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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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