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Jan 18, 2014 04:42 PM

My parents week in Paris - some affordable and "healthy" options

I'm a Boston hound, and my parents (in their mid-60s) will be in Paris for the first time this spring as part of a long, first trip to Europe. While they appreciate great food and great experiences, they are by no means "foodies", and they are a bit daunted at the prospect of figuring out where to eat in Paris especially without breaking the bank. In addition, they are extremely conscious of eating "heart healthy" food at home (e.g., lots of fish, very little butter, etc.) and are a little intimidated by the prospect of getting out of their routine.

I would love to be able to provide them with some trusted recommendations for relatively affordable restaurants that might be able to give them some lighter options. Their idea of French food is a little stereotypically old-fashioned, so I think they'll likely be pleasantly surprised by what they find, but figured I'd ask this board for some thoughts. They are staying in an apartment in Trocadero and will be visiting all the major attractions, so I'd welcome suggested locations throughout the city.

Thanks very much in advance, and if you're every coming to Boston or New England, I'll be more than happy to return the favor!

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  1. First, as someone over 60 who eats moderately "healthy" day in and day out, I would suggest that getting out of one's routine is one of the major objectives and benefits of travel. That said, as you have already suggested, today's French food is quite light. Some longtime French visitors find it too light, too heavy on vegetables, too light on heavy proteins and almost no starches on main plates.

    Your parents have several avenues to approach their meals. They can visit the classic houses and order simply and what they consider light, or they can branch out to the new young chefs who delight in fish and do not worship butter. Maybe I'd send them to Saturne, a revelation of how to consume 6 courses without feeling "full". And that's just a start. And please tell them to "enjoy"!

    1. Good advice from Mangeur;
      So your parents are two decades younger than I, who have earned the distinction of venerable because of being the last guy standing.
      I think I eat affordably and heathily, although as a physician, I don't always heal myself,
      Do they think Legal Seafood is acceptable - then try Clamato or Dessirier or the Bistro du Dome.
      Do they think lean beef is OK - try Hugo Desnoyer, Maison de l'Aubrac or Charbon Rouge.
      Otherwise, like Mangeur, I'd say that most places popular on CH are affordable and healthy - IF (that's a shout) you pick the salad over the fat.
      For vegetarian and vegan places, please do a search.
      In fact, you might want to scan the last 50 threads and tell us what looks appealing and I guarantee we'll weigh in (and ChefJune will propose Maceo).

      1. Sounds like your folks will have the option of eating in for some meals - this may be nice since it provides a break from being on the road and Paris has plenty of good stuff to buy and cook or eat as is. They should also take a leaf from one of the venerable posters here and eat their big meal out at lunch, when they can walk off the damage during the afternoon's sight-seeing. Some ideas for eating out :

        : Septime in the 11th, well-covered here and elsewhere, serves a lighter but still recognisably French style, does a well-priced lunch menu with at least 1 fish option (28 euro I think and very satisfying when I've had it recently) and is extremely easy to book on-line if you are prepared to do it early and respond to a confirmatory email later.

        : Terroir Parisien, 2 branches in the 1st/ 2nd and 5th, does bistro favourites recognisable to old-school Francophiles, with a lighter hand and more modern plating, surprisingly affordable considering the sleek 'designed' look of the place.

        : la Cagouille in the 14th for seafood with good-value fixed-price menus (26 euro at lunch I think), which I mention only because you say your folks like fish - my family loves fish, and love this resto, but I have to caveat that we are particularly big on their grilled/ fried head-on whole-fish preparations, which may not be for everyone.

        : Otherwise a good seafood plateau with a variety of raw and plain-boiled shellfish may please - the product is often sufficiently sweet and flavourful in itself to dispense with the accompanying mayo, is often to be had in beautiful brasseries with classic-looking interiors, although it won't be particularly inexpensive. Unfortunately I've last had this in notably un-pretty locations (Garnier near St. Lazare station, Comptoir des Mers in the 4th) but perhaps someone else can chip in with a specific recommendation for a more classic location.

        3 Replies
        1. re: shakti2

          Thank you to all of you! These are great responses and a terrific start. I really appreciate it, and I'll pass along the recommendations.

          1. re: nseton

            I need to add a seemingly gratuitous caution. Dietary concerns can be addressed by choosing simple foods and even by eating around and avoiding parts of a plate that one is not comfortable eating. It is not necessary to order specially formulated or formatted plates.

            I remember with clenched teeth meeting friends from home at tiny Machon d'Henri, a very simple, basic bistro with a closet sized kitchen. My friend, who bordered on an eating disorder, requested that the green beans, offered in vinaigrette, be served without dressing and that the salmon be steamed rather than grilled. The single waiter in a room of 24 took her order without comment and the single chef sigued her order into his routine. We knew that the beans were already dressed in advance of service; they probably washed them for her since there was no time or space for cooking them from scratch. I don't know what facility he had for steaming the salmon but he did.

            1. re: nseton

              Jeanne B has good, light French cuisine, inexpensive, and can be teamed up with a lovely walk of the neighborhood that is the "right" side of Montmartre.

          2. I think Table d'Aki would be a good choice. My parents are fans. They also like Garance.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Nancy S.

              Aki is great. Difficult to communicate with him though.