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Nov 29, 2013 06:33 PM

Christmas Eve Dinner in Paris

Hello! My family and I are going to Paris for the week of Christmas and we're looking into options for Réveillon de Noël. Upon initial googling, there's really not a huge amount of information on specific options and most of what is out there looks really expensive (400 Euro per person or per couple, sans alcohol). We would love to experience it, but we're not completely sold, nor completely opposed to a traditional réveillon meal - we'd just like a terrific meal on Christmas Eve that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, in a restaurant with great ambiance. Any suggestions? There are six of us (ranging from age 16 to 84), so I'm sure we'll need to make reservations. Thank you in advance for any suggestions you can provide!

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    1. I've just become an sudden "expert" on Christmas restos in Paris thanks to a request from an American colleague. We always have our family feasts at home so I must add that I have no direct experience of these special Noël menus. It's all word of mouth from people I trust and as well as my own opinion from non-festive meals at the same restos.

      For the food,
      Violon d'Ingres on the rue Saint Dominique in the 7th... about 180€... probably the other Christian Constant restos have cheaper special menus for the hols but these are no-rezzie places so not suitable for a group.
      La Table de Lancaster on the rue de Berri off the Champs Elysées... as much as I usually loathe the Champs Elysées, I gotta admit that it is spectacular at Christmas... and the restaurant at the Hotel Lancaster is a delightful oasis to escape the crowds and please the senses... a very spiffy Noel menu for about 180 €.

      For the fun,
      La Coupole on the boulevard de Montparnasse in the 14th... about 70 € ... landmark brasserie ... probably a good choice for groups because menu will appeal to non-foodies as well as not too picky foodies.
      La Closerie des Lilas on the boulevard de Montparnasse in the 6th... probably around 80 €... another historic resto oozing ambiance... there's a bookable restaurant as well as a no-rezzie brasserie ... food is not mind-blowing but decent enough and on Christmas Eve will compare well to other options... and the fab Piano Bar for drinks before or after.

      You can also find lots of other restos open on xmas eve if you use Paris by Mouth seems to have a very limited number of suggestions.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Parnassien

        Last year we spent Christmas in Paris and used lafourchette to book Christmas dinner. Despite all the confirmations we received from them for our reservation, when we arrived at the restaurant,(which was a long taxi ride to get there) the restaurant was dark and closed, with a sign on the window saying closed for the holidays. Lafourchette accepted no blame for this error, instead they said it was the fault of the restaurant. Although they send many confirmations to you advising not to call the restaurant to confirm the reservation they have made for you, lesson learned, ALWAYS call yourself to reconfirm, especially at Christmas when things can change daily. This was our first time using lafourchette, and it has put me off using them again.

        1. re: francaise

          Oups. Even though I suggested, I've never actually used it as a booking service and always make the rezzies by phone or in person or, less often, e-mail. I know how individualistic and idiosyncratic restaurant owners can be and that they will not always comply with lafourchette's rules. I don't even trust a restaurant's own website. But lafourchette is a valuable tool for getting a quick "sense" of a place... sample menus (admittedly, rarely updated) for a better idea of the cooking style... prices and "formules"... reviews (read with a pinch of salt) for a general impression of quality and service... and practical info like a/c, terrace, access, etc.

          1. re: Parnassien

            I've always used La Fourchette as a booking service with success. But I wouldn't dream of doing that on Christmas eve. Anything can happen on Christmas Eve (and on New Year's Eve too). (That's why I stay indoors.)

            1. re: Ptipois

              Most probably La Fourchette is reliable most of the time, however, it is not infallible. I can see why locals would have less need of it than visitors to Paris, and also why locals would prefer to stay in at Christmas and New Years with family and friends rather than eat out. For visitors to Paris at holiday time, who may indeed use La Fourchette, my point is just not to rely on a third party for reservations. We have never had a problem with reservations that we made ourselves, by phone or email, and then reconfirming the day before or morning of. It seems that the more people involved, the more chances that things can go wrong.

              1. re: francaise

                "locals would have less need of it than visitors"
                I don't use it to book but to look, however three local friends swear by it and get these 40% reductions on selected meals (that is, usually not a lunch "menu" say.).
                Like everyone above, I book by phone and have been known to reconfirm the morning of, if antsy.

                1. re: John Talbott

                  I even get the 40% reductions when I haven't booked for them. I find that a bit embarrassing.

                2. re: francaise

                  I think I've found a way to minimize lafourchette's Christmas unreliability. Instead of searching by date i.e. 24 Dec, use the Affiner la Recherche sidebar and check the "Fêtes-Noël & Nouvel An" box in the Menu category.

                  Visitors should also be aware that lafourchette's coverage is far from comprehensive. Very few of my favourite restos subscribe to the service. And of the 5 restos suggested so far on this thread, only one comes up on a lafourchette search.

        2. Drouant offers fantastic atmosphere and food for a leisurely paced Christmas Eve dinner.

          1. It's the season for a regular Chowhound Christmas carol: don't eat out in Paris for Christmas or NYE. That just sucks. Sure, there are exceptions (and the ones listed here are good ones), but in the end, it's always gonna be less good and much more expensive than any other day of the year.

            I may be biased, being the original Grinch, hating christmas with all my heart. Even then, this is one of the reasons I hate it: it's almost impossible to get decent food or a pleasant evening.
            I like my christmas eating pasta in an isolated house and going to bed early.

            But even if you don't, buy a few oysters, foie gras and good bread, and you'll have a good time.

            9 Replies
              1. re: John Talbott

                Agree with all my fellow locals.
                Dining out on xmas eve or New Year's meal is just looking for trouble. It is going to be much more expensive and the food will not deliver. Stay home, eat your oysters that you had reserved at least several days in advance, drink your bubblies to the music of La Callas.

                1. re: Parigi

                  Or instead of listening to Callas ascending the pyre or throwing herself off the Castel Sant'Angelo, you can have an even more festive New Year's Eve by going to the performance of Mozart's Requiem in the Eglise Saint-Sulpice... oysters and bubbly optional.
                  (Mince, my tongue is stuck in my cheek)

                  1. re: Parnassien

                    "Callas ascending the pyre or throwing herself off the Castel Sant'Angelo"
                    Better, I still have the 24 hour broadcast of Tosca done in real time at the Sant'Andrea della Valle church, Scarpia's flat (now the French Embassy) and the Castel Sant'Angelo.
                    To stay on topic, it's best enjoyed with the bread, cheese etc that Tosca brings in Act 1, and what every production I've ever seen where one only discerns wine glasses and a knife of course in Act 2 but alas in Act 3 Cavardossi is never offered a last meal so I pretend he had oysters, foie gras and some cheap (given the Italian economy) caviar.
                    Also erinliz as I've said on another thread, I'm deaf enough already not to have to suffer another cherry bomb thrown down Metro entrances - if I were 16, I'd think it was cool, no longer.

              2. re: souphie

                we went to Mass at Notre Dame one year (recommended experience just once) and ended up getting dinner at an Asian restaurant a few blocks away.

                Wasn't award-winning, but tasty and filling, and made a goofy circular reference to "A Christmas Story" Fa-ra-ra, indeed.

                I wouldn't want to do it every year, but it was fun.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  Actually Christmas Mass is Tv-cast, sometimes from ND and othertimes from some snowy chapel East.

                  1. re: John Talbott

                    wouldn't be the same -- it's pretty special to hear the old girl being used as she was built to be used, with soaring voices and organ filling every arch.

                    It's a bit of a thing with me -- I'll sit and listen to music (vocal or instrumental) being performed in any church -- the acoustics are magnificent in most cases.

                  2. re: sunshine842

                    Was it the Marama on rue St Jacques ? Quite good, really. Very good wonton soup, just the thing to have on a cold night.

                    1. re: Parigi

                      I don't think so -- we were off of a side street a few blocks after the Pont Double...I don't remember the name!