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Trip Report Springtime in Paris with lots of restaurant reviews and a bit of Alsace

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In my wildest dream, i would never have guessed that my favorite niece and I would celebrate out big birthdays on the same year, or that we would do it in Paris in September!

She has always had a fascinated with Paris, I think because of my obsession with Paris, so when she was younger I told her if she didn't t hate me when she was a teenager that I'd take her to Paris for her 16th birthday. This might be one way, certainly a costly one, to delay or eliminate that dreaded teenage attitude.

Three of us will celebrate, her sweet sixteenth birthday, my dreaded 60th and her Mom's 50th.
Everyone wanted to come and celebrate with us, my brother and sister in law, and my best friend and her husband. Most the time we were 4 but with some overlap we were 6, thank god we were never 8!

The reason this trip had to be redone in Spring was because , although I had fun with all of them, it never felt like my trip. I was always with them, showing first timers Paris, finding restaurants that would please everyone, planning the metro and train rides...I never got to wander aimlessly so when the opportunity arose to return April 1st for 9 nights with absolutely no agenda, I jumped on it!!

We saw and did a lot of the usual suspects but we did do a few very cool things that I would like to tell people about for their future trips. The first list of restaurants is with the group and a few picky eaters, the second list is my redo in April when I ate everything and anything without worrying about what others might want!!

I rented two different apartments, both with Parisvacationrentals. The first one did not have air-conditioning and it was very hot the first week of September . I rented a bigger and better apartment for the second week with my friends that had air conditioning. Luckily it was only rented for half of the first week so we we gladly moved upstairs mid week and paid the difference.
First Apartment:
http://www.parisvacationapartments.com/our-apartments/two-bedroom/palais-royal-garden-two-bedroom-triplex/
I loved that it opened up onto the gardens in the Palais Royal, we loved sitting around and watching people walk by. Sometimes my niece had to do homework and she would just walk out to the fountain and sit there to do it. The apartment was charming, clean, perfect except that it didn't have air conditioning. We found that the bedrooms got hot at night, we did have fans. The apartment is on three levels and the bottom level with the kitchen and bathroom were also too warm for me.

Second apartment:
http://www.parisvacationapartments.com/our-apartments/two-bedroom/palais-royal-elegant-two-bedroom-2/

Wow, what can I say, this is by far the best place I have ever rented. It's huge, it must have been three apartments once that were all joined. Since it was my you know what I got the biggest room with the biggest bed and the biggest bathroom..honestly, I've rented apartments the size of the bathroom..It was a great place to share, we each had our our bedroom and bathroom at opposite ends of the apartment, the common area was huge too, it was so comfortable and clean and I just love the apartments this company has and dealing with them, highly recommended!!




Bistro Vivienne in the 1st: In our jet lag stupor needing to eat early and staying in an apartment in the Palais Royale, we didn't go too far. My family loved the passage, which they had never seen before so it made for a nice setting to sit inside the walkway and have an early first dinner. I wasn't expecting much, but the food was decent . We had a smoked salmon platter, steak tartar, a cooked chicken leg and a caesar salad, wine and soda 95 E for 4 of us.

The Richard Lenoir Market on Sundays is a great market for people who have never been. It is big and has a little bit of everything
We went to Breizh or lunch but we didn't have reservations and it was full so we stopped at a little place I always walk by, they have HUGE quiches in the side window, I had never eaten there, can't think of the name either!The quiches are so tall, I don't know how they get them that big.
I had the goat cheese and spinish, others had just a spinish, mine was so rich and savory, the other one not so much...a gizzard salad and a salad compose, which were all good, definitely will eat here again and I hope someone knows the name. 90Euros, with wine and soda

I take my niece clothes shopping for her birthday...to be young and look so fabulous in everything that you try on. We went to Zara on the Champs-Élysées and this must be a 16year olds dream shopping spree. It was fun for me too and not as expensive as you might think.

L'Office in the 9th: Really a great meal and great service, love the area the restaurant it is in too. The waiter explained all the dishes in english to my family, which was very kind of him.
We started with the most unusual heirloom salad, sliced tomatoes of all colors on top of a basil cream that we all used bread to scrape up the last drop, a salmon tartar was nice and light. Two of us chose the cod fish over a brocallini puree with roasted veggies, duck on a celery risotto and a pork dish with homemade lightly toasted gnocchi, everyone loved their food. For desert we had the most unusual but delicious , FLAT ricotta soufflé, a cheese cake with mint and abut 7 glasses of wine...don't ask me why we didn't order a bottle, maybe we thought we were only going to have one glass :) 160Euro, great price for 4.

We waited an hour and a half at the Catacombs in Septmenber. One of my nieces was afraid to go in, thinking she would be claustrophobic. Didn't happen and she was glad she went in.

Montparnass Tower: OH MY, this is the place to go see Paris, no line, 360 view, hardly any people with there, totally different from going up the ET!!!! And you get to see it from there!! I highly recommend doing this, especially if you don't have a reservation at ET and it is going to take hours!!

Cafe Daguerre in the 14th: Great people watching terrace, we had lunch here after the Catacombs and before the Montparnasse Tower. I've eaten here before and I like the place, friendly service and pretty straight up food.
The steak tartar was wonderful, the goat cheese salad had burnt toast, not good, two other salads were great, a serrano ham with rougfort and cantrell cheese and a salmon salad, we finished with everyones favorite apple tart and ice cream...again 90Euros for 4

My brother and sister in law arrive mid week and now we are 6. They also rented from parisvacationrentals, a little apartment over in St Germain, they were pleased with it, but it was very small...like my bathroom!!
http://www.parisvacationapartments.com/our-apartments/studio/saint-germain-chic-studio-2/
It was an easy walk or metro ride between apartments, although ours was so big and nice everyone always hung out at ours!

Terroir Parisian in the 5th: Great birthday dinner , 6 of us went and everyone was very happy with their choices. The picky eaters had a butter leaf lettuce salad that they said had the best dressing on it, I had the two poached eggs, cold, with peas and a green been jelly, odd but delish,a green been and mushroom salad was out of this world, and yet another fabulous pate Our mains were a cocotte with monk fish and mussels in a saffron broth, white fish over spinich, shoulder of lamb over a beet pasta and a glazed veal with veggies . Deserts were a french toast with vanilla ice cream and bavarian cream with strawberries over port ice cream. Everything was wonderful, service was fine, they warmed up to us about mid way through dinner...with 3 glasses champagne and a bottle of wine it was 300Euros for 6

We did the Vampire and ghost tour one night through Viator. It was just OK, but not too exciting and definitely not scary (enough)!!! We stopped here afterwards,It's very close to the Louvre and the Palais Royal Cafe comedie in the 1st:: late night snack, club sandwich good, fries cold and soggy, croque Madame, luke warm, terrible service, don't know why it gets good reviews. I would never go back here. I have no idea why it gets decent reviews!!

This wraps up the week with my nieces, my best friend and her husband arrive the same day they leave and we are 6 again and now we have the pickiest of eaters with us!

We did a Sunday morning tour of the Opera. I had been here on my own but the tour was fabulous. WE had a great guide who really brought the place to life, highly recommend the tour.

Our first night dinner (sunday) is chosen for this reason
La Rotisserie (du Beaujolais) in the 5th ,apparently they are leaving off the latter part of the name
Good comfort food, picked for that reason, open Sundays, friendly wait staff.
Starters were a mushroom salad that was very good, foie gras with toasts :) , steak and fries, fries were really good, meat a bit tough but I always find the meat a little tough in Paris,andouille sausage ( he didn't know what it was and I wasn't going to tell him) and chicken and mashed potatoes. They gave a whole half chicken per person. With a bottle of wine and a few beers 240E for 6. It was good for a sunday and with the companions I had but not a place I would return to on my own.

I'll be back with the rest

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    Judy, you will love it, it's a beautiful building and beautiful apartments.

    Giverney: we head out on the 1020 train, we are not early risers. It starts to rain and continues all the way to Giverney. We head out of the train to catch the bus up to the gardens, huge line, pouring cats and dogs, we head in to the cafe on the corner to wait it out...and wait and wait..until the owner offers us some big bright yellow ponchos and to call us a cab. A few don't want to go and head back to Paris but I have been to Paris many times and never been to Giverney and am determined to go see the gardens...we spend about an hour in the gardens, it pours the whole time, we are thanking the cafe owner every few seconds for the ponchos. The gardens are overgrown and wild, pretty beyond my wildest image. I"m so glad I didn't turn around and go back to Paris. People always ask when is the best time to see the gardens...my answer now is ANYTIME!!!!!

    We have fabulous weather in April and the gardens had just opened on April 1st and I have to go again. They are just as beautiful but totally different. They aren't wild and tall at all, they are all annuals and bulbs, a bazillion bulbs, all in bloom, OMG it was beautiful but I must say I prefer the September garden to the April garden.

    We have lunch down the street at the creperie at the hotel and it was a wonderful lunch, I'd return for lunch again.

    Juveniles: great wine bar which was all we wanted after the big lunch. Very nice wine selection and recs and great small plates. I did see others having a full on meal and I would definitely return for that too. We had the charcrutier plate, a fabulous eggplant tapenade with good bread, and the clear winner was a crostini with jambon, tomato and parmesan pesto cheese sauce served warm...it was almost like the spanish tomato bread with extras, with 4 wines it was only 50euros.
    A side note...we walked by Willies Wine bar almost everyday and it was always empty or half full and the menu looked uninteresting, which I was surprised by since so many here love this place. We were happy we chose Juveniles.

    The next day half of our group go up to Caen for the war museum and the girls go shopping.

    Dinner Baam Kanya in the 1st: a fabulous thai restaurant right behind the Palais Royal. There are only about 8 tables and we were glad that we called around 6 to get one of them as they turned away many guests. It had a price fix at 26E that was tons of wonderful food. The three of us each chose one of the three choices so we could taste everything. Nice wine and nuts and crackers to start. The entree was the best IMO, a beef salad in a martini glass, 2 egg rolls and two meat balls, or something that resembled meatballs, this was so much that we were full by the time the mains arrived. My favorite was a shrimp in coconut milk, a chicken, nut and veggie concoction, and third and just fine but not the best choice of the three, was a sliced pork roast with jus. Desert was just plain odd, very gluttonous something that none of us could eat. It was a great dinner, nice change of pace , 98euros for 3.

    The boys went for a pizza up the street at Pizza Sicilian when they returned. It was dreadful, avoid at all costs.

    Le Hangar: I really like this place, I've been many times, the menu doesn't change much but what they do they do well.I 've had a wonderful cooked foie gras over garlic and oil mashed potatoes in the past so I brought my friend here for that. Even though he questioned it and wasn't sure whether to order it (?) he did and declared it the best meal of the trip!!! I do love this dish too and it is a very generous serving. We started with a green been salad that was a bit limp and their little raviolis in an eggplant cream sauce, yummy!! The Parmetier with duck confit was also delish as were the 2 chocolate soufflé's. We had 1/2 carafe of wine, 2 glasses of wine and soda 17Euro for 5

    Versailles:http://en.chateauversailles.fr/prepare-my-visit-/single/tickets-and-rates/billets-et-tarifs/les-grandes-eaux-1-en

    We attend two shows which are spectacular, if I am ever in Paris when this is on I will always go, it was a magical evening. I told our group that Versailles was throwing all of us a birthday party!!
    The first show was the Royal Serenade of the Hall of Mirrors which is music and dance inside the chateau's hall of mirrors. To be inside of the chateau with a handful of people is the way to see it. You visit a few rooms with musicians before you get to the hall of mirrors where there are musicians and young girls dancing and I would think they did for the King. We had picked the 730 show and it was the perfect time, the sun was setting and the mirrors were glowing, I felt like royalty
    Next we went out to the gardens for the Fountains Night Show and what a show it was. All the fountains are going, music is piped in everywhere, you walk around with a glass of champagne and think you have died and gone to heaven. Some of the fountains have colored lights, some fountains are a full 8 minute program choreographed to the music, some fountains have dry ice and smoke coming off of them, the huge lawn area leading down to the canal has a fire show with maybe 50 points of fire shooting up at least 10 feet, there are bubble machines and the bubbles are everywhere, there is a lazer light show that mesmerized me...and to top it off, at the end there is a HUGE firework show that was one of the prettiest ones I've ever seen....this is definatley my birthday party!!!

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    Another fabulous day trip was out to Chartres. We have friends there so we went to visit them and they really wanted us to spend the night to experience Chartres Illuminate but we had too many people waiting back in Paris for us so we stayed as late as we could and took the last train back around 1100 pm.
    The Cathedral is spectacular and huge. We got the headphones and walk around the stone curtain at the alter and hear all the stories about each scene. It's another rainy day so the windows are not the star today.
    BUT, the star is the Cathedral at night time when they do a Lazer light show on it as well as about 4 other building in town. I can't really explain the laser light show except to say that they had one on the Arch de Triumph at the finale of the Tour de France.
    They map out the building and do a show which tells a story using the building front, opera music is playing in the plaza, I could have watched it all night. It happens from April through September and starts when it gets dark and goes till about 100am.
    I would go to this every time too as they change it every year and I think they have had it for about 10 years now.

    WE return in April to have our own trip, the one where we wander aimlessly, have a great meal everyday, the one where we don't feel like we are herding cats or being tour guides. We do NOTHING for 9 days.

    I rented another apartment which we loved. Paris Best Lodge, Notre Damn apt
    http://www.parisbestlodge.com/nd.html
    Another great company and great apartment, the view was awesome, never tired of it!

    Dans les Lands in the 5th: love this place, we ate there in September and April, everything is always good, open Sundays, serves food all day so it's a good place to go for good food when other places are closed...some of the highlights were:
    Duck and foie gras spring rolls...to die for and not a bit greasy. Prawns in a Thai cream sauce that you will sop up with the good bread, love their salads served in a wooden shoe, they are always different and are always good, the best potato torta and quite generous. very lightly breaded fried squid, fried camembert cheese with green apple, pretty good fish and chips..the one desert we had were cream puffs with a vanilla cream and carmel sauce....delish!!! I also really like the house basque white wine.
    For 6 it was 144Euros and for 2 it was about 40E.

    Le Bon Georges in the 9th: read a lot about this place, just what I like with local sourced ingredients, really friendly staff, made a reservation on Facebook!!
    Easy metro ride, easy to find, cute small place.
    Starters were a poached egg, can't remember much else about it, I had the steak with salad and fries. The steak was cooked perfect to a very rare , it was sourced locally and sounded better that it actually was but the rest of the plate was good. DH had a slow cooked pork with potatoes dauphin which was excellent, with 3 glasses of wine it was 100E. I'd eat here again if I were in the area but I would not cross town to get here, just my opinion.

    KGB:If you are looking for a special meal look no further!!! Fabulous food which I can hardly explain, one of the top ten dinners of all time.
    I started with a glass of champagne that was so good I stuck with it all night. I had the 5 surprise appetizers which were amazing, really, I could just go there every day for the 5 tiny dishes and a glass of champagne!! DH had the decouverte which came with 4 appetizers, same as mine. A woman came and explained each bowl and after I had eaten them and forgotten what she said, she was kind enough to tell me again, they were amazing.
    Mushroom soup with ginger and wild spring onions
    A tiny little chicken wingette with sweet carrot sauce
    Raw sliced fish with lime.
    Tiny chunks of salmon in a beet broth
    Something sweetish with radishes.
    DH got two main courses, a plate of fish with green pees and asparagus and a veal with confit of I don't know what with olives and potatoes. I had squid, sliced paper thin and looked like pasta over an green aioli sauce, two tempura crab parts, crispy and not at all greasy. DH also had a cheese course and then a white chocolate soup with mango citron sorbet and a sweet crunchy cookie/cake....all fab
    140E for 2.
    We felt it was a steel for the quality and amount of food, would go everyday if possible!! We planned to return later in the week but it really was special and once was enough.

    Ok we did do one thing. We went to a performance at St Chapell, it was Vivaldi, we had 3 violins and a cello and a woman opera singer who sang Ave Maria for about an hour and a half, it was fabulous , the sound and the beauty, I only wished the song had a few more words.


    Hai Kai in the 10th: this was a nice lunch spot on the Canal St Martin, we met friends there who work in Paris and live in Chartes, we took them to lunch here and they took us to dinner at the next place and they were polar opposites!!
    The place is small and the kitchen is even smaller, don't know how they turn out all the food.
    Starters were a fregola salad with tiny veggies and a dollop of aioli on the bottom (?) , it was wonderful , the other was a marinated raw fish. 3 of us had a beautiful piece of fish but can't remember it very well and the other had the beef with carrots, kind of like a stew, very very good, portions were a bit small but sufficient, we did have desert but can't remember for the life of me what it was, a carafe of wine, 114E for 4. I'd definitely come back.


    Montparnasse 1900 in the 14th: An old fashion Beau Arts restaurant with a huge menu, a price fix at 35 E for entree, plat, cheese, desert, half a bottle of wine and an aperitif!! Great value if that's what you like!!I I also think it is a beautiful if over lighted room, service was efficient by old male waiters. On to the food..what can I say, it was a tired menu for me, the others seemed to enjoy it more. I would recommend it if you were staying close by or needed a restaurant close to the train station and wanted an old fashion evening. My picky eaters would have like it :(
    I started with a kir, good, a half bottle of white wine, good, foie gras with caramelized onions, good,onion soup, ok, 3 had the Callabou with ratatouille, good.. DH had duck confit which he really liked, the cheese course was really boring brie and the floating island desert was pretty standard and not to my liking. I think it was 130E for 4.


    En attendant l'or: in the 11 arrondismont. My friend has her office there and we passed by this place when we went to see her, crowded and the food looked good so we returned that night for dinner which was surprisingly good. This is the kind of place that I like to hang out at, good vibe, friendly service, good terrace for people watching , they have a big communal table inside as well as smaller personal tables.
    I must say I was in a drinking mood and had 3 kirs and a plate of charcrutier while my DH had a wonderful salad compose, great bread and all the other food served looked good too, I would definitely return. It reminds me of Le bistro du peintre with good food and a good terrace that serves food all day. I like these kind of places when I tire of eating out in restaurants. It's relaxed and it's not an event, it's just a meal.

    Au P'tit Cahoua in the 13th:
    I had one of the best tangine ever....lamb with almonds and pears, omg it was so tasty, I finished it off, DH had a duck and date tangine equally delish! The others had couscous with grilled meats and veggies. They start you off with bowls of marinated and grilled peppers, the bread was freshly baked, warm and sweet. I commented how fabulous the bread was and they brought over a half loaf wrapped up for my breakfast!! The mixed desert plate had a little of everything. I'd definitely go back.


    La Mascotte: in the 8th..two blocks of the CE . My husband has a meeting in this area and we have lunched her before with good results so we returned for another good lunch. This is an area that I find has either bad food or good food at astronomical prices that match the hotel prices!!
    This place is always packed at lunch with business folks but we always seem to get a table in the enclosed area outside. Nice food, nothing to cross town for again, but if in the area its fine
    Scallops in a provencal sauce were good but the accompanying rice with veggies was something out of Picards! DH had a sautéed duck breast with salad and fries, good fries but the duck breast seems a bit tough to me. I have also had good plates of pasta here but not this time.

    Le bar a huitres in the 5th but also there are two others: our apartment is in striking range and I walk by it everyday. It is monday night and Huitrerie Regis is closed so we go here. Pretty place inside, we ask for a little window table and order a dozen oysters, a little of each kind. They start us out with an amuse gruel of a fabulous soup with mushrooms and ginger, I want a whole bowl!! The oysters are fresh and taste like the ocean if a bit expensive!!
    The bread was good and they give you two different butters, one spicy one salty. Not sure if I was to put the butter on the oysters but it was terrific on the bread!! I like the vinegar and shallots for the oysters...with two glasses of wine and a soda 58E

    I will try to do the Alsace and Dijon part soon

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    susanna, thanks for the great trip report. I loved the part about Versailles which is perpetually on our to-do list. When does this start? We are generally in Paris in March.

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    My daughter and I will be staying here: http://www.parisvacationapartments.com/our-apartments/two-bedroom/saint-germain-two-bedroom-terrace/
    for 8 nights in October.

    A first visit, so I'm pleased to add some of your suggestions to our calendar, particularly the concerts at Ste. Chapell and the Montparnasse Tower.

    We hope to find a nice place with outside seating for an aperitivo in the evening before dinner, and nearby casual, but good, restaurants for dinners.
    The search begins, and it was a pleasure to read about your experiences.

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