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Paris--the obsession with eating and restaurants

Paris--the obsession with eating and restaurants

Feb 9th, 2006, 11:23 PM
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My first couple of trips to Paris were horribly unresearched and we hated the food simply because we were so ignorant as to the good and the bad places.
As time has gone by and the travel budget increased, I now find that if you know where to look it can be almost impossible to have a bad meal.
I like other Fodorites like to pass this "eating" information on.
I liked your comment Tuscanlifeedit - hit the nail right on the head!
tod is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 11:25 PM
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I think the discussion about L'Ami Louis has bothered julies.
Really, Paris is full of places to eat that are easily affordable for everyone !
Scarlett is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 11:29 PM
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I must confess I read the restaurant portions of trip reports here on Fodors avidly. Not because I am a foodie, but because I want to get the most out of every trip I take. I need to eat at least a couple of times a day, and I would consider it tragic if I ended up with a lousy meal.

I take note of the good ones and the bad ones, so when it comes time to feed my face I won't be wasting my time in some crummy dive. Just part of intelligent trip planning.

nukesafe is online now  
Feb 9th, 2006, 11:41 PM
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A crummy dive in Paris? Thank goodness I didn't stumble upon one of those!

I think that's my point. One can read and plot and plan around meals or "play it by ear". My experience has been that just random choices in Paris have been absolutely wonderful. I don't feel that way in other cities. Maybe the restaurants are just better - for all the reasons that make foodies salivate over the choices in Paris.
starrsville is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 12:20 AM
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One of the pleasures of dining is that's it's a social experience. It's also a very, very familiar one. For visitors this is especially important. One enters a realm beyond sightseeing (just as in going to the theater, or to a concert or a museum). Also, there's the centrality of food in French culture. Where else would you see two business people at lunch, leaning close to their plates when they're set down, inhaling deeply and smiling? Or hear two people discuss nothing but food - how their father could infalibly choose a cheese or a melon when it was just right to eat, or where to go in Brittany to buy the best artichokes - throughout their whole meal? Visitors like to join in the spirit. And the food is good!
Dave_in_Paris is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 12:33 AM
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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.

does anyone have any idea what this is supposed to mean?
walkinaround is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 12:51 AM
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Jules, you *say* you didn't intend to put anyone down, but then you jump right in with words like "obsession" and imply that since YOU are a superb gourment cook and don't eat in expensive restaurants, that others who do must...what? Don't know food as well as you? That there's something wrong with people who don't spend money the way YOU think is appropriate?

If someone wants to spend 300 euros on lunch, it's THEIR money and THEIR choice and they certainly have the right to do so without a self-acclaimed gourmet cook raising eyebrows about their "obession".

Actually, your original posts suggests you are the one obsessing on what *other* people spend on food in Paris. Why do you even care in the least what other people do with their own money? Why shouldn't you just wish them well and, as a gourmet cook, be happy they are enjoying good food in beautiful settings in a wonderful city?

My food choices are all over the map....I may eat a cheap sandwich for lunch one day and dine at a 3-starred Michelin restaurant the next. It's my vacation, my money and my choice. Third party approval or analysis is not needed.

(I may think people who go off to Vegas and gamble away money on silly games are odd, but it's NOT my place to judge their lives.)
BTilke is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 02:02 AM
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hello julies,

well, have you ever seen "Lī Aile ou la Cuisse" directed by Claude Zidi, with Louis de Funes and Coluche?

Here you have it in a nutshell, what the French think about whether we eat to live or live to eat.

hhildebrandt is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 02:32 AM
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Actually, I feel rather sorry people who see 'food as fuel' as I think they're really missing out. It's one of the glorious pleasures of life. I would no more chance it and drop into any old crap eatery than I'd drop into any old hotel on the off chance of a bed. Some people here are saying they spend very little time eating on a trip, but what do you do in the evenings? Watch italian quiz shows in your hotel room?

I want every part of my trip to be wonderful, and that includes my meals. In fact, they're the highlight of my day.

Okay it's clear I love food. I also hate picky eaters. And vegetarians. Boy, what killjoys.
Kate is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 04:04 AM
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Kate, we barely had time to fit everything in a day in Paris. We would realize that we were hungry and look at the watches and it was after 8 pm.

But, to answer your question - no Italian quiz shows. Instead,
1) Continued sight-seeing (and some shopping)- after big lunch at Jules Verne
2) Fat Tire Bike evening tour (biking under TE virtually by ourselves)
3) show at the Lido (Quick burger eaten in line - ran out of time for a more leisurely meal because we were so busy enjoying Paris during the day
4) Dining - Long leisurely meal at sidewalk cafe
5) "private" time in hotel room - intended to go out to dinner, but....you know
starrsville is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 04:09 AM
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meant to say...under the ET at midnight

and it was the late show at the Lido (10 pm arrival I think). Barely had time to cab it back to hotel to change for the show.
starrsville is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 04:20 AM
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I think that for people to whom good food is important, this would be a big consideration anywhere, not just in Paris. OK, I do largely live to eat And I do occasionally spend £200-300 on dinner for 2. But I have no children, no car - can't I spend my money on what I enjoy ? I also spend money on art - is that OK ?

Why do people spend tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds on having children ?

caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 04:25 AM
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Julies, get real....for some, eating must be what occupies them whether they are on a trip or not!!!!

As to how much one spends on food and lodging..well, that's a personal decision, always has been, always will be, and will always inspire jealousy in some, outright condemnation in others, and bewilderment in still others.
Intrepid1 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 04:45 AM
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caroline: "I also spend money on art - is that OK ?"

What are the hot artists you've been buying? Any good tips?

After seeing "Match Point," I realize that Woody Allen has caught onto the loft + art craze. (The English family is from Belgravia and the daughter plays an art dealer. The young couple has a loft that overlooks the Thames. What a life. )

Actually when I travel I frequently skip lunches or dinners because my schedules are so packed. I usually have one meal a day. So it makes splurging for a nice meal seem not so unreasonable. But I also eat well occasionally in NYC.

I spend a lot of money on chocolates (I hope no one is watching...).

111op is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 04:50 AM
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Blimey, some of your trips sound exhausting if you haven't time to stop for a nice meal. Do you have to take a holiday to recover?
Kate is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 05:02 AM
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Assuming you're talking to me, Kate....

Sometimes I wish I could take another vacation afterwards, but unfortunately I usually go to work right after. I've been taking long-weekend trips (leave Friday after work and return Monday -- when I get the day off anyway, and I go to work right after on Tuesday).

I also take longer breaks, but my schedules are usually still hectic. I was four Asian cities over a period of less than two weeks last December. But I didn't do much in Taipei and was there for a few days, so that was relaxing.

Now, regarding raw fish in Japan, actually there's a lot to Japanese food apart from sushi & sashimi. I had tempura at Ten-ichi in Tokyo, for example:


I've been really curious about the kaiseki meals -- maybe the next time I'm there. Japanese food is very much about presentation also.

And the sushi I had in an average Ginza restaurant was excellent (incredibly fresh) -- and I don't usually eat anything raw.
111op is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 05:10 AM
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We are like you, food is not why we go on vacation! both times we were in Paris we ate for under 75 euros per day
total not each! and had great food.
jeffwill4you is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 05:17 AM
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I'm quite happy to hear about that € 300 lunch. It is like hotels in price categories above my personal budget - I want to hear about them precisely because it is unlikely I will ever be able to afford to sample them myself. As for whether such meals offer value for money, that can only be fairly assessed by comparing such a meal to others in the same category. I suspect it is not by accident that the common expression "to compare apples to oranges" involves a food metaphor.

Food, whether it is a simple cheese sandwich or a creation by Alain Ducasse is a sensual experience, something that everyone has at least some knowledge of (as opposed to Renaissance art, for example.) It adds colour and smells and tastes to people's trip reports. As I type I think perhaps I should be including more description of the food we eat when I describe our trips, even if our budget, time, and energy (and yes, to some extent personal preference) extends more to to meals of the cheese sandwich variety.

At any price range, I like to hear about the quality of the composite ingredients. I might not be able to afford to eat caviar every day ( or even any day ) but I do hope fervently that the peanut butter in my sandwich will not be rancid or the bread stale.
Sue_xx_yy is online now  
Feb 10th, 2006, 05:28 AM
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This discussion reminds me of the time I met a couple of American missionaries -- real hicks, awful to think of the impression they were making on the locals -- in Africa. They were flying back to the US for R&R via Paris. I wished them a good time there. They replied: "Oh, there's nothing in Paris for us. We don't hold with drinking and dancing."

So much for the moveable feast . . .

Feb 10th, 2006, 05:32 AM
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Clearly this subject touches some nerves. I'm a little surprised at some of the responses. I personally did not take Julies originial post as the least bit of a put down on people who are foodies - just an honest interest in why there seems to be so much emphasis on dining in the posts especially about Paris. I have noticed it too. Oh course that could be because I tend to agree with her. I readily admit I am not a foodie. And there's nothing wrong with me. And one of my best friends is a foodie. And she's still my friend and there's nothing wrong with her either.

So having said that, I kind of wish there were more trip reports (or more parts of them) on things other than food. For example, when someone said what else is there to say about the Louvre that isn't in guide books - well I'd like to hear how people arrange their visits to get the most out of 2 or 3 hours, or talk about some of the lesser known pieces that aren't mentioned in every book. Stuff like that. I'd like to hear about neighborhoods that people found especially interesting - and details like why, where exactly these neighborhoods are, etc. I'd personally rather spend 3 hours in the afternoon and a €100 exploring a neighborhood while eating a panini and/or crepe and buy some cool thing in an unfamous shop than to spend the time and money in a restaurant. That doesn't make me wierd. But I can find 50 posts that will tell me where I could spend the time and money eating but very few that could tell me what I want.

And to answer the question about what do non-foodies do in the evening - well besides the obvious like go to concerts or performances there is evening sightseeing - Paris is beautifully lit at night and evening walks are wonderful. The museums are open some evenings. Stores are open some evenings. And since one of my favorite things to do is to get up with the sun and wander the streets (Paris or anywhere else) without tons of people around and enjoy the wonderful early light - well that means going to bed on the early side. So yes, there's plenty to do without spending the evening at a restaurant.And while I've never watched an Italian game show, I absolutely love some of the stuff on British TV, and even watching a little TV in countries where I don't understand the language can give some interesting insight into the local culture.
isabel is online now  

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