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Paris for Christmas

I will be spending December 20-26 in Paris with my wife and our main ambition is too relax and enjoy good food and wine. We have been in the city several times and my wife lived and studied there. Among the restaurants we do appreciate there are L'Atellerier de Joël Robuchon, Le Verre Volé (though we haven't been there since they opened the separated restaurant), Les Papilles, Le Comptoir du Relais, L'Enfant Rouge, Aux Lyonnais etc. I did appreciate Le Dauphin and Châteaubriand, but think they are too focused on natural wines. I don't mind natural wines if they are clean, but like to be able to select more conventional wines also. For this trip we are however mainly interested in discovering new restaurants. Price is not a big concern, but we like to do some bistros as well as some fine dining to get some variation, also as we are there for Christmas we would like to do some traditional French Christmas menus. The places we are considering are at the moment the following: Pierre Gagnaire, Septime, La Dame de Pic, Chez L'Ami Jean, L'Epigramme, La table d'Aki and Frenchie. Some other options might be L'Agrume, Point Bulles and Au Petit Sud Ouest, also, haven't been to Astier for almost ten years. I liked it then, but is it still good, from what I understand there are new owners. For Christmas dinners or lunches on the 24th and 25th we were thinking of Pinxo and La Table du Lancaster. Lots of restaurants in this post, appreciate any thoughts on any of them, or if you have other recommendations I have missed? Looking forward to hear your thoughts.

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  1. I think Paris is best enjoyed if you have a ladies maid for your wife to carry her bags and such... sooooo I would gladly go . ;)

    2 Replies
    1. re: girloftheworld

      Girloftheworld - I take it that you approve of the restaurants then.

      1. re: JosefK

        yes.. but only from what i have heard

    2. have you checked to see whether these restaurants will be open during that time? Many places in Paris (and elsewhere in France) close for the Christmas holidays.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ChefJune

        As with August, while one can partially count on guidebooks, websites and blogger's indications of what's open and what's not over the Christmas-New Year's holidays, often the places themselves don't decide til the time approaches, and even if they do, for instance, on New Year's Eve day at lunch and New Year's day lunch, they may serve limited menus d/t blow-out celebrations on the Eve itself. I telephone the week before and even then places find themselves closed "exceptionalmente."

        1. re: John Talbott

          I thought there would be problems mainly on the 24th and the 25th, which is when I was thinking of trying Lancaster and Pinxo since they were open last year, but if the restaurants are closing down prior to the actual holiday it looks like i have a lot of planning to do...

      2. By my count you've listed 21 restaurants and 7 days so I think if you had to knock some to the bottom of the list I'd pick Aux Lyonnais, Pic, Point Bulles and Lancaster to throw off the raft.
        As for newer places I'd throw out for consideration:
        8.5/10 Jean-Louis Nomicos
        8.0 110 Taillevent
        Sergent Recuiter
        7.5 Petit Champarret
        7.2 Felicity Lemon

        3 Replies
        1. re: John Talbott

          Thanks, for the new input. I will read up on them as I am not familiar with any one of them. For the restaurants mentioned in my thread, the first eight was just mentioned as to give my preferences. The seven following are the main restaurants I have been considering so far and the last two since they were open on the 24th and 25th last year.

          1. re: JosefK

            "I will read up on them"
            I've reported on all or you can look at A Nous Paris, Le Fooding or Le Figaro, the three best sources on new places.

        2. Given your "good wine" criterion, I'd add La Truffière on the rue Blainville off the place de la Contrescarpe in the 5th.... amazing wine list, well deserved Michelin star, perfect "cadre" for a winter meal... but dunno if it will open over the Christmas hols.

          Not sure if our tastes match because I find l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon rather disappointing on all levels, joyless, and un-parisien. Nor am I big fan of either Verre Volé or Aux Lyonnais. With the caveat that my two-cents might be a different currency from yours, I'd replace Frenchie with Caius on the rue d'Armaillé in the 17th... Frenchie's food is good but not worth the reservation hassles while Caius is a great example of modern French cuisine (without all the other Anglo-Saxon tourists). Astier has recovered from a long bad patch (although still occasional inconsistencies) and may be worth a repeat for nostalgia's sake. But just in a 15-min walking radius of Astier, the no-rezzie Pierre Sang on the rue Oberkampf, Ober-Salé on the rue Oberkampf, Le Villaret (great wine list!) on the rue Ternaux, Le Repaire de Cartouche (excellent game in winter) on the boulevard Filles du Calvaire, and Auberge Flora (small plates) on the boulevard Richard Lenoir are, I think, better alternatives.

          Two thumbs up for Septime, Chez L'Ami Jean, Table d'Aki and Table du Lancaster. Again, it's a mystery at this date which will be open during your visit although it would seem likely that the Lancaster will be. I very much like Point Bulles on the rue Clément (and its raw bar off-shoot l'Ecume des Bulles on the rue Quatre Vents), l'Agrume in the 5th, and Au Petit Sud Ouest in the 7th but I'm not sure I'd make a special trip if I didn't live on the Rive Gauche.

          You will need a rather long short list because of the Christmas hols. Some will be closed, others will have shortened menus.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Parnassien

            Our tastes seem to match, especially re
            - l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon: all in all, unexciting although not bad
            - Aux Lyonnais: not that goo any more. Nice interior. Very good service.
            - Frenchie: There must be food on earth that I would beg and grovel for, but Frenchie, although quite good, is not it. Not worth-the-humiliation good in any case.
            - Caius
            - Astier: indeed, give it a miss. Have not gone to the nearby Le Galopin for a while. Had a very nice meal there once.
            - Septime
            - chez L'Ami Jean
            - Table d'Aki
            - l'Agrume: If I'm next door and am so exhausted I can't even walk to Dans Les Landes, yes. Otherwise, no.

            - Verre Volé: have not gone for a long time. Last time the meal was nice (it was never above nice, was it?) and Bill Bryson was at the next table, so I have lasting fond memories. So go there not for the food but for stalking BB.

            1. re: Parnassien

              Thanks a lot, both I and my wife are in the wine business so we appreciate to have some options when choosing what to drink, though it does not need to be a bible. Will read up on your recommendations.

            2. We've spent the past 2 Christmases in Paris (which is magical), but almost none of the places you listed were open. (We have eaten at La Verre Vole on 26 December the past 2 years though!) There are a few great places that are open before, after or during the holiday that seem to announce their holiday plans in November/early December. Paris by Mouth has been doing a great round-up about openings and closings. Check out last year's to give you a sense: http://parisbymouth.com/holiday-alert...

              2 Replies
              1. re: chompchomp

                Very disappointing. I'm surprised that the restaurants seem to close prior to the 24th, I wasn't expecting that. I spent Christmas in NYC two years ago and it was only on the 25th and 26th we were limited in our choices, neither is this a problem in Stockholm, where we are living. Restaurants are open until the 23rd, as we celebrate on the 24th rather than on the 25th. However, I just have to adapt and make the best out of the situation as tickets and hotel is already booked...

                1. re: JosefK

                  Indeed. We are New Yorkers and in the past few years, NYC restaurants have really been open during the holidays -- a boon for them and visitors. The French take their vacances more seriously though. Also note that many of the most reputable boulangeries and patisseries will be closed. For example, Du Pain et Des Idées and Jacques Genin have never been open when we were there, and Pain de Sucre only opened on the last days of our visits.
                  Lots of fun still to be had, you just need to manage your expectations and plan accordingly.

              2. Since a lot of restaurants will be closed for the holidays I thought I'd post my itinerary if someone else are looking for what will be open for Christmas. I have reservations for all meals with the exception of L'Avant Comptoir and Baron Rouge, but have called the latter and been confirmed they will be open. Even though the schedule looks heavy the intention is to eat lighter at most lunch places so I'm comfortable that we will manage.

                Friday Dec 20 - arrive around noon at CDG.
                Planning to have a snack at L'Avant Comptoir as we will be a bit late for lunch, but probably will need something prior to dinner.
                Dinner at La Table d'Aki

                Saturday Dec 21
                Lunch at Les Papilles
                Dinner ar Pierre Gagnaire (closed 22-26 Dec)

                Sunday Dec 22
                Light lunch at Baron Rouge
                Dinner at Semilla (closes after this evening)

                Monday Dec 23
                Lunch at Caius (closed from Dec 24)
                Dinner at Ledoyen

                Tuesday Dec 24
                Lunch at 110 de Taillevent
                Dinner at La Dame de Pic

                Wednesday Dec 25
                Lunch at Point Bulles
                Dinner at Le Violin d'Ingres (open all Christmas)

                Thursday Dec 26
                Lunch at Les Climats

                The two meals I'm a bit concerned about are the dinners on Monday 23 and Tuesday 24. I have no doubt about that quality of Ledoyen is excellent, but I am considering to change it for something at somewhat lower price range, but all places I have called so far are closed. We are also considering to skip La Dame de Pic and buy some bread, cold cuts and cheese and spend the evening at our hotel. Another option is to substitute either of them for Pinxo if they are open. Any recommendations are appreciated and thoughts about Pinxo?

                Also looking for good places for breakfast. Most breakfasts will probably be rather light with a sandwich and coffee. Neither I nor my wife are particularly fond of sweet breakfasts, but prefer savoury. We are staying at 107 Boulevard Saint Michel close to Jardin du Luxembourg. Bread and Roses and la Palette seems interesting and close to our hotel. we will probably want to have at least one really good egg dish for breakfast as well, any thoughts on that?

                13 Replies
                1. re: JosefK

                  That is very thoughtful of you! Paris by Mouth did just post openings by day, so that should help for the 23 & 24: http://parisbymouth.com/holiday-alert...

                  1. re: chompchomp

                    Thanks, saw that Astier was open so I got a reservation there and will cancel Ledoyen. Will be good to include at least one classical bistro since I feel that most restaurants I've booked are quite modern.

                    1. re: JosefK

                      Astier is not very good.
                      Nearby Le Galopin is much better. But the noise level bothers some people.

                      1. re: Parigi

                        But, from what I an see Le Galopin is closed on Mondays? Think Astier will be enjoyable out of nostalgic reasons at least since it was the first restaurant in Paris we went to together back in 04.

                        1. re: Parigi

                          When's the last time you were at Astier ? It did have bad patch but, judging from my recent meal, it has recovered.

                          1. re: Parnassien

                            Indeed not recent. It was last year.
                            After eating not so well, I did not keep going back hoping for a recovery.

                    2. re: JosefK

                      "We are also considering to skip La Dame de Pic and buy some bread, cold cuts and cheese and spend the evening at our hotel. Another option is to substitute either of them for Pinxo if they are open. Any recommendations are appreciated and thoughts about Pinxo?"
                      I prefer either of the Pinxo's to Pic. Left Bank one is newer.

                      1. re: John Talbott

                        Thanks, have sent requests to both establishments and will wait for their reply before canceling Pic… Have already cancelled Ledoyen, but hope to be back in Paris next year...

                      2. re: JosefK

                        I'm a fan of Pinxo as a go-to place when other places are full or less convenient. The original on the rue d'Alger in the 1st is quite large and touristy (but most restos in the 1st are) but there is a more intimate version now called Mange Tout on the rue Mazarine in the 6th... both are great quality for the price... both are open Mon to Fri (lunch + dinner) and Sat (dinner only).

                        Re Breakfast:
                        Brasserie Le Luco next to your hotel is decent but nothing remarkable... a sort of rainy day choice.
                        Le Rostand on the rue des Médicis/ place Edmond Rostand/ bd St Michel... the quartier's favourite hangout café with heated terrace and view of Luxembourg park...a little pricey but above average "petit déj"... it opens at 8am but not always a cook in the kitchen at that hour so if you order some eggs you might get a "désolé, pas possible en ce moment" from the waiter.
                        Dalloyau on the place Edmond Rostand.... despite its reputation as a pâtisserie, does have some savoury items on its breakfast menu in the salon de thé... quite pricey... opens at 9am.
                        Le Select on the boulevard Montparnasse @ Vavin métro... a landmark café that retains some authenticity and quality... one of my fave places for breakfast or just hanging out ... the #82 bus from the rue Auguste Comte @ bd St Michel to Vavin will save you the walk on cold or rainy days.
                        A La Duchesse Anne on place du 18 Juin 1940/ bd du Montparnasse/ rue de Rennes for some breakfast crêpes... and also on #82 bus route.
                        Eggs&Co on the rue Bernard Palissy in the 6th... doesn't open until 10am but a great place for a late eggy breakfast.
                        Art Macaron on the bd du Montparnasse @ the rue de Chevreuse...misleading name because they have lots more than macarons... and very good coffee... excellent petit déjeuner from 9am Tue to Sat.
                        Bread & Roses on the rue Fleurus... my daily pit stop for very superior pain au chocolat on my way to work.

                        Strongly recommend the Piano Bar at the Closerie des Lilas on the boulevard Montparnasse for an apéro or digestif... very close to your hotel... it would be a shame to miss one of the chattering classes' favourite watering holes... full of sparkle and history.

                        1. re: Parnassien

                          What a great list of breakfast places! Thank you, will be extremely useful and the one sweet thing to eat my wife do like in the morning is pain au chocolate so I'll make certain she gets one at Bread & Roses.

                          Also will stop by the piano bar. I already have a separate list of interesting cocktail and wine bars arranged by neighborhood so we can easily find something interesting if we get thirsty when strolling around.

                        2. re: JosefK

                          Over on the rue Mouffetard, there are two good places to get roast chickens (with potatoes) to take out. There's also a really good couscous take out down at the bottom of the street. As well, there's also a little restaurant (right next to the wine store) that seemed to be open every day (don't know about Christmas, but... the food was copious and good-not-great, but the folks there were really friendly and the prices couldn't be beat! Just thought I'd mention those "in case", since you seem to be staying not too far from rue Mouffetard, which is a wonderful shopping street. good cheeses and charcuterie, too...

                          Have a wonderful time! I know you will. and don't forget to go see the decorations inside Notre Dame.

                          1. re: ChefJune

                            I am actually very fond of rue Mouffetard, but have so far restricted me to cheese purchases there. However it's one of my favorite streets in Paris to stroll along so I know we will go there. I feel quite confident that I will have a lovely time this Christmas and hope you will as well.

                            1. re: JosefK

                              I will, but am wishing I would be in Paris for Christmas! Maybe next year...

                        3. One more question. For Pierre Gagnaire. I've seen that there seems to be three different choices of menu; tasting menu, a la carte or game menu. Anybody who has any suggestions on which one I should go for?