming into Paris (from London) and then flying out of Nice.
                Should I skip Strasbourg?
                Should I just do Paris, then Lyon then Nice (before I head out)?
                Thoughts?

                1. re: hungryabbey

                  Truly? You have 2 weeks. Flying into Paris and out of Nice. There you are. 1st week, Paris. TGV down to Nice. Rent your car. 2nd week Nice and environs. Folks here will be able to fill you full of luscious and memorable places for meals (since we're food focused nere) and all that goes along with that. Great markets, wineries, etc. Then fly home. Lyon, Strasbourg, Loire Valley? another trip (or three).

                  I've been traveling in France for more than 20 years, and have yet to get to many wonderful regions. There's SO much to see and do.

                  1. re: ChefJune

                    Hm, he really wants to go to Lyon- and I do too. And actually, I dont think I want to spend a whole week in Nice (it's not really where I wanted to go), nor Paris really. I think if we narrow it down to three places, Paris, Lyon and Nice, we have already made significant cuts. I actually used a bunch of itineraries as guides, and many suggested much shorter stays and more places to visit within 14 days. So hopefully we will be okay.

                    1. re: hungryabbey

                      well, I can surely understand your desire, as Lyon is my absolutely favorite city anywhere in the world I've been. I would train to Lyon from Paris, and if you want a car there (you easily won't need one!) rent it locally. Then TGV on down to Nice and there you will want a car to go to St. Paul de Vence, Mougins, etc. I'd be glad to give you recs for Lyon, but can't do it for anything but food in this forum, so feel free to email me. I've spent quite a good amount of time there recently and will be back in the fall.

            2. " I wasnt a fan of the French Laundry for example, but LOVE Eleven Madison Park in NYC."
              Wow Abbey, those are great lodestars. I wasn't a fan of the French Laundry because it was too much of a much like Gagnaire but 11 MP has always done well by me.
              So here goes in Paris (I only get out of town once or twice and that to Italy);

              Old, Jeez, not that old really:
              Spring
              Ze Kitchen Galerie

              Newer:
              Pirouette
              Le 122

              Newest:
              Les Tablettes de JL Nominicos
              110 Taillevent

              Your other choices - Septime, Frenchie, Chez L'Ami Jean, L'Astrance, etc are fine, indeed very good, but on every American who reads the NY Times, list; I love America, I love Americans, Long Live America - but not loudly in my face, all the meal, all the time.

              Branch out; try; experiment; whattdyouhave to lose?