Parisian food: What should we expect?

Aug 2nd, 2004, 12:48 PM
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Parisian food: What should we expect?

My wife and I are going to Paris for 5 days in early September. We both love to eat good food and we're wondering what to expect.

What is typical for lunch/dinners? Is the bread as wonderful as everyone has said?
by350 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 01:07 PM
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Yes, the bread is wonderful. So are the croissants and lemon tarts and macaroons and....

Typical for lunch and dinner is pretty hard to assess, as it depends to a great extent on the kind of meal you like. Lunch can be anything from a composed salad or a crêpe or an omelette or a big bowl of soup to a four-course meal in a fine restaurant. Dinner is usually at least three courses: appetizer (called an entrée), main course (plat), and dessert. At a fine restaurant you could have quite a few more courses. Most places will have a "menu," not what we think of but a set meal for a set price, usually with options for the courses.
Underhill is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 01:09 PM
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And that set menu is a better bargain than ordering ala carte.
cigalechanta is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 01:11 PM
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I'm sorry to say that I have almost never had good bread in a restaurant in Paris. Now, the stuff from the bakeries has been divine, but I'm trying to recall a restaurant that had terrific bread and I'm coming up blank.

As for "what to expect," it's a little hard to say without knowing more of you and your plans. Are you planning on reserving specific restaurants ahead of time, or just being spontaneous? Where are you staying and what areas will you be visiting? What's your idea of the perfect meal? If you give us a little more info, maybe we can help you find a place that's right for you.

Food in Paris can range from spectacular to mundane. If you're really into good food, I'd recommend not leaving everything up to chance, but reserving some special places and then staying flexible so that you can discover things on your own.
elle is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 01:31 PM
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Something I enjoyed. I welcome correction to this statement, but there are "boulangeries" all over Paris with the best sandwiches prepared on a baton which I think is a shorter baquette...and you can purchase "sides" of lovely salads, etc.; have one of those, a french "soda" (water if you're a purist") and find someplace to sit? Just for a quick on the run lunch...its a little slice of heaven!
If a foodie, you have read some of the great French chef's cookbooks...right?
SuzieC is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 01:44 PM
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You can find most whatever you desire.

Obviously there is French food (including everything from local fast food places, to bakeries with sandwiches, corner crepe stands, and all manner of cafes and bistros to high-end restaurants).

Then there are ethnic restaurants: Greek, Italian, etc.

What is typical cafe lunch? could be a large interesting salad, cold salmon, or a steak & frites (as examples).

I don't know what's typical for dinner as we didn't eat at any fancy places, mostly cozy spots we found near our hotel.

suze is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 01:54 PM
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Also if you are in a budget you can always eat delicious Baquettes for lunch..
kismetchimera is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 03:25 PM
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I agree with elle about the bread. The cut-up baguette served in a basket as an accompaniment to your order is too often tasteless and cotton-y.

As elle notes, the bread you can buy in good boulangeries is wonderful. It sometimes seems many cafés and restaurants must go out of their way to find the most boring bread.
shellio is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 03:30 PM
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My wife and I are staying at the Relais Bosquet in the 7th. I LOVE fresh, warm bread! I think we will be spontaneous for the most part, but would like to have 1 dinner in an upscale restaurant. Probably wouldn't want to spend over $200 for the meal, including some wine.

Any must have suggestions?
by350 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 06:08 PM
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Besides sandwiches, many boulangeries have other baked goods such as small quiches and pizza-like items, and they will warm them up for you if you like. Also, you should expect to try a minimum of one pastry per day, or your trip to Paris will be a total waste.
(did anyone mention street-side crépes??)
Travelnut is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 07:36 PM
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No matter where you eat meals, be sure to stop into at least on pastry shop each day for something great. I suggest an "Opera."
AJPeabody is online now  
Aug 3rd, 2004, 08:19 AM
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ira is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2004, 12:36 PM
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What is an "Opera?"
by350 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2004, 02:12 PM
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Multi-layered cake w/ coffee/chocolate creme
Travelnut is offline  
Aug 5th, 2004, 01:50 PM
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by350 is offline  
Aug 5th, 2004, 02:06 PM
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I found that with all the walking in Paris, I was able to enjoy croissants for breakfast, big lunches , a pain au chocolate or crepe for a late afternoon tea then a late and delicious dinner, all without gaining weight!
My favorite lunches were salads that I had never had before, beets and mache with champagne dressing, greens with smoked salmon on top, or the lightest fluffiest omelets with that good bread and always everything with wine!
You can get anything you want in Paris, menus are mostly the same as a city restaurant would be..but all the ingredients seem to be fresher and tastier than usual. Chicken is very good in Paris (more chicken-y)
Vegetables are always good.
Cheese courses are a dream and I can go on forever about Tarte Tatin or Mousse chocolate or any gateau you wish
You will come home and try to duplicate your meals to hang on to that French-ness as long as you can~
Have a wonderful time, you are in for a Big Treat~
Scarlett is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 09:14 PM
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The best food I had in France was:

1. the first night at a restaurant in Paris where I experienced a goat cheese DIE for! I've tried to duplicate it and I'm not even coming close!

2. We stayed at a B&B in Provence where the owners were French (husband) and Belgian (wife). She made all the meals and it was the best food of the whole trip.

wlzmatilida is offline  
Aug 7th, 2004, 05:35 AM
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I think it's hard to find a really bad meal in Paris. You might want to check out Zagat's Paris guide for some suggestions. Meals, particularly at some of the well known gourmand restaurants, can be very expensive. We ate lunch at Lucas Carton a few years ago and for about $100 per person (sounds like a lot but compared to dinner prices it was cheap) we had one of the most incredible meals ever. We also ate at Le Duvilec for lobster and though it was excellent, it was a little stuffy for our tastes.

If you're really into food, two weeks ago when we were in Paris, we took a cooking demonstration class at Le Cordon Bleu. Although most of the class was made up of cooking students, they welcomed our family of four (11 and 13 year old included)and at the end of the demonstration we got to eat what was cooked--tournedoes, pommes frites, frozen mocha parfait, artichoke bottoms with bernaise, and leek and cheese tart. Fantastic. The class was in French with an English interpreter.

Finally, you can get some excellent Vietnamese food in Paris as well as North African. Sometimes it's nice to take a break from French food and it's not as expensive. Happy eating!
lisaneworleans is offline  
Aug 7th, 2004, 04:40 PM
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I'm no gourmet but we did go to some nice small restaurants and many of them had a slate on the wall where they listed the specials of the day, which were not on the menu. I got in the habit of ordering these specials and never had one that was not delicious. I suspect the chef goes to the market each day and picks up what is best, and that goes onto the specials board.

We never had time for more than a quick bite at lunch, but the small sandwiches that were almost everywhere were always good, especially with a glass of wine.
clevelandbrown is offline  

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