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Jul 28, 2013 06:16 AM

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:

              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.