Paris Restaurants

les frites

I’m just finishing up my Paris Chocolate Tours with guests this week and we’ve had a terrific time visiting everywhere from Rungis market to watching the talented confectioners at Fouquet work their sweet magic.

Because several folks were spending a couple extra days in Paris, I made up a list of some places to eat they might enjoy, that aren’t stuffy or too-expensive, but places I like very much for a variety of reasons. So I thought I’d share the list here as well.



Chez Dumonet
117, rue Cherche-Midi (6th)
01 45 48 52 40

Great classic French food—and huge portions! Order the crisp duck confit and the Grand Marnier soufflé for dessert. One of the few remaining classic French bistros that maintains high quality standards. Although dishes are huge, half orders are available.


Bellotta-Bellota
18, rue Jean Nicot (7th)

Wonderful Spanish hams including the Jambon Ibérique Pata Negra, the black-footed pigs of Spain, the dine on wild acorns. The ham is sublime and goes great with the other Spanish appetizers they serve at this casual restaurant. Do try lomo, the tenderloin of the pig, and the pickled garlic, which is nutty and crisp.



Les Cocottes
135, rue Saint-Dominique (7th)
01 45 50 10 31

This casual hot spot doesn’t take reservations, but the hearty food served in Staub casseroles is worth the wait. Of course, prime dining times are when it’s the most crowded so try to go in off hours.


Da Rosa
62, rue de Seine (6th)
01 45 21 41 30

I am transfixed on their lovely raisins in Sauternes, but the Pimandes, almonds dusted with spicy pimente d’Espelette, are a favorite treat as well. Good place for ‘grazing’ menu, which include four types of Spanish ham, plus you can have Grom gelato from across the street afterward. What’s not to like?


Le Timbre
3, rue st Beuve (6th)
01 45 49 10 40

Every time I eat at Le Timbre, I wonder why I don’t eat at this petit restaurant more often. It’s very small (hence the name, which means “the stamp”) and features very fresh food. Last time I ate there, a French gastronomy club had taken over the restaurant for lunch and were enjoying themselves immensely. And so was I.


Ma Bourgogne
19, place des Vosges (4th)
01 42 78 44 64

On corner of historic place in the Marais. Order the €35 multi choice menu; the steak frites are reliable, as are the foie gras and bleu cheese salads. The key word is ‘reliable’ and the food, and service, get mixed reviews. However the steak tartare here is deservedly popular, as is the glace Bertillon for dessert. A good address since they’re open every day of the week, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Service is classic French; no reservations or credit cards.


Bistro Paul Bert
18, rue Paul Bert (11th)
01 43 72 24 01

Very good small bistro which has gotten popular in the last few years due to lots of American press. Excellent desserts, including a huge Paris-Brest; a ring of pastry filled with hazelnut-praline cream, which I’m sure no one has ever been able to finish on their own. But it’s hard to go wrong with anything here. You can order from the fixed price menu or split a Côte de Boeuf (steak for two, which they will not cook further than medium-rare), which includes house made frites.
Le Louchébem
31, rue Berger (1st)
01 42 33 12 99

In Les Halles, a classic old-fashioned steak place. The food is standard French, ie: no surprises, but this rôtisserie is fun and lively. Outdoor seating. (Which often means smoking tables next to you.) But if you want to sit amongst French people tearing into rare steaks, this is the place.


A la Biche au Bois
45, avenue Ledru-Rollin (12th)
01 43 43 34 38

Terrific bustling place with honest French fare. Order off the pre-fixe €25+ menu, and be sure to get frites. In the winter, game appears frequently on the menu, served in chipped casseroles, with plenty of rich, meaty sauce.


Chez Denise/Tour de Montlhéry
5, rue des Prouvaires (1st)
01 42 36 21 82

Open 24/7 (closed on weekends) this very old restaurants has copious portions of food. Go hungry. I recommend the brochettes d’onglet (beef) and the cool house Brouilly poured into bottles from the cask resting on the bar. I take guests here for the classic Parisian bistro experience.


Josselin
67, rue Montparnasse (14th)
01 43 20 93 50

A popular crêperie—and lots of fun. Be sure to order a pitcher of cider, which is normally drank from bowls. If this one is too crowded, try their petit branch at 59, rue Montparnasse. Order the ‘complete’, with ham, cheese, and a sunny-side up egg. And if you like buckwheat, order a ‘galette’ (crêpes are made with white flour and those made with buckwheat are called ‘galettes’). Their lunch special for €10 includes a lunch and dessert crêpe, plus a beverage.


Le Verre Volé
67, rue Lancry (11th)
01 48 03 17 34

This tiny wine bar has great food, up by the Canal St Martin, a very hip neighborhood. Generous plates of charcuterie and etc, in this tight little wine bar. A recent remodel has expanded the facilities of the kitchen. Diners choose a bottle from those on the wall and pay a €7 supplement, or pick from their chalkboard list. Can be hectic at times, especially on weekends.


(All restaurants, except Josselin and Ma Bourgoune, require reservations. Places like Paul Bert are very popular any reservations may need to be made a few days in advance.)


On a Side Note:

I’d never heard of a shop that required ‘pre-authorization’ to purchase something from them. But leave it to Ladurée take the cake, so to speak. I always begin my Paris Chocolate Tours at Ladurée, because of their historical significance and guests are always interested in their famous macarons. They have a no-photo policy indoors, which I respect because they’re a private establishment and have the right to decide what they allow in their shop. Yet last year, one of my guests took from picture outside, of their decorated window, and a salesclerk raced over, wagging her finger, and mouthing the words, “Non!” So I found out the no-photo rule extends to the sidewalks and streets outside.

It’s likely a company policy and one can’t fault employees for doing what they’re told, but I found it extremely odd that a shop would shoo someone away in a public space for doing what, I believe, is completely legal and benign.

Before I go in to a shop, I stay outside with guests because it’s best to give them any information and my shopping tips outside, so as not to disturb the other customers and because shops are busy doing business and I don’t want to interfere. So when we enter a shop, such as Ladurée, I advise folks not only about their no-photo policy, but also how to best to make their purchases so that we’re not holding up the rest of the clients. (I once had a salesperson give me a nice box of macarons for being so helpful, which was a lovely gesture, and the host of the restaurant when I started leading tours would always give me a taste of a new macaron to try.)

So I was startled this week when we walked in to Ladurée, and the saleswoman told us that we could not come in without ‘pre-authorization’. I’ve been in that store perhaps two hundred times with guests, without any problem whatsoever, so was stunned to be told that we weren’t permitted to visit. I can understand if I had fifty people with me, but we travel in a small group and not one other bakery, candy, or confectionery shop we visited ever has a problem with us. And in fact, they were all incredibly welcoming, including Pierre Hermé, Patrick Roger, and John-Charles Rochoux.

I wrote Ladurée a letter expressing my dismay (a French friend said when I recounted the story, “That’s the French for you..and they won’t do anything”) but something in me refuses to believe that a solid company that was proud of what they offer would be so unwelcoming to visitors. It’s truly sad when one of the great classic pastry shops of Paris discourages customers and guests.

I’m not sure what this new policy means for Ladurée, and I do hope they respond because I would like to feel welcome in their shop and continue to advise readers to go in there. But at this point, I’ve crossed Ladurée off my list. -David


Related Links

Paris Favorites

Where to Get Great Steak Frites in Paris

Romantic Restaurants in Paris

Paris Restaurants Archives

Restaurant Write-Up Policy

Sunday Dining in Paris

The Best Crêperies in Paris

Two Great Dining Guides to Paris

Paris Restaurant Translation Guide

101 comments

  • AAAAAAARGH! Am I the first one? Fingers crossed!

  • And the second one?

    Just got hold of ‘Ready for Desserts’. So looking forward to it!

  • So disappointing about Laduree! I was there last year and took pics outside and inside the tearoom and nobody said anything….Fingers crossed that they respond to you with a sincere apology!

  • Kristin: They do have a pretty firm no-photo policy, which I respect. But so bizarre not to let someone take a picture of their shop window. I wonder if they post guards there after-hours, when the store is closed, so they can remain vigilant : 0

  • That’s such a shame about Laduree! To be honest, I was incredibly disappointed with the patisserie treat I tried from them earlier this year (it was, in fact, my first such treat in Paris in my life, so was exponentially more disappointing for that reason). I think I’ll stick with some of the other places you’ve raved about on this blog, then, the next time I return to Paris. Whenever that is. (Darn this poverty-stricken PhD student life…)

  • Hi David,
    I have a question. Are the demonstrations against austerity measures affecting tourism in the city?
    BTW, I loved your posts on your travels to Ireland.You are blessed in the art of “savoir-vivre”!!

  • I was just in Laduree at the beginning of September and did not have any problems buying or photographing macarons. That is disheartening.

  • Very odd that you would be targeted despite the fact that you bring them a lot of business and are generally favourable about them.

    I prefer Pierre Herme anyway…

  • I’m happy to have this current list of recommendations, and extremely interested to hear the reply from Laduree. That’s a disappointing situation.

  • Oh no, such a shame about Laduree. Though I have to say that we’re deserted it in favour of the rosiers at Strohrer – every time I eat one of those I feel like I’ve died and gone to cake heaven.

  • I’ve eaten in many of the places you mention and I’m trying to get a reservation for one of them this weekend (I’m not saying which one…don’t want to ruin my chances!) Even though I have my favorites, I mainly prefer to try new places. The latest US food and travel magazine recommendations often unfavorably change the dynamic of many restaurants unless they are tried and true. Even then, dining experiences are varied and personal. Thanks for the addition of your choices to my list, they are most welcome! And it is always reaffirming to see many of the same names come up.

    Sorry about your Lauderee experience, it does sound odd. I hope they respond to your letter. Please keep us posted.

  • Not suprised by Laduree … they seem to be slipping from the hype you expect them to live up to … I was there in June and after being seated it took donkeys years to be served then, after ordering a mint tea the waiter proceeded to pour it ‘Moroccan style’ from a metre above the cup … it could have been theatrical had any of the tea actually made it into the cup. Not quite the finesse you’d expect from the exterior … I’ll be eating macarons elsewhere from now on!
    They did however let us take some photos … the waiter even offered to take one for us! Who knows what’s going on?

  • That’s interesting about the windows because I regularly see recent photos of Laduree’s front windows in the blogosphere. But I can certainly understand that the they are trying to protect their brand. I think Laduree is in serious jeapardy of becoming a tourist destination and then falling to the wayside.

    P.S. Just finished “Sweet Life” and loved it!

  • Ridiculous of Ladurée, but maybe they just want to be notified in advance of groups as the shop is not that big?
    Anyway. Plenty of other macarons in Paris.

    Noting down some of those addresses for next visits.

  • The macarons at Carette are better anyway…at least the salted caramel ones, since they’re the only flavor I eat!!

  • When I brunched at Laduree once this summer, I took a few photos and no one said anything. That said, I think that Laduree is way over-hyped and that there are much better patisseries in Paris. Glad to see that you’ve included links to some of them, ones which apparently treat their customers and visitors with more respect!

  • My in-laws are over there now so I’ll be sending them the link to this post! Thanks David!

  • Hmmm odd about Laduree. I was there last week and had my photo taken in front of the shop. I wasn’t sure about picture taking inside, so didn’t even try it.

  • Only in France would a customer service representative shoo or turn customers away!! I have gotten used to it, but it does make you want to sccream at the top of your lungs. Sadly, Laduree has the best macarons in Paris and they are also the ones who first put two of the cookies together with buttercream inside….so you just have to put up with it if you want the original Parisian macaron. The good thing is that there are plenty of other locations so you could develop a relationship with one of those shops maybe? I go to the Champs Elysees locataion at least once a month and have always received excellent service. When I have my children with me, the macaron handlers often give each one a macaron to taste. And in their defense….they probably have had some bad experiences with American tour groups. Not yours, but imagine the others :)

    Thanks for a refreshed restaurant list too. I could not agree more about Le Timbre!

  • So interesting that they allow some people to take photos (judging by the comments here) and forbid others. I have no problem with a policy of not allowing photos for whatever reason the store decides (after all, it is private property). But odd that they’re so inconsistent in enforcement.

    Oddly, I was recently interviewed by someone who said that she was working on compiling information about Paris pastry shops and she questioned people exiting Ladurée about how they found out about it, and about half reported it was recommended here on the blog. I’m always happy to point readers to addresses in Paris (and elsewhere) that I think they’ll like, and I don’t like saying anything overtly negative about a particular business on the site. So I do hope they respond and if so, I’ll report back.

    (Which is why when I compile a list of restaurants, such as this, I want to be pretty sure that if readers do go go them, they’ll have a positive experience.)

    Natalie: I wondered about that. But I’ve been bringing it people for years and it seems odd to impose it at this point. Plus the woman wasn’t very gracious about it. If it is a new policy, the shop manager could have talked to me and given a contact person for future trips to the store. In fact, I’d be happy to give them advance notice if they wanted to provide someone in their company to oversee & handle future visits.

  • Thank you so much for the restaurant recommendations! My husband (of 3 weeks!) and I just moved into a flat on Bd du Montparnasse street for the next month! We are from San Francisco (I own a healthy meal delivery service there) and we decided to spend our honeymoon by taking a one month (or maybe more fingers crossed) trip to Paris!

    We were in Rome last week and had the gelato at Fatamorgana, and this afternoon we had the pain aux cereales at Kayser Bakery. All of your suggestions so far have been spot on! I am going to scour your blog for even more suggestions.

    Also, do you know when your next tour around Paris would be?? We are both very interested in signing up.

    thank you!!
    kat

  • Go for macarons at Pain de Sucre, they’re so good there !
    And you would have plenty of other desserts too !
    No seating since it’s just a shop, but take the macaron box for later, you’ll be amazed :)

  • Just jotted a few of your favorites down, did you? Was this extensive and glorious list on the back of an envelope, perchance? The Gettysburg Address should be so mouth-watering! I had hoped to go on this chocolate tour, not that chocolate is my highest desire nor that I could possibly make the guest list quickly enough on ANY of your outings since you are so sought after, however, I had a more pressing engagement. “Pressing” here being a pun since my engagement consisted of wading through the mud of a shale quarry hundreds of thousands of years old in search of fossils. Cool thing to be thrown over for, eh? Thanks for the “must eat” list. Laduree, who?

  • Thanks for your list of restaurants which a saved at once. I guess that Landuree has an urgent need for bad publicity. There is no other reason which could explain such customer-unfriendly behaviour.

  • I’ll keep this restaurant list for my next visit. So sad about LaDuree and turning away the group. Actually, I was there in August and took pictures of their windows, from outside, at the locations near Place de la Concorde and on Rue Bonaparte. No one came out to yell at me. They may have been too busy to notice me, but it was August. I am painfully aware of their no-photo inside policy–having been caught in the act many times. For me, their customer friendliness has always been a bit lacking and/or abrupt. Compared to my previous visits to La Duree, this time I noticed both a drop-off in quality of service (much confusion and sloppiness of service) and in the quality of the desserts (they weren’t as perfectly put together as before). I had chalked it up to it being August, but now I’m not sure.

  • I agree. So many better places to experience in Paris. I never bothered with them even when I lived there. The thing Ladurée does best, it seems, is to perpetuate the rude-arrogant-Frenchman stereotype. Mmmm, no thanks.

  • Thank you, David. I will be in Paris for a few days at the end of Oct and have planned my visit according to the many wonderful suggestions and write-ups on your blog here.
    Am I ever ready to enjoy Paris! Too bad about Laduree! Anyways, you have many other recommendations so I will take advantage of them and leave Laduree for another visit (or never) since quality control seems to have gone out the window when it comes to service and also products from some of the comments above.

  • Hi David,
    A slightly unrelated question–just made your signature ginger cake from Ready for Dessert, and the ingredient list calls for 4oz ginger peeled and trimmed–does that mean 4oz before trimming or after? Clearly, a little extra ginger could never hurt, so I did the latter, but I was curious.
    Thanks.

    Ingredient lists are considered similar to shopping lists, so it’s a 4 ounce pieces of ginger, unpeeled weight. There is very little weight in the skin of them amount of ginger, so it’s not a big issue. -dl

  • I’m sorry, Laduree. You are AUF!

    Ooops, excuse me. I’m mixing up my realities.

  • I just got back Paris 2 days ago, and went into La Grande Epicerie at Au Bon Marché, and snuck a picture on my phone of the cakes and madeleines there – and immediately a woman approached me (not with a wagging finger, but a wagging tongue) and told me that “C’est interdit!” and I apologized profusely and told her that I just wanted to show the folks back home the beauty of their cakes and the “grosse taille” of their madeleines and then she softened up a bit and I told her I wouldn’t take any more pictures, but then we started chatting and she ended up giving me a macaron to taste. So French!? But your story is sad and I don’t want to go to Ladurée anymore either unless they send you a huge apology and big box of free macarons to boot!

  • Ah, the Great “No, no, no, Daveed!” Incident of 2009; I remember it well. This time were you at the same location where we got in trouble for window photos last year (the Bonaparte shop)? I wonder how much of it has to do with the individual store vs. the parent company. I hope you get a response (and a gracious one at that). Until then I’ll be skipping Laduree and asking my friends to do the same.

  • We have stopped going to Laduree as well – only because our children (who only ask for their macaroons as gifts when we visit) were treated very rudely there when we wanted to have a quiet lunch (off peak hours) in their tea room. This may be a French tradition, but there are so many other lovely places to eat pastry where kindness is the rule, that it’s not one I can support! Hope you get a well deserved reply soon.

  • Thank you for sharing a list of recommended restaurants! Hubby and I are heading out to Paris in the end of Oct/Nov to sightsee but mostly do a food-eating tour of the city. Between you, Dorie Greenspan and Alexander Lobrano, our days are filling with places to eat, and should sign up for a spring marathon run!

    Are you doing any tours in October or November? Any recommendations on cooking courses, bread courses. I know about Paule’s Kitchen and considering the macaron class.

    Too bad about Laduree..will have to try other patisseries.

    “Sweet Life” is on my bedside table….enjoying the read!

  • First, I LOVE your blog! I would move to Paris TOMORROW if the opportunity was presented. There isn’t anything about it I don’t love, even if there are things I don’t like. I am sure you know what I mean!

    Have you ever been to Le Petit Zinc in Ste. Germain de Pres? It is a total gem! We have been there many many times over the past 30+ years (but sadly not in about 12) and it never disappointed. Their Bouillabaisse is probably the best I have ever had and I swear to this day that it cured my airplane-given cold. The frites are not of this world and the potted mushrooms were beyond delicious! I most sincerely hope that they are still there and that their offerings are still transcendent……if you are over there you may want to pop in. (Go all the way to the back of the courtyard in front of the church, at the bistro go left and follow to the corner; it’s there on your right.)

  • Thank you for this! We’ll be in Paris in Nov. and are clueless as to where to eat.
    Have a lot more research to do via your blog. Merci!

  • My oh my. Have been to Josephine Chez Dumonet and Biche au Bois at your recommendation, and you didn’t praise them nearly highly enough. Two wonderful places. Chez Denise was first recommended to us by a French native here in Atlanta, so he gets credit rather than you. We love the food, but the fun atmosphere and opportunity to meet your neighbors–who are sitting in your lap–makes this an absolutely unique experience. We should be in Paris again next spring and will try more of your choices. Thank you for the great webblog!

  • Laduree is supposed to be opening up a shop in New York in 2011 on Madison Ave.
    Can you even imagine what a zoo it will be?
    The no photos rule will be OUT in NYC.
    Amazing how a brand with such a feminine, rather delicate look to it can be so unfriendly and totally lacking in French politesse.

  • I’m incensed. That’s 2 issues really: 1) the bad judgement of a rude employee, and 2) an bad new policy.

    The rude employee should have framed the news of the policy change as an apology, with the understanding that the new policy would apply beginning on your next visit. Instead, she committed a humdinger of a customer service error! I can’t believe she was told to handle the situation as she did. A single rude act of that magnitude outweighs a thousand courtesies, and results in permanently lost custom.

    The new policy makes me wonder if they may be experiencing staffing difficulty (perhaps of their own making), and are less able than previously to cope with sudden cafe/till rushes. If so, I question the wisdom of instituting a bad policy to adapt to ongoing staffing problems, rather than solving the root problem. In any case, being slow is better than being rude and having no customers.

    The worst of it is, that they made you feel like the problem, when really you are doing them a HUGE favour. I think you are entitled to at least a modicum of SINCERE grovelling and a LOT of free stuff.

  • Hmm … has West Country Girl been trumped by Josselin? Menu sounds the same. We went to WCG at your recommendation, then made it a regular spot for our half year in Paris. We loved the owners and the friendliness of the place, and many of the waitresses were from other countries and spoke English while perfecting their French. It was a great place, and I hope it’s still open and still on your list.

  • I had a simular experience as Claire did at the Bon Marche (pas groupe) – in the chocolat department. I prefer Pierre Herme anyway…I can just taste the pasion fruit and chocolat one now :-)

  • I had tea at Laduree just last month – once in their St Germain des Pres location and another on Rue Royale – and took photos (lots of them) inside the premises, not only of the food & desserts I ordered but also some shots of their boutique. I was just very fortunate, I guess?
    Anyway, I haven’t had any problems taking photos in restaurants or food stores here in America but must remind myself to always ask for permission when I was in Paris. Bizarre….

  • Oh wow I got lucky. I didn’t realize there was a no-photo policy. End of July I was at the Rue Royale shop and took some window pictures without any problem. Then in August I was at the Champs Elysees shop and took a few inside. Maybe the staff didn’t have time to notice because it was peak tourist season and really crowded.

  • The rumor I heard this summer in Paris was that Laduree has stopped making their macarons by hand – now machines apparently spit them out? Have you heard this? I do think the quality has slipped & my son won’t forgive them for substituting all kinds of combinations for the classic macaron au petal de rose…

    Excited about your list of restaurants – gives me a little more impetus to organize a trip to Paris this fall. And a question – where/when do you list your tours?

  • Just read an article in the Delta Sky Magazine that praised Laduree and that they serve 2000 patrons a day. It is pretty shameful that they turned a small group away . We did your market walk and every time we return to Paris we spend money at those vendors. I hope you get an apology. As a business owner in a tough economy I want to spend my money at places that appreciate my business and treat me with respect. Laduree is off my list on my visit this December.

  • Unless I’m missing it in the blog and comments, it’s not clear which Laduree you were attempting to visit. Since opening on the Champs (which is now a good while ago), the whole operation (but especially there) has seemed so much more commercial than the days when Laduree meant to most people only the shop/tea room on rue Royale, and even it was hidden away as a much as a place could be on that grand thoroughfare. I’ve been so put off on recent visits that I hope your note has gone, or is going, viral in the foodie world. Let us eat cake, indeed — just elsewhere.

  • David..Laduree is now off-limits for me, too. My dear friend who is a French chef says this is pretty ridiculous.

  • That had to be terribly embarrassing for you to have a Laudree sales associate cite you about the alledged new policy in front of your group of visitors. It would have been difficult enough if she had taken you aside to tell you, so you could have at least collected your wits to explain it away and go with a plan B. I do hope they write back to explain the reason for this new policy and how to go about scheduling appointments for groups in the future…if they write back, as your friend fears they might not. Not very hospitable for a place that’s been famous and accommodating for so many years.

    I would still like to visit Laudree when I go to Paris. If I do, I’ll let them know you had once recommended them via your Paris web site. Maybe if they hear your name often enough,..?

  • I wrote Laduree off of my list when I took my mom there…we bought some macarons, and were treated as though we had greatly obstructed their day by requesting that they leave the lofty perches of their high horse to actually let us give them money in return for the precious scraps of the manna of gods that we left with.

    When a company deigns themselves as too good to be bothered with the likes of me, I’m only too happy to go along with it.

  • Frankly my fuse would have blown at the point when the sales clerk told me I was not allowed to take a photograph from the street! From reading your blog, you always seem incredibly polite and patient – even with your readers queries (I once saw one where the reader was allergic to something ridiculous like flour and asked that you clearly mark when your recipe contain flour at the beginning of the recipe).
    I love Paris and lived in Paris for about 4 years. But I find that sometimes some Parisians only respond to the rudeness that they themselves dish out. Sad but true.

  • I have taken college students around the pastry and chocolate shops of Paris with good results (once I’ve made them understand, as David has taught us, that a chocolate shop should be treated as something between church and Tiffany’s). The students, properly awed, asked politely if they might take pictures, what kind of chocolate the shopkeepers recommended, etc. At La Maison du Chocolat, one student was even allowed to have her picture taken with the saleswoman! All this to say that we were treated with a great deal of kindness and courtesy–except at Ladurée. Oh, well.
    But I have to say–I was at an American mall with some Japanese students who were taking pictures of a Victoria’s Secret store. (Don’t ask) They were also shooed away–”company policy.” Who knew?

  • I just took photos of Ladurée… from outside, and not up close. Almost ALL the shops in Honfleur dis-allow photos of their windows. But I don’t understand their policy of pre-authorization for shopping, except for big groups, which you say you weren’t. (And I do small groups, like you.) They’re just getting too big for their britches.

  • Foodie in Berlin: As you know, it’s important in any country (but possibly more so in France) to adapt to local customers and culture. So I’m always very aware of my behavior in shops, as well as my guests. I believe that we shouldn’t negatively impact a place of business when we go in, which means not interrupting their flow of business and more important, appreciating what the shop keepers do.

    But as you know, sometimes they just come up with arbitrary rules around here, for no reason other than to be vexing or to assert their position.

    Cragg: It was the shop on rue Bonaparte.

    Jenny: Chocolate shops and pastry places are proud of their foods and I always tell folks to first appreciate something, then take a picture of it, if allowed. When I worked in a chocolate shop here, sometimes people would pop in the door, barely say hello, then take a few pictures and leave. It was somewhat disconcerting. I know some shops in the states are now cracking down on photo-taking the same reason.

    Jennifer & Claire: I know that Bon Marché has a no-photo policy and I’m fine with that, and always tell guests not to take pictures in there. Oddly, I did once by sheer accident: I saw something that looked great and took out my small camera. Of course, the security man came over to tell me about my error, and I apologized.

    Ursula: I forgot you were with that group : ) Yes, that was so odd getting tsk-tsk’d for taking a photo OUTSIDE. Ooof…

    Cyndy: I still love West Country Girl (which I listed at the end of the post in the Crêperie round-up), but since my guests were staying in the 7th, I was recommending places for the most part, that were easy to get to from where they were. But thanks for the reminder to go back to WCG!

  • I live part-time in the South of France and have noticed that a number of small art galleries have those “no photography” signs on their windows…(and they mean of their window display) And in Paris I was scolded for taking a photo of the Maud Frizon shoe shop — from the exterior. This seems to be a growing trend….. and I may have to personally do some research in these stores to find out their thinking… and I will report back to you and your readers.

  • I go to Josselin often and ask for the galette with smoked salmon and cream, and cider to drink. Love moules marinieres et frites at Leon de Bruxelles.
    It’s too bad you don’t like tete de veau sauce gribiche, then i’d ask you to check Chez Marcel in Montparnasse. I haven’t been but i’m wanting to go.
    Thanks for the list and blog David!

  • David – thank you so much for the list! We are visiting Paris later this year and very much appreciate the tips. We’ve been to da Rosa before and love it.

    I have also been to Laduree before and was quite disheartened to hear your latest account. No matter how good the food, rude treatment will always color my perception of a place and keep me away. And it seems particularly odd that they would target someone who is actually bringing them business?

  • Ladurée’s been off my list for a long time, mainly because I found their réligieuse so supremely disappointing. Besides, there are many better, cheaper, and less crowded pâtisseries in Paris! :)

  • The way Laduree behaves is unconscionable
    Striking them off my list too.

  • Thanks for the restaurant reccomendations in the 7th! We have some very nice places down in our quiet little neighborhood, but no one seems to notice… For a slightly more upscale – but not over the top – place, give La Clarisse (rue Surcouf) a try.
    I’d love to do one of your tours, just to go to Rungis. All those years of buying fish in the US, I suppose. Can’t help it…

  • As a shopkeeper/owner (not in France), I can tell you that there is possibly nothing more frustrating than a person coming in, not even returning a polite greeting, and then proceeding to snap pictures of nearly everything in the shop without even asking permission and then leaving… (you’re welcome!!)

    For some people there seems to be a strange sense of self-entitlement these days when it comes to photography in shops and restaurants … so I fully understand a “no photos” policy.

    That being said, taking photos from the street is totally okay (as long as you’re not standing a tripod or yourself on my window sill) and asking permission for inside photos usually gets a positive response more often than not.

  • The no-photo rule applies to some establishments in Manhattan too—it’s a private space
    and when/if a tourist group enters the chance for chaos is almost certain. But, not allowing a group in sounds very strange. Not impressed.

  • les Françaises! Actually you were always very understandable with their cultural,”sometimes rude” approach for customers. Now even you are disappointed. What’s wrong with French people i really do not understand!

  • beste: The good news it that it’s not all French businesses. In fact, as mentioned all the other places we go to everyone is really great and welcoming. Unfortunately some places are entrenched in the way they do business or are no longer family-owned and in this instance perhaps corporate interests and decisions have taken over. Luckily there’s lots of other places to go!

    steven: There is that ‘customer is king’ mentality, which doesn’t extend to France, but is alive in other places and certain people do take advantage of it, unfortunately. I think people in shops and restaurants, most notably small businesses, have to think about how they are impacting the business when they take photos or whatever. Which is why I really make the effort to explain to guests (outside, where it calmer) before we go in so folks realize how special the place really is.

    Rose: That’s one of the paradoxes in France; often they do things that aren’t in the best interest of their business in the long term. (It’s, of course, true in other countries as well.) But like putting in pricey paid restrooms in the department stores (Printemps) and commercial centers (Carrousel du Louvre), these kinds of actions makes Paris a less-welcoming place for tourists and visitors. (Last time I was at a department store, it seemed odd to pay €3.50 for a cup of coffee then another €1.50 to use the restroom.) Even though they may be profitable now, these kinds of things leave a negative impression of the city in the long-term.

  • The Ladurée story shatters another Parisian Romance and confirms that I was lucky to end up in Italy and not France. The only time one of your post has left a sour taste!
    Thank you I always enjoy your posts

  • We just got back from a wonderful week in Paris, and our apt was a block away from Laduree. Scaffolding all over, lines out the door, and I finally went in the nt before we left to go home to NY (took a pic and no one scolded me……they didn’t see me I guess), and bought a pricey box of macarons to take back on the plane.
    40 euros, my husband said I was nuts.
    They all broke and crumbled in my carry on bag.
    The lady assured me they would be fine in the heavy box.
    boo hoo.

  • Oh if it were not for their fleur d’oranger and cassis macarons I would cast Laduree off as well. I always wonder how folks who sell sugar for a living aren’t filled with sweetness themselves.

    That said, I think this is a good reminder that there are tons of other wonderful pastry shops and macarons to be taken advantaged of. David, your recommendation for Au Levain du Marais was fantastic. I had an almond croissant from there and also at Eric Kayser and I felt I had been catapulted to viennoisserie heaven. Those layers of butter and almond flavors! How I am still dreaming of them!

  • Come to Toulouse! St Criq’s macarons will make you forget Laduree. I even have a parisian friend who flies home with a box or two every time he comes to visit. Both traditional and innovative flavors: vanille, chocolat, lavende, chocolat-passion, rose-litchi, violette-cassis, pistache-cerise griotte, nougat fleur d’oranger, gingembre-miel, YUM. Only 5.50 les 100g, pretty hard to beat!

  • You suggest splitting large dishes at one of the restaurants. Is it universally acceptable to ask for splits in Paris restaurants?

  • My husband and daughter and I were having lunch at Ladurée several years ago – sitting near the front. It was rainy and I had my purse hanging off my chair with my raincoat on top. There was a crowd of people waiting to be seated. When it came time to leave, I found that someone had stolen my purse!

    Aside from the fact that my purse had my passport and our camera (with all the pics taken so far on our trip (but not much money), the worst thing was the way we were treated at Ladurée. They could not have cared less. Just totally unconcerned – like it happened every day and what did we expect. Not only that, they directed us to what they told us was the ‘nearest’ police station to report it – which was at least several miles on foot – and when we got there the police wanted to know why we didn’t go to this other station that was right around the corner from Ladurée!!

    That was it for Ladurée. I would never suggest anyone go there again.

    BTW, interestingly, a good Samaritan later found my purse in a park near Ladurée and took it to the American Embassy and they sent it to me (minus the passport and camera but still containing my credit cards – which we had already canceled).

  • I’m so glad you mentioned Ma Bourgogne. It’s been one of my all-time favorite spots in Paris (from 25 years ago to today).

    One morning we were having breakfast and there were several doggies lying about, owned by customers. The waiter brought a bowl of milk for one hound. Another time I witnessed a skirmish between a Basset Hound and two terriers (like the ones in the Black and White whiskey ads).

    Seulement en France!

  • Ladurée does not always have the best staff. But they’re also mobbed with tourists, so I can only imagine that no matter how well-aware the staff is that they signed-up to work in a tourist hotspot, they are burnt out and have an abnormally low tolerance for . . . anything. The smaller shops would love the attention though, so it’s probably for the best that Ladurée is off the list.

  • I have never even been to Paris and the result of the Ladurée post is disheartening. I hope you receive a reply, David. The quality of the product doesn’t matter when a situation like that arises. I would think for the prestige and profit they make, dealing with the crowds is part of the business. No photos inside, that’s fine. . outside, ridiculous. “Pre-authorization”?? Were they going to tell you when to inhale an exhale when you were there, too?

  • Angela: Splitting orders isn’t common, but Chez Dumonet’s portions are so huge, they do offer half-portions.

    Sandi: Usually if you get pickpocketed or have your purse stolen, the thieves just take the cash and dump the rest quickly, since if they’re caught with your purse or wallet, they’re busted. But if they just have a wad of cash, it’s pretty hard for the police to track down where they got it from. Glad you got your bag recovered!

    Paris Patisseries: Actually I have quite a bit of respect for those people who work at Ladurée since they have to stand there day after day, waiting for people to stand there and decide over each-and-every macaron that goes in that box. That’s why I always prep my folks well and help them make their selection. (Which is why, previously, a salesgirl gave me a big box of macarons as a gift, and the manager always made sure I got to sample the new flavors.) I guess things change and you’re right; fortunately there are plenty of other places in Paris.

    Incidentially I had dinner with a French friend last night and she told me she went to Ladurée for lunch a few weeks ago and they were so rude and forgetful that she got into a row with the manager.

  • Your experience at Ladurée is indeed unpleasant. On the other hand, it is easy to forget them… IMHO, they are overhyped and expensive. A few months ago, we got a box of their macarons from their Zürich store… A week later, we decided to get rid of the non-eaten ones, as they were so non-popular (but then, Zürich is a bit special when it comes to macarons…).

    So, I guess, the (non-)opening of your purse is the only language they may understand.

  • Thank you so much for this list. I’m dropping hints about honeymooning in Paris next year and this will hopefully go to good use!

  • Ahh, les frites ♥
    those look perfect, the exact color of crispy heaven :D.

    (this comment was sponsored by the LOTWCPT : league of the weird cookie problem testing – thank you)

  • about Ladurée, I must say it seems awkward, even if I am a french person accustomed to nasty shopkeepers manners. Why don’t they start to ask their clients to send a file to submit references, in order to pre-authorize people to use the same sidewalk than their shop ?
    I’d pretty sad when such “used-to-be-great” french companies fail to remember that professionalism is measured not from the ability to be posh but on the contrary, from the ability to remain amazingly nice and elegant in every circumstances.

    As some other readers say, I hope that this is all a big misunderstanding and that they will have the elegance to write you back about this.

  • One of my first posts (not very long ago) was about the new Ladurée store in Milan. I was pretty shocked when I was told I could not take pictures in the store after politely asking (you are absolutely right, they are private premises, but I still think of it as a compliment if someone wants to take a picture and write a post praising their product. If they do so poliltely, asking first and without disturbing the clientele of course). They said I could take pics from the outside, which I did. But I never thought they could go quite so far. No matter how delectable your product is, it is still the people who buy, it is still a business, no?

  • Sorry to hear about Laduree but very happy to get a list of Paris restaurants. I’m always at a loss when I go there and try to find a decent restaurant that doesnt cost a month’s salary to eat at. Thanks. Cynthia in the French Alps

  • I was in Paris in July and went to Ma Bourgogne based upon your recommendation and others. It was absolutely terrible! I was so disappointed with the food and service; it was probably the worst dining experience I’ve ever had. Have you visited here recently? I’m just wondering if we happened to go to the restaurant on a miserably off day.

  • I am so UNhappy to see Ma Bourgogne on your list! Tourist trap!

  • Nicole: I go infrequently and as mentioned in the list, stick to the basics and that’s fine. Like many Parisian bistros, the food is adequate, but at least here sitting under the arches of the Place des Vosges, well, that part is lovely.

    (That said, the Café Hugo in the opposite corner is a nice place to sit and have a salad. And in the winter, their heaters are on full-force, which is nice. And they have Wi-Fi.)

    I do like the fact they’re open daily and no reservations are required, so you can go whenever and people that might feel uncomfortable calling a restaurant for reservations can walk right in. (Plus they’re open Sunday and Monday night, when lot of other places are closed.). But like I said, it’s merely “reliable.”

    Scott: There are always plenty of French people there when I go (it seems to be popular with politicians). Of course, because of the location there are a certain amount of tourists, too.

  • Great list for restaurant recommendations! I made use of it this weekend. A la biche au bois was really splendid. Venison with berries, grouse and lovely terrine. very hospitable despite being busy.

    Another that I found more or less by chance was Auberge Bressane 16 ave de la Motte-Piquet in the 7th. Stupendous bread, very tasty food and a welcoming space. The baba for dessert was really a seving for two and seemed to be a kugelhopf that came with its own bottle of brandy….

    definitely worth returning to both!

    thanks!

  • Just got back from Paris last Saturday. We had our first meal at Ma Bourgogne as we rented a place around the corner and Place de Vosgue was our first walk. Plus, I remembered you recommending it. It was only O.K. My mussels were fine, even the french fries ?? but my friend’s chicken was not good. I wanted to impress, it was my friend’s first visit in Paris, and ordered tarte tatin for dessert. It was pretty horrible, in every which way. The service was good and the waiter was very freindly, flirty, not at all the stereotype we so often hear about. It felt like a tourist trap. We didn’t go back. And I avoided Laduree, too much of a hype IMHO.

  • We are planning to spend new years eve in Paris – so thank you again David for your list! I was wondering if anyone out there had any suggestions to restaurants/places to visit on New Years eve? I shudder to think that I have left this little bit of planning to late…

  • Francis Holder bought Ladurée back in the 1990s – his group also owns the Paul chain of bakeries. He and his family are very ambitious; the children are all involved in running the show now, maybe that’s where the no photo policy has come in. In any event, they can be difficult. And I’ve thought Ladurée has been overrated for years – how pretentious not to allow photos from OUTSIDE the shop! Give me a break. And let’s not even discuss the Paul bakeries – ugh.

  • Hi,

    That’s great list for restaurant recommendations!

  • That is disappointing to hear about Laduree. What on earth could they be thinking? Makes you wonder….as you said, its not like you’re hauling a crowd of 50 in there.

    Thank you for your restaurant recommendations, they sound fantastic and I’m looking forward to trying them. I really enjoy your posts and photos.

  • Hi David,

    I just ordered your book today! It looks beautiful. I love your recipes.

    I keep kosher and just launched a kosher cooking website.

    Any recommendations for kosher eats in Paris for my subscribers?

    Thanks so much!

  • That’s such a shame about Laduree! Thank you for your restaurant recommendations though.

  • I’m a steak tartare freak, and I just thought I knew how to make the very best one;
    however, after all my visits to Ma Bourgogne I’m a bit more humble and tend to add a bit more Dijon :)
    (and love my menu combination: foie gras, steak tartare, Berthillon caramel et chocolat)
    about Laduree – they are becoming quite inconsistent – one day I got quite stale kouign amann (rue Royale), the next day (rue Bonaparte – the same – late breakfast) – it was outstanding
    neverthless – as long as they keep up with vanille and caramel macarons – I’m still a fan

  • David – thanks for yet another list of restaurants to try!

    By the way, three of our favorite restaurants in the Marais seemed to have missed your list.
    Café des Musées at rue de Turenne and St Gilles – really exceptional steak frites.

    L’Estaminet in the Marché des Enfants Rouge – tiny and wonderful for lunch.

    Chez Janou on rue des Tournelles – Provencal cuisine, a huge selection of pastis and a delightful self serve chocolate mousse.

  • It’s ok David…Pierre’s macarons are better anyway. Truffe Blanche Noisette….oh great i’m salivating.

  • Ambassade D’Auvergne !!!

  • Perhaps I should give Le Timbre another try. Had a very unsatisfying lunch there a couple of years ago after my hotel clerk nearby recommended it, and have been muttering doubtless unmerited insults about English cooks in Paris ever since.

  • We were in Paris this summer and dined at Le Timbre, thanks to your suggestion. The food was utterly divine, and it is such a unique little place. I have celiac disease and my husband is lactose-intolerant and they were very accomadating of both.

    That’s really unfortunate about Laduree. We stopped there as well, the one on Rue Royale, and I actually snapped some photos inside and of the decorated door from outside with no problems. Strange.

  • It’s a shame about Laduree, but somehow I’m not surprised considering how uppity those stores are. Delicious treats, though!

  • Dear Mr. Lebovitz,

    I am on my way out to purchase your book, as I want to hear all that you have to say about food, and, in particular, food in Paris.
    My husband (who is from Mexico, and is a pastry chef) and I are traveling from San Francisco to Paris, and bringing my granddaughter, for tons of reasons, but mainly because I love her, and want her to experience Europe. Now the thing here is, I have never been to France either, so it should be a learning experience for us all. We are coming there in March. Ticket prices cheaper.

    I don’t want to impose, but our favorite thing in the world is food. Music comes in a close second, but good food first and foremost. I would truly appreciate any advise you have on places to eat, with a teenager, “we are not rich” priced restaurants.

    I just booked the tickets yesterday, so have no idea where we will stay, am hoping to find an apartment, and if you know anyone who would like to trade houses, we in Paris, they in San Francisco, would love to know about that too.

    Love your blog. Please, let me know what, other than Frito’s and jalapeno’s, I can bring you while there.
    Also, I generally travel with my own coffee (picky), that we buy in Mexico. I hear that everything in Paris is delicious. Is the coffee?

    I sure hope to hear from you, and thank you for your time.

  • Lavinia: There are some very good restaurants here and some not-so-good ones as well. On the site, I recommend the good ones (of course!) although everyone has a different opinion and experience. You can check through my Paris restaurant archives for more addresses.

    Unfortunately the coffee in Paris isn’t very good, in general, but I’ve posted a bunch of good places at Where to Get a Good Cup of Coffee in Paris.

  • Thank you for the recommendations! When I was in Paris a week and a half ago (missed the strikes!), I ate at Le Louchébem and had the 1/2 Poulet Fermier which was delicious. Next time I’m in Paris, I want to try some of your other recommendations.

  • @Steven, the shopkeeper (Oct 2): Wherever your shop is, I want to know, so I can patronize your competitor, across the street. And I will stop in to let you know why! What a LOUSY attitude for a businessman!