A Food Lover’s Guide to Paris
I’ve been procrastinating on finalizing today’s post for a few days. I feel like by sharing my final page of my honeymoon travel diary, I am closing the book on the experience. I just want to keep reliving all the magical moments. I guess flipping through all my photo books and re-reading these posts will have to do!
The romantic, gorgeous, and very delicious city of Paris was our final destination on our honeymoon (Click on these links to see read about all our other stops in Lake Como, St. Jean Cap Ferrat, and Menerbes). It felt only fitting to pay homage to a city that prides itself on degustation with a food focused post. While I would venture to say it’s hard to have a bad meal in Paris, this would not be a fair and accurate statement. We personally only had one bad meal our entire trip and it happened to be in Paris. However, I’ll chock up the reason to not being carefully pre-planned or researched like many of our other culinary adventures were. This restaurant serving up flavorless French onion soup and embarrassing croque monsieurs was also stationed right near a major landmark. It was clearly a tourist trap (Piece of advice #1, stay away from the landmarks for your meals!). We knew better than this but we were too hungry to care at the time. We ultimately went home disappointed and unsatisfied.
Rather than make a tourist mistake like I did, use my list of food-lover experiences in Paris. These places are sure to excite your taste buds and leave you daydreaming months after the fact (like I am right about now…).
- Order a Falafel sandwich at L’as Du Fallafel and go eat it in a park! Justin and I were lucky enough to have a member of extended family who not only grew up in Paris but is also currently a city tour guide. We were given full scale “local-style” tours around the city and Versailles. During our rendezvous to and through all his favorite landmarks, neighborhoods, and museums we made a stop for lunch. We were brought to street in the Marais district (4th arrondissement) that was lined with Middle Eastern food windows touting their kabobs, falafel, and schawarma. It may come as a surprise to some of you that Middle Eastern food is kind of a staple in parts of Paris. Our guide informed us that there is much discussion and controversy around who truly sells the best falafel sandwich (Similar to how prideful New Yorkers are about their favorite pizza joint). In his opinion L’as du Fallafel was the only way to go. It had a long winding line but there was an efficiency to the wait. Servers took your order before reaching the window and only your toppings were tossed on in a blur of hand activity at the counter. The pickled vegetables and the red tomato hot sauce are what truly set the meal apart. Pairing these with the crunchy chickpea fritters and cool tahini it is a stellar combination. Sorry in advance for no pictures, I polished my sandwich off too quickly and without thinking!!! Forks are necessary as is a short nap on a park bench afterwards! https://www.yelp.com/biz/l-as-du-fallafel-paris
- Go to Frenchie for a no menu meal – Frenchie Restaurant (2nd arrondissement) is a very small eatery that is known for a great wine list and it’s no menu style service. The restaurant operates on a pre-fixe menu (5 courses) for all diners. The waitstaff kindly asks for any dislikes or allergies and once that’s complete that evening’s courses begin. The food is seasonal, fresh, and inventive. It can be described as modern cuisine with classic French undertones. Every course was delectable and the wine pairings were impeccable. A reservation is a MUST for this 6 table storefront but, it’s worth the plan-ahead! http://www.frenchie-restaurant.com/en
- Stock up on Macaron’s at Pierre Herme – Another suggestion from our family tour guide was Pierre Hermes for macarons. It’s another popularly contested dessert around the city. Every bakery claims theirs is best and every local has their favorite shop. I like to go on recommendations so when our family friend said that Pierre Hermes is his arguable favorite I had to try them for myself. He also went on to let us know that Pierre Herme is like a true artist with unique flavors and mastery for the cookie’s consistency. While I didn’t do as much comparing as I would have liked, there is no argument that these macarons are high quality. http://www.pierreherme.com/
- Go to Chez Denise for escargot and house wine (the steaks are pretty good too!)- Chez Denise (1st arrondisement) is an old-school French bistro where you share table space with neighbors and the décor is no-frills with checkered tablecloths and only chalkboard menu (all in French) for selections. The restaurant utilizes every space in the small eatery to pack in patrons looking to enjoy French classics like escargot, duck magret, and cassoulet. It’s very un-pretentious with a decent mix of locals and tourists. The food is authentic and the experience is classic. If you order wine with your meal you will get a large bottle of their house wine, the only option they have. It pairs greatly with the homestyle classics the kitchen spits out. I wouldn’t call the food a perfect ten but the atmosphere make the overall package of the evening an A plus. https://www.yelp.com/biz/la-tour-de-montlh%C3%A9ry-ou-chez-denise-paris-2
- Have a drink at the Saint James Hotel and spring for the Cheese Trolley- We stayed at this ritzy chateau hotel for our honeymoon. The historic exterior is offset with themed rooms, a very trendy and downright funky lobby area, a hot air balloon inspired back patio, and a beauty and the beast worthy library bar. We spent every night sinking into the leather lounge chairs in the bar with an end of night cocktail. It has a posh ambiance but a truly comfortable setting . Save this stop for a romantic date night, its not a group of friends type of outing. Splurge on a glass of champagne and request the cheese trolley that serves up some of the best Comté you’ll ever indulge in alongside plenty of chevre and brie. Don’t even get me started on the fruit preserves they come along with! My suggestion would be to have a light meal elsewhere and end your night here. It’s pricey but worth the extravagance.
Pictured Above: Escargot from Chez Denise, Cheese Trolley Selections from Saint James, Steak and Shallots from Chez Denise, Wine from Chez Denise, Fois Gras from Frenchie, Eggplant appetizer from Frenchie, Macarons from Pierre Hermes, Me and the Husband in Saint James Library Bar
Before I sign off on Paris here a few more tips to remember for dining out:
- Making a reservation for dinner is preferred and respected in Paris
- Eat on locals time. Parisians don’t typically go to dinner until at least 8PM. Most of our reservations were 9PM or later for the trip.
- Tipping is a nicety but not a given. The French (as our family friend shared) don’t expect anything unless it is earned and a small (5%) tip is satisfactory, unlike the expected 18-20% we are used to in the USA. Their service is built into their base pay.
- Make an effort to say key words (hello, goodbye, please and thank you) in French. It will take you far. We did not have one unpleasant experience as tourists. Not one person was rude or unhelpful. But, we always went out of our way to try and (attempt to) speak the language when possible.
That’s all I have for you. Bon Appetit!
…all for the love of the Dish