Paris Trip Report, March 2008

Old Apr 18th, 2008, 05:09 AM
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I'm glad that you are enjoying my report! More on food (everyone's favorite topic) later.

francophilenoob, I am far from an expert on European tipping customs in general, or those in France in particular, but there are many threads on the board discussing the topic at length and with some heat. I've decided that for me, the correct thing is not to tip like I would in the U.S., but to round up the bill (not to exceed 10%) and leave it as cash on the table, not on the credit card if used. I stress, this is not the "correct" thing, it is correct for me.
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Old Apr 18th, 2008, 05:15 AM
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sams mom, thanks for the reply. I started a new thread on this so as not to derail your wonderful Paris reports. Keep 'em coming! I look forward to them. And thanks for taking the time to write about your experience. This noob is learning quite a bit from them.
Old Apr 18th, 2008, 10:36 AM
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Still eating…

L’Ambasse D’Auvergne, 22 rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare (3rd): Of all the places we ate, this is the one that I liked least, which is completely unfair. There is nothing wrong with it, and the food was quite good. The surroundings were lovely. The waiters were very nice…maybe a little too nice, too practiced. And that’s the thing. This was the only restaurant we ate in that sort of felt like it catered to tourists. Of course, visitors were in every restaurant, but this one just did not feel like it had its local core of regulars. Again, in fairness, even the tourists were interesting here. There was a large table (maybe 8?) of business people speaking English near us, but none of them were American. They came from all over the EU, but evidently spoke English because it was the only language they had in common. There was another table with a couple of generations of a Spanish family. So if you are in the area, or if you want to try the famous aligot (potatoes mashed with cantal cheese, served from a copper pot at your table), you should try it out. Now that I think about it, it was our last night in Paris, so we may have just been both tired and sad. I really should give it another try. Of course, the aligot was divine, and that alone may be a reason to return.

Bread on table
Entrees: Zucchini Charlotte (a mold lined with zucchini slices filled with creamy, fresh blue cheese)
Bean soup garnished with chopped scallops
Plats: Roasted duck breast served with aligot (the waiter kindly gave DD a dish of aligot, also)
Poached salmon stuffed with scallops
Desserts: Bottomless chocolate mousse served from a copper pot
Chocolate fondant cake
Water (too tired and full for coffee and tea, or wine)
65 euro

Breakfast: We ate breakfast at the hotel twice. It was a little pricey at 12 euro, but one order was enough for two people. I paid a little extra to get DD a pot of tea (there was enough coffee for two, and they would have provided an extra cup, but she doesn’t like coffee.) The breakfast was served on a large wicker tray with a pretty cloth and flower, was brought to the room, and was served from 7AM to 12PM (very humane hours, I think.) The hotel breakfast included a boiled egg, a baguette, a pain au chocolat, a croissant, butter, honey, two kinds of jam, a container of yogurt, a glass of fresh orange juice, and a choice of coffee, tea, or chocolate. Since we usually did not eat lunch, this did a good job of sustaining us until dinner.

On other days, we ate at a patisserie on rue de Rivoli right around the corner from the hotel, where we had a St. Paul loaf, a pain au chocolat, and coffee and tea at the counter, and felt very Parisian indeed. On our last day, we just stopped in the patisserie up the street from the hotel and bought a wonderful baguette to eat at the airport.

Café meals:
L’As du Falafal on the rue des Rosiers: we ate here on a crowded Sunday afternoon. We chose to give our name to the man at the door and eat inside, and it really didn’t take longer than it would have to wait at the take-out window (about 15 minutes), although it was more expensive. I was surprised that the customers inside seemed to be mostly French. We each had the famous loaded falafel sandwich, shared an order of very good frites, and drank lemonade and Orangina. Cost, 27.5 euro. It was awesome. I know it would probably be much cooler and more sophisticated to poo-poo such a well known spot, but it really did live up to the hype.

La Tartine on rue de Rivoli: I really liked it here. We ate an early dinner on one of our grazing days, and lots of Parisians stopped in for a drink and a snack on their way home. I had an open-faced grilled ham and cheese on top of a toasted slab of Poilaine bread, served with a salad, and a limon presse. DD had a huge salad with grilled chicken (and slab bacon that she passed over to me) and an Orangina. She was suffering from green vegetable withdrawal at this point, and enjoyed her salad very much indeed. I forgot to write down how much this cost, but it was very reasonable.

Le Pick Clops on rue Vieille du Temple: This little café was right at the end of the street from our hotel. It is a fun, young place, with a staff that seemed to be mostly British. The clientele was all French, young, and kind of hip. If it was near us, DD and her friends would set up camp here regularly during the afternoon and early evening. It becomes more of a bar in the American sense as the night wears on. I had a Croque Madame and a glass of white wine, and DD had a Tandoori salad and an Orangina, followed by coffee and tea. Cost, 35.50

Snacks: We each had one of the pre-made sandwiches that seem to be delivered to every patisserie in Paris on a daily basis and took it to eat by the fountain at the Beaubourg. Not bad. Before this, despite people who say that the French are much too civilized to eat on the run, we noticed that almost every office worker in Paris was munching one of these on the street as they ran from place to place at lunch time.

On the day that we ate at L’as du Falafel, we stopped at Sacha Finkelstein for dessert. I had cheesecake and DD had pommes polonaise, an apple pastry. Both were absolutely fantastic. The place was mobbed with mostly older French people on this Sunday. I couldn’t quite get the hang of things and almost gave up, which would have been a shame. Here’s how it works: stand in line at the appropriate counter (baked goods or prepared foods), place your order, you will be given a slip with your charge, take it to the back to the nice man at the table and pay him, return to the lady who took your order and pick up your goodies.

Le Loir en Theire is a very cute tea shop in the Marais. I can’t find the address right now, but I’m sure it can be Googled. The name translates to The Mouse in the Teapot, and there is a cool Alice in Wonderland mural on one of the walls. We only had tea and cider, but the cakes and pastries looked terrific. No tourists (except us!) We stopped in late afternoon, and the crowd was young people and young couples with children.

Ice cream: We tried both the famous Berthillon and Amorino. My advice to you is to have both often. Try alternating each night. Seriously, this stuff is very, very good…but dare I say, not quite as good as gelato in Italy. But don’t let that stop you.

Crepe: DD insisted that we couldn’t leave Paris without trying a crepe from a street vendor. We had ours in the Jardin de Tuileries after visiting the Orangerie. I’m glad DD insisted. I had lemon and sugar and she had chocolate. This is another one of those things that a truly hip person would poo-poo. I loved it.

OK, I just can’t eat another thing.

To be continued…
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Old Apr 18th, 2008, 11:27 AM
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thank you for the easy CDG site....I had been looking for something like that for a while. I'm leaving in 3 weeks and I have to basically rush out of CDG to make a train at Gare du Nord and I finally have a better idea how I can speed up whatever is on my control
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Old Apr 18th, 2008, 12:37 PM
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samsmom: You DO most definitely have a flair for writing. I love reading your post and it's bringing me back to Paris while I'm sitting home wallowing through a shingles attack!! Hope I can get to Paris this year!! Your style and report are very helpful!
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Old Apr 18th, 2008, 04:07 PM
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Enjoying your reports very much, but must clarify one thing,,

I am " truly hip" ( LOL) , and I wouldn't think of not having a crepe from a street vendor, I even have favorites, the one kitty corner to ST Chapelle where they also sell Berthillions is my fave.
Ham, cheese and tomato,ahh I have died just thinking about it, I will be enjoying one in 83 more days.

Your hotel sounds very nice, as did some of your meals( you did an excellant job remembering to write everything down, I am so very impressed!), but you certainly did not budget eat so to speak,,100 euros for dinner is a bit rich for me, but perhaps I could choose one or two such places for specail treats, your dinners did sound very good.
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Old Apr 18th, 2008, 04:23 PM
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Hi bozama,

I'm glad the kool kids like the crepe vendors, too!

You're right, we did eat some pretty expensive dinners. First, by dinner time we were always hungry since we hadn't eaten since breakfast, so we always went for the gustto and ate every course. Dinner generally last 2 - 2.5 hours. Second, since the dollar is kind of weak I realized that there was no major shopping to be done. Even French made merchandise is cheaper in the U.S. than France at this point, so I spent the shopping money on food. Third, as I mentioned at the top, eating was pretty much the evening activity. Since I had the kid with me, I wasn't spending money hanging out in cafes drinking bottles of wine or going to clubs.

I think, though, one can eat much more cheaply and still do very well. The "grazing" we did was most satisfactory! If the dollar improves and the shopping is better next time, the food budget will drop!
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 09:46 AM
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Very nice report! I am thinking about a trip to Paris next spring and your information is very helpful.

Glad you had such a nice trip!
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 06:54 PM
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Just caught up to the last part of your trip report - thanks so much for posting all your restaurant/cafe experiences. Always helpful to hear what others ate - just hearing about L’As du Falafal makes me regret not making the effort to get there on our last trip. Ah well, live and learn.

Glad to know you enjoyed La Tartine - are there more than one La Tartine's? I know there is one attached to Poilane in the 6th, but never realized there was one on Rue de Rivoli. Always heard great things about La Tartine - good to know they also have large salads. I too suffer from green deficiency(as well as fruit deficiency) on trips - it's weird what one craves on trip sometimes. Did the La Tartine that you went to have only seating at the bar, or tables also?

Thanks for the tip about the tea house - seems cute, and as a tea lover, it's always good to know about different tea shops.

In agreement with you about Berthillion and Amorino - I'm less of a gelato fan, but I thought the yogurt flavor at Amorino was really good.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 09:07 PM
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Great report! We stayed in the Marais for the first time this past January (we usually try to stay in more non-touristy areas). LOVED IT! I agree that there are enough restaurants and shops within walking distance to keep you well fed and interested.

We kept walking past L’As du Falafal and, due to the line, saying "we'll try another day." Now I've decided we WILL stop there when we return in November!

Thanks for a lovely report and some good restaurant sggestions!
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