Ger’s Paris Trip Report: February 2017

Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 01:22 PM
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Ger’s Paris Trip Report: February 2017

Hello all:

I have returned from a glorious week in Paris, February 18th to 26th.

Many thanks to all who provided advice – your recommendations were much appreciated and acted upon.

Here is the link to my request for advice:

Transportation to Paris:
I live in Blackheath, South London, so the Eurostar station in Ebbsfleet Kent, is only a 20 minute (32 Euros taxi ride) from my house. I took the 0812 and arrived in Paris Gard du Nord at 1125. I booked Premium Standard, for about £250 return, on short notice. It was an excellent trip both ways. WIFI and a selection of movies available. Took a taxi to the hotel, in the 5th Arr,, light traffic and cost about 12 Euros.

I booked the hotel on, as I had a ‘free room’ available. I was pleased with the rate (average £85 per night) as the website quoted about 130 Euros per night.

I was very pleased with the hotel. Service was friendly and helpful, the room was relatively large for Paris, nicely decorated and VERY clean. Location was at the ‘top’ of the Latin Quarter, on a quiet street, with excellent bus routes to everywhere.

I would not hesitate to recommend this hotel. This is a Three Star hotel, and I normally stay in Four Star hotels. Not anymore! This hotel was about 30% - 40% less than I have paid in the past for a hotel of similar standards, and I was more delighted with this hotel than many Four Star hotels in Paris.

I have been to Paris over 40 times, beginning when I was a teenager, coming back on a few times after that, and then visits as a professional with Global responsibilities, where I was there at least 3-5 times per year over 11 years, when I worked on projects with French companies. So, there a few major tourist sites in Paris that I have not seen at least once!

My vague plan for this trip was to mix some of the old and some of the new: Revisit some places I had visited before, and be delighted by new experiences.

I did not prepare a day-by-day itinerary for this trip: I prepared a list of experiences that were ‘probable’ and ‘possible’, and decided when I got to Paris what I wanted to do. It worked out perfectly.

A new thing – travelling by bus: On previous visits to Paris, I generally travelled by either the Metro or taxis, and had never taken a bus – sad, but true. This time, I almost exclusively took the bus, and it was wonderful: Getting to my destination was half the joy, as I saw so much of Paris, and it was so less stressful than using the Metro.

Thanks to those that recommended using the bus, and provide the RATP website and app – a constant companion, so easy to use.

A new thing – getting out of Paris: I wanted to do at least two trips from Paris during the week, and was in a complete quandary, as there were so many choices: Chartres, Lyon, Dijon, Strasbourg, Rouen, and Troyes. I discounted Lyon, Dijon and Strasbourg based on the price-point: The train fares to Lyon, Strasbourg and Dijon were about 90 Euros each way, and I was not willing to pay that amount for a day-trip.

I decided on Chartres and Rouen because my heart called me to them, and train fare was 12-16 Euros each way. I am passionate about the medieval period, and I have wanted to visit Chartres for two decades, but never made it. Now was the time. Rouen: Jeanne d'Arc: She was my first female hero, who I discovered at about 10 or 11, and I was smitten with her bravery and her ‘F-U’ attitude. I had to go to Rouen and pay homage. Had I had one more day, I would have also visited Troyes.

My itinerary emerged as follows:

Saturday 18th February: Wandering around the Latin Quarter
Sunday 19th February: Wandering around the Latin Quarter, Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Marais
Monday 20th February: A Medieval Journey: A trip to St. Denis, the Cluny Museum and the Conciergerie
Tuesday 21st February: A Pilgrimage to Rouen
Wednesday 22nd February: An Art Frenzy: The D’Orsay, L’ Orangerie and Marmotten
Thursday 23rd February: An Effing awful Day: The Louvre and Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine
Friday 24th February: A Pilgrimage to Chartres
Saturday 25th February: An extraordinary and delightful visit to Quai Branly Museum
Sunday 26th February: An appreciation of the extraordinary artistic treasures in the Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet

Of course, in between the above itinerary, there was eating and drinking, which I will discuss in the next episode.

Next: The Restaurants

Best .. Ger
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Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 01:36 PM
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Sounds wonderful to me, and I am making not of your hotel. Thanks for the info.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 02:47 PM
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Looking forward to more!
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Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 03:41 PM
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Since we are not getting to Paris this year I will have to live vicariously through your trip report. Great start and am very curious about what happened on Thursday.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 04:12 PM
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Waiting for more!!!
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Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 05:54 PM
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I love the probable and possible list.

I want to know about the effing awful day too. I can't wait to get back to Paris. I saw hardly anything last year but what I saw...!!

I'm going to be very interested in what you ate. Thank you for this. I like your writing style.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 06:21 PM
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You covered a lot of ground! Waiting to hear about restaurants.

I'm in Paris this May 17-20 prior to a Normandy river cruise booked in to Hotel LeRegent in St. Germain and holding a lunch reservation for Taillevent on my last day. Roll on May
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Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 07:04 PM
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Thanks, Ger, this is interesting and helpful. A friend wants me to meet him in Paris soon. I am trying to get my act together to do so. I'm always on the lookout for hotels, and this one looks good. Used to be a committed Right Bank person (outer 3rd, 11th), but have discovered that I like parts of the Latin Quarter that are a bit "tucked away."

Looking forward to reading more! About your day trips especially.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 11:02 PM
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Cant wait for rest of report..

I visited Rouen about 7 years ago .. and for much the same reasons as you cited.. in fact my middle name is Joan and my parents DID name me after her!!

I am stunned at home much the Eurostar was.. I have taken it 5 or 6 times now and don't think weve ever paid more than 45-50 GBP! How last minute was this booking ??
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Old Mar 4th, 2017, 02:17 AM
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The Restaurants:

When I travel alone, I generally only have a late lunch in a good restaurant.

I researched before going, and had a list of restaurants that I wanted to visit. For those restaurants I booked on-line through on the day, which directed me to The Fork to make reservations:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …

Yes, you CAN get bad food in France if you don’t plan ahead . Some meals were excellent, some were marginal. Compared with my last trip to Rome in October, most were more expensive, yet generally cheaper than similar in London, and the wine was better!

Saturday 18th: Paris Latin Quarter
Les Bouquinistes:

An old favourite that I have visited many times.

I had the following:
Massive Green Salad with cheese
Massive Seafood Risotto with squid
2 glasses of white wine
Bottle of water

It cost: about 55 Euros

Satisfaction Rating: All was delicious, but not as good as previous visits. I should have just had the Risotto – this would have been enough. As Mammy would say, my eyes were bigger than my stomach.

Sunday 19th: Paris Marais
L'Ange 20

I booked a late lunch table for 1430. I was surprised at how tiny the place is. It was packed to the gills with French families out for the day: I love that the French bring out the grannies and babies for lunch on Sunday – it creates such a festive and happy atmosphere.

Food was delicious, service was excellent and friendly. I had high expectations, based on reviews and recommendations from several on Fodor’s, and my expectations were exceeded.

I had the following:
Starter: Shrimp: Les gambas en kadaïf, guacamole maison, salade verte
Main Course: Guinea Fowl: Le suprême de pintade contisé au beurre d’herbes, risotto parfumé à la citronnelle et champignons
2 glasses of Cotes du Rhone
Bottle of water

Satisfaction Rating: I would crawl over hot coals, on my hands and knees, to eat in this restaurant again. Superb!

It cost: 42 Euro

Monday 20th: Paris Latin Quarter
Le Soufflot Cafe

I had just returned from St. Denis and was on my way to the Cluny. It was freezing cold and I needed sustenance, so I chose this place, with a view of the Pantheon. It was full and lively. Service was excellent, and they let me speak French! Food was solid and enjoyable for what it was.

I had the following:
Starter: French Onion Soup: I have not had it for at least two decades. OMG - I had forgotten how good it tastes!
Main: Confit du Canard with loads of garlic chips: Absolutely as expected.
1 glass of Cotes du Rhone – well it was Monday, I needed to cut down.
Bottle of water

Satisfaction Rating: It was typical Bistro fare, perhaps a tad overpriced perhaps because of its location, but no complaints.

It cost: 35 Euro

Tuesday 21st: Rouen
I had planned to lunch at a nice little bistro, but discovered that it was closed for holidays. It had started to rain, so I just chose the nearest restaurant, which offered Alsace cuisine. Probably not the best choice for me, as I don’t like Germanic food.

I had the following:
Starter: Oh what the hell, I had a big bowl of French Onion soup, as I would never cook this at home. It was even better than the day before.
Main: Pork chops, smothered in a heavy cream sauce, with chips. Who eats cream sauces anymore – it is SO 1970s? I scraped the sauce off. I should have just had the soup. I ate less than half. Nothing wrong with the food, just not to my taste.
2 glasses of Cote du Rhone

Satisfaction Rating: Not particularly inspiring fare. Lesson learned is: Always having a backup plan for lunch.

It cost: 32 Euro

Wednesday 22nd: Lunch in the 7th, between an Art frenzy

The morning was spent in the D’Orsay and L’Orangerie. I made a booking on the Fork for 1430 lunch. BTW, I generally find you can get into most of the ‘in demand’ restaurants for lunch during the weeek if you book the last sitting.

Another Fodorite recommendation, which is why this site is the first place I come to when asking for dining recommendations. Basque food, which I love and innovative.

The menu is simple – starters are 12 Euros and mains are 22 Euros. I discovered, to my horror, that, not only had I not brought my credit card with me, but I had also forgotten to get cash out the day before, so I had a limited budget to work with.

I had to choose between having a starter or having wine. HAHAHA, like there WAS a choice – of course I chose the wine. As it turned out, just as well, as the main was enormous and I would never had made it through two courses.

I had the following:
Main: Posh Surf and Turf: Special of the day was Pressed pork with Shrimp, accompanied by Broccoli mouse and Celeriac. I licked the plate – well, I used the bread to mop up the juices on the plate; Mammy would NOT have approved!
2 glasses of red wine
Bottle of water

Satisfaction Rating: Be still my heart! The food was simply divine and probably the best of the trip.

It cost: ~ 42 Euro

More food in the next installment.

Regards … Ger
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Old Mar 4th, 2017, 04:59 AM
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Thank you so much for the recommendations Ger. We leave in June for another trip to Paris and we plan to take a few day trips also. We are looking at restaurants now so please keep ther reviews coming.
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Old Mar 4th, 2017, 05:29 AM
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Please forgive me for a tiny nitpick, but it is only because you have been to Paris so many times: it is the Orsay, not the D'Orsay. Calling it the d'Orsay is like calling the Louvre the Du Louvre.
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Old Mar 4th, 2017, 05:36 AM
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More Restaurants ..

Thursday 23rd: Lunch in the 16th
I planned to be in the 16th arr that afternoon, so the night before, I checked out restaurants. There were scant few that interested me, other than very posh establishments. So, I decided on location over food, a restaurant opposite the Palais de Chaillot.

After a really awful visit to the Louvre, I made my way by bus up to the Cafe Wilson. It was buzzing, over-whelming French. Service was delightful, food … meh.

I had the following:
Starter: It was a cold, rainy day, so of course I had to have a warming bowl of French Onion soup, which was lovely.
Main: I ordered Steak-Frites. I asked for it to be cooked ‘a-point’ which to ME means medium rare. It came well-done. Perhaps they always serve English-speakers well-done steak. Steak was OK, but there is no taste at all from well-done meat.
2 glasses of Cote du Rhone
Bottle of water

Satisfaction Rating: The service was very friendly and kind. When I arrived, I was given the only available table, squeezed in beside a couple of tables. I went to the loo and, when I came back, I had been moved to a great table with a lovely view of the Palais de Chaillot, which was a lovely kind gesture. I have to assume there was miscommunication from me to the waiter re how my steak should be cooked. Had the steak been medium-rare, I would have really liked it. I would go back there again if in the area, but generally, I would probably not chose to dine in the 16th arr,

It cost: 48 Euro

Friday 24th: Chartres for lunch and Latin Quarter for Dinner
Learning from my trip to Rouen, I had chosen a primary and a back-up restaurant for lunch. Of course, I COULD have made my life simpler by actually BOOKING the primary restaurant: Sometimes I am such a gormless twit and make life difficult for myself! My excuse is that I could not book on-line, and, as a child of the Internet, I avoid actually talking to people and prefer to communicate in digital mode.

My first choice was Esprit Gourmand:

I meandered in at about 1230, and it was full of Chartres best and finest, suited and booted, so the food much be as good as described. The waiter was apologetic. Check it out for me please! Clearly, book ahead by phone.

I quickly made my way to my second choice.
Les Feuillantines.

I was delighted. This is a fine restaurant. It was half-empty, but I am sure in the tourist season it would be brimming over.
Service was gracious and charming – probably the warmest on my trip, so I would recommend the restaurant on that alone.

Starter: Poached egg, bacon and cheese in a jar! Hard to describe, but was a cross between a full English breakfast and an omelette, in a jar. It was seriously delicious. I should have asked for the recipe.
Main: Guinea fowl, with a side of mashed potatoes, with nuts and ‘yellow wine’. Absolutely delicious. I was very impressed: Another ‘lick the plate’ episode.
Wine: I was in the Loire: It would be an insult to the terroir to have anything other than a half-bottle of Chinon.
Bottle of water.

It cost: 49 Euros

Satisfaction Rating: I was delighted with this restaurant and highly recommend it. It is up there with my favourite dining experiences on this trip, or any other.

Les Papilles

My darling niece C was joining me for the weekend, arriving from London at about 2200. She loves good food and great wine, so I had to find a great restaurant that was still serving at that hour.

Les Papilles was on my ‘must do’ list, only 10 minutes’ walk from my hotel, and accepting bookings for 2200. Perfect!

The restaurant was not at all what I expected: Another tiny restaurant serving fabulous food, with no pretensions. There was NO menu – they just fed us what they have found in the market that day. You are sorta buggerd if you have any specific dietary requirements. That night, you would be not eating if you did not love the PIG! Gladly, C & I love the PIG.

Perhaps this was just because we were dining at 2200 and eating left-overs, and there may have been other options on the ‘menu’ had we dined earlier. Those that have dined there, please chip in and explain. Their website gives nothing away. Are you forced to eat every course, or do you have choices?

We were told what we would eat, by one of the owners, with lots of tattoos: F***, I was not going to argue with HIM! Resistance was futile! Anyway, we were there, and we might as well sample all the goods.

Starter: Delicious bowl of Celeriac soup over a bed of stuff, including bacon. I loved it so much that, since coming home, I have been making myself Celeriac soup every day.
Main: A gorgeous long-stewed bean and pork stew, with a massive piece of pork belly on top. Absolutely delicious, but each plate was enough to feed a family of four. We ate less than half, but I regret the leaving of it.
Cheese: A sharp blue cheese with prunes. Given the amount of PIG we consumed, prunes was probably a good idea.
Dessert: A very light Mango parfait

Wine: Its an odd set-up. There is no wine menu; you just wander around looking at bottles and choose one, which clearly the French are easily able to do, as they know their vintages. Waiter insisted we have a wine from the Languedoc. C was not happy with it at all, and thought we were victims of ‘wine bullying’ – they sell shite wine to the ‘uniformed’. C has a degree in wine, and works for a major Champagne house (begins with B, Sweetie Darling) so she does know her wine. She was annoyed that she did not choose the wine, and suspects we were given something that was disappointing and over-priced.

It cost: Approximately 73 Euros per person

Satisfaction Rating: Food was excellent, but I can’t eat that much. Were they force-feeding us because of the late serving and making us eat all of the left-overs, or is it normal to be expected to eat this much? I will wait to hear from other diners on that question. Yes, highly recommended for the quality of food. Restaurant is tiny, so book ahead.

More food in the next installment.

Regards … Ger
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Old Mar 4th, 2017, 05:43 AM
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Nit-picking is OK kerouac, and I will try to avoid similar mistakes going forward. Mother Eugene would have slapped my fingers for such an appalling error
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Old Mar 4th, 2017, 05:44 AM
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Thoroughly enjoying your report! I really want to try L'Ange 20 in May and you have cemented my desire!
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Old Mar 4th, 2017, 05:45 AM
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Waiting for me, Ger. The food description was spot on. So were the museum ones.
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Old Mar 4th, 2017, 05:46 AM
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* Waiting for more

(Feeling shameful.)
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Old Mar 4th, 2017, 05:59 AM
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I am SO loving this! We will be in Paris soon so eagerly awaiting the next installment!
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Old Mar 4th, 2017, 06:43 AM
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Thanks for all your wonderful report. Many great ideas for my trip in May
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Old Mar 4th, 2017, 08:10 AM
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More food!

Saturday 25th: 7th Arr. Classic: La Fontaine de Mars
Before she arrived, I had told C about Pottoka, and she was very excited about having lunch there on Saturday. OH, BU&&*R, I could not get a reservation. . Would she ever forgive me?

I suggested an alternative – the food from the South West. I have not had a decent cassoulet for years, and had a craving.
After a really entertaining visit in the morning to the Quai Branly museum, we walked to a Parisian classic institution: La Fontaine de Mars.

Starter: Oysters: Small, sweet and juicy. I could just sit there and drink champagne/wine and eat oysters … forever.
Main: I had the Cassoulet and C had the duck in honey. The Cassoulet was massive, so I shared half with C. Cassoulet was as good as I have had in Paris.
Dessert: I rarely have dessert, but the Strawberry Mille-Feuille could not be resisted, so we shared one.
Wine: with the Oysters, C had a glass of Chablis and I had a glass of Sancerre. For the main course, we shared a Bordeaux: She ordered, so can’t tell you which, but it was probably a good one. C then ordered a ‘digestif’ - a chilled Poire William mixed with Cognac, which was sensational.
Bottle of water

It Cost: After that much alcohol, I can barely remember, but probably around 70 Euros per person, most of which was due to the very good wine.

Satisfaction Rating: Service was excellent, and I loved my cassoulet. It’s a classic restaurant and you should go. I would welcome other suggests for restaurants that serve great cassoulet.

More food in the next installment. I am getting a bit bored with the food, but there is just one more to go.

Regards … Ger
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