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twhalliii

En Route... ThankYouVeryMuch!

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Well, after asking a few preliminary questions on this board, I was able to arrange a honeymoon in Paris for my wife and myself. We were married back in August, but because of our work schedules, we will be in Paris for a week beginning next Friday, October 26. We found a lovely hotel in the Marais, have tickets for the Alain Platel VSPRS dance program at the Theatre De La Ville (she's a fan of modern dance), have plans to visit the Cinematheque Francaise (I work in film, it's a pilgrimage for me) and The Centre Pompidou (again for the film exhibit on Abbas Kiarostami and Victor Erice), but we have plenty of free time scheduled to wander and explore. I've never been before, and as a student of French film, I feel as though I have a relationship to Paris already, dream-like images that span across decades and perspectives; I am very excited to find my own Paris, and to share it with my wife and best friend.

That said, we also have some plans for dining, and although we're not your 3-star restaurant type of people, I would love to get your opinions on what we do have planned and see if your have any special suggestons, funky little places off the beaten path that may not be diamonds in the rough, but rather precious gems that are beautiful in and of themselves. So far, our plans include a late night dinner in La Marais at a friend's recommended place, CHEZ JANOU (I know nothing about it), lunch in the Eiffel Tower at ALTITUDE 95 (touristy, but it was given to us as a wedding gift) and the two I'm most excited to try, a reservation for dinner at HIDDEN KITCHEN and a dinner planned at LE SÉVERO in the 14th (mmmm...meat). We tried to book at SPRING but they are closed during our visit... What we don't have planned is a meal at a good French Bistro (suggestions welcome), nor do we know of a realy great café for lunch/people watching with excellent food. Also, we LOVE cheese in all of its stinky glory; If you can suggest a place with an excellent cheese service, we'd be very interested. Also, any suggestions for autumn in Paris (and trust me, I have read the encyclopedic links in this forum) or for new or funky places, I would appreciate. No thoughts? No problem! This forum has been a tremendous resource already and I thank you for assembling all of this info. Anything autumnal or special, I'd love to hear about.

Thanks all, but especially to John T., for this great community! What did we do before the internet?

--Tom

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We found a lovely hotel in the Marais

I just spent 10 days in the Marais, and I think the most enjoyable thing we did was to find a few places we liked and go often enough to get recognized by the waiters, bartenders, etc. You can't become a 'regular' in 10 days, but you can sure fantasize about it. We found that hanging out on Vieille du Temple at the trio of a petit fer a cheval, la belle hortense, and les philosophes was great fun. Have a great trip!

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We found a lovely hotel in the Marais

I just spent 10 days in the Marais, and I think the most enjoyable thing we did was to find a few places we liked and go often enough to get recognized by the waiters, bartenders, etc. You can't become a 'regular' in 10 days, but you can sure fantasize about it. We found that hanging out on Vieille du Temple at the trio of a petit fer a cheval, la belle hortense, and les philosophes was great fun. Have a great trip!

Thank you for this... We are staying a mere four blocks away from these places, so that sounds perfect. We will certainly check them out.

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For french bistrots with modern cuisine and reasonable prices and frequented mostly by locals.

-La chaumiere. 54 ave felix faure(15e)

-Le beurre noisette. 68 rue vasco de gama(15e)

-

There are many others ,well known .The above are only known by les habitues.

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For french bistrots  with modern cuisine  and reasonable prices and frequented mostly by locals....

The above are only known by les habitues.

In truth, if you've been reading the topics (and thanks for the thanks, I hope we are community of help,) the moment something is written up (even here), it's known and not "frequented mostly by locals...." My solution is eat at 2-hearts in Figaroscope or 3 blocks in A Nous Paris the day of or day after publication. Even so, a place like Afaria discovered by the RFC, was blown by the day we arrived, by both the above and Amuricans were present.

So maybe one sucks it up and goes to l'Ami Jean or Repaire de Cartouche which are

good French Bistro
s and if English is spoken around you, so what?

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Would the cheese service at Astier suit?

Oh, Margaret, you are so on target. Astier is both an authentic, "good French bistro" and possesses a great cheese spread. Indeed, except for the late-lamented Androuët resto in the 8th, there's only Montparnasse 25 in the 14th to compete, although, truth be told, if on death row and facing only one more cheese opportunity, I'd go for it - its array is even more awesome.

You know, Tom, the main thing here on a honeymoon is to enjoy and not sweat the details.

46 years and counting,

John


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Would the cheese service at Astier suit?

Oh, Margaret, you are so on target. Astier is both an authentic, "good French bistro" and possesses a great cheese spread. Indeed, except for the late-lamented Androuët resto in the 8th, there's only Montparnasse 25 in the 14th to compete, although, truth be told, if on death row and facing only one more cheese opportunity, I'd go for it - its array is even more awesome.

You know, Tom, the main thing here on a honeymoon is to enjoy and not sweat the details.

46 years and counting,

John

Congrats on 46 years!

We are both planners, so while we've saved plenty of time to improvise, we also have a couple of things we want to be sure and try. Astier just got bumped right up the list... thanks for the suggestion! We are big fromage freaks, so this sounds great!

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I second the recommendation for Astier which also has a lot of hip bars in that area, check out the Gridskipper article here Hip Bars Link. I liked Rosso, the best of this lot. I am also a big fan of Bistro Vivienne which is conveniently situated between Fines Gueules and Willy's Wine Bar. Grab an apero wine at Willy's and a digestive at Gueules. Try the whole roasted chicken at Bistro Vivienne, it comes on a cutting board with a salad, fries and béarnaise sauce (I order this once a week).


"When planning big social gatherings at our home, I wait until the last minute to tell my wife. I figure she is going to worry either way, so I let her worry for two days rather than two weeks."
-EW

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We returned to New York last night after spending a glorious week in Paris on our honeymoon. Like I said, I had never been before (I had been to Cannes, twice, but that was for work) and I wasn't sure what to expect (aside from my own love of the city from the infinite number of films I have watched about life in Paris). I won't bother you with the non-food details, but we did have some great food. I should mention right off the top that I speak almost no French, although I did a little studying before going (and have spent my life watching French cinema) so I was surprised at how well we were able to communicate in pidgin French with almost everyone. I was determined to speak as little English as possible, and NEVER did anyone make us feel anything less than welcome at any place we went (dining or not). We tried pretty hard to get our needs across and when a waiter or hostess began speaking to us in English, we would try to keep it going in French as best we could.

In chonological order (and skipping late night meals on the fly)...

Jambon and Emmental in Baguette at a nice bistro called Le Progrès (in La Marais)-- a quick lunch with a friend (she was leaving town with a newborn the next morning) while we waited for our hotel room to become available. The revelation for me here was, of course, that Julia Child did not lie; The French baguette is impossibly textured compared to baguette in America. Crisp on the outside, soft and flaky on the inside, neither dry nor buttery, they simply do not make this type of bread in the USA. The jambon was also a revelation for me; No hint of preservatives, not salty in the least, none of the wet 'film' that you often find on American ham; It was tender and textured like actual meat from an actual pig. Go figure (haha). Completely simple, small little bistro, and WOW. I was already in love. €4.00? A complete bargain.

Pastilla Poulet and Couscous Merguez at The Moroccan Food Stand (?) in the Marches Des Enfants Rouges (again, La Marais)-- Another revelation, this time in what I was told is the oldest market in Paris. We got in the long line at the Moroccan food stand and ordered the Pastilla Poulet (a spiced chicken pie in phyllo) and my wife had the Couscous Merguez (with loads of stewed vegetables). We don't eat a lot of North African food here in New York, and the spices were perfect on a cool, overcast afternoon. The long line was worth the wait; You can see why people go here for some delciious Moroccan food. Terrific, and the men running the stand were very nice. €14.60 with a Thé á la menthe and San Pelegrino included.

Heirloom Tomato Tatin with Cumin Glacée (entrée) and Pot A Feu du Veau at Chez Guillaume (in La Marais); My wife had a Samosa Escargot over grilled baby lettuce and Porc et Polenta. All four dishes were delicious. We sat in the lounge area in the front of the restaurant because we arrived late after seeing a dance performance at Theatré de la Ville (it was 10:50 pm when we walked in), so we were away from the busy dining room and instead seated at the fornt of the place in large leather chairs. It was actually preferrable, since the smoking was pretty overpowering in the back. I loved the food, and this place was very fun, full of young, beautiful people. The upstairs floors (there are two) are a gallery space, and there was an opening the evening we were there, so the place was vibrant. Food: The Tomato Tatin was delicious; Tender but with a savory crust with a nice bit of texture to it (not soggy) and with the savory cumin ice cream it was absolutely awesome. I had never seen a tomato tatin before (we saw them elsewhere after this dinner), but this was a perfect balance of acid and cream. I loved it. The Veau pot a feu was a nice stewed veal with stewed vegetables (a little under done, in my opinion) in a creamy white broth... Again, on a cool autumn evening it was just the thing. My wife's pork was cooked medium with plenty of juice (The cut was strange and really tender... a long rectagular "cube" of pork) served over creamy polenta. It was also delicious, as was the escargot "samosa" (quotes mine) which was a triangle of escargot wrapped in a few layers of phyllo served over warmed hearts of baby lettuce. The two entrées were fabulous. With a nice bottle of red wine from Provence (which complemented the spices well) we were out the door for €85.

Jambon and Emmental Crêpe with a glass of Pear Cider at Crêpes à Gogo (in the 5éme Arr). Met a friend for a walking tour of the Left Bank and conversation and this little place was also packed and had great savory and sweet crêpes. I went back to the "ham and cheese" I liked so much the first time and it didn't let me down at all. Our friend and my wife both had one savory and one sweet (I resisted the sweets) and everyone loved both. What I really found perfect was the Pear Cider; I had had a US brand before but this one was very nice without the tartness of a hard apple cider. It was nice and sweet and not very dry; I usually like a dry cider, but this was fizzy and sweet and mellow, almost like a sweet sparkling wine. I picked up the check for all three of us. 5 crêpes, 2 ciders, 1 café creme-- €38.

That night, after the light (for me anyway) lunch, we headed north for our reservation at the top-secret Hidden Kitchen. It was, in short, a blast. The food was great, the hosts were so nice and by the end of the night, everything felt more like a dinner party than a night at a restaurant which is, essentially, the point. One long communal table, lots of Americans there during our meal, and talk wine talk food talk talk and more and more. We met Richard Nahem, blogger extraordinaire with his blog Eye Prefer Paris, and we hit it off. Richard did an excellent, detailed write up of the meal and the food on his blog, and you can read it all HERE. Standouts for me were the Mackerel (one of my favorite sushi fishes and prepared here to accentuate the slightly vinegar-flavored fish), the pork posole (which had some real North American heat to it), the seared Tuna and finally, the amazing Pear Bread Pudding, which was one of the best things I have ever had for desert, ever. Thanks to Braden (are you the Braden P on this thread!??) and Laura for being great hosts and best wishes moving forward. They are truly living the dream. We gave a little extra that night, tipping American style, so for us it was a little more than the suggested €140 for two people, but the experience of the evening was worth it.

It rained on Monday, so we grabbed some street food and headed to the movies. But this was no ordinary street food, it was the amazing L'as du Fallafel. My wife had the fallafel sandwhich and I had the chicken schwarma. Words can't do it justice. I'm sure everyone has been here once or twice, but it was the best schwarma I've ever had. The hot sauce could use a little more heat in my opinion, but I am a guy who puts Sriracha and Huy Fong Chili Garlic sauce on everything, so don't take my word for it. It was absolutely great. We ate under the umbrella while we walked across the Seine to see a movie and get out of the rain.

That night, we wanted something near the hotel again, so we followed a suggestion from this board and grabbed a three-course dinner at Les Philosophes (at €28 per person)... I had the Terrine of Foie Gras (nice, very clean with a subtle wine flavor) with toasted bread, the Duck Confit with orange sauce which was out of this world, and the plat du fromage which was a lovely assortment of all different kinds of cheese. The food here was sturdy and well worth the money, with the duck as the standout dish by a long way. It was crispy and cooked perfectly, almost like it was deep fried in duck fat (which it probably was, but I am in denial). The wife had the Tomato Tatin (HUGE piece, Moroccan spices again), Steak Tartare (which was fun as it came unmixed and she got to spice and season it herself to her taste on the plate) and Isle Flotante for desert. Sturdy cooking and very good. Everyone around us was speaking English; Some Americans to the left and Australians to the right. €80 with wines, beers and coffees.

Caesar Salad Classique, Cheese and Macaroni with Morel Cream sauce and a shared Panna Cotta with Berries for lunch at Altitude 95on the first level of the Eiffel Tower. This was a wedding gift for us and the view was great at our windowside seat, but while the food was so-so, we were seated next to a group from a tour bus of Americans and I couldn't get out of there fast enough. People shouting between tables (one clearly inebriated woman at the table next to us standing up and asking what everyone around her was having and then after shouting "DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?!?" at us, asking what we were eating--ugh...), sweat shirts with "Bedazzled" teddy bears-- you get the picture. These are the people who I can't bear in my own country, and here were a bus load of them having lunch in the Eiffel Tower (obviously). I fely guilty by association, and even though we gave the waiter our most apologetic face and tried as hard as we could to get our "French" to be serviceble during the meal. My wife and I each had a glass Rosé Champagne and a glass of red wine with the meal, she had the salad and salmon and risotto, and we shared the dessert. The gift was a nice thought, the view was great, but NEVER AGAIN. I should have known better. €116.

36 Oysters, 2 plats du fromage, 1 plat du saucisson at Huîterie Regis. AMAZING. My wife loves oysters, so this was a special treat for her, but it ended up being in my top two experiences while eating in Paris. )(Mark Bittman at the NY Times, if you are reading this, you were 3 for 3 in the recommendations we took from the paper.) A teeny tiny little oyster bar just off of Blvd St.-Germain, we arrived to find the place full. So, we waited outide for about 15 minutes and were waived in once our table was free. The owner's wife had reserved a four top next to us and they arrived later into our meal, and when we ordered, there were no more Belon oysters available. Magically, they appeared when the owner's wife's party came in. I would usually feel slighted, but to be honest, the 36 oysters we ate between the two of us were so meaty, so briny, so clean and so absolutely beyond any oysters we have ever found here in NYC that it didn't matter at all. This was the one place where our lack of good French pronounciation and our inability to communicate well was an impediment as the owner and I repeated ourselves back and forth constantly, but it was always done with a smile, a warm hand on the shoulder and a laugh shared between us. I kept trying and he was very nice about my progressively emabarassed attempts to say what I wanted to say. My wife and I shared a bottle and a large carafe of a lovely chilled red Sancerre which worked well with everything we ordered, but nothing can beat those oysters. If I had it all to do again, I might have even had another dozen. Unforgettable. €141.

Banna Chcolate pie for my wife at Le Loir Dans La Theiere: Just a note... if you want a HUGE piece of delicious pie or cake, this is a great place! We met up with Richard Nahem again, who took us here for a little bite and some nice coversation. Fun and funky with friendly staff and yummy desserts. It's also a non-smoking Café, so it gets bonus points in my book.

Côte de Boef for Two with Frites, Fried Pied au Porc avec salad, Sautéed Griolles (mushrooms), Créme Caramel (the Mrs.) and a ripe St. Marcelin cheese (moi) at Le Sévero in the 14éme Arr. Ladies and gentlemen, this was, hands down, the best steak I've ever had. My wife and I both like our meat very RARE, and when we ordered the two person Ribeye just off the bone (which is what this cut seemed to be) that is how it came; Hot all the way through, but nearly black and blue and sliced into two heaping plates full of meat (I was served the ribeye bone as well and was tempted to gnaw on it until sunrise, but thought better of it). There was no blood to be found on the plate-- I don't know why that is for something this rare, but it had the juiciness of a medium rare steak with meat flavor of very rare. That said, this steak had the tenderness of butter and was seared to perfection on the exterior, forming a salt and pepper crust that sealed in all of the flavor. The frites ACTUALLY TASTED LIKE REAL POTATOES which, for an American, was a surprise, so much so that I didn't even bother asking for ketchup (*grin*). The Pied au Porc was something I've never had before and it was mind-bogglingly good; A crispy exterior with fat and meat (it was de-boned) in equal proportions under the cripy skin, it was something I would eat as often as I could, if I could. The Girolles were sauteed in butter salt and pepper and came piled on the plate. They tasted of the woods and were incredibly fresh. The St. Marcelin was lovely at the end (I didn't try the Crreme Caramel but the Mrs. ate the whoile thing) and with a €50 bottle of Bordeaux the whole meal (this, another wedding gift and our "big dinner" in Paris) came to €170. It was the best of the meals we had (along with Huîterie Regis and Hidden Kitchen). The owner waited on the entire restaurant alone (although it is also very very small... I counted 28 people at any one time) and withstood my now-daily assault on the French language with a smile, and it was the perfect cap to our Paris experience.

I absolutely fell in love with the city, the people, the arts that are happening, the walkability, the lifestyle; It's an amazing place. I can't wait to come back. Thank you, Paris and thanks to everyone here for their help and recommendations... Pure Magic.


Edited by twhalliii (log)

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