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Paris Travel Tips

Welcome to our travel tips section. Here is where we share some of the places and things we found and learned on our 2005 Trip to Paris, France!

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One note about prices:  All prices given in France (and the rest of Europe we were told) include the 19.6 % tax and the tip.  You are never expected to leave anything beyond one or two Euros for the server, and even then it is only in the event that you really liked the service and wanted to leave a little something to say "thanks".  Any prices listed in our reviews were current as of Sept 2005 and also include all taxes and tips.  (Thank you to the nice gentleman we sat next to at Restaurant Rovert et Louise who helped explain all of this to us on our first night in Paris.) 

 

LE GYROS
3, rue de la Harpe - (Latin Quarter) Metro: Saint-Michel Cluny
01 46 33 21 23

We paid cash here so unfortunately I do not have the receipt to verify the address but you could see the beautiful blue neon sign from the Fontaine St. Michel so I'm pretty sure this is the one.   This had to be by far the best food value we found in Paris.  For about 4 euros each we got two huge sandwiches stuffed full of golden brown meat(I think it might have been lamb- but it was different from the kind you see in the states)lettuce, tomato, tatziki, and (he he) "French" fries.  The sandwiches were so big that we had to pick at them with our fingers for quite a while before they were small enough to take a bite with our mouth!  I had been waiting for this the entire trip and boy was it worth the wait.  I also was struggling to pronounce this word in "French" but I think the nice man behind the counter pronounced it "zheee-rows" more or less. :)

 

LE JULES VERNE
2eme etage of the Eiffel Tower  Metro: Ecole Militaire, Trocodero, Champ de Mars, Bir-Hakeim
Reservations (by fax or telephone only): 
33 (0)1 45 55 61 44

 

 

This was an extremely fancy restaurant with excellent quality food and service(not to mention the view!), but we may have been in a little over our heads here. When the menu came it was all in barely understandable "food French" which is usually NOT in our dictionary and we were a little too embarrassed to ask what was what. However, the main dishes on the fixed price lunch boiled down to some sort of veal, some sort of rabbit, and some kind of fish. We both got the rabbit, which as it turned out was VERY good, but carries a certain amount of guilt... For the appetizer Kim got the soup, which we were to find out was pumpkin and PIGEON. She is still waiting for the pigeon revenge and spent the entire rest of the trip looking over her shoulder like Tippi Hedron. I opted for the fois gras as I felt I should try the mysterious delicacy at least once, and this seemed like the place. I didn't really like It had the consistency of cold butter and tasted like really really rich chicken stock. Cold chicken stock, that is. I guess it is an acquired taste, but as far as duck liver goes, I don't think I'll be craving it anytime soon. So for excellent views, top notch service (we had no less than 3 waiters and a special wine/champagne baby-sitter) and "haute cuisine" this is the place, but we were more comfortable in the more relaxed bistros and restaurants near our hotel. Also if you decide to go, make sure you call at least 3 but maybe 4 months beforehand. It is very hard to get a reservation, and we had to settle for lunch, which worked out OK anyway because we were able to go out on the 2nd level of the Eiffel Tower afterwards and get some really nice pictures of Paris. You also get to skip all of the lines and use the private entrances and elevators, which is nice on a crowded summer day.  Total cost for lunch for 2 including a demi (half sized) bottle of Moet et Chandon Brut champagne and entrance to the second level of the Eiffel tower for free- 178 Euros.  Yes you read that right- one hundred seventy eight Euros.  For lunch. *shiver*

 

LA TAVERNE DU SERGENT RECRUTEUR
41 rue St-Louis-en-l'Isle (Ile St. Louis) Metro: Pont Marie
01 43 54 75 42    http://www.lesergentrecruteur.com/

   

 

This was by far our most favorite restaurant of this trip. In fact we ended up eating there 3 times! The first night we didn't know anything about it, but we could see that they served beer and it was really neat looking inside with the stone walls and wooden beams etc. So the menu comes and it is fixed price like everything else in Paris (which means usually a choice from column a a choice from column b etc.). The appetizers menu includes a basket of assorted sausages, a basket of crudites- or raw mixed vegetables, a pate with pickles, or soup. At least that's what we thought. I decide to get the sausages and Kim goes for the crudites. Before we can even order the waitress brings a HUGE terrine of soup (we're not sure what it was made from but it was brown and tasted like blended vegetables maybe) and the pate. Then she disappears. Hmmm- well we wanted the other ones really.... Then she comes back with bread, the sausage basket AND the veggie basket. Apparently you get EVERYTHING. It's not a choice at all. Cool! You do have to choose a main course, though. The menu has lots of typical French dishes like duck confit, cassoulet, beef bourginon, entrecote of beef(a steak), and some more that I can't remember. Everything was good, but we liked the steaks the best. So after you've had your fill of the appetizers they bring the main course. But not until you are done. They will not rush you here or anywhere else in France it seems. The main course never once came until the appetizers were gone. But beware- once you tell them that you are done- they take the plates! So make sure that you are really done with everything that you had intended to eat, be it in the basket or on the plate :) Then after the main course- the cheese. Again- a huge plate of cheese- eat all you want. Then the dessert. Another choice. Kim's favorite was the chocolate mousse. I liked the ice cream that they get from the famous Berthillon place down the street. Kim liked the chocolate mousse so much in fact that she was not willing to risk trying the competition (another similar feast theme) next door for fear that the dessert would disappoint! After all of this we were well stuffed each and every time. And did we mention the beer and wine? It's included. Drink all you want. Live it up :) Draft beer and house wine are included in the price of the dinner, and you don't have to stick with one or the other, you can switch based on the food if you like. All of this for 38 euros per person seemed like a pretty good deal to us. Sure it was more than we'd pay at home, but for a wonderful vacation splurge it was well worth it, considering we paid 90 Euros for a pretty huge meal at Le Tastevin and over 180 Euros for LUNCH (!)  at Jules Verne and didn't get anywhere near as full (or drunk) :)

 

LE TASTEVIN
46, rue Saint-Louis-en-l'ܥ, (Ile St. Louis) Metro: Pont Marie
01 43 54 17 31

     

We ate here one night on a whim(trying to decide between here and the Il'iot Vache place) with no idea of what to expect. Again the menu was typical French and I was getting a little burnt out on the choices and overwhelmed with the variety on the 4 different fixed price menus until I saw the elusive "Chateaubriand". I'm not sure if that's even how you spell it, but all I knew was that I've seen it a million times and never ordered it because it is always too expensive. Here we go! Finally I will taste the famous beef with the cool name. Well folks- it is a filet mignon. A really big fillet mignon (or rather the tenderloin- as it was not cut across the grain like a steak) with herbed butter. It was really good too, but I'm not really sure why back home in the states this is always served "for two" as the one I had was just as good when portioned for one person. Kim got the entrocote (or rib steak) with raisins and wine sauce which was also good and HUGE. To tell the truth, I ended up eating half of it along with my entire steak as there was so much left over that we would have taken it home had we had a refrigerator to put it in... Then came the dessert. I opted out since I ordered "a la carte" and didn't have one included with my meal. Kim got the fruit tart which turned out to be cherry. REAL cherries. With the pits. AND MAN WAS IT GOOD! So good in fact that I had to eat some of it too. It totally turned me around on the whole tart issue since the apple one I had the night before at our (2nd visit to the) basket of sausages place was just OK. After this though, I was fairly burned out on beef and we never made it back to the cute Vache restaurant on the corner. Oh well- that's what next times are for....

 

LA FONTAINE DE MARS
129 Rue St.Dominique, 7th Arr. (Eiffel Tower area) Metro: Ecole Militaire 
011 33 1 47 05 46 44

We actually ate here last time we went to Paris when it was winter. This time we passed by during the day and discovered they have a charming little patio right next to a fountain that we totally missed in the winter time! Anyway, it was too far from our hotel to get back to on the spur of the moment but it is worth mentioning because the food here was the highlight of our previous visit to Paris. I got the much celebrated cassoulet which was enormous and very yummy, but it was Kim's duck breast that stole the show. None of the duck dishes I got on this trip can even compare to how delicious this duck was. It was like the most perfect medium rare steak you ever had. We totally recommend this wonderful restaurant.

 

RESTAURANT ROBERT ET LOUISE
64, Rue Vieille-du-temple, 3eme Arr. (Marais) Metro: Hotel de Ville.
01 42 78 55 89  (note: they open for dinner at 7:30 PM)

     

I saw this one on the travel channel and it did not disappoint. It is TINY. So tiny in fact that instead of the little cafe tables that some places use, this place had a large wooden table in back by the fireplace with long communal benches to sit on. Did I mention the fire place? This is where they cook the food. They have a little wood fire and a piece of iron or something across the flames where they cook all of the meat. No real kitchen. Just a tiny counter and stove top behind a sort of divider where they prepare the potatoes and salad and the wood fire place. Even the meat sits out at room temperature while waiting to be cooked. (They do have a freezer for the rest of it in the corner.) It's like eating at your grandma's house. We got the cote de beouf for two- which was a very large rib-eye or something but was so incredible, as were the potatoes and the creme brule- flamed right at our table.  It was the perfect way to start out our trip.   They unfortunately do not take credit cards so we cannot remember the total cost, but the steak was around 30 or 35 Euros we think and the desserts were around 6 euros.  We got one of the more expensive wines, around 18 euros or so but it was probably the best red wine I've ever had (but I'm not a wine drinker).  Also- if you go- you may want to use the restroom before you get there.  It's clean and everything, but it is not the most modern of facilities.  (see our story on Day 6 if you really need the visuals)

 

LES DEUX MAGOTS
6 place St Germain des pres 6eme Arr. Metro: St germain des pres
01 45 48 55 25

   

Of the two famous literary cafes that we ate at, this was by far the more friendly and comfortable of the two. Although I haven't figured out the magical way to get the automatic olives brought to the table with the drinks, the waiter was really nice even though the joint was jumpin' as "they" say. It was here that we learned of the French drink the "panache" (I can't figure out how to type the accents but it is pronounced pahn ah shay). Anyway- it was under the beers and I had never heard of it so I decided that that was the one for me. When it came it looked like miller or I'm sure it was the French equivalent of something yellow like that, but it tasted like lemons! (which for me is a good thing) We struggled through our French enough to ask about the lemons and the waiter said- "of course- it's a panache." More French struggling- and finally we understood that it is what the English call a "shandi". 1/2 Lemonade (lemon soda to us Americans) and 1/2 beer. It was just what the doctor ordered on a hot summer day, but to be honest it was a little bit like Tequiza for me: Great at the beginning, but near the very end the lemon flavor was a little too much overkill and I would have just rather had a regular beer with a little bit of fresh squeezed lemon maybe. But anyway, on to the food. I got an omelette with "fines herbes", something I would never get, but I wanted to try it. Kim got a quiche. Both were really good, but I couldn't really taste the herbs which may be the point anyway. As far as eggs go though, they were great. We also got a chicken salad with green beans which was super fresh and super good. Hooray for the Deux Magots.  Total cost for 2 including alcohol: 46 Euros.

 

BRASSERIE DE l'LLE ST. LOUIS
55 quai de Bourbon (Ile St. Louis) Metro: Pont Marie
01-43-54-02-59

This was another place we ate at last time. Be careful because they are closed on a couple of weeknights, but if you are in the mood for Alsatian beer and sausages and sourkraut, this is the place for you. The choucroute (sp?) platter for 2 is enormous and I defy you to eat it all! Anyway, since this was from the last visit, we do not actually have any pictures of the yummy food. I'll try to find one on the internet.

 

ANAHUACALLI
30, Rue des Bernardins 5eme Arr. (Just accross the bridge from Notre Dame) Metro: Maubert/Mutualite
(33) 1 43 26 10 20

We did not eat here but it stuck out as we had never seen a Mexican restaurant in Paris until this one.  The food sure looked yummy and if we had more time, I'm sure we would have tried it.

 

RESTAURANT LES ARMURES
1 rue du Puits-St-Pierre, Geneva, Switzerland
022 3103442

     

OK so it's not actually in Paris, or even France, for that matter. But if you find yourself in Geneva, Switzerland, give it a try! It was good :) And hey! President and first lady Bill and Hillary Clinton ate there so you know it has to be good, right? We of course HAD to go for the fondue since we were in Switzerland. Yuuummmm-yyy. It was sooo good, and there was so much of it (we got an order for 2- which I don't recommend if you can avoid it since the nail you for 40 Swiss francs instead of the 20 that it would cost for a portion for 1) that we could not finish all of the cheesy goodness. Even the burnt cheese on the bottom of the pot which I hear is a delicacy was absolutely fabulous. MMMMmmmm burnt Swiss cheeesssseeeeee....aaaagblblblglblgblglblb. We also got a salad and Kim got a pot of girolles, which we learned were mushrooms. Best. Mushrooms. Ever. They were so good- sauteed in garlic butter, they tasted like meat. Another bonus to this restaurant was that they were open for lunch well past 3PM when it seemed like most other places were shutting down their kitchens. The sidewalk cafe could not have been steeped in more history, sandwiched between the oldest house in Geneva across the street and mosaics from the middle ages in the plaza behind it.   Total cost for 2 with beer, wine, coffee, the salads and the fondue for 2: (in Swiss Francs we think) 81.60.

 

LA CLOSERIE DES LILAS
171 bd. du Montparnasse 6eme, (St-Germain/Luxembourg) Metro: Port Royal,Vavin
01 40 51 34 50

 

Kim was really excited to eat here where Hemingway and other famous authors and historians wrote, ate and socialized. We could not afford the main dining room, nor were we dressed for it after walking all day, so we opted for the outside seating and the brasserie menu. It is very typical French with the rabbits and the veal knuckles and etc. that we were starting to get a little tired of seeing. I decided to play it safe and go with a good old cassoulet. I couldn't understand what kind of meat it said, but no matter- there's nothing better than yummy bean stew. Kim went for the grilled vegetables. Safe, warm, yummy, filling choices. So we thought. It turns out that the thing I did not understand and that was not in our dictionary was our old friend "girolles". So what I thought was a meat and bean casserole was a big pot of mushrooms. They were good and all- but not really what I wanted. Kim's veggies were much the same. They were grilled alright, and beautifully presented, but they were also CHILLED. Somehow we missed that on the menu. So between this and the less than friendly service (we think it was the shift change as we were once again dining at off hours after a long day of walking) we did not have the best experience. The food was fine- the history was rich- but we just didn't have the best experience there.  It cost us over 45 euros for this light snack, so we promptly decided that we needed a second dinner and headed off in search of gyros and ice cream...

 

LE SARRASIN ET LE FROMENT CREPERIE
84-86 rue St-Louis-en-I'Ile (Ile St. Louis) Metro: Pont Marie
01 56 24 32 06

   

This was our 2nd dinner for the evening after the Closerie des Lilas debacle. We got the ham and cheese crepes(Kim's had melted camembert too) and then the sugary crepe and some ice cream crepes. The ice cream and real chantilly creme fraiche looked so good on top of the dessert crepes that we totally forgot to take pictures, but let me tell you: picture an american ice cream parlor banana split, and you'll be in the ballpark of what the enormous things looked like. This was the perfect antidote to our other dining experience of the day. Everyone was really nice and although we are not sure if our waitress spoke English because of her ever so soft to near whisper speaking voice, it didn't really matter. The menu was easy to understand and the food was simple, good tasting, warm, and filling.  The also had "cidre bouche"  which is the famous fermented apple cider from Normandy.  They served it in big bowls to drink with the crepes.  It was apple-y and delicious.  At 31 Euros for the 2 of us, this was another nice bargain considering food, drink and the astonishement that wiped across the owner's face when she saw how much dessert we had ordered. *blush*.

 

LE TARBOUCHE
81, rue Saint Louis en L'Ile (Ile St. Louis) Metro: Pont Marie
01 46 33 35 46

We saw this restaurant on the way to somewhere else and decided that we absolutely HAD to come back that night! We were a little lost with the menu, so we basically had to ask the waiter what we should eat. The couple next to us spoke English also and were able to give us some pointers. (In France, you are never far from the other diners, so conversations are common between tables) We ended up getting the tangines and some assorted Moroccan salads. The salads came with bread and basically looked like little piles of mush, but they were the best mush you ever tasted. The tangines were like a cross between soup and stew and were fantastically flavored with fruits nuts olives and spices. The couple next to us also had assorted couscous and olives and some other tasty looking treats, all of which looked they tasted wonderful. We will never know...but we are definitely going to look into some Moroccan places back home that are a little more reasonable than the Dar Magreb place we went so long ago with my Mom and Dad.  Total cost for 2 with appetizer and one glass of wine and one water: 48 Euros.  This one of the only places in France where we did not see a fixed price daily "menu".

Update - 2007 - Unfortunately it seems Le Tarbouch may be closed. We did not see it on this trip to Paris. Maybe it has moved, but there appears to be a pizza place in its Ile St Louis address :(

LE SUFFREN
31 quai des Belges- Marseille
04.91.333.666  http://www.lesuffren.com/

   

Well we didn't have the greatest day in Marseille, however the Suffren was a pleasant surprise. In order to make our TGV back to Paris, we had to eat dinner at 6:00 PM and no later. We SCOURED the area for somewhere that served bouillabaisse, the local specialty, fruitlessly. Everyone in Marseille closes after lunch and does not re-open for dinner until at least 7PM and many not until 8PM. Not so with Le Suffren. We had actually passed them over since they appeared to be an Italian restaurant/bar on our first go round, but when they were the only game in town we decided to give them a try. Let me tell you- hooray for Le Suffren! Not only were they open and nice, but the food was excellent and we still made our train. I ordered the salmon carpaccio, but I think I actually got beef. Foiled for seafood in Marseille for the last time- but no matter: it was very tasty. Kim got the Italian salad which was also really good. Our pastas were great too. Both Kim's carbonara and my lasagna Bolognese reminded me of Venice. Perfect.

 

LA TAVERNE SAINT AMAND
11, Rue Saint Amand, Rouen
02 35 88 51 34

 

We found this little pub in our Lonely Planet guidebook. It was very secluded on a tiny hard to find street, but what a find! The nice lady who worked there was so kind to us making sure that we had plenty of time to look at the menu and explaining what some of the things were. She even took the time to try and help explain the train schedule to us when we discovered that we might actually be in danger of missing our train(which left for Paris a full 2 hours earlier than we had originally thought!). We had the avocado salad for the starter and I got the duck confit while Kim got the chicken. Both were very excellent but unfortunately we had to literally run back across town to the train station so we only had about 5 minutes to eat and did not get to savor the yummy meats and vegetables to their fullest nor did we even get to think about the desserts which we unfortunately had no time to sample. If we are ever back in Rouen, we will have to go back so we can take it all in and relax.

 

HOTEL RESTAURANT LA MUSADRIERE
123 Rue Claude Monet GIVERNY
33 (0) 232 21 03 18

 

We ate here almost by default as it was the only sit down restaraunt in the vicinity of the Claude Monet Museum that we could find. Although it seemed a little pricy for the middle of the country, it was still very good and the menu selection was quite varied. Kim got a nice ham and egg crepe and I got one of the daily specials which was sausage and potatoes.  I was also going to get a salad, but as you can see there was no need because I was pleasantly suprised to find that my meal also came with a salad all around it! We also saw other diners with enormous ommlettes and even baskets of "french" fries. The food was good. The service was a little chilly at first, but she warmed up to us be the end, We almost thought we were going to get the old "the kitchen is closed" routine that we were getting used to receiving all over France, but they continued serving people well past 4:30 PM, long after we sat down.

 

LA CROISSANTERIE (Saint Michel)

48 Boulevard Saint-Michel  6eme Arr.

01 43 29 42 80  http://www.lacroissanterie.com/

 

a takeout salad for lunch from La Croissanterie

 

 

Paris has a couple of "fast food" salad and sandwich shops.  This one and another one called "PAUL".  Of the 2 we likened this one to "Quiznoz" and PAUL to "Subway" because at La Croissanterie, you can get your sandwich toasted in a big iron panini griddle.  We went to the one that was somewhere between the metro station and the Jardin de Luxembourg which was about 2 or 3 stops to the south.  The girl working there was really nice and helpful and we could totally understand her even though she never spoke any English.  It was almost like we were two French students out getting our picnic on the way to the Luxembourg.  This is also the place where we figured out that the French count on their fingers starting with the thumb.  So for instance if someone gives you the "thumbs up" sign, they are saying "one" and if they appear to be giving you the "loser" sign with their thumb and forefinger they are really asking if you want "two of something" :)  The sandwiches and salads were excellent and the bargains rivaled the Parisian Gyros although the sandwiches were no where near as large as those at Le Gyros.

 

 

 

CITRON VERT

Avignon city center 

 

   

 

This was a little sidewalk cafe seemingly for the tourists in Avignon.  However as we were having another it's not time for you to eat yet day, and this place was open for business, they got ours.  The food while not as fancy as that in Paris, was still quite good.  My only quibble was that I'm pretty sure my green beans were from a can when everywhere else they most certainly fresh.  The duck breast was a nice change of pace from the beef we had been having every day and Kim's pork in green pepper sauce came with the fantastic little "hazelnut" shaped potatoes. They were like mashed potatoes on the inside but crunchy and delicious on the outside.  They do not take credit cards, so I do not have the address but go to the triangle shaped plaza just south of the Papal Palace and look for the carousel and the man selling little foam lizards.  You will know you are close when you see the picture menus...

 

 

 

CAFE DU PONT NEUF

14 Quai Du Louvre  1er Arr. (right bank near the Samaritaine) Metro: Pont Neuf

01 42 33 32 37

 

NOTE: The following is an "Artist's Interpretation" It is NOT the actual "Croque Madame" from Cafe du Pont Neuf.  Theirs was bigger and the egg was much more orange in color.

 

     

 

This was a nice cafe situated right on the Seine with good views of the left bank across the river and really good food.  So good it turns out, that we totally forgot to take any pictures until the coffee was gone.  But Kim got a beautiful "croque madame" a hot ham and cheese sandwich with more brown and crispy oven melted cheese and the freshest most perfect fried egg on top as I have ever seen.  (The yolk was bright orange and looked like it was just ready to burst)  I got the Salad "Pont Neuf", which had fresh "haricots verts" and smoked salmon in addition to the normal things you'd expect to find on a salad.  Total cost for lunch for 2 including a beer and 1 coffee: 29 Euros