PARIS CITY GUIDE: PART 2

paris part ii

Want Claire’s entire guide to Paris? Check out her PDF!

Overall Notes:

Stock your fridge.  Paris can get expensive, and a way that I cut corners was to have one epic meal a day, and have snacks to tide me over.  Paris is the snack-iest place I’ve ever been to, and honestly, the best food in Paris are the single morsels you enjoy between meals.  A little prosciutto and melon here, some muscat grapes there, a fig the size of your fist with some brie de meaux…it’s all wonderful, and so delicious.  Just a quick note on the cheese.  If you do buy cheese to enjoy while you’re there, make sure to cover it.  Cheese is best enjoyed at cool room temperature, and French cheese made with raw milk can have quite the pungent scent.  So keep it on a plate, under a cloche or a dish, and you’ll be fine.

Coffee to-go is not a thing, and honestly, the coffee isn’t the best.  Expect to add a little more milk than normal, and don’t even bother asking for a paper cup, just hang out and sip.

If outside seating is an option, sit outside.  The chairs and tables will be angled out towards the street, to promote people watching and I’m assuming some grade A snarking and gossip.  People watching with a glass of wine in your hand downwind of cigarette smoke is a Parisian must.

Paris is a reservations city, so always call ahead to book a table.  If you don’t want to be locked down for dinner, most places are empty when they just open, usually around 7:30.  Brasseries are always open and are an easy place to snag a table, so if you’re out of luck, try one of them.

More often than not, the components of a meal are amazing, but the finished main dishes are lack luster. The cheese and wine, the appetizers, the desserts, are always amazing. The beef bourgignon? More of a crap shoot.

French bistro fare is sort of like menswear: it’s a set uniform, but it’s about the subtle tweaks and taste level that make it special.  You’ll see the same dishes on every bistro menu, but their quality totally depends on where you go.  I had four different grand mariner soufflés and one is the obvious leader compared to the others.

Order red meat at least one more level cooked.  I love a medium rare steak, barely pink with a warm red interior, but French medium rare is closer to rare, where it’s all red and maybe a little warm.  I started ordering my steaks medium instead and they came out perfect.

No one is coming for your check. Ever. And they are super good at avoiding eye contact. Parisian servers will let you hang out for as long as you like, and even after you ask for the check, they might take their time getting it to you.  Even in the most crowded, line out the door restaurants, servers still did this.  This forced me to take a breath and stop feeling so antsy to move onto the next thing.  Meals that would take an hour back home melted into candle wax and empty wine glasses another two hours later.  I got so used to it after a while that coming back home and having the server drop a check when I’m halfway done with my entree, saying, “I’m just going to leave this here for when you’re ready,” felt straight up rude.  So luxuriate in the long meals, and enjoy yourself.

Tipping: No tipping necessary, except bartenders or above and beyond service. Otherwise, people in the service industry view it as their career, so tipping can be viewed as a slight.

Quick Vocab Lesson:

• Hello/Good Day: Bon jour

• Good Evening: Bon Soir

• Yes: Oui (pronounced weh not wee)

• No: Non

• Thank you: Merci

• Excuse Me: Excusez Moi

• I’m Sorry: Je suis désolé

• It’s good (like when telling a cab to stop): Tres bon

• Totally / I get it / I agree: D’accor (pronounced dah-coorh, with the sorted “r” ever on the end.  The French aren’t into the last letter in any word and it’s almost always dropped).

• Hello, Darling!: Salut chou chou! (chou chou is pronounced shoo-shoo)

Restaurants:

Moroccan

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Marché des Enfants Rouges (Marais)

The oldest covered market in the city (dating from the 1600s), this is more of a multi-cultural food court than anything else.  Moroccan, Italian, Lebanese, Japanese, and Organic stalls stud the market place, offering cheap eats and hard to find ingredients (most meals are under 10E). The Moroccan stall, Traiteur Marocain, was my favorite, serving lamb tagine on fluffy cous cous.

 

Chez Janou

2 Rue Roger Verlomme (3rd)  +33 1 42 72 28 41

Provençal bistrot in the heart of the Marais. More about the atmosphere than the food, but make sure to order the mousse, served from a massive all-you-can-eat-style bowl.

L'as Dus Fallafels

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L’As Du Fallafel

34 Rue des Rosiers (Marais)

You know those warring Philly Cheese Steak spots across the street from each other in Philadelphia? Well, welcome to the French version, falafel-style. On this narrow street in the Marais, falafel joints compete for your affections, but L’As Dus Fallafel won my heart in the end. Literally my best bite in Paris and only 5 euro. Don’t worry about the long line, it moves fast. Order the falafel, and make sure it’s smothered in spicy sauce.

 

Chez Georges

1 Rue du Mail (2nd)

If you want an old school bistro experience, this is the place.  The rilletes are delicious, portions are very generous, and the cream puffs with hot chocolate sauce will knock your socks off.  There’s also an adorable black lab named Hermes, who hangs out behind the bar, popping her head up from time to time to check up on things.

Breizh

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Breizh Cafe

109 Rue Vieille du Temple (Marais)  +33 1 42 72 13 77 

Come here for some authentic, homemade crepes with a Japanese touch.  Make a res if you plan on coming at peak lunch hours, or just pop next door and get crepes to-go.  I ordered the Basque crepe with chorizo, a fried egg, and melted gooey cheese.  Paired with a buckwheat crepe with a slightly fermented, sour dough flavor, it was the perfect way to kick off my day of shopping in the Marais.  Some of the more unique offerings caught my eye, like sweet crepes with yuzu sugar, but I didn’t have a chance to try them.

LEcaillerBistrot

L’Ecailler du Bistrot

22 Rue Paul Bert (11th)

The mermaid sister restaurant to Le Bistrot Paul Bert, this is some of the best seafood in Paris at reasonable prices. The briny oysters are served with seaweed butter and brown bread, which when combined with a sprinkling of black pepper is a revelation.  I kind of don’t want to enjoy oysters any other way.  The other fish dishes are perfectly cooked and surprisingly rich (or I guess unsurprisingly considering we’re in Paris), but always paired with a unique vegetable side.

Bouchon

Le Bouchon et l’Assiette

127 rue Cardinet (17th)  +33 1 42 27 83 93

Basque style cuisine served beautifully.  Some of the best dishes I had one the trip were here. Because we weren’t super hungry, the three of us split two lunch menus (it’s a pre fixe situation) and then my friend ordered the ham.  It was pretty awesome getting to say, “And she will have the ham.”  The chilled melon soup with confit duck on top was divine, as was the crunchy potato tart with gooey cheese, bacon, and a light salad.

L'Entredgeu

L’Entredgeu

83 Rue Laugier  (17th)  +33 1 40 54 97 24

My favorite bistro experience.  Cozy and with a new menu every week, the food is always classic yet interesting. The staff is wonderful too, and super friendly. Their stand out dish is roasted pigeon with bacon and foie gras, but my favorite thing on the menu are their brown butter roasted potatoes. The servers couldn’t be sweeter, and at only 35E for the full menu, it’s a steal for the experience.

Regalde Honore

La Régalade Saint-Honoré

123 Rue St-Honoré (1st)

Wonderful.  This was one of the strongest meals I had in paris, in that every dish was great.  Come for lunch and get the soufflé and riz au lait for dessert. The brown butter madeleines they serve with coffee are sublime.

Pierre Herme

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Pierre Herme

Multiple Locations

Best macarons in Paris, hands down.  They beat Lauderee every time.  They have locations all over the city, so make sure to go and try the passion fruit chocolate macaroni and an ice cream sandwich.  If you don’t want to eat them all at once, leave the box in the fridge, so that the macaroons retain their moisture and don’t dry out.

 

Chateaubriand

129 Avenue Parmentier  (11th)  +33 1 43 57 45 95

This is a reservations a week ahead of time place.  It’s also the perfect example of how the new wave of chefs can shake things up.  The atmosphere is casual bistro, but with a modern simplicity to it, perhaps to let the surprising, mischievous, and unexpected food take center stage.  Order the pre fixe menu with the wine pairings, and enjoy delicious morsels like veal liver with brown butter and grilled lettuce (absolutely amazing, and I typically hate liver), fried whole shrimp with passion fruit butter, and ceviche served in a shot glass.

septime

Septime

80 Rue de Charonne  (11th)  +33 1 43 67 38 29

A “secret” pre fixe menu makes this an exciting place to dine.  You just tell there server what you’re allergic to or don’t enjoy, and keep your fingers crossed. The plates are light and fresh and the space is gorgeous.  If you want to have a romantic evening, but don’t want a stuffy or old fashioned bistro vibe, this place is modern, warm, and just the place to while away a long dinner.

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