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Paris Itin for March

Hello Paris Chowhounders and Happy New Year!

I am just starting to plan a family trip to Paris (from New York City) for March. This board has been immensely helpful in selecting restaurants. Below is my proposed itin. The family size is 4 and ranges in age from 40-68. I am not the foodie in the group -- this is more of a gift to my parents --- but I do enjoy food and have worked hard to try to find places that will show off both the high end dining scene and the newer, younger sports.

In the past, I've done similar trips with my parents to California, where we definitely did hit some food fatigue with the restaurants in Napa Valley, so I'm hoping that the dinners and a few "off days' from the michelins for lunch will provide a rest for the palate. While I think the wine bars of some of these places (like Frenchies and Vivant Table) would be terrific places for our dinners, I wonder if they will be too crowded (for my parents to be comfortable?), which is why I was thinking to book tables at their restaurants.

This group will be largely focused on the food, and a lot less on the wine (we don't know very much but definitely enjoy indulging in a few glasses -- mostly at night though).

My parents speak a little french, but I've tried to select restaurants that will accommodate non-french speakers.

Day / Lunch / Dinner
Wednesday - ? / Spring
Thursday - Pierre Gagnaire / ?
Friday - ? / Vivant Table
Saturday- ? / Bones
Sunday- Le Cinq / Le Richer
Monday- Le Meurice / Frenchies

I've recently become intrigued with Goust, Garance and Roseval. Do any of these places merit a dinner spot over any of those listed above? If not, I can slot in Goust and Garance for lunch. Roseval is only open for dinner.

Thanks in advance for any comments!

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  1. It's a good list (including the supplementary list). But:

    1/ It's way too much food. The day you have lunch at Pierre Gagnaire, you shouldn't plan dining out, even if you'll end up grabbing something. By the weekend you'll be on your knees and dreaming of a broth and no food for days. Three multi-starred in one week, in particular, is probably too much (as awesome as they are).

    2/ I would plan one meal a day and have my list of bakeries, charcuteries, chese shops ready for the other side of the experien. Not to mention, make room for random discoveries along the way.

    3/ You have no plain "traditional" restaurant, say Joséphine and their boeuf bourguignon, Dumonet and their tartare, etc. I'm sure that's intentional, but there are good French fries to be had in this town.

    9 Replies
    1. re: souphie

      I agree as always with Soup, if eating at the biggies (Gagniere, Le Cinq, Meurice) I'd go light at night, but I'm an old guy, I can't handle two 3-course meals a day as I could at 18.
      I have not been to the Jancou empire since he left but have been assured that the cooking is the same. Please report if you go.

      1. re: souphie

        Thank you, Souphie and John, for your replies. You have been amongst my favorites to read on this board. Souphie- had looked at Josephine and while I think my father in particular would love it, I think the rest of our group is more inclined to check out the newer spots. The beef bourguignon reviews are, however, so stellar, that of course I will leave Paris thinking I should have gone... As for the 2 restaurants a day, your concerns are spot on... however, with these trips we generally "suffer" so that we can see and experience more. Knowing that we will be dining out for both lunch and dinner, we will be sure to manage the meals. Plus, we will be walking the city all day, every day.

        1. re: ethan111

          "As for the 2 restaurants a day, your concerns are spot on... however, with these trips we generally "suffer" so that we can see and experience more."
          The point is that you actually experience less and enjoy less, when you badly pace your dining.
          "Knowing that we will be dining out for both lunch and dinner, we will be sure to manage the meals. Plus, we will be walking the city all day, every day."
          The two genetlemen who shared the advice with you are, like me, Parisians, and we walk all the time. Walking is a given in this city. NBD. Does not affect dining habits.
          Either you don't dine in those stratospheric places, or when you do, you want to have the stratospheric experience, and not a discounted experience in order to squeeze in a few other discounted experiences. (discounted in the sense of ordering sparingly because you have to, - have to, are obliged to, - eat again in a few hours.) Do your sense of enjoyment a favor and listen to them.
          I have recently had 6 stars in 27 hours. The pacing made it not enjoyable and not even memorable. At the end of the money's-no-object pig-out week to which I was luckily invited, my generous dining companions and I were all thankful for a meal in a farm (Ferme de la Ruchotte), enjoying immeasurably a streamlined menu serving the farm's own ingredients with the tell-tale bright-color freshness and turnip that looks… just like a turnip and has not been sculpted into a swan. But that's just us.

          1. re: Parigi

            I think there is a difference between a weeks blow out for a special or rare trip to Paris and pacing yourself as a local who can visit restaurants at your leisure. My advice is to structure each day so that the biggies like Gagnaire and Le Cinq are followed by the wine bars and very casual places where you can snack rather than dine. So I assume you mean Frenchies wine bar on Monday not the restaurant, and I understand Bones does small plates so maybe shift that after Gagnaire and skit in something else to Saturday like Goust.

            1. re: PhilD

              Thank you to everyone for their feedback. Based on your suggestions, I am going to build the trip around the restaurants below. For the days where dinner isn't booked, we will check out the various wine bars (e.g., Frenchies, Vivant, Septime) if needed. On those few days where lunch isn't booked, we will go light.

              Wed- arrive early morning. Keeping everything open
              Thurs- Gagnaire (lunch)
              Friday - Goust (lunch) / Bones (dinner)
              Saturday- Spring (dinner)
              Sunday- Le Cinq (lunch)
              Monday- Le Meurice (lunch)

            2. re: Parigi

              Sadly Ruchotte seems to be suspending its auberge/ resto operations in 2014 ? (at least that's what the website says)

            3. re: ethan111

              Why not split the group for some meals ? Drop your folks off at Josephine and go to nearby Trama, or Garance, or the 11th on your own. Or make a sacrifice of yourself and take your dad to Josephine while the others head for something more modern. Or schedule a place like Bones (dim and noisy bar-like ambience) on an evening when your folks can recuperate with oysters or some such after a big lunch.

              Benefits : better chance of fitting in everyone's competing interests, you'll have a better experience as a party of 2 in some of the more bar-like places and if your family is anything like mine, a bit of 'apart' time ensures everyone comes home on talking terms.

              Also how about Terroir Parisien for menu items that make old-school Francophiles happy, nicely cooked, and plated in a lighter modern style ? The original branch in the 5th has been a reliable destination for me and I see Dr. T gives good marks to the new one too.

              1. re: shakti2

                "Terroir Parisien.....I see Dr. T gives good marks to the new one too."
                Indeed I do and again yesterday - superb food, great service and neat setting (the almost basement of the grand old Bourse). Classic/standard items with an innovative twist.

                1. re: shakti2

                  Thank you for this advice. It's great and much appreciated. I think I will build in a day where we do split up.

            4. "I've recently become intrigued with Goust, Garance and Roseval. Do any of these places merit a dinner spot over any of those listed above?"
              The quick and easy answer is yes... give over-hyped Frenchie the boot and then play eeny meeny miney moe to choose either hip-and-trendy Roseval or more elegant Garance (Goust is closed on Monday)...provided, of course, that you are not comatose from your 3- to-4-hour lunches at Le Cinq and Le Meurice on Sunday and Monday.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Parnassien

                "The quick and easy answer is yes"
                I'll second Parnassien's (as always) sensible recs.