One month in Paris - a few questions
My boyfriend and I are in Paris for one month (we arrived yesterday). We've both been here once before (him as a young, broke student, me with my mother a couple years ago). We have an apartment in the 11th and have agreed that we will try to limit ourselves to only eating one meal out per day (at MOST). And when I say meals, this can also include a quick sandwich from a cafe or boulangie. I love cooking and since we have an apartment, that is one of the things we're looking most forward to doing.
Now, a couple of questions about restaurants. We usually set it up so that I take the lead on things, sending him some suggestions after doing some research, then we discuss and book something. We already have reservations for lunch at Septime in a couple of weeks. His mother and her partner will be visiting us for a few days later in the month. For her first night in town, I made reservations for the 3 of us for an earlier dinner at Chez Paul, since it is not too far from us or from her hotel (her partner arrives the next day).
However, I am starting to have second thoughts. I wanted to take her to a neighbourhood place, but after looking again at my research, I am not sure that Chez Paul is a great pick. I'd love thoughts on this. The budget isn't a huge concern but let's avoid anything close to 100e per person. Anything in the 11th you can suggest?
For an early birthday celebration, I'm thinking of making reservations for the 4 of us at Le Baratin, as I've been there and had a lovely experience. I'm a little worried that his mother's bf might be a bit out of place there - he's kind of a "loud" American (sorry - no other way to describe it), but at least this will be toward the end of the trip.
I also thought that Pirouette would be a nice solo experience for my bf and me.
Should the two of us try Breizh? West Country Girl?
Would Bistrot Paul Bert be better for the first night with his mother?
And while we're on the topic, where is a good place near Oberkampf/Republique to get fruits and vegetables on a non-market day? (Though I'm willing to walk if there is an everyday market nearby).
re: Nancy S.
Thanks, Nancy. Le bf and I will definitely try out West Country Girl (how can I not, as a Nick Cave fan?!) and perhaps we'll take his mom and her partner along too. Le 6 Paul Bert sounds great! I can't believe how cheap it is. Perhaps that should be the birthday dinner for my boyfriend instead of Le Baratin (which we can do on our own).
Regarding markets - i think marche d'Aligre and St. Quentin should be in your close area, and both truly worth the visit, especially d'Aligre. Both open much more days then the "special" 2 days markets, check for exact times..
You are staying for a pretty long term, and i'm sure you will have amazing times with eating at apartment, for us in last visits it is for sure the best (and cheapest of course) way to go in this city :-) So much to sample and bring to apartment, and with good wine at great prices, fun fun fun !!
Pirouette we loved for dinner, and i think pricing is very reasonable, good food overall, excellent desserts, nice price, great friendly service..
Regarding restaurants, i think you should check Chez L'ami Jean even if it is not in your area, if your are a "crazy foodie", the place is great in my opinion for a truly unique tasting menu and cooking capabilities..
And probably if you are looking for more "interesting" cuisine in the 11, maybe try Ober Sale and Pierre Sang Boyer, we missed them last time but interesting places for sure, and some friends who visited PSB lately loved it.
Oberkampf-République is a great area... almost no need to migrate to other quartiers. For mother-in-law's ugly American friend, maybe dinner at Chez Jenny on the boulevard du Temple ... classic brasserie setting where being loud and brash is less intrusive...make him eat choucroute (one of the best examples in Paris)...and it keeps his mouth too full for talking. For other restaurants, there were two recent threads dealing with the same area:
relevant posts start 21 Feb
Re shopping. Two street markets on different stretches of the boulevard Richard Lenoir... Marché Bastille between the rues Saint-Sabin and Amelot on Thu and Sun morning and the more sedate and neighbourhoodly Marché Popincourt between rues Oberkampf and J-P Timbaud on Tue and Fri AM. For Mon (no outdoor markets and most permanent shops closed), the Franprix supermaket chain ...a branch on the boulevard Voltaire @ bd Richard Lenoir and another on the boulevard Richard Lenoir @ rue Pélee and still another on the rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud between the bd du Temple and the bd Voltaire. There is also a Monoprix on the rue du Temple just off la République in the 3rd. The best "rue commerçante"/ shopping street (usually open Tue to Sun) is the rue Bretagne/ 3rd which has the added advantage of an historic and now very trendy covered market + mini-resto cluster, the Marché des Enfants Rouges. Second best and somewhat less expensive, the rue Oberkampf especially between the bd Richard Lenoir and the ave Parmentier. For temporary Parisien(ne)s, the almost-free bike programme Vélib' is perfect for shopping expeditions. So get a monthly subscription, find out the location of the Vélib' stations nearest to your apartment and convenient shopping areas, and do your daily shopping by bike. If cycling through the streets of Paris intimidates you, then try to figure out the bus system. But, at all costs, avoid the rookie mistake of walking and/or métro-ing everywhere.
Wow, thank you so much, Parnassien. I think we'll visit the Popincourt market tomorrow morning and the Bastille one on Sunday, definitely. I'm hoping it will actually be as warm as the forecast says so that we can pick up picnic fixings.
Today, as I was running around town, I kept wondering to myself, "why is walking and/or taking the métro a rookie mistake"? It sort of made me feel bad and also, worried that I'll be wasting my time here. I'm a bit intimidated to bike here, I admit. I spent many years biking in Toronto and Montréal (not exactly the safest either) but ... I've lost my nerve. Perhaps if I was staying longer and knew my way around better. So...I picked up a bus route map. But I'm curious if you're willing to elaborate on this...
re: pistachio peas
Le 6 Paul Bert is way better... Chez Paul is decent enough, has great history, and is an enjoyable old-school experience but cannot compete foodwise.
Re bus. Unlike the métro, every bus journey is a sightseeing experience. You get to see and feel the pulse of Paris rather than being cacooned underground. Because of the one-way streets, it does however take a lot of figuring out. The itinerary planning function on the RATP website (and app) can help a lot. You can also get a free "un grand plan des bus avec rues" at any métro station... and emphasize the words "grand" and "rues" when asking for it... the usual tourist schematic map is useless. For you, the #96 that that goes to St Paul, Chatelet, St Michel, St Germain des Prés and Montparnasse is probably a good "test drive"... in your 'hood, stops on the rue J-P Timbaud going to Montparnasse and on the rue Oberkampf coming back or going to hip Ménilmontant.
And speaking of Ménilmontant, another restaurant for your list... Roseval on the rue d'Eupatoria.
Picnics. Check out the lovely Square du Temple off the rue Bretagne in the 3rd... probably in walking distance for you.
Buses, YES! Grand Plan #2 is what you want.
Roseval, YES! I read a disappointing review from a person I greatly respect, but our two meals there have been very good, so I am guessing/hoping that they visited on a peculiarly off day.
And Chatomat (in between Menilmontant and Eupatoria on curvy little rue Victor Letalle) has a super kitchen but strangely consistently drab/impersonal service. Go for great food at tiny price with not bad wine by the glass.
" But, at all costs, avoid the rookie mistake of walking and/or métro-ing everywhere."
Au contraire (sp). For the past 30 years walking in Paris rain or shine has been one of my greatest joys. Not only do I see more but also it offsets some of my excess calories.
Agree on the Metro.
I think that what Parn is saying, and what I preach elsewhere, is that in Paris it is important to walk where you want to be rather than where you want to get. Long timers know the difference. Too many first timers read that Paris is a city for walking and try to walk round trip, day after day after day, from the TF to Bastille and Montparnasse to Montmartre, arriving at their destination with little understanding of what they've seen or why their very comfortable at home shoes are suddenly in rebellion.
I think you are right. For example, we have been trying to make sure that we get to the things we want to do that are in walking distance of each other on the same days, so that we can walk around. Buses are the next thing we are going to try to figure out (and we got the right map).
The responses have you covered nicely. And true you really have no 'need' to leave your area. I will probably go to the Bastille market on Sunday. For much of the weekend, I usually go all around Paris to food shops and markets if you want a partner in crime.I am no Parnassien(or others) but I have stayed in Paris for months before and mostly know what I am doing regarding my own goals. I do ride velib everywhere and walk the rest.Hopefully, the weather is tolerable.Seems the grandeur I brought with me for last weekend is no more.
Also, nice one thinking to bring the ugly American to a restaurant you don't already have an affinity for.
I hope you guys aren't sick of me yet because reading this board in the morning has become one of my favourite things to do before leaving the house. (Also: is this the best way to write another general message on one's own thread? Seems the only other way is to reply to a single person.)
So, after some thinking, I've come up with the following ideas for what to do during the week the parents are in town:
Friday: afternoon tea/snack with his mom at Jacques Genin. Dinner at Le 6 Paul Bert.
Saturday: The mom's partner arrives. We're leaving them on their own that day because we have plans, but we'll give them some suggestions, or their hotel will perhaps. Maybe Ober-Salé for lunch.
Sunday: We'll take them to Marché Bastille in the morning. Then they are going on a walking tour of Montmarte in the afternoon. Should we do Chez Jenny this evening? (Parnassien - initially you had suggested this for the loud American :) ) Or is there something in Montmartre on a Sunday that would be better (and I suppose we can join them on the tour...)
Monday: They are going on a day trip to Normandy?! (As if a week in Paris is enough without day trips but hey, if they wanna go, they wanna go...)
Tues: They are doing a bunch of touristy stuff that day around the Seine, so I thought maybe Pirouette for dinner for the four of us? Or should we go for a dinner on the left bank?
Wednesday: We're going to Versailles with them that day. We'll get supplies for a picnic somewhere in town there, but not sure what we will do when we come back for dinner. Perhaps something close to home. Or A La Biche au Bois? I want to check that place out.
Thursday: We are going to meet them for a boat tour. We'll think of somewhere to take them for lunch in the neighbourhood. Maybe West Country Girl. Dinner this evening is a joint celebration for my boyfriend and for his mom's partner. So initially I was worried about taking them to a tiny, mostly locals place, but then my boyfriend and I decided...well, we want to get some good meals in during their visit! Haha. My lovely bf wants me to choose the birthday dinner place...so I think...Josephine Chez Dumonet? That or Chez L'Ami Jean.
Friday: they leave in the morning.
We will save Le Baratin, Roseval, Pierre Sang, and all your other lovely suggestions for our time alone together.
Any thoughts on this would be very appreciated. And, I have been doing a running report on another thread I started. And this might be TMI but I'm on Instagram as "sarainamerica" for some photos of our time in Paris. Merci!
re: pistachio peas
Re Montmartre. Might just be easier to eat there rather than re-grouping for some place closer to home. But will depend on timing, levels of fatigue, etc. A Montmartre "balade" will be very tiring after a Sunday morning wander through the very boisterous and crowded Marché Bastille (much more sedate on Thursday).
En tout cas, some Montmartrois restos that might suit:
Jeanne B on the rue Lepic... fab price/ quality ratio... good foodie factor... continuous hours so early dinner is possible... and nicely removed from the normal tourist circuit;
Les Novices on the rue Caulaincourt...another bargain... very cool neo-bistro ambiance but not cutesy or tourist cliché and the menu is pretty wide-ranging/ cosmopolitain... continuous hours;
La Mascotte on the rue des Abbesses... old fashioned brasserie/ bar/ raw bar... big fun factor... really really good seafood platters... other items are good but standard brasserie fare... continuous hours but kitchen is only in full swing at conventional mealtimes;
Chez Plumeau on the place du Calvaire near the Espace Dali... utra-charming resto with a fab terrace... classic cuisine is decent but not great... when taking insisting foreign friends to the horrible place du Tertre and Sacré Coeur, the terrace of Chez Plumeau is where I recover my sense of well-being while waiting for them;
Le Petit Trianon in Le Trianon theatre on the boulevard de Rochechouart near Anvers métro... food is good but the vibe/ ambiance is better... a back-pocket rec in case you find yourself in this part of Montmartre.
If you do return to your quartier for dins, Chez Jenny does suffer from sometimes icy service and tends to place non-French speakers in one section with an English-speaking waiter (the reason, I suppose for johnmarseille's Siberia). But it is large enough to minimize the effects of a loud almost-father-in-law. If you or they can't abide choucroute garnie (for which Chez Jenny is justly famous), I'd pass and maybe try the Auberge Flora on the boulevard Richard Lenoir @ rue Chemin Vert... Flora's small plates/ French tapas are fab for a table of 4...also a sort of tasting menu.
Crêpes. West Country Girl, quite good. Also, Chez Imogène on the rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud @ rue du Grand Prieuré is very much a neighbourhood favourite and might be closer.
Birthday dinner? Yes, l'Ami Jean. But very tight seating.
Well, I hesitated to question Chez Jenny when Parnassien rec'd it cuz I thought it was just punishment for a "loud" American, but I too would tout you off it unless you love coeating with tons of fat (MidWest American-sized fat) Alsatians getting off their buses.
As for Montmartre (my home) Parnassien has it down as I would: Jeanne B, Les Novices & Mascotte and down the slope I'd add Les Saisons and Les Coulisses.