Yes, Another Paris Itinerary Request
I know a Paris itinerary is an oft-repeated request, so I have tried to do as much research as possible before putting this together, and to include as many specific questions as I could.
Some information about me first -- will be traveling with my wife, our first time in Paris. I am a relatively adventurous eater, and while my wife is not particularly picky, I usually steer away from no-choice or even limited choice menus. My wife is also pregnant, so that means that only one of us will be enjoying raw milk cheeses, foie gras, wine, etc.
Please critique away, and will absolutely promise to post reviews when we return (although the trip is not for a few months).
Dinner -- Arrive CDG 4pm. Unless folks strongly advise otherwise, I am leaning toward Au Petit Sud Ouest for our first meal in Paris. My wife loves duck and I can't get enough foie gras (particularly given the ban here in California). Added bonus is proximity to the Bateaux Mouches -- would also like to try a late night (10pm or so) ride as an introduction to Paris. Would an 8pm dinner reservation leave enough time to do the airport / customs / check-in on one side and still make a 10pm boat?
Lunch -- L’ as du falafel for lunch, with a snack at Berthillon while exploring that part of town. My wife is not a big fan of falafel -- anything else worth trying there or will she have to settle for an extra scoop of ice cream?
Dinner -- L’Ami Jean? Reviews are obviously stellar, but there is an undercurrent (at least on other sites) that dinner may be overpriced. Is this true, and should I try a lunch there instead? If so, other ideas for this night would be Josephine Chez Dumonet, La Regalade, Chez Denise or Bistrot Paul Bert. Any thoughts?
Lunch -- Picnic at Versailles -- will buy the provisions in town the night before.
Dinner -- Would we have enough time after returning from Versailles to take a trip to Sacre Couer at dusk, followed by Dinner in the 18th? If so, was thinking Le Coq Rico, Jeanne B or Sens Uniques based on John T’s posts / website, but am open to other suggestions. Hoping to keep this meal somewhat casual and relatively low-priced.
Lunch -- Louvre in the morning, with a hot chocolate at Angelina. Any thoughts for lunch in the area?
Dinner -- Opera (Garnier) in the evening. Likely have to eat dinner beforehand (not sure the pregnant wife will make it until a 10:30pm dinner). Am also coming up empty for a suitable dinner near the opera at that time, so suggestions greatly appreciated.
Lunch -- Guy Savoy 110E lunch already booked. I am strongly leaning towards this as opposed to Ledoyen, Le Cinq, etc., as Guy Savoy appears to offer many more choices than the similarly priced options elsewhere, which works well for my wife. But please advise if you would suggest otherwise.
Dinner -- Something light, perhaps Breizh Cafe or Le Pot o Lait depending on what part of town we find ourselves in.
TGV to Avignon for 5 days in Provence. Any ideas for a final breakfast or pastry near the train station? Will post later regarding my initial plans in Provence, and of course would very much appreciate any insight.
Thanks in advance.
There are other things to eat near the felafel places - you may have to find a bench somewhere anyway to eat your food. Sacha Finkelsztajn's deli is right on the same block, many delectable treats. I love the caviar d'aubergines.
But I give you permission to skip this experience if it causes marital discord or your wife eats only ice cream for lunch. It's worth exploring if its easy and agreeable, but not worth the chaos.
" L’Ami Jean? Reviews are obviously stellar, but there is an undercurrent (at least on other sites) that dinner may be overpriced. Is this true"
Lunch and dinner menus are the same. I personally prefer lunch because it is a less hectic hour, for the chef and the staff and the diners alike.
Falafel is not a genre to cross town for. To add insult to injury, it is filling. I would not fill my stomach with that if I am having the other meal chez L'ami Jean on the same day. A charcuterie plate and a glass of wine in a wine bar would be enough.
Pre-opera dinner: Le Mesturet is open all hours and has honest brasserie food.
If you are having early dinner, then you may again want to streamline lunch and do another wine bar. Le Rubis is a fun wine bar quite near the Louvre.
Good to know -- serves me right for believing other sources over this collection of wisdom...
Am planning to be in the area for falafel that day, but will make sure to eat light and save room for L'ami Jean.
And thanks very much for your suggestions for the Monday -- was the one portion of the itinerary giving me the most trouble.
Chez L'Ami Jean - It's true the menus are the same, but I also think its a bit overpriced for what it is. I like it, and I enjoy the food, but I do get sticker shock when I go there.
A question do they still turn tables four times a night? I know Jego said he would move away from that with his new menu's but does anyone know if he did. Again I quite like the buzz the table turning gave the place, but that could explain why some feel its expensive for what it is at dinner but better value at lunch when it is more relaxed.
But after saying all that we will still head back in September.
Thanks. Will certainly look into doing lunch instead if possible.
What precisely are the menu options? Piecing together information from a number of sites indicates a 42E prix fixe, a 55E mini tasting and a 75-80E grand tasting, with some a la carte options that sound like they are very expensive (35E or more for main courses). Is that right, and are all of these options (particularly the mini tasting) available at both lunch and dinner?
I'm going to make fun of those dietary restrictions for pregnant women. Maybe not today, but seriously, away from raw milk cheese? That's just crazy. And foie gras? Why foie gras? That's new. At least religious dietary restriction have some kind of explanation. Doctors, now, they're really crazy.
Planning a late night on your first night is very ambitious. Maybe you're young (or old) and vigorous and think sleep is for the weak. But the experienced travelers on this board will tell you that their first day is a few delicatessen, a little walk, and early bedtime.
That said, if your plane is on time and you don't do body search yes, 8pm dinner can be done. It's stressful, but it can be done.
I'm with Parigi (but don't tell her husband) on Saturday: planning l'As du Fallafel with CAJ is too much and l'As is not that much of a destination. Also, it's closed on Saturdays, what with the Jewish thing and all. For the record, neither Joséphine, Denise or Régalade are open on Saturdays anyway.
Sunday picnic -- if you shop ahead, why not go to a farmer's market on Sat or Sun morning -- check Paris.fr to find one near you. As for time in Versailles, it all depends on how much you want to visit. Between the castle and the park, you can do a whole day, but that's a lot. Renting bikes in the park is nice, though. And, depending on when you go, there might be nighttime light and music shows in the park, which are very cool.
Casual and low-priced on Sunday night : there's not point crossing town for that, so find something close to where you're staying.
Monday lunch in Louvre area: Les Soufflés, Lescure, Pinxo, Denise are all good ideas, depending what you feel like. What's the name of the café inside the Louvre already? It's pleasant too. For the record, I find hot cocoa at Génin very superior to Angelina's. But Angelina has that Angélique, Marquise des Anges, Soft Porn, 50s feeling that is hard to replace.
Opéra: I like Café de la Paix and I still like Senderens, despite a food that is not close to what it used to be and prices that are not that friendly. I also always loved Au Petit Riche, especially the thick gratinée veal chop and the morel dish. Still, not a great food neighborhood.
Tuesday lunch at Savoy: lots of choice, but it's gonna end up costing more than you think. I bet you drinks will be 50% of the final bill, even with the wife pretending that she won't drink (yeah, like we don't know...). Don't plan anything for dinner, indeed, just have adresses in case you're hungry. Who knows.
Wednesday breakfast by the station: meh. No great bakery in a large radius. Blé Sucré is not bad, but if you're schlepping with luggage, it's still far. Maybe you can plan a ride from your hotel that goes by a good bakery. Otherwise, there's Monoprix by the station (and even inside), and Paul, all decent stuff.
Thank you very much for the thorough response. Agree on the dietary restrictions, but no sense arguing with the boss...
We are relatively young and I am inclined to push for the late night upon arrival, as I have found it helps me to adjust to the time difference and avoid jet lag. But will keep your advice in mind and let you know if it turns out I was wrong.
Thanks for the heads up on the closures for Saturday -- guess that makes that decision easier. I had Sunday and Monday closures in mind, but never occurred that places (other than falafel for religious reasons) would be closed Saturday, which is prime dining night here in the states.
Sunday night, was looking for a good time to visit Sacre Couer and heard that evening was best, so was just looking for something in the area. But may scratch that if we think we'll linger at Versailles longer.
May have to do a cocoa tasting given your input...
And finally, perhaps I solve the opera food issue by trying for opera tickets on the same day as Guy Savoy, in which case it sounds like dinner is basically unnecessary.
When is your trip? "Dusk" at Sacré Coeur is 10pm in June, 5pm in December.
Season also affects your Seine boat trip. Last cruise varies from 9pm to 10:30pm depending on date and cruise company. BTW, Bateaux Mouches is not a synonym for all Seine boats, just one specific fleet that operates from the Pont d'Alma... about a 15- 20-minute walk from Au Petit Sud-Ouest... there are other cruise companies that operate from the Port Bourdonnais or Port Suffren next to the Eiffel Tower (10- to 15-minute walk)... if you do get a cruise at 10pm, an 8pm rezzie at le Petit Sud-Ouest should give enough time but tell the waiter that you need to finish by 9:30 when you order.
Versailles. I can never quite understand why tourists haul the fixings for a picnic all the way from Paris. Much more convenient-- and fun-- to get your stuff from the fab Marché Notre Dame (especially les Halles/ covered section) off the avenue Saint Cloud in Versailles... open until around 1:30pm on Sunday ... if you time it right, you can even get the TRI bus from there to Les Trianons in the park. BTW, you should also make sure you catch the Grandes Eaux Musicales in the park from 11m to noon and 3:30 to 5pm on Sunday.
You can certainly have enough time to get back from Versailles to Montmartre/ Sacré Coeur for the sunset in the summer but will be increasingly tight later in the year. The crowds and pesty souvenir hawkers kinda get in the way of a pleasant experience no matter when you go. But lots of options for good eats on Sunday. Cave des Abbesses for a light meal in a hip wine-bar, La Mascotte for fruits de mer or trad brasserie fare, Jeanne A for more modern cooking at a great price/ quality ratio and, mercifully, a long way from the tourist hordes around Sacré-Coeur/ place du Tertre.
I am so in agreement with Parnassien about getting your picnic supplies from the great market in Versailles. Another suggestion to maximize your coverage of the park...immediately upon entering, go around to the side and rent a golf cart, tour the entirety of the gardens, the Trianons, etc., eat your picnic in a pleasant place away from the crowds, then visit the chateau afterward when usually the hordes from the 100's of tour buses have thinned out a bit.