Paris Trip Report --well, food report

Old Jan 4th, 2007, 09:39 AM
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Paris Trip Report --well, food report

We spent about 2 weeks in Paris and having seen most of the sites, we went more for the relaxation of sitting in cafes for hours and eating 3 hour dinners…

The book I used to “guide” some of our food hunting/shopping was “Gourmet Shops of Paris, an epicurean tour” by Pierre Rival and Christian Sarramon. It does not list restaurants, but shops for bread, cheese, pastries, etc…
So this trip report about our travels is not so much a trip report as it is a list of recommendations and short reviews all centered on food in Paris.

We rented a fabulous apartment in the Bastille/boarder of Marais area of Paris. I say fabulous because of the value, location, and size, not because of the luxury. I will post pictures of the place when I get around to putting our pics up! It was 650euros a week or 100euros a night. We stayed a total of 8 nights and so for us it was 750euros. The address is 16 rue Saint Sabin. It is a 3 story artist type loft with concrete floors (which are heated) and a huge kitchen, a queen bed, and living area, it is a decent size as far as Paris apartments go! The apartment also came with a cell phone that you can use during your stay. The kitchen is fully stocked and the owner even asked us what we would like the refrigerator stocked with upon our arrival (although we told him we planned on hitting up the Bastille market the next day so we did not need anything). Also, there is a N’espresso machine along with an assortment of N’espresso coffees to use in the machine! We have already vowed to buy one of these machines as soon as they become available in the States!

Bastille Market:
We were on the hunt for the rotisserie chickens that I have heard raves about. We found two vendors at the market and decided to go with the one who was a woman for no particular reason and she helped us choose a region/farm…and from there she selected a chicken for us and also loaded our bad with the potatoes that are cooked under the twirling chickens with their juices dripping on them. (Although, I do recall the region/farm --the chicken was the most expensive one there, which was 14euros for the whole chicken). When we ate the chicken for lunch along with a salad of fennel and oranges we bought and made from the market –we instantly understood what all the raves were about—I think it was truly the best roast chicken either of us has ever tasted.

L’Autre Boulange: 43 rue Montreuil, 75011
This is a bread shop listed in that book I mentioned above. It was about a 15 minute walk from our apartment and well worth it! It is on a street with not many shops on it at all and I doubted its existence as we turned down the street. The baker himself serves his customers and it there was a steady stream of 4 to 6 people in the shop the time we were there. The baker couldn’t be more out of a story book – with his large white handlebar mustache and huge smile. He was very friendly and helped us pick out some of those table cookies after we picked out some bread. I believe all the breads there are baked with organic ingredients.

PAUL: many locations, just look for it!
The Paul chain of bread shops seems to be everywhere….and although it was a chain, I think it has a GREAT quality of bread and sandwiches, etc… This is where we mostly got our sandwiches when we were out and just felt like something to go. Their meal deal is 6,90euro for a huge sandwich, a huge desert and a drink. It is too much food and I would recommend splitting it between two people if you are not starving. They also have a sit down section with a full menu-- I found the food there to be comforting, simple and although nothing particularly special, it was perfect on various occasions, because it did not feel so “fatty” and heavy like many of our meals did in Paris. Anyway, they have many locations and when there seem to be nothing around other than touristy type cafes, such as when on the Champs Elysses, Paul seemed like the perfect alternative.

Pierre Herme: 72 rue Bonaparte, 75006
We stood in line for 30 minutes in the cold on the street and around the corner as the line for this famous pastry shop moved very slowly. The specialty here is macaroons, however I had read that Pierre Herme wins or has won the best croissant contest many years. So, we tried both the macaroons and the croissants. They have specialty macaroons depending on the season and this year for their specialty ones, -- they had foie gras and chocolate macaroons! Yes foie gras mixed with chocolate! I didn’t really care for it, although my boyfriend did! They were definitely different! The macaroons there were very rich, and again, not my favorite – I prefer the drier texture of the macaroons at Laudree, and many of the patisseries. However, their croissants were truly amazing. They basically melt in your mouth! Many of the croissants we had on our trip were great, but these ones were truly out of this world and worth the wait! Next time I would try their pain chocolate, and almond croissants as well.

Jim Haynes Dinner – December 24th
We went here after seeing it once on a PBS travel program…and reading about it numerous times on this board. It was fun and I had the chance to meet two other fodorites! The food was filling (though by no means the centerpiece of the dinner) and the boxed wine flowed freely and so did the conversation –it was a fun experience and I would recommend going for anyone who wants to meet some other Americans as well as Europeans for a few hours of eating and drinking while in Paris.

Chez Denise, Table D’Aligre, and more to come, hopefully soon!
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Old Jan 4th, 2007, 09:52 AM
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Thx for the report.
Do u mind sharing the link for the apartment that you rented ?
Many thanks
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Old Jan 4th, 2007, 09:55 AM
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Oh, my mouth is watering!!! This is a great Food report!
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Old Jan 4th, 2007, 10:02 AM
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There is no link for the apartment we rented, we found it on craigslist Paris -- but here is the owner's email -- his name is matthieu, and he attended the Berekley school of Music in Boston and speaks perfect English. He provided us with pictures online.

[email protected]
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Old Jan 4th, 2007, 10:09 AM
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Thanks Nedda, Waiting to hear your impression of Chez Denise, a highlight for me. I saw a VERY nice photo of you at Jim's !
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Old Jan 4th, 2007, 10:45 AM
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Stop, stop. You're making me hungry. Is it time for dinner yet?

Great report, thanks for posting it!
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Old Jan 4th, 2007, 10:51 AM
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Thanks for sharing, N

>...she helped us choose a region/farm…and from there she selected a chicken for us..<

"Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore"

ira is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2007, 10:54 AM
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Now this is my kind of trip report! Can't wait for the next installment. I'm off to lunch!

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Old Jan 4th, 2007, 11:22 AM
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is the bastille market you refer to the one on blvd. richard lenoir? we will be staying near there in march!

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Old Jan 4th, 2007, 12:31 PM
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Oh, my mouth is watering! I can't wait to hear more. We are going to Paris in April for a long weekend, so I will be taking notes!
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Old Jan 4th, 2007, 12:57 PM
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I hate how shortly after returning from someplace (in this case Paris last October) I read something that fills me with regret for having missed it! So near and yet so far. I guess that's why you go back. Now I just need someone to tell me more about the food secrets of my own home town!
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Old Jan 4th, 2007, 12:59 PM
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Hi C,

Where are you located.

Locals rarely know the secrets of their home towns.

ira is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2007, 05:01 PM
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Chez Denise: 5, rue de Prouvaires
We chose this restaurant after reading about it on this board! It was fantastic and exceeded our expectations! The outside was discrete and looked more like a bar than a restaurant, and once inside we instantly knew this was a locals place. It seems as though we got lucky as far as being able to eat because there was fumbling and groaning when we said we did not have a reservation. Every seat around us, including the one we were sat in had a piece of paper in a cup with the party’s name, the number and time for their reservation.

Anyway, the menu was all on the chalkboards and we were not able to figure much of it out because it was not the “traditional” stuff I could figure out. There was a lot of kidney, brain, etc…on the menu. A waiter was kind enough to help us with the menu and translated a lot of it for us – we were the only non-French that I could tell at least in our immediate area. At first the seating was not so bad, but then once a couple was seated next to us and we were rubbing elbows with those on either side it got quite cramped. However, everything we ordered was so good the stuffy-ness did not matter, we were in our little heaven. We ordered the charcuterie (spelling?) plate to start --which was way too much meat for us to finish. I had the lamb chops, which were amazing and came with 5! Usually you get 2 and at the rare restaurant 3, but Chez Denise gives you 5! They were perfect and again, way too much food. My boyfriend ordered the steak tartar, which seemed to be the most popular dish around. It looked like every other person ordered it. It was the largest steak tartar I have seen – and all I could think was that he was going to get sick if he even came close to eating half of all that raw meat. But it was too good for him to resist and he ate over ¾ of it. To give an idea, I would say that at least 4 hamburger patties could have been made out of it. Although we were stuffed, I kept seeing people order what seemed looked like a chocolate soufflé, so we wanted to just try a bite…it was actually a chocolate mouse, and again, huge. This was totally acceptable for sharing as most of the tables around us seemed to be sharing their desserts. We ordered our coffee and tea (to wake us up from all the food and wine we had just consumed!) and ended up finishing the whole chocolate mouse because it was soooo good! For everything, including the wine, our bill came to 90euros. This meal was probably our best in Paris, and was unbeatable for the price as well.

If you go to Chez Denise, I would recommend making a reservation (unlike us), because if we had gotten turned away, it would have been a sham to miss! Also, the wine they serve is brought to your table and you only pay for what you drink, same with bottled water. –We even started with one bottle of white and one of red, and then later switched to only red. Also, their “tablecloths” are posters of their restaurant with some artwork on them. I was unsure of asking our waiter if I could have a new one, but when I did --it wasn’t hard to ask after 4 glasses of wine –it seemed as though people ask all the time, because before I could even finish my sentence he said of course, and which size would I like, etc…they have a large one for 4 tops and a small one for 2 person tables. Then he brought one all rolled up with a rubber band already around it. Anyway, I think it was okay to ask and would recommend it if you care to have it as a reminder….

Table D’Aligre: 11, Place D'Aligre 75012

Another place I had read about, and went there because of the reviews, recommendations, etc… I thought it was decent – my boyfriend thought it was horrible. It was however, very reasonably priced, I believe it was 32 euros for the full menu of a one entrée, one plat and a dessert. But the inside is nice and quaint and it was packed. I ordered the steak, and my boyfriend ordered a pork chop, but on accident, he thought he was ordering veal. I can’t even recall what we got for our appetizers? I think a charcutterie plate (I really should figure out how to spell this!) and for dessert we just ordered one cheese plate. My steak was pretty tough, and the pork chop was exceptionally dry. The wine and the cheese plate were probably the best part of the meal. I would consider elsewhere before trying this place…but in all fairness it could have just been us – because it was packed and everyone was finishing their plates.
The only kind of annoying experience we had was also at this restaurant, where we were seated next what seemed to be the only other tourists—a German couple from Switzerland who couldn’t stop talking about how funny it was that Arnold was now a governor, etc…They also couldn’t stop talking about how you can’t smoke anywhere in the United States and what a shame (while the man smoked an entire pack of cigs during his meal – no joke he had a lit cigarette going the entire time== he would take puffs out of it while he was eating his dinner!…so that was kind of a mood killer I suppose.

Whew! This supposedly "short" review is getting long! I think I may have to keep the others brief just to get them on here without annoying everyone with such long posts!!!!!
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Old Jan 4th, 2007, 05:17 PM
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Hi Nedda!
It sounds like the rest of your trip was good- Mmmm....eating your way through Paris-- that's my kind of trip!

Check out my trip report for the picture of us at Jim Haynes' dinner:

I'd love to see the pictures of your apartment. It sounds really nice.

And I'm jealous that you went to Chez Denise! We tried to go there, too, but couldn't get in. Oh well, something for next time!

Thanks for reporting- glad you had a good trip, and I was really glad to have a chance to meet you!
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Old Jan 5th, 2007, 06:28 AM
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Le Bar A Soupes: 33 rue Charonne, 75011

We ate here 3 times! This was probably some of the best soup either of us ever had. In all fairness though—I am a soup lover! I think it is my favorite food. This place is very small and go there early, because they sell out constantly. Every single time we went there they were sold out of something or another. My absolute favorite soup there was the pumpkin with cinnamon. It was unbelievable, different, and I ate the entire HUGE bowl of it! My boyfriend loved the spinach (or was it watercress) and sausage. They also had a cauliflower with blue cheese. We also had the vegetable soup and the tomato with apple cider and ricotta. All were good! Once we went there for dinner and they had 3 soups left, and then once we when we went there around 2:30pm they were sold out and she scrapped together the two last bowls they had. The owner/chef was there serving on each visit and the place was very quaint and seemed to be quite busy and popular with the locals in the area. She also has a few cookbooks that are available for purchase –in French.
They also have soup to go, as many people came here for their large take-away containers.
The prices are unreal—it is 9euros for a soup, desert and glass of wine. Or around 5euro for just a bowl of soup.

Laudree: 21 Rue Bonaparte, 75006, or 16 rue Royale 75008
I think they are the original creator of the macaroon? Anyway, they are fantastic!
I especially love the pistachio and rose flavored ones. They also have a great pistachio/chocolate pain/croissant.

Café des Anges: Rue de la Roquette (11th)
This place was recommended to us from the owne of the apartment – it was a great value. They have a house special of a chartuccerie plate that comes with a small salad on top of the meat along with cheese (4 or 5 large chunks) and a glass of merlot for 10,90euros. The quality is nothing to rave about for this plate, but it was great to nibble on while having drinks at the bar. We also ate there, and what seems to be a very ordered dish here is their burgers. They are served on regular bread and served rare with goat cheese. They also have steak tartar and roast chicken that seem to be popular as well. We tried the burger and a salad it was great.
We came here regularly to get drinks and I fell in love with the vin chaud at this place (hot wine). It is just a light red wine heated with cinnamon and nutmeg and an orange slice. However, this place puts a shot of triple sec (I assume it would taste even better with grand mariner) in the wine. It was addictive

Café d’Industrie: Rue Saint Sabin (not sure of the address, but probably in the 20 block, just down on the corner from 16 rue St. Sabin).

There are 3 locations all right next to each other! Two are restaurants and one is a bar with lighter food options. We had many a drinks there and many a chartucerrie plate. Also, had the mixed cheese plate. Although we did not have dinner at the restaurant it was packed nightly and looked good

Overall, these were the main places I wanted to recommend/review, although there were many others. I hope it is helpful in future travels!!!
I think I could live in Paris forever --now it is just a matter of figuring out what I would do for work there…
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 07:32 PM
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Thanks for the food report - I'm writing a couple of the restaurants down for my next trip!

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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 09:20 PM
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You have inspired me to put this book on my Wish List. I'll have to look out for the book. Thanks!
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