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roosterchef21

France. Mar-Apr or May-Jun

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I'm planning a trip to France & Italy for next year. I'm looking at about 10 days in italy and 18 days in France. I'm wondering which period I should look at coming over for. Either Mar-Apr or May-Jun. I also have couple of questions.

I can probably afford to eat at/want to eat at two or three 3 stars and a couple of 2 stars. Will many/any restaurants be closed around any of these times? I think a few reopen at the end of March (which is when I would be leaving Australia) but do many stay closed into April? I'm actually mainly looking at eating traditional food but since I'm over there may as well make the most of it....

Tourist wise, will there be more in May-Jun? I don't want to fly out of Australia to see more Australians if you know what I mean! Also, if I am dining out I don't want many obnoxious tourists in the same room as me!

I know this is the wrong site for it, but are many sights closed over any of the periods?

Thanks everyone!

PS.... Picking which restaurants to go to is insane. I want to go to them all! lol!

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Will many/any restaurants be closed around any of these times? I think a few reopen at the end of March (which is when I would be leaving Australia) but do many stay closed into April?

PS.... Picking which restaurants to go to is insane. I want to go to them all! lol!

I wasn't aware that restaurants closed at this time of year.

In France restaurants are open pretty much all year round apart from some that close for summer holidays in August (i.e. the whole of August). But these tend to be in the big cities like Paris - all the locals head for the beach and so do the restauranteurs, shopkeeper etc. And as the crowds are heading for the beach/countryside the restaurants in holiday areas won't be closed.

Apart from that restaurants will be open normal hours, and simply close for the main holidays, easter, christmas, and some public holidays. Some traditional and *** restaurants don't open at weekends, but many do.

Obviously there are more tourists in the summer than earlier in the year as the weather is far better. Peak tourist season is July/August. I would go for May/June because the weather in Mar/April is less predictable.

As a tourist yourself it is tricky to avoid restaurants full of "obnoxious" tourist because good restaurants in tourist spots will be full of tourists (and Paris for example is one big tourist destination). When you know where you are going research the board and you should avoid the "tourist traps" and stand a chance of eating more "local". If you really want to avoid tourists you need to go to non-tourist places out in the countryside.

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Will many/any restaurants be closed around any of these times? I think a few reopen at the end of March (which is when I would be leaving Australia) but do many stay closed into April?

PS.... Picking which restaurants to go to is insane. I want to go to them all! lol!

I wasn't aware that restaurants closed at this time of year.

In France restaurants are open pretty much all year round apart from some that close for summer holidays in August (i.e. the whole of August). But these tend to be in the big cities like Paris - all the locals head for the beach and so do the restauranteurs, shopkeeper etc. And as the crowds are heading for the beach/countryside the restaurants in holiday areas won't be closed.

Apart from that restaurants will be open normal hours, and simply close for the main holidays, easter, christmas, and some public holidays. Some traditional and *** restaurants don't open at weekends, but many do.

Obviously there are more tourists in the summer than earlier in the year as the weather is far better. Peak tourist season is July/August. I would go for May/June because the weather in Mar/April is less predictable.

As a tourist yourself it is tricky to avoid restaurants full of "obnoxious" tourist because good restaurants in tourist spots will be full of tourists (and Paris for example is one big tourist destination). When you know where you are going research the board and you should avoid the "tourist traps" and stand a chance of eating more "local". If you really want to avoid tourists you need to go to non-tourist places out in the countryside.

I was looking at the michelin site and some of the restaurants I was looking at (L'Ambroisie, L'Astrance, Olivier Roellinger's & Michel Bras) were closed for the beginning of march. I suspect they would be open by the end of march...

With tourist traps, I'm trying to avoid most of the obvious ones (Ducasse, Savoy & Robuchon) and scouring the board for places to go. My favourites for the main event restaurants are Maisons des Bricourt, L'Ambroisie, Ledoyen, Arpege & Pierre Gagnaire. Michel Bras, L'Arnsbourg & Veyrat would be right up there if they weren't such a pain to get to! Sticking to trains as transport so if there is a stop nearby... I don't mind some tourists but....

The plan is Rome, Florence, Venice, Lyon (I might end up going to Veyrat so Annecy would be between Venice & Lyon. Trains seem like a problem though), Nice, Bordeaux, Cancale then Paris.

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I love Europe in May -- just starting to warm up so that the nights are nice (and you may even have a really warm day) but the crowds aren't crazy (nor are the prices).

Are you married? AirFrance offers married couples discounted flights within the country, so we got from Nice to Clermont-Ferrand, and from there to Biarritz, for a song. A lot quicker than the train! BTW, this was 2 years ago...

I wish that I had more info on it, but my French-speaking wife had found it, somehow.

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I was looking at the michelin site and some of the restaurants I was looking at (L'Ambroisie, L'Astrance, Olivier Roellinger's & Michel Bras) were closed for the beginning of march. I suspect they would be open by the end of march...

Individual restaurants will have there holidays at times to suit them. However, there isn't a general shutdown in March like there is in Paris in August. Some of the top chefs have longer breaks than others - I think the extremes are Michel Bras and El Bulli in Spain which only opens six month a year.

All the top starred restaurants will have their equal share of tourists as it would take a fairly well healed community to keep them going. It may be counter intuitive but my guess is the more "out of the way" place is going to have more tourists rather than less. The top restaurants in Paris (and other very large cities) will probably have a greater proportion of locals simply because of the surrounding wealth and the nature business community.

In my experience it is very rare to meet a "obnoxious tourists" in the top restaurants, but that said you may be unlucky - but that is it is simply bad luck. Be reassured though most of these places have widely spaced tables, plush sound deadening furnishings, and are quite adept at dealing with inappropriate behavior - phones, camera flashes , etc.

The "obnoxious tourist" is more of a problem in the mainstream, but I find they tend to head for the obvious places, and the contributors to this board tend to guide you to the less obvious better food choices, and therefore less touristy.

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Someone French correct me if I'm wrong, but I think most March closings are d/t school breaks not any tradition. I don't think I've ever starved in March.

If it says closed "x" in March, telephone.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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I live in Florida - so I am kind of "cold sensitive" - but I really enjoy traveling in temperate climates in April. The chill of March is gone - and spring is in the air. And - in most places - you will start to get the first delicate delicious vegetables of spring (think spring peas) - spring lamb - etc. A fabulous time to eat. In addition - it is the season of spring flowers and flowering trees (beautiful). You will have to pack layers of clothing - but I think it's worth it. Also - in most places - it is not yet high tourist season (like it is in May or June). So if I were going to pick a single month - I'd pick April.

What makes you think that Ducasse, Savoy and Robuchon are "tourist traps"? And if you want to avoid tourist traps - why on earth are you going to Venice (where there are about 50 tourists for every local)? Take a look at Milan instead (Florence and Rome are less touristy than Venice - but they are very much "tourist central" compared to Milan and other parts of Italy).

If I were planning a month-long trip for you to Italy and France - I would recommend flying into Rome - and then picking up a car and driving from Rome to Paris - hitting places other than large cities on the way. I do enjoy travel by train (especially as I've gotten older) - but it is limiting in terms of getting to smaller out of the way places (where many great restaurants are located). I would start in Rome because Rome is warmer than Paris - so you will be "following spring" as you drive. If you take a look at a map - you will see that a driving trip from Milan to Paris will take you through some of the best eating areas of France (although - frankly - I have never run across an area of France that isn't a great eating area). Note that my husband and I have spent many many months driving through Europe - and those driving trips were always a lot of fun in terms of sightseeing and eating. Robyn

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I live in Florida - so I am kind of "cold sensitive" - but I really enjoy traveling in temperate climates in April.  The chill of March is gone - and spring is in the air.  And - in most places - you will start to get the first delicate delicious vegetables of spring (think spring peas) - spring lamb - etc.  A fabulous time to eat.  In addition - it is the season of spring flowers and flowering trees (beautiful).  You will have to pack layers of clothing - but I think it's worth it.  Also - in most places - it is not yet high tourist season (like it is in May or June).  So if I were going to pick a single month - I'd pick April.

What makes you think that Ducasse, Savoy and Robuchon are "tourist traps"?  And if you want to avoid tourist traps - why on earth are you going to Venice (where there are about 50 tourists for every local)?  Take a look at Milan instead (Florence and Rome are less touristy than Venice - but they are very much "tourist central" compared to Milan and other parts of Italy).

If I were planning a month-long trip for you to Italy and France - I would recommend flying into Rome - and then picking up a car and driving from Rome to Paris - hitting places other than large cities on the way.  I do enjoy travel by train (especially as I've gotten older) - but it is limiting in terms of getting to smaller out of the way places (where many great restaurants are located).  I would start in Rome because Rome is warmer than Paris - so you will be "following spring" as you drive.  If you take a look at a map - you will see that a driving trip from Milan to Paris will take you through some of the best eating areas of France (although - frankly - I have never run across an area of France that isn't a great eating area).  Note that my husband and I have spent many many months driving through Europe - and those driving trips were always a lot of fun in terms of sightseeing and eating.  Robyn

I figured Ducasse, Savoy & Robuchon because they are pretty well known outside of Europe. They all seem to get more media coverage than most of the other 3 stars outside of europe.

We thought about flying into Rome but the airline's want to charge us $AU20000+ for two people! I guess because they have to use two airlines.... We will fly into London instead. It's only $5000 for 2!

Have to go to Venice. Especially since it's our first trip to Italy so.... Have no interest in Milan this time around... We would drive but there is only one driver between us.

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I do enjoy travel by train (especially as I've gotten older) - but it is limiting in terms of getting to smaller out of the way places (where many great restaurants are located).

I agree. Our travel MO = take a fast train (eg TGV) from one major city to the city closest to the out-of-the-way town you want to visit, pick up a car at the train station, drive the short distance to your destination and either return to the station where you picked up the car or continue to a large town, turn in the car at the station and repeat as necessary. In France, SNCF has an affiliation with AVIS which guarantees you the best car rental rates plus allows you to pick up a car from the SNCF stationmaster (or ticket seller) when the AVIS office is closed and to return it on the same basis. i.e., show reservation, take key, drive; return car and key and jump on the train. So simple.

eGullet member #80.

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Someone French correct me if I'm wrong, but I think most March closings are d/t school breaks not any tradition.  I don't think I've ever starved in March.

If it says closed "x" in March, telephone.

L'ambroisie for instance closes for school holidays. Winter school holiday are late feb early march (this year 14 feb - 2 mar for the Paris region, dates are different for other regions). Spring holiday are in april (11-27 for Paris this year). Also in may there are many holidays (May 1st, 8st, and the religious stuff) therefore many prolounged weekends. On the whole none of these periods is as difficult as christmas or august but some restaurants are closed. Definitely no sight that I can think of.

May-June is just the most georgeous time of the year, and obviously when days are the longest. If you have a choice, it's ideal.

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I figured Ducasse, Savoy & Robuchon because they are pretty well known outside of Europe. They all seem to get more media coverage than most of the other 3 stars outside of europe.

We thought about flying into Rome but the airline's want to charge us $AU20000+ for two people! I guess because they have to use two airlines.... We will fly into London instead. It's only $5000 for 2!

Have to go to Venice. Especially since it's our first trip to Italy so.... Have no interest in Milan this time around... We would drive but there is only one driver between us.

Everyone has heard of the Louvre. Doesn't mean it's a "tourist trap" :wink: (although there are a lot of tourists).

We had only one driver in Europe. My husband. I was the navigator. Worked out fine (I am a lousy driver and my husband is a lousy navigator). Note that it is only 529 miles (851 km) between Paris and Milan - so you really aren't talking about a lot of driving. The point is to get off the "beaten path" and explore (both in terms of sightseeing and eating). Robyn

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So we have booked our flights and accomodation. Decided on Mar-Apr. Just want to thank everyone for their input. Even if you didn't reply directly to my thread you still helped in some way.

Only had a couple of questions for the France forum left (I hope!)

In Lyon, Le Bistrot de Saint Paul, Le Garet or L'Est. Looking for best price/quality ratio and more importantly local cuisine. Any boulangerie's I should visit?

Nice - Nothing. Have a booking at Chateau de la Chevre d'or for lunch. Want to go to La Merenda - desperately!

In Bordeaux, is Le Saint James worth it? Where is the best place to purchase wine? Have a booking at La Tupina. Very excited!

In Paris -

Chocolate Shops - La Maison du Chocolat, Michel Chaudun & Michel Cluizel

Boulangeries - Poilane, Maison Kayser, Pain D'Epis

Patisseries - Laduree & Pierre Herme

Ice Cream - Berthillon

Deli- Fauchon

High End Restaurants - Ledoyen, Le Meurice, L'Arpege & Pierre Gagnaire

Cafe: Cafe Constant

Any glaring omissions from the above? Would like to visit any/either of Chez Georges, Chez L'Ami Jean, Chez Denise & La Rotonde so have that sorted...

As a side note. Going to 3 *** stars in Paris. Ledoyen, L'Arpege & Gagnaire are my top 3 but I can't book the last two till March. Have Le Meurice booked as a backup. So no need to comment on that part....

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Chocolate Shops - La Maison du Chocolat, Michel Chaudun & Michel Cluizel

I'm not sure how essential a trip to Cluizel's shop is, but this is just my taste. Still, if you go there, why not go to Hevin, too, which is a few hundreds meter down the street, and which I really prefer?

All in all, if I had to choose only one chocolate shop, this would be Michel Chaudun.

Boulangeries - Poilane, Maison Kayser, Pain D'Epis

Pain d'Epis has some fans. Sure, they're good, but I find their shop rather unexciting. Secco, which is not far from there is excellent and much more charming IMHO.

Patisseries - Laduree & Pierre Herme

These are the obvious ones, but then again, not those I would recommend. I admit liking very much some Herme pastries and his macaroons, but it has been overhyped.

If you have a chance, and like chocolate pastry, try to go to Christian Constant in rue d'Assas, it's one of my favourite shop. Almost as expensive as Hermé, and it might not look exciting at first, but it's deciptively simple and overall excellent.

Secco which I mentioned up there makes some wonderful pastry, with more reasonable prices.

There are many more that could and should be included there, but these are two of my favorites, far above Hermé (and Ladurée, which I've never really liked for good and bad reasons).

High End Restaurants - Ledoyen, Le Meurice, L'Arpege & Pierre Gagnaire

Le Cinq is getting some rave reviews recently, which are well deserved in my view, but of those you quote, I only tried Pierre Gagnaire (which was a life-changing experience, there again probably for good and bad reasons).

Any glaring omissions from the above? Would like to visit any/either of Chez Georges, Chez L'Ami Jean, Chez Denise & La Rotonde so have that sorted...

I know this is may sound as a stale advice, but what about La Régalade? It's great, it's inexpensive and a lot of fun (if you're not expecting top notch service and having 3hrs+ to eat your meal and chat around coffee or digestive). Should you go there for dinner, do it after a light lunch, not a one-billion-course meal!

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I'm not exactly an expert on Lyon, but I would check out a bouchon for local cuisine there. Of those you list, I believe Le Garet is a bouchon and therefore would be the best for local cuisine. I have to run, so can't research more thoroughly, but I'm not sure that the other 2 are particularly Lyonnaise (sp?). I ate at La Voûte Chez Léa, a traditional bouchon in Lyon, and would also recommend for the Bouchon-experience. Mostly locals when I was there.

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I'm not sure how essential a trip to Cluizel's shop is, but this is just my taste. Still, if you go there, why not go to Hevin, too, which is a few hundreds meter down the street, and which I really prefer?

All in all, if I had to choose only one chocolate shop, this would be Michel Chaudun.

I second all that. Hévin rather than Cluizel, and Chaudun of course. Patrick Roger is awesome and a chocolate lover has no excuse not to go there.

These are the obvious ones, but then again, not those I would recommend. I admit liking very much some Herme pastries and his macaroons, but it has been overhyped.

If you have a chance, and like chocolate pastry, try to go to Christian Constant in rue d'Assas, it's one of my favourite shop. Almost as expensive as Hermé, and it might not look exciting at first, but it's deciptively simple and overall excellent.

Again, we're in total agreement. I'll even go further: Ladurée is a tourist trap. I love Christian Constant, and Mulot is always nice.

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There is a new Patrick Roger shop open at 91 rue de Rennes, in the 6th, so one could conceivably go there, then stop in at Jean-Charles Rochoux, Aoki, and Christian Constant, which are each 1 to 2 blocks away.

If you want to go to Hévin, there's a shop on rue Vavin that's just a couple of short blocks down from Constant.

David Lebovitz

http://www.davidlebovitz.com

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There is a new Patrick Roger shop open at 91 rue de Rennes, in the 6th, so one could conceivably go there, then stop in at Jean-Charles Rochoux, Aoki, and Christian Constant, which are each 1 to 2 blocks away.

If you want to go to Hévin, there's a shop on rue Vavin that's just a couple of short blocks down from Constant.

David Lebovitz

http://www.davidlebovitz.com

Good news, good tip. Compact and doable collection of addresses.


eGullet member #80.

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