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Joe H   

Serious question: how much are you willing to spend and what kind of experiences are you looking for? When I think of "foodie vacation" I am thinking of several blowout dinners; if this is true they can become a very real function of cost along WITH THE ABILITY TO SECURE A RESERVATION at a restaurant like L'Astrance or several of the three stars.

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Good question...I am planning on staying for 5 nights. I can see myself splurging 3 dinners ($200-400/pp)...I realize getting reservations is another hurdle!!

Couple bistro fares and cheap but good eats would be great.

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Keithstg   
Good question...I am planning on staying for 5 nights.  I can see myself splurging 3 dinners ($200-400/pp)...I realize getting reservations is another hurdle!!

Couple bistro fares and cheap but good eats would be great.

Get in touch with LeCinq immediately. As Joe mentioned, L'Astrance is another excellent choice, but if you were thinking of going to any of the ***ed restaurants, LeCinq is the best bet. Note, if you are staying at the George V (as we were when we went this April) reservations are much easier to come by.

I'd also recommend L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for a great dinner that won't be up in "splurge" ($200-400/pp) territory.

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Joe H   

Agree that, for me, Le Cinq is the three star (there are nine) that I would return to. It has the former chef who helped build Taillevent's reputation. Pierre Gagnaire is the "cutting edge" three star if you are into this. Ducasse is there but, personally, since he now seems to be everywhere this does not have the same attraction for me.

L'astrance is the most difficult reservation in Paris and worth the effort. Two months to the day. Yes, this means waking up at 4:00AM and calling them. Take lunch if this is the only time you can get in. I have actually built business trips around this.

One of my better "reviews" on CH was this about L'atalier which I wrote several weeks after it opened:

http://www.chowhound.com/boards/intl5/messages/19460.html

Please read the above if you have time. I put quite a bit of thought into it (most of my posts anywhere I don't even proofread!) knowing that it was probably the first post on this restaurant on any food board. It's been over a year since my last visit and it will be interesting when I go back next spring to see how it has evolved since I wrote the above.

I would also give serious consideration to Jamin (two stars, Robuchon's original location ((he was considered the all time greatest French chef when he closed his restaurant in the mid '90's in Paris)), Violon d'Ingres (Christian Constant and his wife, Catherine-a one star that, like Jamin, has dishes as good as any three), Le Regelade (considered by many to Paris' best bistro) and yes, I would (and have)return to L'atalier du Robuchon. Especially the first day you are there since you'll probably be sleepy and looking for an early dinner.

This is a superb resource for Paris' better restaurants with links to numerous reviews and detailed info including phone numbers. http://www.dininginfrance.com/paris_restaurants.htm CALL YOURSELF TO MAKE THE RESERVATION FROM HERE; MOST PLACES SPEAK ENGLISH. Most of the ones noted above are DIFFICULT RESERVATIONS. Particularly, L'Astrance, Le Cinq, Jamin, Violon d'Ingres, Taillevent. It is possible because of the recent rioting that busienss may have fallen substantially but because your trip is two months out you should still start MAKING RESERVATIONS NOW.

Have a great time!

Edited by Joe H

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We managed to get a lunch reservation for L'Astrance the last time we were in Paris and it was well worth the effort and expense. It is the only restaurant where I've ever been asked to guess what I just ate.

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Waitman   

I may be in the minority of this, but rather than try to cram three blowouts into a five day trip, I'd suggest that you vary the scale and elegance level. Part of Paris' charm is its excellent low- and mid-priced dining establishments. Tucking into a cozy cafe or brasserie where actual Parisians eat is valuable and wonderful in its own right. I think it was the esteemed AJ Liebling who wrote how pleased he was to have been poor when he first came to Paris: rather than just picking something from the Michelin galaxy, he learned to seek out low-priced establishments of extraordinary quality, and became acquainted with the braises, tripes and other "peasant" foods that were delicious in the right hands.

Not to say that one shouldn't get a night at Astrance. But, rather than facing nine brilliant and expensive courses the next day, you might want to try the Tripe Sausage at Au Petit Tonneau 20, Rue de Surcouf,75007 Paris, not far from the Tour Eiffel the next night and feel transported back to an earlier time; or, for something slightly more upscale and equally charming and delicious, the Petite Troquet, also in the 7th at Le Petit Troquet at 28, Rue de l'Exposition.

A guide to Parisian cafes can be found here.

There's also much to be said for shopping around for cheese, bread, wine and the many delights available at streetcorner traiteurs (prepared food sellers, like a deli but pure French) -- from eggs en gelee to chocolate dessert -- and having a hotel room picnic. You can use the money you saved for a bottle of killer Burgundy at the three-star of your choice.

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RaisaB   

I am in total agreement with Waitman oon this. I would maybe do 1 blowout dinner but probably not.

There are so many wonderful bistros at affordable prices. I go to Paris at least once or twice a month. My recommendations would be, as follows.

Le Troquet

Chez Michel

Le Cerisaie

L'Epi Dupin

L'Entredgeu

Try checking Egullet.com and their France forum for recommendations.

PM me if you want to know more or if I can help in any way.

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Last minute changes...due to scheduling conflicts, such as work (yippeee!!), I have changed my trip to December 22-30. As much as I am filled with excitement (oui! oui! first time in Paris), I have NO reservations. Are restaurants/bistros open during Christmas? I have been told I should make reservations at bistros. Is it too late?

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ereidy   

I was in Paris last christmas and had no problem finding places to eat......of course, I was also not going for a high end foodie experience either.

I would suggest that if you can get into one of the better restaurants on christmas eve, it's really worth the experience. It definitely felt like that was the night to be out celebrating.

Christmas day was a little more quiet, but there was still stuff open in the marais, the champs, and the latin quarter.

I found the "chain" brasseries were open and fairly easy to get into.

If it makes you more comfortable, you can make reservations at the FLO brasseries online: http://www.flobrasseries.com/resa/en/

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Ambassade du Sud-Ouest.  Raw FG and toasters on the tables.  Enough said.

Would I need reservations? Where is it?

So far I have reservations at Brassierie Flo for the 24th and at Atelier Joel de Roboucon for the 26th. Part of me tells me make more reservations, part of me tells me just go with the flow and let destiny take its course.

I am staying by by the Champs Elysees so recommendations of bistros, bakeries (good croissants), gourmet stores around that area would be very very much appreciated.

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DonRocks   
I am staying by by the Champs Elysees so recommendations of bistros, bakeries (good croissants), gourmet stores around that area would be very very much appreciated.

There's a Michelin Red Guide for Paris - not the "regular" Red Guide, but one with all the specialty and gourmet stores (traitteurs, chocolatiers, boulangeries, patisseries, viennoiseries, fromageries, serrureries just kidding but I think that's the most unpronouncable word in the language, etc.), arrondissement-by-arrondisement. It's indispensible, the problem being: it's written in French.

Who the hell has mine? TK? Babka? I lent it out to someone and now it's gone - if I get it back you can borrow it; if not you can find one at a bookstore, maybe even at the airport.

A la votre,

Rocks.

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Would I need reservations?  Where is it?

So far I have reservations at Brassierie Flo for the 24th and at Atelier Joel de Roboucon for the 26th.  Part of me tells me make more reservations, part of me tells me just go with the flow and let destiny take its course. 

I am staying by by the Champs Elysees so recommendations of bistros, bakeries (good croissants), gourmet stores around that area would be very very much appreciated.

Tea/sweets:

Ladurée (the one at 16 rue Royale 8e) for amazing macaroons, praline millefeuilles and afternoon tea. There is one on the Champs-Elysées which is also nice, but try to visit this original location, established in 1862

Lunch/Dinner:

L’ANGLE DU FAUBOURG

195, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré

Paris 8

Tel: 01 40 74 20 20

Fax: 01 40 74 20 21

1 Michelin star

Same owner as Taillevent. It's a lovely, modern restaurant located right by the cozy Taillevent wine store (Les Caves Taillevent, 199, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré). If you are on the rue du Faubourg during Les Caves business hours, stop by for a tasting. Usually they are offering the same gougeres as at Taillevent, freshly made throughout the day.

L'Angle du Fabourg and Les Caves were within walking distance of our hotel just off the Champs-Elysées - the Hotel Lancaster (7, rue de Berri, Champs-Elysées 75008) which also has a wonderful 1-star restaurant La Table du Lancaster with chef Michel Troisgros running the kitchen. Food & atmosphere have an asian flair. Beautiful courtyard.

La Table du Lancaster

tél : 01 40 76 40 76

fax : 01 40 76 40 00

e-mail : reservations@hotel-lancaster.fr

One evening we skipped dinner reservations altogether and ended up at the bar at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée (25 Avenue Montaigne) for champagne and appetizers of fois gras on toast & a plate of finger sandwiches. I would definitely do that again.

Have an excellent trip!

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jparrott   
Would I need reservations [for Ambassade Sud-Ouest]?  Where is it?

Probably not, especially at lunch. My recollection is that they serve through the afternoon as well (it is primarily a traiteur, but also has seating/table service for about 60 people).

46, avenue de la Bourdonnais, 7e. Near the bridge that is a straight road to Place CDG.

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RissaP   

This is my most detailed recollection of my experience and I hope it helps you...

Just make your reservations as early as you can. Reservations are strongly suggested in most high-end places. It’s easier to cancel than to get one. I don’t know if it depends on the time of the year, but when I was there, I found that a lot of the destination restaurants were closed Saturdays and Sundays because I think a lot of people go out of town for the weekend. By Monday and Tuesday when they were back, it was so difficult to get reservations. Save those interesting mom and pop bistros and brasseries for desperate last-minute places to go, they’re everywhere and always open anyway. Also since it’s your first time (I didn’t know during my first visit), it helps to know that all restaurant bills in France include tax and 15% gratuity (extra 5% tip if you really like the experience).

Getting around: remember what I mentioned to you about hailing cabs, DON”T, I think it’s a sign of disrespect for them. They’ll just either look at you or even give you the finger! You’re better off waiting by the designated cabstands with a blue sign (just like a bus stand). If you rent a car, parking can be a big challenge. The smallest (and cutest) Smart Car is the way to go, but cost more than the bigger cars because of limited parking space everywhere. If you take the subway, they only operate until midnight. The underground system is CONFUSING AS HELL if you don’t know where you’re going and if you don't speak French. It’s like a maze down there with lots of confusing signs. If you ask for directions—Parisians will usually tell you “it’s very close, it's just around the corner, just go there” but they give you roundabout directions—REALLY! Before you know it, you’ve walked 5 miles and spent half a day finding your destination! Always carry a map with you.

The best shopping area is along rue St-Honore (for hard-to-find goods in a lot of mom ‘n pop shops) and rue de Rivoli (for all the modern shops) close to the Louvre. Of course the Champs-Elysees for more modern shops and around Place Vendome for the high-ends shops. Anywhere around Ile de la Cite and Ile Saint-Louis (my favorite place) surrounding Notre Dame would be a nice place for a quaint stroll and lots of mom ‘n pop shops and brasseries. In Ile St.-Louis is where you will find Berthillon, rue Saint Louis en L’ile (famous for their sorbets and glaces, but I found to be just ok). And Brasserie l’Isle Saint-Louis in the very corner of rue Jean du Bellay and rue Saint Louis en L’ile that bridges Notre Dame and the island is where you can enjoy a great cup of latte while people-watching. This is the brasserie used in a scene in the modern version movie of Sabrina.

Since I know what it’s like to have extremely limited time to want to try restaurants plus how expensive it is for fine dining (price is the same for lunch and dinner and you can easily spend 500 euros for two for lunch or dinner with wines), I tried to list what I remember by arrondissement to help you narrow your plans (worth it or not). Multiple tasting menus are the way to go, but be prepared to dine for 2-4 hours:

MARAIS DISTRICT

3rd Arrondissement

Chez Jenny (casual)-39 bld du Temple

They’re open Fri, Sat. until 1 am. 1930s Alsatian brasserie fare with decent food and oysters. They have deep-fried hocks that are very interesting, if you like this kind of stuff. I would save this for a desperate moment.

4th

Hiramatsu – 7 quai de Bourbon

In Ile St-Louis

Japanese, but I heard they’re not doing well.

QUARTIER LATIN

5th

Tour D’Argent (super fine dining)– 15-17 quai de la Tournelle

Old style institution famous for their numbered pressed duck and magnificent view of Notre-Dame and Seine River. Don’t waste your time and money on this one. It’s very expensive for what you get.

SAINT-GERMAIN-DES-PRES

6th

Bouquinistes (casual) – 53 quai des Grands Augustins

A bistro owned by Guy Savoy, contemporary and modern, but nothing special.

LES INVALIDES

7th

Arpege (fine dining) – 84 rue de Varenne

The main floor dining room is better than the downstairs. Nice ambience, great service, style of food was just ok, expensive, good place if you’re vegetarian.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon – 5 rue Montalembert

They don’t take reservations but the wait is very long.

Voltaire (casual) – 27 quai Voltaire and rue de Beaune

Old Parisian institution, classic French cuisine, NOT TO MISS 1-POUND BRICK FOIE GRAS TERRINE APPETIZER they give you, if you’re ready to be foie gras(ed) out! The crab salad was excellent; don’t get the faux filet (nothing special cut of steak).

CHAMPS-ELYSEES

8th

Café Lenotre – 10 av des Champs-Elysees

I have not been, but this is where Chef Michel Richard came from before coming to the US.

Le Cinq (super fine dining in the Four Seasons Hotel George V) – 31 av George V

If you want to feel very pampered with great ambience, food, very professional and friendly staff.

Maison Blanche (very hip, modern) – 15 av Montaigne

A penthouse restaurant with a magnificent view of the Seine River, it’s better to dine in the evening with the view of the city lights. Dining is better in the lower level next to the wall-to-floor glass windows than on the upper level where the room looks unfinished and the flooring is all wood where you can hear every single footstep. Cool clubby music, very hip but food just ok with a lot of repetition with the use of ingredients.

Pierre Gagnaire (super fine dining) – 6 rue Balzac (a little hard to find, tucked inside the street off av des Champs-Elysees)

This is my absolute favorite where every dish is served with numerous accompaniments and every single thing went perfectly well together. Observing how the wait staff work is like watching ballet—flawless and amazing.

Spoon (casual, fusion) – 14 rue de Marignan (tucked in an alley-like street off av des Champs-Elysees)

A trendy Alain Ducasse restaurant, you choose your own mix ‘n match dishes. Don’t waste you time and money on this—our mix ‘n match experience tasted like medicine.

TROCADERO/MONCEAU

16th

L’Astrance-4 rue Beethoven

Reservations are very difficult, exactly 6 weeks in advance. I have not been, but Tom Sietsema always recommends this place.

Guy Savoy – 18 rue Troyon

Very expensive, but goes along the same line up there as Pierre Gagnaire.

MY 3 MOST ABSOLUTE, MUST-GO-PLACES-FOR-SPLURGING-IN-A-FINE-DINING-RESTAURANT AND FOR A PERFECT EXPERIENCE (cuisine, service and ambience) in this order:

PIERRE GAGNAIRE-I dream of going back there!

LE CINQ

GUY SAVOY

If you only have one week to spend in Paris and would like to try EVERYTHING, like myself, every single tip helps a lot! I wish I had someone to guide me during my very first visit, as I wasted a lot of time looking for places!

Au revoir!

Edited by Rissa P

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jparrott   

I agree with Gagnaire and Savoy (never been to Le Cinq); lunching at Gagnaire is a good option as well (not that much cheaper, but I like the room during the day).

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Guy Savoy was our best dining experience -- even better than Taillevent. It was also the most expensive dinner we've had anywhere -- (French Laundry included.) You know the credit card is in for a beating when the signature soup is 78 euros! It is fabulous though - artichoke soup with truffles served with warm mushroom brioche spread with truffle butter for you by the waiter. And the wine list is so large it travels with it's own table!

Edited by Camille-Beau

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johnb   
Guy Savoy was our best dining experience -- even better than Taillevent.  It was also the most expensive dinner we've had anywhere -- (French Laundry included.)  You know the credit card is in for a beating when the signature soup is 78 euros!  It is fabulous though - artichoke soup with truffles served with warm mushroom brioche spread with truffle butter for you by the waiter.  And the wine list is so large it travels with it's own table!

If I'm not mistaken, GS will be opening his place in Las Vegas sometime next year. Robuchon is already there, along with several others. It's getting to be La Seine on the Colorado.

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RaisaB   
Would I need reservations?  Where is it?

So far I have reservations at Brassierie Flo for the 24th and at Atelier Joel de Roboucon for the 26th.  Part of me tells me make more reservations, part of me tells me just go with the flow and let destiny take its course. 

I am staying by by the Champs Elysees so recommendations of bistros, bakeries (good croissants), gourmet stores around that area would be very very much appreciated.

For everything in one place, and an excellent selection. go to Galeries Gourmand. It is at Place Maillot, right off the Champs Elysee. You can walk or take the Metro there, it leaves you right at it! (Line #1) You can't miss it because it is in the underground shopping area right at Concorde Lafayette Hotel which is the tallest point in the area. Le Palais de Congres is also there. The wonderful thing about this place is that it is open Sundays!

There is a little wineshop called Vin D'or about 2 blocks from there, It is run by a charming Frenchman named Bruno. He usually has some excellent but inexpensive wiones available, he also has tastings on Saturdays from time to time.

If you need further details, PM me.

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RaisaB   

BTW read my post on EG about Yves Camdeborde's place! If you can somehow make a reservation, do it. It is 40 euros for 7 courses. It is unbelievable. If you can't snag a reservation, try walking up and getting an outside table. It really is awesome! I absolutely love this man's cooking!

Edited by RaisaB

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BTW read my post on EG about Yves Camdeborde's place! If you can somehow make a reservation, do it.

sniff...Email reply:

Thank you for the interest shows for le Comptoir,unfortunately the

restaurant will be closed for the last week of december and in late January

for renovations.

Best regards

Philippe.

another one from L'Atelier Maitre Albert Restaurant avec Guy Savoy

Bonjour,

I m so sorry but the restaurant is closed between the friday december 23th and the tuesday january 3th 2006.

Sincerely yours.

Jacquet Laurent

The interesting thing is that they actually reply to emails!! I've been able to snag some reservations but many places seem to be closed. sniff. :lol:

[edited to remove triple spacing]

Edited by crazeegirl

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DonRocks   
sniff...Email reply:

Thank you for the interest shows for le Comptoir,unfortunately the

restaurant will be closed for the last week of december and in late January

for renovations.

Best regards

Philippe.

another one from L'Atelier Maitre Albert Restaurant avec Guy Savoy

Bonjour,

I m so sorry but the restaurant is closed between the friday december 23th and the tuesday january 3th 2006.

Sincerely yours.

Jacquet Laurent

The interesting thing is that they actually reply to emails!!  I've been able to snag some reservations but many places seem to be closed.  sniff.  :lol:

[edited to remove triple spacing]

The French hospitality industry is old-school polite. If you write them a thank-you letter, you'll receive one back - often typed on a typewriter. It's a fine art of politeness that this country sorely lacks, and is but one of many things I love about the French.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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