Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Paris--the obsession with eating and restaurants

Paris--the obsession with eating and restaurants

Feb 9th, 2006, 05:50 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,229
Paris--the obsession with eating and restaurants

I've been reading a lot of trip reports about Paris. Is there anyone who doesn't go to Paris to eat? From all the detailed reports about what was eaten and where and all the planning involved, I've gotten the impression that eating must be what occupies much of the trip for many people. Maybe what I've read is giving me a skewed impression, but that's what I'm picking up.

We eat to live, not live to eat. Are there any others out there who feel this way? I also have to throw out the fact that I was blown away a week or so ago when I was reading a thread where people were seriously discussing spend E300-350 for lunch in Paris.
julies is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 05:59 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 17,226
You are referring to the "foodies". They are a proud lot and this is a great place for them to share their finds and favorites.

There are just as many of us who pack as much sight-seeing in as possible and "eat to live" in Paris. I enjoyed two special meals (special as in something a "foodie" would even consider eating) but enjoyed EVERY meal while in Paris.

We just don't talk as much about our meals - 'cause maybe they aren't as important to us

Different strokes for different folks!
starrsville is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 06:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,994
Hi julies. Interesting post.

I love Paris, I love French food and wine and I am in the camp of those who "live to eat." That said, I would never (could never?) spend the kind of money you spoke of for lunch or dinner. I have no problem wih those who do, but you can still eat really, really well for a fraction of that kind of money.

For me, eating (and drinking) well in Paris is part of the whole experience, especially since French food is my favorite.

I will be in Paris from March 20 - 25. When will you be there?
Iregeo is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 06:02 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,577
Paris has a lot to offer, including great food. But, I don't plan my trips around food. I do like a nice sit down meal at the end of the day. I like to relax, watch people, have some wine and good meal. I have tried recommendations I find here, but mostly I just wing it. I get the fixed price menu and try new things.

I get great pleasure out of a good meal, with good friends and a nice atmosphere but it doesn't need to cost $100 or more.

Different strokes for different folks. I don't care if others want to spend E300 for lunch, it's their money. I can't see myself doing it though.
cls2paris is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 06:03 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 8,862
Well, this doesn't answer your questions directly, but I think that it's all a question of tastes and priorities.

What about the many threads about hotels and where to stay? People spend 250 euros on hotels, when hotels costing 100 euros or 150 euros would be just fine. Some people spend money on hotel suites that cost even more.

Why fly first class?

Why drink Yquems?

Why buy seats for the opera that are a few hundred euros?

Taken to the extreme, how can be a Picasso painting be worth 100 million dollars and why are there people who'd even consider buying such paintings?

Needless to say, I don't think that there're really answers to your questions. I do splurge on restaurants. Partly I enjoy eating, and partly, I enjoy the spectacle. Not all my meals are expensive, and I'm also perfectly happy with cheap meals.

I think people will spend money on what they think is important and worth their money. These sorts of discussions are pointless, to some extent, I think. First, it's hard to understand someone else's tastes. Second, it's hard to argue if something is worth it unless one has had a similar experience. "Criticism" will only be in the abstract.
111op is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 06:04 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,577
starrsville, funny that we both dug up a very old phrase at the same time!
cls2paris is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 06:05 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,808
I don't want to spend beaucoup bucks for any meal, but I/we truly enjoy meals. If you don't, don't put down those of us who do. Go your way. We will enjoy our meals anyway. AND the meals can be less than you pay in your home city--but you have to ask.
Gretchen is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 06:11 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,180
I'm a picky eater who likes simple food, and I don't drink alcohol as a general rule, so, I spent very little of my week in Paris eating. I really ate only one nice French meal (lunch at La Cupole - on the prix fixe menu it was something like 26 euros). Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Paris and will definitely go back again some day.
twk is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 06:25 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 117
Since I just posted such a restaurant focused trip report, I'll share my thoughts. Good restaurants are one of my favorite parts of travel (though not all my meals are fancy or expensive). Indeed, good restaurants are one of my favorite parts of life. But my trip report focuses on the restaurants rather than the museums we went to or the walks we took or the shopping we did not just because this was an important part of the trip for me; it's also because I think it is much harder for someone to find out details about a particular restaurant in a particular neighborhood in Paris than about the Louvre. So what does my description of the Louvre really add of value to people who are trying to plan their trip? Perhaps this thinking just reflects my own restaurant-focused research--that could certainly be the case--but this is part of why I talked about my trip here in the way I did; it seemed to me most potentially useful for Fodorites. Perhaps I should have also mentioned that I really liked the tiny statues of cats with kittens in the Egyptian portion of the Louvre, because I did. I do plead guilty to being a foodie (though not one quite ready to drop 300 euros on lunch). But I am not quite as obsessively focused as my trip report would suggest.
emnyc is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 06:43 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,229
First of all, I don't intend to put anyone down. It is just that I read so much of it here.

I guess I should also add that I am considered quite a good gourmet cook, and I enjoy a good meal as much as the next person, but I guess I just don't obsess, and frankly, I'm not interested in spending that kind of money on food. But, I too love to visit the street markets, fromageries and unusual food shops. It's just the idea of planning my trip around restaurants that doesn't do it FOR ME.
julies is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 06:53 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 17,226
Julies, I'm soooo with you. I absolutely adored Paris - and the food. Nutella crepes from street vendors. Stopping for a beer or wine or yummy Croque Madame or soup or crepe at a sidewalk cafe. Splurge meal at Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower. Actually stopped at a convenient restaurant and found a seat at a sidewalk table - and realized later it was a very famous, highly recommended "guidebook" restaurant (PS - the food wasn't any better than Cafe Bonaparte or others we stumbled upon. Even had a Quick burger standing in line for the Lido (McDonald's was always too busy and I needed protein). Great picnic items picked up from stores and market. Fabulous, wonderful food - but it wasn't the focus of the trip...just one of the best parts
starrsville is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 06:53 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 8,862
I understand, julies. It's still curious though -- expensive restaurants seem to be a lightning rod for a lot of people. But then, as I mentioned, many people spend just as much money on hotels, if not more -- and obsess about which arrondissement they want to live in.

That doesn't seem to attract as much attention. I wonder why that is.

Or that's my skewed sense. It is interesting what people seem to pick up on.
111op is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 06:54 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,497
I enjoy reading trip reports that include details on good restaurants, and I mentally file it away thinking "I'll go look that up before my next trip."

But in the end, I always end up planning my trips without any thought as to where I'm going to eat. I usually go wherever the concierge or someone else recommends, or I wander around until something catches my eye. One day I might make a point of planning a nice meal, but so far it hasn't happened.

I can't fault those who place a higher priority on food; I guess I'm just not one of them.
Jolie is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 07:27 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,136
everyone has their own ways. I'm an extreme foodie ( in the business) and my trips are heavily food based ( good thing I'm a runner too!)

A trip without many fine meals is not a trip for me ( and DH too!)

But of course to each his own......
tripgirl is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 07:29 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,121
There are a number of factors that come into play here.

First, only people who are interested in food will post about food in Paris, as a general rule. So you will see posts about food in Paris, but you won't see any posts explaining what people didn't eat in Paris ("oh, and I especially didn't go to Taillevent or L'Ambroisie").

Second, some visitors who normally only eat to live are convinced by what they hear that there are meals so magical and wonderful that they will seem like something more than just a tasty meal, and so they consider food to be one of the "sights" to see in Paris. They may well be disappointed, though, since Paris food, while better than average and accompanied by excellent services in the best-known restaurants, is still just food, and food can only taste so good, no matter where it comes from.

Third, some people like to talk about food because it allows them to describe how much they spend on their trips. Others talk about food because they think it makes them sound sophisticated. Still others talk about it because they hear others talk about it and they think it must be important if so many people talk about it.

Anyway, there are indeed people who come to Paris without any interest in eating. They seem to feel a bit guilty about admitting that they aren't coming for the food, however. They manage to save a few hundred dollars and several hours each day by not eating in fancy restaurants, despite their guilt.

Of course, a minority of people really do live to eat and enjoy dining out at every opportunity. These people will not be disappointed in Paris, especially if they are willing to spend a lot of money on meals. But they truly are a minority, even among tourists in Paris, despite all the talk about food.

Unless you are part of the minority that lives to eat, the top restaurants will probably not be worth the money you pay to eat there.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 07:49 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 14,521
As a writer and sometimes food writer, I appreciate the response from emnyc. What can I possibly tell you about the museums and monuments of Paris that hasn't been said by myriad other writers?

The museums and monuments of Paris are basically of a finite nature. When they change, we do talk an awful lot about it (see the numerous discussions of the Orangerie). But the restaurant scene is ever changing, and in Paris, as well as many other places, food is an art form. When an art form is as alive and dynamic as the restaurant scene in Paris, it will get a lot of press, and have many interested fans and followers. I want to know what people eat.

I too am a "gourmet cook" as you, julies, have identified yourself. I don't really call myself a gourmet cook, or a foodie: just a person very interested in the art of cooking. There are millions of us: see the cookbook section of the bookstore; the dining guides in the travel section; or the number of cooking shows on television.

As a cook, I don't know how to expand my repertoire, sharpen my skills, or challenge myself without following what is going on in food, and sampling the best that my budget allows. And by best, I don't mean most expensive; I mean most interesting, delicious and well executed.

I am not at all interested in wine. But if I were, I would read about it, plan on visiting wineries (even plan trips around wine tasting expeditions)and do a lot of tasting. I don't think that would mean that I lived to drink. I don't live to eat, either. But I love to eat. I love to cook and I love to eat and I love to write about food. Visiting Paris is a great opportunity for me to indulge all three of those things.

Paris is historically perhaps the greatest dining city in the world. It makes perfect sense to me that people would plan at least part of their trips to Paris around where they would eat. Paris is home to so many truly talented chefs, and the people of France have such a great appreciation of, and gift for creating, good food. It's a wonderful thing.

I used to be amazed at how my father could remember the details of a particular hole of golf that he had played, years before, among the thousands and thousands of holes of golf he had played throughout his golf careeer. I was once expressing this amazement, and a friend said that she was amazed that my brother and I could remember a dish that we ate at a particular restaurant, a decade earlier.

Then it became clear to me that golf was what my father loved to do, and food was what my brother and I loved to, for lack of a better word, do. I would rather give pedicures than golf, but my father has planned and executed dozens of trips around where he wanted to play golf.

So it only makes sense that people would plan trips around what they really enjoy doing.

I want to add that there is more to the enjoyment of dining and the art of cooking than the "living to eat." There is a lot of room between "eat to live" and "live to eat." If one truly eats to live, one would never eat candy, or dessert, or whipped cream, or rich cheese. Or certainly not anything that required time and thoughtful preparation. If one truly lived to eat, one might be like the people that have to be taken out of the house by crane.

I love to do many things, but I don't necessarily live to do them. I am just blessed in having so many things that I enjoy immersing myself in.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 08:01 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
I don't splurge compared to most people on this board when it comes to meals in Paris. However (big however), I think food might be my favorite part of a trip to Paris. It's not the biggest part of my trips to other places--especially Rome, a place where I also love the food--but with a teeny tiny bit of planning...damn that food in Paris is good.

I've heard there are museums in Paris. Is that true?
Leely is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 10:08 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,313
Food tends to be an integral and major part of the culture of a country. Exploration of a country without exploring it's food misses much of what makes a country unique and special. Certainly the social life of local people tends to revolve alot around food and drink. The USA and many other English derived cultures seem to be less interested in food which I think partially explains the eat to live philosophy that many people have. Might be a partial explanation for the fast food origins and popularity in this country. France on the other hand is a country where food is very important and a major part of it's life. It therefore makes alot of sense for a visitor to explore this part of french life.
Perhaps it is also this aspect of french life that helps draw many of us back to France time and time again. Food in France does not have to be expensive but can be at it's most refined levels.
What one pays for anything is very dependent on one's value system and resources. Some people for an example will drive a 15 year old Ford Sable and be perfectly happy with the car and others who love to drive make do with a E55 AMG. To one a car is just transportation and to the other there may be pleasure one derives from driving a certain type of a car. This might be a reflection of different resources but it may also just be our preferences and desires. Travel to foreign countries is another
expense that many people do not understand but many of us on this board do spend alot of time and money to do just that. If travel is about exploration of experiences which are to be new to us, food as a major part of a foreign culture is a natural extension of our travel desires.
mjs is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 11:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34,738
First of all, I don't think that most people consider it obsession to plan meals or talk about the meals that they have in Paris or anywhere else on their travels.
Obsession would more likely be the traveler who travels only to eat. There is little evidence of this in any reports that I have read posted here, unless you read Chowhound or one of those Foodie sites.

Look at this oldie that I found, while looking for a Paris eating out thread....

It seems that the posters on this thread, were happy with planning and eating and talking about their meals all over Europe..not just Paris.

But then again, if I were going to Japan, food would only be important to me if I were concerned about eating things raw, but when I go to Paris, where they are known to cook well ( and where I can read the menu) , I do look forward to the food.

In London, I look forward to the food now, but we used to just look forward to the city and the people.
I will look forward to the food in Italy, where I hear you cannot get bad food ( or rarely do)..

Most of us eat 2-3 times a day, why waste money on tasteless drab stuff that you don't remember the next day? Why not plan your meals the same way you do your shopping and sightseeing?
When you bring money into it, then it is more ( to me) a fact that some people cannot imagine spending 300 euros for lunch, and some people cannot imagine eating a crepe on the street for lunch. Budgets make a difference there, not obsession..
Different folks and all that~
Scarlett is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 11:23 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,846
I believe like many others that dining in Paris whether you spend big euros or not is one of the main highlights of the trip. I cannot stand mediocre food and regret every "ordinary" meal I have when in France, I would rather do the research and thoroughly enjoy every meal (as much as is possible) than feel I have wasted an opportunity to try new and different cuisine. I am a keen cook also so maybe the two go hand in hand.

What I cannot fathom is people posting and asking where are Starbucks and Macdonalds in Paris. I cannot imagine eating at those establishments, however I never go to them back home either, so nothing different there. I know everyone is unique- that is what makes this forum interesting - but it really makes me go gggrrrrrr. (and a lot worse but I won't get too agro) I should have responded and added that to the "what questions give you the pip" thread. Cos this certainly does.

To answer Julies, no <<it doesn't occupy much of the trip>> mostly just at night for me, what else should I be doing? I have wandered around all day looking at the wonderful sights and drawing in the incredible atmosphere then it is time to sit down and soak in the cuisine. Eating uses many senses, smell, taste, visual and touch. That to me indicates a pretty good experience. Go the gourmet diners!
schnauzer is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:47 AM.