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paulbrussel

Two Days in Paris

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I’m sure you’ve already checked them out but the reason why we worked on the thread on Essentials for 1st Time Vistors was exactly with you in mind. In addition, the thread on where to stay, eat, etc is constantly updated despite it’s seeming to be a year old.

Regarding restaurant reservation

After making a hotel reservation, you could ask the hotel's concierge to book the restaurants for you - they would be more than happy to do so.

I would second Bu Pun Su's advice, almost every hotel, no matter how humble, has front desk folk who speak multiple languages and will make reservations. I used to give them a list and say make them in whatever order you can, not insisting on which place what day.

You may try to concentrate on food ignoring culture, etc., but it's pretty hard to miss spotting Monsieur Eiffel's contribution to the skyline or Sacre Coeur; I often say one can walk out of almost any Metro spot in the city and see something interesting, which is not true of many other places.

As for which of the places you've listed to go to, as you've gathered, opinions vary, I don't think you can go wrong at any you've listed. It's my understanding Gagnaire still has both a 90 and 235 menu at lunch (the bar menu, however, is gone).

I want to warn you about looking for "modern food." It depends on whose definition you're using. The current Bible of the French modernists, Omnivore, and their "Le Fooding" (Food+Feeling=Fooding) events look more now towards Catalonia and Japan than Lyon. You can get a sense of who they admire by using the Find function on the 2004, 2005 & 2006 Digest's.

But I'm not worried about you, any person who likes Eleven Madison Park, Jean-Georges (I assume you refer to Perry Street), Katz's Deli + Alkimia does his homework.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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This is too happy a thread to have an unpleasant disagreement, but it's really a matter of what you enjoy doing. 

I absolutely do not want to engage in ANY sort of unpleasant disagreement, just pleasant! :biggrin:

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Bryan,

I've heard the Libertel hotels are reasonable. Not sure whether they're in your range but you can check. They're part of Accor hotels: Sofitel, Novotel, etc.

http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/reservation/hotel-paris.shtml

And for reservations, the hotel concierge is usually really good. I made all my lunch/dinner reservations by email to my hotel concierge...even though I had to cancel them later!

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I am familiar with how to use the Michelin site, but am aprehensive to trust the prices held therein.  I suppose just emailing is the best way to go about things.

If you read the introductory/explanatory pages of the Michelin (most people do not), you'll see that "Hotels and Restaurants in bold type have supplied details of all their rates and have assumed responsibility for maintaining them for all travellers in possession of this guide". If the name of the establishment is listed in boldface, the prices will be accurate. (I was not suggesting carrying the guide in to restaurants and demanding that they stick to it, but you'll find that in terms of the range of prices, it's accurate.) But the safest way to get an exact feel for what a meal will cost is to ask to have the "carte" and "menus" (do you know the difference? - not referring to the wine list, you know) e-mailed to you.


Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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As an aside, I've seen Chez l'Ami Jean mentioned by more than a few members and on other sites. Is this place as good as people say it is for traditional Parisian food?

Yes definitely.

Le Troquet and La Regalade are good choices too.

For something more modern but not terribly expensive, I would try Les Magnolias which has been written about many times here.

What is the difference between "carte" and "menus"?

La carte is when you order 'à la carte' or off what English speakers would call the menu and the 'menu' is a 'prix fixe' with several courses for a certain price. Some restaurants in Paris only offer a 'menu' and it's often a good bet if you are trying to save money but, depending on where you eat, can also limit your choices.


www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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Bryan,

Since it will be practically impossible to get into for dinner, I highly recommend Le Comptoir de Relais for lunch. Last month's Food & Wine ran a feature on chef Yves Camdeborde, who has also opened a creperie next door to the "formal" restaurant.

And walk, walk walk - Paris is such a beautiful city. Since you're there for such a short period of time, museums may not be the way to go - but you can do a quick pop-in to Notre Dame and be stunned for 30 minutes or so.

And try to check the ultimate cookware store E. Dehillerin...leave room in your suitcase to schlep some stuff home!! It's awesome...check it out!


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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What is the difference between "carte" and "menus"?

The thing that we call a 'menu' here - that physical, printed thing that lists the eats that are offered, is specifically called the "carte" in France (some other European countries too).

The word "menu" in France specifically refers to what we think of as a set-price dinner. The two words are never interchanged. Even the simplest of places will offer a "menu" - and lots of places will offer more than one, usually identified by their price, as in "The 120 € Menu" or "Menu at 85 €", and some places will name the menus, not only "Tasting" or "Discovery", but things like "Traditional" or "Gourmand".

But early on, while checking-out places one day, I went to a restaurant I was considering and asked please to see the menu; the woman replied very nicely that they didn't have it yet. I came back later in the day and asked to see the menu, and the fellow said that they didn't have it yet. So I pointed to the stack of leather things with paper inside them stacked by the reception stand, and pointed with a furtive expression on my face. "Oh, the carte!" was the reply. (The "menus" had not been decided for that night; they'd be printed separately and inserted later.)

Some of the worst language trouble I've had traveling is over the very (very) simplest things. And now you're prepared for this one. I should point out that in most cases, the "menu(s)" that a restaurant offers will be printed on the "carte" itself, but they also may be separate pages, so if you're asking to have them sent, be sure to specify the "carte" and the "menus"!

Edited to say: that's where we get "a la carte" from, when you choose individual dishes, rather than order a set dinner. And of course, the "menu" always represents a lower price for those same dishes if you were to order them separately. You'll also find (not in the stratospheric places you'll be going, though) that a lot of times a "menu" for a certain price will simply be the choices of any starter, main course, and dessert from the "carte", but for less than if you ordered them "a la carte". And sometimes this is called a "formule".

BTW, do bear in mind that notwithstanding the little dish which "amuses your mouth", the 'starter' course in a French meal, is the "entrée", and in the case of a two-course progression, the main course (what we in the US call, incorrectly, the entree), is the "plat" (short for "plat principal"). So don't go saying "for my entrée I'll have the prime rib"!


Edited by markk (log)

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Obviously, I don't have class today.

I did know about the entree thing, so yeah I'm not that much of a uncultured rube.

Les Magnolias looks pretty awesome and at a nice price. I think I'll definitely do that and perhaps one well-known bistro for my two dinners. How far is Les Magnolias from Paris? The way it seems, it's on the outskirts by about twenty minutes. What's the RER E, not the Metro, is it?

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I did know about the entree thing, so yeah I'm not that much of a uncultured rube.

And I honestly didn't think you were :wink:.

But after the "nubian debauchery" comment, I just wanted to make sure you understood all the fine points of proper French dining. Better safe than sorry. (You do know which restaurant employees you're allowed to make eye contact with and not, and which you're allowed to speak directly to and not, and all that stuff, right?)


Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Les Magnolias looks pretty awesome and at a nice price.  I think I'll definitely do that and perhaps one well-known bistro for my two dinners.  How far is Les Magnolias from Paris?  The way it seems, it's on the outskirts by about twenty minutes.  What's the RER E, not the Metro, is it?

I'd like to get this thread back on the track of food so I'll respond to Bryan by PM about transportation to Les M.

Thanks all,

John


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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I think it is definitely worth visiting La Grand Epicerie at Bon Marche, 38 Rue de Sevres. Probably close to an acre in size, you'll find under one roof, wine, meats, fish, prepared foods, oils, cheeses, etc. etc. This is Whole Foods gone French, or maybe Whole Food is La Grand Epicurie gone American.

And also go to the street market in the Rue de Buci. I think it's open mornings Tuesday through Sunday although someone may be able to give you better info.

Keep in mind that all restaurant prices include tax and tip (although many people leave a few extra euros but no more than 5%).

One very nice small hotel in the 6th right off the rue St. Germain is the Hotel des Fleurie with rooms available for a single traveler at 100 euro.

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I think it is definitely worth visiting La Grand Epicerie at Bon Marche,

And also go to the street market in the Rue de Buci.

I second going to both Bon Marche and Galeries Lafayette for their food halls, both different and wonderful, as well as the outdoor market near where you stay, we have a number of threads running on markets and once you know where you're staying you can look here.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Thanks for the advice so far.  I thought I'd also like Astrance to the list, since it's supposedly a two star restaurant with a modern bent and is getting lots of good press.

Also, I'd like to ask more explicitly for advice on how to make reservations.  Since I don't speak a bit of French and don't have access to a land telephone line, I'm not sure of the best way to go.  I have a g/f in London right now who might be able to find a French speaker to call for us, but ideally email would be best.  Again, can I just do this in English?  Is it tacky to ask for prices at two or three star restaurants?  What about more casual places without dedicated reservations departments?

One thing I won't have a problem with is dress.  I love wearing suits.

According to this thread L'Astrance should be getting three stars from Michelin in 2007. I strongly recommend it.

As for making reservations - this is where the American Express Platinum Concierge is useful.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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(You do know which restaurant employees you're allowed to make eye contact with and not, and which you're allowed to speak directly to and not, and all that stuff, right?)

I don't; I'd be thankful to learn.

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The places I would suggest you consider include Clos des Gourmets, Le Troquet, Violon d'Ingres, Les Ormes, Drouant, Taillevent, Bristol, and L'Astrance (if you can get in). I think the 7th is an area with many fine restaurants and food shopping. Marie-Ann Cantin is a wonderful cheese shop in that area. Not speaking French isn't a problem- don't worry about it. Get a little menu translation book, and, if you are worried, study the carte outside before you go in. Only two days will having you planning the next trip before you get home.

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And sometimes this is called a "formule".

In Paris anyway a "menu" usually constitutes a 1st, main and dessert without liquid whereas a "formule" is usually a 1st and main or main and dessert or main and wine. The least expensive option (often posted on a blackboard outside and/or inside) is the plat du jour, ie the daily special. Our pinned Essentials for a first time visitor thread has sections on Translation and Dictionaries.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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As an aside, I've seen Chez l'Ami Jean mentioned by more than a few members and on other sites. Is this place as good as people say it is for traditional Parisian food?

Yes definitely.

Le Troquet and La Regalade are good choices too.

For something more modern but not terribly expensive, I would try Les Magnolias which has been written about many times here.

What is the difference between "carte" and "menus"?

La carte is when you order 'à la carte' or off what English speakers would call the menu and the 'menu' is a 'prix fixe' with several courses for a certain price. Some restaurants in Paris only offer a 'menu' and it's often a good bet if you are trying to save money but, depending on where you eat, can also limit your choices.

I ate at Le Trouquet once, after I was told how wonderful it was. Each course of our dinner was raced to out to us; one course was even brought before we'd finished the previous one, which is highly-unusual in Paris. (Sometimes I credit that to them thinking most Americans expect that...and complain if things take too long, so I overlook it when it happens.)

Everything was also quite salty, and I love salt and could eat it by the spoonful. The check was brought before we'd finished dessert as well.

That was my experience based on one visit, but others have had good meals there. It was obvious they were trying to get us to scram by that point. Although we weren't lingering any longer than normal diners. I know this is considered one of the new 'bargain' bistros...but it doesn't feel like much of a bargain if you can't sit and eat your dinner without feeling rushed.

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Everything was also quite salty, and I love salt and could eat it by the spoonful.

I am someone who has "boosted" Le Troquet in past years and am extremely sensitive to salt, although I love it. However, my last visit with Pierre45 and my wife Colette resulted in all of us agreeing the food really was oversalted.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Everything was also quite salty, and I love salt and could eat it by the spoonful.

I am someone who has "boosted" Le Troquet in past years and am extremely sensitive to salt, although I love it. However, my last visit with Pierre45 and my wife Colette resulted in all of us agreeing the food really was oversalted.

I just got back from a 9 day trip to Paris, which I'll post about in some detail soon. In response to your questions about where to eat, I would say we had great meals at Arpege (I would have been quite angry for anything less at that price point, but it still managed to exceed any of my meals at 4 stars in NY); Les Magnolias, Sensing, L'Ami Jean and Au Bon Accueil. I would definitely recommend Sensing for lunch- it is 55 Euro with wine included. We had no problems whatsoever with the service and found the food to be delicious. I also loved the room, although I can see how the projections could be maddening from certain seats. Les Magnolias is a DO NOT MISS. It was a really quick and easy trip out of Paris (about 30 minutes by train) and the food was a great deal and extremely well executed. I think it still has a few kinks to work out, but both of us agreed that it will easily end up with 2 stars in the future. Au Bon Accueil was only 27 euro for the three course lunch. My fish was flawless and they served these great little salami slices with the bread. It was great modern french cooking with really interesting and inexpensive wines by the glass. Plus, it's just around the corner from the Eiffel Tower (climbing those steps was a great way to work off all the foie gras, etc). I compared L'Ami Jean to Casa Mono (it's Basque) while my best friend compared it to Momofuku Ssam Bar- highest compliments from each of us. The food was rich and delicious. The price was somewhere between 30 and 36 euro (I can't remember exactly). The rice pudding was enough for six people, but we finished it all (don't try that). We didn't do any three stars for lunch, so no specific recs there.

We made all our reservations in English (some before we left but many from France on a pay phone) and had no problem whatsoever. We made many reservations day of. The only reservations we couldn't get were Spring (it has less than 20 seats and we were calling the day before) and Fogon on Friday night at an earlyish hour.

If you're at all interested in cooking, we loved our cooking class with Paule Caillat (her info is on the forum on cooking classes) and we went to the markets with her, which was a great experience.

The Bon Marche food hall sells the amazing butter that they use at Arpege, but we somehow failed to fall in love with the market itself. Barthelemy or the cheese shop in the Place Maubert market for cheese. Hevin for chocolate (and chocolate covered cheese). Bread from Eric Keyser. Great croissant on Rue de Poissy in the 5th at a tiny no name bakery. Desserts from Pierre Herme (mythical).

I have so many more recommendations and a few things to skip, so feel free to PM me if you want more ideas.

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So far I've got a dinner at Les Magnolias. I also have the conceirges at AMEX hard at work figuring out lunch prices at my three-star restaurants of choice. A strange request for them, I know, but hopefully they'll pull through.

I'm thinking it might be a good idea to stay in the 7e. I've heard market on Rue Cler is nice and it's close to the metal tower, so at least I'll be able to see one sight. And the Champs de Mars seems quaint.

I also know that l'Ami Jean is in the area and while lots of people say it's good I wonder if it's the best quintessientially Parisian bistro experience I can have. I bring this up because it is Basque cuisine, and since I will be heading to Spain the next day, perhaps I should do something else.

Do any of you know anything about the following hotels:

-Grand Hotel Leveque -right on Rue Cler, but I can't get a room facing the street

-Hotel Valadon - toward the upper-end of my hotel budget

-Hotel du Champ de Mars - kind of mediocre but in a central location and the price seems right

-Hotel Muguet - closer to Metro, further from the "stuff," again at the top of my budget

I really want to spend one night in (the) Paris Hilton. Remember to tip your waitresses. Good night.


Edited by BryanZ (log)

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I would definitely pass on Le Cinq...

Les Magnolias is on my must try list...Doc raves of L'Astrance...My meal at Le Bristol was AMAZING...with your sweet tooth for the modern, Gagnaire merits consideration but he can be hit or miss (at that price point, a miss is rough)...check out Patricia Wells' list of restaurants to try in Paris, VERY HELPFUL, you can scroll back thru the years to see her various picks...Chez Denise deserves a look at for a bistro meal (Bourdain ate there in his Paris episode)


Edited by molto e (log)

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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Chez Denise deserves a look at for a bistro meal (Bourdain ate there in his Paris episode)

I went to Chez Denise some time in the past year or so and think for food you can do better. It certainly has that certain ambiance of what people imagine a Paris bistro to look like, but food wise there are better choices. For something similar but with better food, maybe the Bistro Paul Bert?


www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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Yes, I was thinking about the Bistro Paul Bert, too. I think I posted somewhere else that I thought the wine list was a little heavy on expensive options. But, I had a great bistro meal there recently - and it looks like from your post, you're more focused on the food than the wine - and, I think the menu is a really good value - I think it's about 35 for starter, main and dessert?

And, I second molto's enthusiasm for the Bristol (although I have a lot of experience eating in mid-range bistros and the like in Paris, so I might not have enough of a taste of starred restaurants here to judge it compared to others.)


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