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Apr 22, 2014 01:14 PM

Paris Restaurant for 40th Birthday

I'll be in Paris on my 40th birthday, which falls on a Sunday in May.

I'm staying in Le Marais area, but willing to venture into whatever area might offer the best dining experience.

I have been to Paris one other time, but didn't do any really fancy dining. The most pricey we had was Les Papilles, which was great.

So, I'm open to both lunch and dinner suggestions. We don't speak French too well, but know some basics. So, I'd want a place that's understanding if I need an English translation.

While doing the set menu worked out before, there are definite things I don't like to eat: raw meat, shellfish, snails. And I LOVE desserts.

Thanks for any ideas.

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  1. Check out John Talbott's site for reviews of restaurants.
    Paris by Mouth site has a good breakdown of restaurants by district. Click on a few that look interesting and then maybe come back with some questions about specific restaurants. The French Chowhound posters are the best...I pour over this site every spring before we go to Paris. Also, use the search for some current discussions and you can figure out what restaurant's people are talking about.

    1. Thanks Macdog.

      Some restaurants in general I'm considering visiting while I'm there include:

      L'Ami Jean

      Cuisine de Bar

      Les Papilles

      La Petite Rose Des Stables

      Le Temps des Ceris

      Benoit (not sure because of mixed reviews)

      Little Italy Trattoria

      Yes, I know that many of these are more casual, and maybe not for a birthday dinner. However, I do need to make reservations at several of them anyway. Some are chosen because they're in the 4th close to hotel. Others because of reviews.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ParisMoonslice

        Chez L'Ami Jean gets lots of love on these boards. Cuisine de Bar is good for lunch. In the same area for lunch-Breizh Cafe is a good crepe spot and I like falafel's at Chez Marianne. I've eaten at Les Papilles and enjoyed it. It's all tourists dining with you. The rest I haven't been to.

        In the 4th Metropolitian is good for modern French and John Talbott has raved about Les Enfants Rouges in the haut Marais. I asked about a traditional bistro recently on CH and Chez Denise in the 1st was much lauded. We have also enjoyed Terroir Parisien (one in the 5th and new one in the 2nd).

        1. re: macdog

          "I've eaten at Les Papilles and enjoyed it. It's all tourists dining with you." - although on my visit it was mainly French people enjoying a big pre-Christmas lunch. For some places the mix of locals vs tourists is quite fluid.

          1. re: PhilD

            Also, when you book to eat determines your fellow diners. I can usually hold off till 8:30 or 9, although in Spain that's practically the middle of the day. I do remember French diners arriving at Les Papilles as we were leaving.

        2. re: ParisMoonslice

          Benoit is good and open on Sunday evening so a nice spot for a birthday. It's a very pretty, old world traditional Parisian bistro run by Alain Ducasse so high end food (and definitely not trendy and hip - in fact the opposite).

          It's not cheap but nice for a birthday splurge and whilst not formal people do make an effort to dress up a bit. They speak very good English.

        3. Thanks again Macdog.

          My hotel offered to make a few reservations for me before I go. I think I'll take them up on it since I don't want to pay $1.62 a minute to call France from the U.S.

          I'm making a reservation via email for the first night at Les Papilles. I figured I could ease into it with a tourist friendly place! Plus, I'm arriving by train from London on a Saturday, and Les Papilles is closed the next two days. I have six nights in Paris.

          Chez L'Ami Jean doesn't do online reservations, but I'm definitely going to try them if I can get in for dinner or lunch.

          Thanks for the other recommendations. I will check them out!

          I've got a rough itinerary planned.

          Day One Saturday: (half day after train): Exploring Rue Montorgueil, probably with a stop at Patissier Stohrer; Dinner at Les Papilles

          Day Two Sunday: Exploring Le Marais with a stop at Marche de la Bastille and Place des Vosages

          Day Three Monday: Opera Garnier, Galleries Lafayette, Printemps, and if I'm not too tired, move on to Left Bank shops ; Napoleon's Tomb and Orsay (but may save these for another day)

          Day Four Tuesday: Perhaps Auvers-sur-Oise

          Day Five Wed: Maybe Versailles (Since I didn't go before)

          Day Six Thur: Sainte-Chapelle and Louvre

          6 Replies
          1. re: ParisMoonslice

            You can reserve online for Metropolitan at and Terroir Parisien has a website (just google them). Don't forget to get your VAT back when you go shopping. Galleries Lafayette will do it at the store. Don't forget Bon Marche on the left bank with a fabulous food hall (and beautiful store).

            1. re: macdog

              I will second Metropolitan. Though not the fanciest of French restos (far from it), the service is great, the food is wonderful, and our dessert that we had a year ago still lives in my salivary memory. And if you get there a little on the early side, the waitress will have ample time to answer any of your menu questions, and neither you nor she will feel rushed. Very low-key, and we may have been the only Americans there the night we went. I would go back a second time, but there's just too many new places to explore on our list!

              1. re: bauskern

                Thanks. Do you have address for Metropolitan? There are several restaurants by that name in Paris.

            2. re: ParisMoonslice

              If you love dessert, you may want to check out Dessance, the relatively new dessert-focused place on rue des Archives at the northern edge of the Marais neighbourhood. I don't really eat sweets myself but peeped in recently and thought it looked very interesting.

            3. Oh, no way. Just typed a long response and it got eaten!! I thought I had copied it, but no...


              Booked Saturday night at Les Papilles at 7 pm (wanted 8pm, but couldn’t get it)

              Not booked Sunday night. (this is birthday) Considering Benoit brunch instead of dinner, but would anyone care to second it, or comment on lunch versus brunch or dinner there? I’ll be doing a self-guided walking tour of Le Marais on this day, so the location would work. Plus, many restaurants are closed on Sunday.

              Booked Monday night at Metropolitan at 8:30pm 8, rue de Jouy

              Not booked Tuesday night but considering a casual local zinc bar Le Temps des Ceris. Anyone know it? Is small so would need to book, but no online booking here either. I could try to catch it at lunch instead. It has such good reviews and seems like it’s not a tourist trap.

              Not booked Wednesday night but considering day trip, so not sure when I’d be back. May leave this one open.

              Booked Thursday (last night) L’Ami Jean at 8 pm (My hotel booked for me.)

              Lunches: Am thinking I’ll go with places that don’t require reservations and try my luck. I don’t want to have to rush around trying to make it to lunch while I’m out and about. Some places I’m considering that I think don’t require reservations (correct me if not): Cuisine de Bar, Little Breizh (Are there better crepes?)

              Might also try to assemble a few picnics for lunch. Maybe a sandwich from Sacha Finkelsztajn. I want to try a real Italian pizza place too (as close as you can get outside of Italy).

              Missing anything? I’m still revising my itinerary, so should have better idea about where I’ll be around lunches.


              18 Replies
              1. re: ParisMoonslice

                Cuisine de bar you can just walk in, Breizh cafe in the Marais you probably need a res. if you do brunch or big lunch on Sunday, you can do small plates at Le Mary Celeste in upper Marais or Dans Les Landes in the 5th. Mary Celeste takes online res until 7:30, Dans les Landes is on

                Here's a list of places open on Sunday.

                1. re: ParisMoonslice

                  Some aren't due to simple seating and appearance, but l am a fan of pizza of Al Taglio off Rue Oberkampf especially for lunch before the hoardes get there for dinner.

                  1. re: ParisMoonslice

                    What do you mean by brunch? Benoit is very traditional, and all the better for it, and serves lunch from 12:00 to 2:00, the dinner from 7:00 (like most Paris restaurants - so wise to remember this if you hope to eat late lunches anywhere).

                    You can linger over lunch, so can arrive towards the end of service and still be fed, and then relax over wine e to into the afternoon. The ALC menu is the same for both lunch and dinner I think - although the set menu is only available at lunch I think.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      I thought Benoit did a brunch type thing, but I've done so much reading I'm probably confused.

                      Thanks for the pizza recommend.

                      1. re: ParisMoonslice

                        I think you maybe looking at Benoit NYC which does indeed have brunch.

                        However Benoit Paris does have a special dessert feature on Sunday lunches now - which may appeal to a dessert fan celebrating a birthday:

                    2. re: ParisMoonslice

                      Temps des Cerises is a terrific pick, if I'm thinking of the right one in the southwestern corner of the 4th. A friend lives practically on top of it and it's her local. Good updated bistro cooking with nice ingredients, perhaps less 'chef-y' than say Metropolitain, friendly young team, very cute room.

                      I'd call first but don't think a reservation would be required that far in advance for a Tuesday evening. You'll need to keep an eye out for it when you get there - it's tucked into a side street off an unpromising boulevard.

                      1. re: shakti2

                        Hey shakit2 and macdog, somehow I was thinking that Temps des Cerises was closed on Sunday, but now I see they are open daily. I got this info from the link that macdog posted from hungry for paris. I can't seem to find a website for this restaurant to confirm hours.

                        Does this info seem correct:

                        Open daily 8am-2am. Lunch menu 13 Euros, Sunday brunch 22 Euros, Average dinner a la carte 30 Euros.

                        Anyone tried their Sunday brunch? My small inn (sort of a B&B) provides breakfast, but I still think at least one Paris brunch would be fun.

                        I'm also considering Les Climats for lunch after a visit to Orsay on Tuesday since Orsay is closed Monday.

                        My restaurant bills are adding up! But I'm going to take it easy on the London side of the trip to save the $ for Paris food.

                        1. re: ParisMoonslice

                          "Temps des Cerises?"
                          Which one; the one in the 13th is closed Sat lunch & Sundays, the one in 4th open 7/7.

                          1. re: macdog

                            PhilD, the dessert link at Beniot says they offer that until the beginning of May. I wonder what they will replace it with? I’m going in May. The desserts do look lovely.

                            Macdog, thanks for the list of Sunday opens. And all your help.

                            Shakiti2, thanks for the words on Temps des Cerises. I think I read that you should reserve because it’s such a small place. But maybe this far out is overkill.


                            1. re: ParisMoonslice

                              I am afraid I don't know - I assume they will revert to the standard list which is online and in English. They have a pastry chef so all of these are made in house (which is less common than people think).

                              My favourite was always their version of Rum Baba which is "Armagnac Savarin" which is served with a lot of ceremony, and as is traditional, they leave a two different bottles/types of Armagnac on the table for you to pour over to suit your taste.

                              All their menus are on line and I note that the lunch comes in a bargain €38 a head which was quite a surprise.

                              1. re: PhilD

                                I can't believe I didn't ask this:

                                Anyone visited Le Cafe des Chats? It's a cat cafe!

                                Also, I know from the email that Les Papilles requires you to call them to confirm your reservation a couple days beforehand or it's cancelled. I'm paranoid that others are like this too and I just don't know.

                                L'Ami Jean or Metropolitan require you to confirm with them?

                                1. re: ParisMoonslice

                                  L'Ami Jean doesn't, but I do. (And someone usually says: "your name is down already."

                                    1. re: ParisMoonslice

                                      I have no restaurant. I was saying that I myself always called back to confirm.

                                  1. re: ParisMoonslice

                                    No Metropolitian doesn't but may have an email reminder. I forgot to call the very nice owner of Les Papilles one year but he still fit us in.
                                    Another nice spot for lunch is over in Canal St. Martin area. The canal is really interesting and we have eaten at cafe prune a couple times. It's in the 10th easy walk from Marais.

                                    1. re: macdog

                                      Prune is a great spot for people-watching, but one had better eat before going there.

                        1. I do but like not remembering whether I turned off the gaz it's just senility.