Hi all! We originally had a trip planned to Italy this summer, which sadly was canceled due to a passport snafu. While Orlando was a fun replacement, we’re still jonesing to go to Europe, so for the winter holiday, we’re going to give Paris a go with me, wife and two teenage boys!
I have to admit, I’m finding restaurant searching much more challenging than for Rome / Florence. Mostly because we don’t want to do formal prix fixe and tend to like lighter fare, so we’re looking to almost entirely avoid places that are more cream heavy. Admittedly, this is likely a very simplistic / dated view of French cuisine. I also think we would like to try fusion / other cuisines beyond French.
Some questions I’d love help on…
Are we going to have trouble finding places open during that week between Christmas / New Years?
What are the must try bakeries / cafes / breakfast spots? We love pastries, breads. I found Mokonuts and The French Bastards as two spots that seemed like fun with good food! As well as Breazh Cafe
We love Asian food and so are definitely interested in crossover cuisine. Pierre Sang for French Korean and Le Servan for French with an Asian twist seem interesting.
I do want to find a steak frites place. I saw Bistro Paul Bert mentioned on another thread but would love other options.
Beyond fusion, what about other cuisines that are seeing new infusion of talent? Kubri seems like a must hit for Lebanese and Amagat for tapas seemed interesting as well.
And not to be a total ignoramus, so would love thoughts on more “pure” French places that maybe skew a little less heavy. L’ami Jean seems like a must try. Le Parisiens also caught my eye. But really looking to learn here!
Sorry for the long-winded email! But I’m truly befuddled by how to set my food itinerary here… NYC, LA, Italy have always seemed so easy but Paris definitely throws me for a loop so any help is greatly appreciated!
It’s way too early to plan for your time period. Lots of restaurants will be closed for the end of year holidays but nobody knows which ones. It changes every year and some restaurants don’t announce their closures until the end of November. The traditional brasseries serving trad standards are the restaurants most likely to be open then.
And other factors. If you insist on eating at your usual American times rather than adjusting to much later Paris meal times, your choices will be much more limited. And what’s the budget ? How adventurous are the teens ? Where will you be staying ?
Paris is pastry paradise. Just so many good choices that it is almost never worth it to go out of your way or to fix on specific destinations. Even what we Parisians consider average will be far better than what you are used to in the US. Not sure why The French Bastards has been singled out… good and, unlike most other boulangeries-pâtisseries, they do offer coffee and (very limited… probably inadequate for a family of 4) seating in their shops but, by Paris standards, not exceptional or good enough to go out of your way for. The boulangerie-pâtisserie just around the corner from your accommodation will probably be just as good or better.
With teenagers the Breizh cafe would be a good pick and you can reserve online now. Was always a good spot when I was traveling with teenagers/20 somethings. In May, we loved Kubri and have enjoyed Le Servan in the past. We also had a great bowl of ramen at Ippudo which has different branches in the city. Rue des Rosiers (Chez Marianne?) might be a good spot for falafels and other Mediterranean treats. We made all our reservations for 7-7:30 and it worked out fine. My husband was working the next morning and eating at 9pm was not possible and it probably would not be popular for your teenagers. There seems to be a lot more food courts these days and more casual kinds of dining with good food. This link has a good rundown in different parts of the city.
This site is more geared to fine dining and tasting menus but I know how it is to travel with kids and now I am starting all over again with grandkids. It’s all good though and have a wonderful time. Paris will be beautiful (and cold) that time of year.
Hi @Fattydumplin! I think it is not too early to be thinking about this week! I routinely fly to Europe for my winter/Christmas break, and spend either that week or the next one in Paris. I am also not a fan of most no-choice meals (though I will not say all, as I have had some amazing ones recently, especially in Barcelona). So I will answer (admittedly, some places will close for that week):
You will not have trouble finding places open that week.
I agree with @ParnParis here. Once you can say where you are staying, probably there will be excellent boulangeries and pâtisseries near you and (importantly) near the places you are going to want to be visiting during your trip.
I had a terrible and disappointing meal at Pierre Sang last spring, and cannot recommend it. However, I had a splendid meal at Le Servan, and would also be interested in trying their other restaurants Double Dragon and Capitaine.
With respect to steak frites (not exactly light) I am going back to La Bourse et la Vie in September and will report back. A friend recently recommended somewhere else, and I will get that name and report back. I’m not a fan of Bistro Paul Bert. We get much better meat in the U.S. and much less attitude mostly. I think you can do better!
Kubri is on my list, but I haven’t been. Also I would like to try Reyna. If you don’t know lefooding.com, I find they often have their fingers on the pulse of the new and interesting in a way that is different from H.O.
L’Ami Jean is a wonderful restaurant, but very old school, and definitely not “lighter fare.” Probably closed Christmas week, if I had to guess. If the markets are open, Les Enfants du Marché (in the market: Marché des Enfants Rouge) might be a good bet. Are there French foods that your kids want to try? I would think Croque Monsiers, Onion Soup, Duck, etc. Les Philosophes, a bistro near where I stay in Paris, for example, is not fancy at all, but well-sourced, fresh food, and when I am thinking neighborhood coffee shop (as a New Yorker), it can hit the spot, with onion soup for one person, steak tartare for another, duck confit for another, and an Asian chicken salad for someone else. Think serviceable big menu.
Haven’t been to Les Philosophies in awhile but that’s a great suggestion for their group. We did go to the bar across the street in May that is also a bookstore-a Paris ritual for us.
We enjoyed our meal at Double Dragon (Le Servan affiliated) and again a good pick for a family. Have had steak frites at Bistro Paul Bert and La Bourse et La Vie and I have to say that BPB was the winner.
Having eaten at Pierre Sang Oberkampf at least a dozen times (the latest: last month) over the years, I am startled to read that Ninkat had a “horrible” meal there. Certainly the opposite of “horrible” in my experience and that of the overwhelming majority of Paris food blog writers and internet reviewers. Obviously, a very rare aberration on the night Ninkat went. And the value ! One of best price-quality ratios in Paris. But if you have any misgivings about Pierre Sang you can try any of the dozen restos of a similar ilk and similar value. My fave at the moment is Eunoé (Japanese-French) near trendy Square Gardette in the foodie-fab 11th… whether it will be open during your time frame, who knows ?
And please don’t try French onion soup as part of meal. Ruinous to the taste buds. For many French, it’s more medicine, consumed as a snack in the dead of winter when we have a cold or as a hangover preventative after a night of clubbing. And these days, rarely made on the premises but bought in bulk and then assembled in the restaurant kitchen. The taste often varies depending on the time of day and the need to dilute it with water to make it last until closing time.
And one small correction. “I had a splendid meal at Le Servan, and would also be interested in trying their other restaurants Double Dragon and Capitaine.” Capitaine, an excellent modern French restaurant in the Marais, has no connection with Le Servan AFAIK.
Thanks all! Definitely learned some things from all the responses…
will revert with hotel once we’ve decided as that sounds like a good starting point for food choices
re patisseries / boulangeries - The French Bastards stuck out only because I saw a picture of a croissant there that looked amazing, but to @ParnParis point, I mostly threw the name out there to get the convo started.
Steak frites - not a light meal, for sure, as noted, but the kids love them so we have to do it at least once!
L’Ami Jean - i know it’s not lighter, but it was one of the places that as I scrolled pictures of the food, it just stood out to me as looking delicious. And I figure we can’t go to Paris and not to one of the old school, more traditional places!
Budget - pretty open, but with two boys, I probably draw the line at spending more than 75 euro per person, which seems like it gets us into most places, outside of the more fancy, prix fixe type restaurants
To @ParnParis questions, we probably would like to eat by 730… and in terms of adventurous, the kids and we will eat most anything, although my wife has a dairy intolerance.
One good thing about eating in France is that, by EU law, every “eating establishment” must have a list of the major allergens, including dairy, in each dish. Just ask for the “liste des allergènes” before ordering.
So if we’re looking at a few options for hotels. Just curious, from a location standpoint, relative to landmarks, food, and just general feel of the area, any of these in a preferable or decidedly non-preferable location? Thanks!
Hotel Dame Des Arts - 4 Rue Danton (Latin Quarter)
Pavillon Faubourg Saint Germain - 5 Rue du Pre aux Clercs
Monsieur George - 17 Rue Washington
re steak frites, this plate is often disappointing to Americans who expect a certain level/style of meat and doneness. Although formulaic, Relais de 'lEntrecote guarantees tender meat with seconds. Particularly thinking of your teenager. No choice menu = simple salad, sliced steak , “secret” sauce, possibility of optional (extra fee) dessert. Several locations.
Touristy but fills the bill for many.
Of the 3 addresses you listed I have stayed near the first 2. The 5th and 6th are heavily visited by tourists but hey, that’s what we are. I think either location would fine. Walkable to a lot of close by sights and restaurants. The NYC analogy would be staying in Soho or Tribeca. I would be less inclined go to the third address. Feels too commercial and office like in that area. My company’s Paris office is a short walk away. The NYC analogy here would be staying by Madison Avenue. In our recent trips, we have preferred to be closer to the Marais, that other hotbed of tourists.
ETA: I realized that when we stayed close to that second address you listed, there was a bistro that we discovered that we really came to like as our “local” place. Le Comptoir des Saints-Peres on the corner of Rue Jacob. If you stay by here, I would suggest trying it out. Very solid food.
Thank you! Super helpful. The 3rd hotel is at a much lower price point, despite looking very nice, and so my suspicion was there had to be a location-specific reason. Your insight makes it a lot easier to understand why!
We stayed at this hotel years ago with our two teenage boys. They have a really nice garden to sit in although it may be too cold when you are there.
That same trip we left Paris for a few days and came back to stay in the Marais at this nice little hotel. Quiet and great location. Boys had their own room in both places. They were both very reasonably priced.
TBH after that trip we started coming back to Paris frequently starting 2009 and always rented an apartment when we had our kids and their girlfriend/spouses with them.
And to keep it food based, the Marais location would be close to Breizh cafe, Les Philosophies, Parcelles (delicious!) and walkable to Le Servan and Double Dragon, Kubri and many great restaurants in the 11th.
Maybe you could post something about what you ate that was so wonderful last month @ParnParis?
I reported back in late March when I was there what I found very disappointing about that restaurant (felt like they were seriously asleep at their wheel, and all they really cared about was their “gimmick” of making guests guess at dish ingredients). I kinda hijacked @Kjtravels’ post entitled Where we ended up eating in Paris, March23 so OP could go and read my impressions from then and decide.
Regarding “value,” again, not sure what @ParnParis and @BKeats ate that they found “amazing?”
L’Ami Jean is a fabulous more traditional restaurant, IMO. I’ve only been once, but look forward to trying again. Hard to stay away from dairy (lactose?) there, I suspect, but if your wife can tolerate butter, that at least will make it easier!
I went with a group to Chez Denise about 7 or 8 years ago. It was popular on Chowhound and I enjoyed it. Probably a good spot for a traditional meal although would check to see if they’re open that week.
I was going to make the same suggestion of Relais de 'lEntrecote . We always find it fun, great place to take younger people, very good value, unlimited frites to go with your seconds of steak, you can go early if you like (and you have to line up, no reservations), open 7 days (though idk about Christmas Day or Christmas Eve), and the (secret) sauce has relatively little cream. It is without doubt touristy, and the overwhelming majority of diners will be tourists, though when we’ve been there not that high a proportion are Americans.
We went to Bistro Paul Bert once, and the steak frites with peppercorn cream sauce is arguably tastier, but the other food we had there wasn’t particularly impressive, and we had such terrible service I will never return.
I suppose location depends on what kind of tourist you are. For me, the location of the Hotel Dame des Arts is too perilously close to the somewhat fake and tacky Fisherman’s Wharf-like epicentre of lowest-common-denominator tourism around Saint-Michel. But yes, very convenient for dedicated sightseers and for sharing almost all your time and space with other tourists. The Monsieur George is in a very rarified, rather boring, and monotone neighbourhood a little too close to the horrible Champs Elysées and not exactly known for the quality, variety, and value of its restaurants. So, a big yes for the relatively new and classy Pavillon Faubourg Saint-Germain… and it comes with the advantage of having its own excellent restaurant (Les Parisiens) for those nights when you are just too pooped from rushing from one tourist attraction to another and gawking at things to go out for dinner. Or even when you are not pooped and just want a very, very good meal.
If you are more lifestyle sampler than typical sightseer, I’d also suggest Hotel du Petit Moulin or La Chambre du Marais, both in the less touristy, very trendy and very foodie Haut Marais in the upper 3rd. And given the proximity to the République bus and métro hub, quite easy to get to other parts of Paris. Less convenient for the masochistic walk-everywhere types. https://www.hotelpetitmoulinparis.com/ and https://lachambredumarais.com/fr/