[Paris] Early May affordable recommendations

That is true, although I am 100% sure that the table next to us at Jouvence were Parisians, with all the “let’s make the world over” conversations they were having. Even Pantagruel had a good mix where it felt like half the room were internationals, the other half French. Definitely had a few Parisians which was easy to overhear when the chef came to speak to customers at the end of the night.

Speaking of Pantagruel, I guess I should get going with making a report - which is definitely going to be the longest one as by my count we had 22 plates served to us that evening.

Quick little report of Café Richelieu in the Louvre which is run by Angelina.

Considering we were in the Louvre and stuck there as “all exits are final”. I was expecting this lunch to be the worst of our stay. And to be fair it wasn’t exceptional, but was much better than I expected.

We came in at about 2pm, the queue was small to get in, and we got a table on the terrace, overlooking the pyramids, and the waitress picked a table with a view on the Eiffel Tower. This would definitely make any food we had better :wink:

I had a Caesar salad and my girlfriend a croque monsieur. I was trying to finally have a light meal after the mad rush and that hit the spot. The croutons were a bit soft, but it was fine. The croque monsieur was more of a traditional “home” croque-monsieur as it had no béchamel on top (was more of a ham and cheese toast in that sense) with a mustard base. Also fine, my girlfriend liked it.

When we walked in, I saw a little patisseries display and spotted some little individual fraisiers - my favourite cake. After the main and a trip to bathroom, I see that only one is left! So, I quickly talk to the waitress and tell her that I want the last one.

Thankfully she reserved it for me, and my girlfriend had a chocolate creation for the Louvre which was a chocolate pyramid.

That definitely hit the spot, eating a fraisier whilst watching the tour Eiffel.

Again, not the best food ever, but considering a much better experience than expected.

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Pantagruel - 24 Rue du Sentier 75002 Paris

This was for my girlfriend’s birthday dinner. And what made me found Hungryonion! (@naf 's review / report on Pantagruel from right before COVID. Since then, it’s earned a Michelin star and prices have crept up considerably.

However, considering the amounts of different dishes you’ll eat, 85 euros for that menu was still great value. (Looks like it’ll be 90 euros from June).

The menu was the same as still advertised on their website, thank god because I definitely forgot the order of the dishes and what was what!
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We went for the wine pairings which are 69 euros per person (quite expensive? Not sure, first time I’m going for those in such a place). And we also got some rosé champagne when we got in (gf wanted try a rosé, which unsurprisingly wasn’t as good as normal champagne - in my opinion).

The deal of the restaurant is to serve 3 dishes, per course. There’s always a central / main one. One which has the same main ingredients but a completely different way of cooking the same ingredients, and one which seemed to be the same but lacking the main ingredient.

The appetisers were good - and I forgot to snap a shot!

There’s also an emphasis on service with finishing the plate in front of you, or for the smoked artichoke it comes in its dome of smoke and a big artichoke, and they fish the pieces of smoked artichokes out of the artichoke shell.



These were the first course. I’m not a fan of artichokes - but this was exquisite. The way the smoke artichoke was crispy on the outside in the big dish was great and the sauce was also really good. Here, all dishes had artichokes, whelks and curry, except that central tempura whelk bite which lacked the artichoke. The other dish was artichoke purée with a whelk on top. The contrast was very good.

2nd course was my favourite thing of the trip. The spider crab. It was a cold dish, with the bisque and fennel surrounding this incredibly soft crab meat, absolutely wonderful.



Again the 2 other dishes. First the ravioli had crab and fennel inside (and was filled with liquid). The other one was only fennel based, although I gotta say I now don’t remember what it tasted like!

The first main was the fish course. We went for the monkfish (and I also went for the 16 euro caviar add-on, which didn’t add too much to the dish, but considering the overall bill, what’s 16 euros less or 16 euros more!) It was very well cooked and full of flavours for the main plate. The side was this round bit of asparagus, sponge and monbéliard sausage also very tasty. The other two were a monkfish ceviche, very well done too and very fresh. The courgette tagliatelle was not as good, maybe lacking in flavours a bit.



The main meat course was slightly underwhelming for me, in the sense that it was more classic. Presentation was again good, but the main piece of lamb, was not exceptional to me. The little cromesquis bite was however very good. Also to point out, there was a slight slowdown in service between the fish and meat course for us. This was the only part of the dinner where I “waited” for a bit. Everything else was very well paced with about 5 minutes wait between finishing and getting on to the next course. The green beans side, was super fresh (cold) and refreshing though.



After this course, they brought one cone per person (that looked the same as the ones in naf’s review - but with different flavours). I think ours was thyme and rosemary with the bottom being fromage frais, a tasty palate cleanser.

Onto the dessert, again a triple dish affair. I think I made a mistake here that the coffee ice cream and the revisited tiramisu were on different plates so I didn’t eat them together. Because the coffee ice cream was delicious and I just ate it in one go (and also forgot to take a picture of it) Again very good desserts overall. The little flower ball was a whisky baba, which was very well soaked in whisky! The tiramisu inside had some crispy biscuit and the petals are dark chocolate. Loads of almonds all around too. The white stuff was a mascarpone emulsion.


The meal finished with another trio of mignardises which I didn’t picture. Overall, such a good meal for a birthday, we came in at 8:15, we left at midnight (although we had finished eating at about half past eleven).

Also if you too have a significant other that doesn’t drink much, best way to get them drunk is by getting the wine pairings for a 6 course meal.

Highly recommended, and I think the best meal of our trip.

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Just wanted to note that, not only does your write-up inspire me to put Pantagruel on our list this fall, but your food photography is some of the best I’ve seen posted on any food board. Thank you.

Great report! I’ve added Jouvence to my google maps Paris favourites. Thanks also for the tip on getting one’s partner drunk… Finally, just curious about your interpretation of ‘affordable’. :slight_smile: Just kidding!

The budget got a little bit out of control in the end! (Also septime was not part of the budget, parents paid :sweat_smile:)

But the goal was to go to good value places. Which I think the traditional places were a bit overpriced in the end. Jouvence wasn’t, neither was pantagruel.

@Noosh ’s photos are good given the restaurant is quite dark. Or they have improved their lighting?

No it is fairly dark still. Just taken with a regular iPhone 12, and trying to get a decent angle to show the food!

Auberge Pyrénées-Cévennes is a relic, but not such a valuable one. I always found the food to be a bit sloppy there. It is supposed to shine through its cassoulet but in my opinion, if you want a good cassoulet, head to L’Assiette directly. However, you didn’t order cassoulet but sole meunière. As Parn writes, this is a tricky subject. Soles meunières used to be rather common in Paris, and generally well prepared, but that was long ago. I never order them anymore, but the one at La Closerie des Lilas had a good reputation (not sure where it stands now, la Closerie in general having gone downhill a long time ago).
Even in Saint-Malo, at the Brasserie du Lion d’Or (not cheap but recommended), I was a bit apprehensive when I ordered sole meunière. Turned out to be fantastic.

My my, I think our friend Parn is a bit tough on Breizh Café. He makes it sound like a tourist trap, but the place and the business deserve a different kind of attention. Do not confuse successful with touristy, some places are touristy simply because they’re good. It remains one of the most solid options for crêpes and galettes, with unique product sourcing, and for sure their sweet wheat crêpes are the best of all. Regarding the galettes, they grow their own organic buckwheat now near Cancale, and they’ve never been better. They serve honey from the beekeeper who places his beehives near their buckwheat fields, source the very best ingredients in the Cancale-Saint-Malo region, and keep improving their formula constantly. They now have several locations in Paris and their small épicerie near the original Paris location (rue Vieille-du-Temple) is a must-visit for anyone who’s interested in excellent products. I’ve never had a meal at any Breizh Café (including the Cancale and Saint-Malo locations) that wasn’t truly pleasurable.

Of course there are other very good crêperies in Paris: I like Le Pot’ O Lait in rue Censier, in my ‘hood, Krügen in the 11th, and Mad Eo far down near the Porte de Versailles, but I’m not sure this one is still around.

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I wasn’t trashing Breizh Café but, as a “welcome to Paris”, the very good Crêperie Gigi (which seems unknown to you) was a better alternative because of the location, vibe, and “personality”.
No argument that the crêpes at Breizh Café are excellent. But, as an “experience”, it’s hit or miss. I have enjoyed some occasions at various Breizh Café locations but have also encountered perfunctory service and/or an overwhelming non-French-speaking clientele that gives it a very different vibe than an excellent neighbourhood joint like Crêperie Gigi.

Breizh Café’s locavore tendencies and impeccable sourcing are laudable but I’m not so sure it makes the crêpes any better than Gigi’s or a dozen other crêperies in Paris. Like pizza, sushi, bagels or any other iconic food in other cities, there are no holy grail crêpes. As I said in another thread, the differences between “the” best and the 10th best are so insignificant and subjective that they hardly matter.

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Breizh is hard to get a reservation and like lots of places you will be surrounded by tourists, but I agree the crepes are good. Gigi sounds like a great substitute and hopefully easier to get into. I like that part of the Marais. Quieter and some of my old favorites are up there-Le Mary Celeste and Broken Arm for coffee.

Are there lots of tourists again? We have not been to Paris since May 2019 and had to cancel May 2020 trip for obvious reasons. I’m still a bit worried about getting on a plane again and have friends that just got stranded in Portugal after they tested positive. Finally got home a week later but it was expensive and stressful,

The tourists are here; the big difference from pre-pandemic is that there are very few from East Asia, and especially, no tour groups from East Asia. I expect this week will begin a large wave from the US as schools begin to let out.

Tourists wise, the crowd was indeed very different to the last time I was in Paris (May 2019), very very few asian tourists.

In restaurants, there were a bunch of Americans, in museums it seemed a mix of US, Eastern Europe and Middle East.

Numbers wise I’m not sure how much it is compared to normal, but it definitely wasn’t too bad. We never queued more than 5-10 mins to enter museums or attractions like the Arc de Triomphe (although we didn’t go up the Eiffel Tower for example) - and we did cut the queue in the Louvre to enter as my gf has an ICOM card. I assume it’s quite dependant to what you want to be doing!

I only wrote “a bit tough”.
As for “a dozen crêperies”, I think you’re exaggerating slightly.

Yes, I have two different friends heading to Paris in the next 2 weeks.

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Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
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