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1st Timers in Paris / 2 nights in St. Germain

Hello CH'ers,
My family (3 adults, 3 elders) are travelling to France in 8/14 for a river cruise to Normandy. We have 3 nights total in Paris book-ending the cruise.
Night 1 (arrival from U.S.) - staying near Place de la porte Maillot & Arc de Triomphe. I have a recommendation that it might be a good time to walk/tour to Arc de Triomphe and then Trocadero; perhaps see the Eiffel Tower??

Nights 2 - 3 (post cruise) - staying in St. Germain / 6E on west side of Luxembourg Gardens. We'll likely be touring toward Notre Dame, Musee de Orsay in these days.

For those familiar with the neighborhoods, we'd appreciate recommendations for great cafes, bistros etc. Although some of us are foodies, others are distinctly "not". As a group we'd probably do better with a less complex menu - however I am very excited for "french cuisine".

Thanks in advance!

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  1. For your first night, you might enjoy a simple steak and fries dinner at classic Relais de Venise at Porte Maillot. There is no choice at dinner, just a simple salad followed by sliced steak (and its special sauce) and thin fries. Seconds are brought around during service. Dessert is available but optional. A good quality/value place. There are no reservations taken and you should arrive at beginning of one of the two services. Your hotel can find the hours for you.
    http://www.relaisdevenise.com/map.htm#

    For more sophisticated French cuisine, Caius is a lovely room with excellent food and service. it is located a few blocks northwest of Arc de Triomphe. You should have your hotel make reservations here if you choose to go.
    www.caius-restaurant.fr/

    Either of these should be suitable for your group. Enjoy!

    1. We stayed in an apartment at the corner of rue de Seine and rue Saint Sulpice for awhile this summer, which is fairly close to you. Here are my thoughts from that stay.

      Au Petit Suisse 16 Rue de Vaugirard, 6e Friendly service. Good food for a first meal after the plane ride. We shared an Italian salad plate and the soup de jour. About 25 eu each plus a bottle of wine.

      Gerard Murlot 76, rue de Seine, 6e. Wonderful pastries. Very busy. We saw people cry when they found the place closed for holiday…apartment’s windows faced the shop. Must see.
      Baker/pastry place on Mabillon , 6e (can’t find the name)…very good, bigger bread selection and much cheaper than Gerard Murlot.

      Marche’ St Germaine. Good selection. Pricier than many adequate alternatives.

      Bon Marche'. Excellent selection and fun to walk through to see their many items. VERY PRICEY when comparing their more ordinary items to those available in conventional outlets.

      Pavillon de la Fontaine Luxembourg Gardens, 6e. We shared salad and a toasted cheese and ham. Good service. Fun to be outside and able to hear the childrens' band recitals. Food was a little steep, I thought, but a good experience. About 22eu each.

      Les Deux Magots 6 place Saint- Germain des Pre's. Our party of 18 showed up (no reservations...I spoke with the captain the day before) and were seated quickly. Only one person was disappointed...she expected a corn fed steak and got a fairly tough piece of beef. Sent it back and carried on with everyone happy. I had scallops and they were good. Much wine. Probably too much noise. A great evening at a famous old place with seats on the sidewalk. One guest was so pleased with the experience that he picked up the entire tab and I really have no idea what it cost.

      Grand Bistro Breteuil 2, Place de Breteuil, 7e.
      We were on our way to au Denier Metro, when our Metro broke down in Duroc station. I recalled this restaurant was on Duroc and the Circle and called them. Our guests loved the place. Great choices, decent wine, clumsy waiter. The asparagus starter is exceptional and the sole is cooked and presented very well. We went three times as the place was such a hit with guests. About 55eur each with after dinner drinks.

      La Taverne du Nil 16-18 Rue Le Regrattier, 4e Ducked in to get out of a downpour. Warm, friendly, soup was thin. Wouldn’t go back.

      chez L'Ami Jean27 Rue Malar, 7e. Exceptionally good food; but, for all the hype, I expected more. We all had the chef’s choices. We were among the last to be seated for lunch and the staff might have been tired. The service was abrupt, whereas I was expecting attention and some warmth, some fun. Didn’t happen. About 75 eu each with wine.
      d’Orsay café top floor for lunch. Always delightful and busy. A nice resting spot for wine and conversation. Desserts were very tempting, but I stuck with a Sancerre.

      Dinner plans got blown by lost reservations at ZKG. Ate at Le Canton 5, rue Gozlin, 6e. We had eaten there years ago and enjoyed the food and staff. The food has a Chinese/French/Vietnamese blend. Interesting. Our guests liked it. About 35 eu each with wine.

      Place du Tertre feed lot, 18e. It was a beautiful sunny day, so we ventured into one of the outdoor seating areas in the square for lunch. Lots of food…big portions! Wine wasn’t much. Service was slow. I got a little sun. Good place to share time with friends. About 30 eu each with wine.

      Verjus 52 Rue de Richelieu | (dans le passage Beaujolais), 1e. Excellent. Exceptional food and wine well paired. Excellent service. See my review http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/975866

      Columbus Café 23 Rue Saint-André des Arts, 6e. Ducked in out of the rain. Drank wine and water and left never to return. They let a guy smoke.

      Dans Les Landes (they moved to a bigger place near Opera). Exceptional food, attentive staff, great service, and lots of FUN! Basque (I think) Spanish influence. Everyone was very happy! About 40eu each with lots of wine and one Scotch drinker.

      Interlude of dining in. Great open air markets close by offering much to choose from. We had sole with almonds one night, ratatouille, Boeuf Bourguignon and a bean and vegetable casserole that was wonderful on other nights…all from French recipes my wife found in the apartment.

      La Coupole 102 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 14e. Certainly better than most. See my review inside this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/976141. About 75 eu each with wine and coffee.

      Chez H’anna 54 Rue des Rosiers, 4e. In my opinion the falafels are the best on the street. And, while the dining area is pretty cozy, it is looser than the sardine can down the street. Our guests really liked their food, especially that meatball falafel. My wife and I shared the larger falafel platter and were happy with the portion. About 20eu each wi9th wine, which could be better.

      Chez Marianne 2, rue des Hospitalieres-Saint-Gervais, 4e. We enjoyed the mixed platter for two and a bottle of Sancerre on a warm Paris afternoon and enjoyed watching the people line up for their falafels and other take aways. About $25 eu each.

      FISH la Boissonnerie, 69 rue de Seine 6e. We celebrated our 47th anniversary at FISH, which was wonderful! My turbo with cauliflower and bacon was shockingly delightful and wife's hake with roasted vegetables was equally good. The bread the waitresses run across the street for is amazing! Good wine list, too. We had champagne because of the occasion, plus a white I asked our waitress to pick for us. Menu changes, so these dishes were gone when we returned three nights later. About 75eu each with champagne and wine.
      Cosi 54, rue de Siene, 6e. Great sandwiches! The bread is simply wonderful!!

      Au Dernier Metro, 79 Blvd de Grenelle, 15e. Far from charming, we just had a great "authentic" French meal at Au Dernier Metro amongst an authentic, young, casual and raucous crowd speaking no English loudly for under 60eu with generous tip for two of the de jour with a bottle of wine and a mousses to share for dessert. Love that place. Had the waiter order for us as I recognized nothing but the steak and frites. Mine was what I suspect bacon would look like in thick, thick slabs, but not cured, with mashed potatoes and a lovely gravy. My wife had a bass with an interesting thick sauce and some rice and vegetables. They were both nothing we would order and both were great. See! I'm letting the restaurants broaden my horizons.

      Brasserie la Rotonde en Montparnasse 101, Boulevard du Montparnasse, 6e. Just dropped in for wine and a snack. Great onion soup and the salmon tartare was appreciated. Great service and a great old place! Fun to people watch. Can’t recall the bill.

      10 Replies
      1. re: hychka

        Thanks so much for the advice!! Will pour through it all again & again before the trip.
        If anyone else has any tips, please pass them along!!

        1. re: tayazbell

          There are lots and lots of other threads with discuss the 6eme and 7eme - you could start by reading them and then asking questions.

          On your first night it maybe worth pointing out that Port Maillot and the Arc are not really close to each other so good to understand which you are close to. And both a reasonable walk for "elders" to get to the Trocadero/Eiffel Tower. So for recommendations it maybe good to settle on one of the three areas.

        2. re: hychka

          Got to say this is the first post I have ever seen rate Les Deux Magots for food. My one late night snack there was inedible.

          I assume they seated your party of 18 inside as the inside is usually empty - it's a place better known as a good terrace for a drink, and getting a table for two on the terrace is a lottery.

          1. re: PhilD

            PhiD, you're usually spot on, but not this time. We were on the walk and everyone loved their food. All 18! Yes, I was surprised. I asked on this site for advice and did scout out the suggestions. In the end I took Patricia Wells' advice and chose this place. It was the wish of the young lady that her 18th birthday party be at a Paris sidewalk café in a people watching area. Other than she sent back her steak, all went well. My food was good and so was the wine. Her dad was thrilled, ...paid the bill. Happy ending.

            What did you think of my other comments? (Please except Grand Marche' as I read your thoughts before.)

            Love your insights from so rich a prospective! And, thanks for the response.

            S

            1. re: hychka

              My experiences coincide with many of yours and diverge in some areas. But that is probably individual taste and experience on the day. Its a fairly mainstream list so hopefully on your next visit you can test the boundaries a bit.

              Interested on your experience at Fish, I know it had off period when Mathew and Hayden left to set up Albion, and Drew and Juan focussed on Semilla.

              But I had heard from Juan that they were about to revamp the Fish concept and it seemed they wanted to move it a bit more upmarket with Semilla taking the more casual mantle.

              1. re: PhilD

                Once again we see the effect of time, place and situation. A couple goes out to dinner with great expectations, finds a well recommended place wanting. You enjoy a wine during a pleasurable evening, buy a bottle or, quel horror, case, the next day and find it plonk. Or, like hychka, you seat your congenial group where they find their happy place and voilla!

                1. re: PhilD

                  Re FISH...sounds reasonable to me as I think they are underpriced and could do better with a little more space and move the bar trade away a bit. The food was among the best (top four certainly) of nearly 40 restaurants we tried on this trip including Aix, Normandie, Nice and Bordeaux areas. No, I didn't try any Michelin starred places as for me that's the fun! Find what hasn't been found and at least half as good for a fifth of the price. Ha!

                  Thanks for your response as I respect your opinions and efforts here.

            2. re: hychka

              <Gerard Murlot 76, rue de Seine, 6e. Wonderful pastries. Very busy. We saw people cry when they found the place closed for holiday…apartment’s windows faced the shop.>
              I think you mean Gerard MULOT? No?
              Wonderful savory tarts and etc. One of our favorite meals of our trip - and what a surprise.

              For the OP, I have to say that after waiting in a long line to go up in the Arch de Triomphe, there was very little to see. I don't recommend spending the time or money. Everything there is to see about the Arch is free.

              1. re: ChefJune

                Ha! My bad...and I can't correct it as the edit button is gone. Ditto for me re the Arch de Triomphe...lots of steps for not much to see.
                However, your post reminded me that we enjoyed lunch at La Villa, 37 Avenue de Friedland, 8e, which is about two blocks east of the Arc. We had the special, lamb chops, and they were a big hit. About $25eu each with wine and water. Very popular with the people from my daughter's home office, Constellium, around the corner.

                1. re: ChefJune

                  I think the Arc de Triomphe is worth a visit. Besides it's sheer size, it's history, it is one of the iconic monument of Paris. The view from the top is terrific; one can see the east/west axis from La Grande Arche at La Defense down the Champ, Concorde,Tuilleries, Louvre, Bastille and beyond. Also, it has the amazing aerial view right down below with twelve boulevards radiating from the Arc/Place de L'Etoile transformed by Napolean and Haussmann .

              2. For a group meal when staying near the Porte Maillot, La Maison on the place Sainte Ferdinand (less than 5 min walk) can be delightful for its ambiance... food is decent rather than extraordinary but should appeal to all.

                I wouldn't advise walking from the Porte Maillot to the Eiffel Tower. Other than the Arc de Triomphe, it's not all that interesting on the way and a 4-km stroll is not very old-age friendly unless walking is their daily habit. But the #82 bus from the Porte Maillot will get you to the Eiffel Tower in about 10-mins and allow you to sightsee on the way. Or the #22 from the Arc de Triomphe to Trocadéro.