Here it is – as promised!
Places to Eat Around Town:
Although La Defense’s McCafe didn’t make my list, you have to admit, it looks pretty good for McDonalds.
Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2006
Because we don’t have a big budget for eating out, we normally go to cafes, brasseries, or pizza parlors (yes, there’s plenty of pizza parlors in Paris) in the Montparnasse area. We go to restaurants with friends for special occasions. For this reason, I wouldn’t call this a restaurant guide. There are plenty of professional guidebooks that do a very good job of scouting out the best restaurants in town and will give you an accurate price/quality ratio.
One of my favorite guide books is Paris Pas Cher (Inexpensive Paris). Figaro newspaper also offers reliable and up-to-date restaurant reviews. You can also check out any number of sites: DininginFrance.com gives you a whole grouping of restaurant online guides from which to choose.
The restaurant scene changes quickly, so I can’t make any promises that you will have exactly the same experience that we’ve had. Also, our expectation level is not so high for a casual meal as it would be for dining at some of the top restaurants. You’ll notice that I’ve listed Le Dome, Le Grand Vefour, and Le Train Bleu. Two of these restaurants we returned to Le Grand Vefour, we’d love to return to – when we’ve saved up enough Euros! (Just so you know that these recommendations are based on having to pay for our meals – just like you do!)
Here are some of the neighborhood places (Montparnasse, 14th arrondissement) that we’ve tried and enjoyed:
Côté Cour, 1 Rue de l’Impasse
Metro: Edgar Quinet or Metro: Gaite
70 Boul. Edgar Quinet
Metro: Edgar Quinet
Reservations probably necessary. The restaurant has been ‘discovered’.
Aux Iles Marquises
15 Rue de la Gaite
Metro: Edgar Quinet or Metro: Gaite
Good fish and seafood. A little more expensive.
Impasse, 3 Rue Larochelle (in the alley next to 31 Rue de la Gaite, the Theatre Montparnasse). Good Indian food and great ambiance.
Café de la Paix
23 Rue Odessa – just across from the Metro: Edgar Quinet You can have lunch, a bowl of onion soup, or just sit on the terrace and sip your kir watching the passersby.
Café de la Liberté
Boul Edgar Quinet. Just to the left of the Metro: Edgar Quinet (when you’re exiting from the Metro). Widescreen TV for Soccer and rugby matches. (One of Parislogue readers recommended Café de la Liberte. You can eat here too. Nothing fussy, The ingredient are fresh and typically French, prepared by chef and rugby fan Andre. Breakast is cheaper at:
Rue du Depart (right across from the Montparnasse train station.)
Their big breakfast is called Petit Dejeuner Complet: OJ, Buttered baguettes, croissant, omelette, or fried eggs and ham plus coffee, tea or hot chocolate for 11 Euros.
40 Rue Gergovie
Good vegetarian food and reasonably priced.
Le Petit Josselin
Metro: Edgar Quinet or Metro: Vavin
Reasonably priced and authentic Breton creperie.
29 Rue Delambre
Metro: Vavin or Metro: Edgar Quinet ‘smokey bar ambiance’ without the smoking since the smoking ban in public places -good old-fashioned confit de canard (simmered duck). You can go here to drink, to eat, or both.
Avenue du Maine
Across the street from the Montparnasse train station. Reasonably priced and non-stop service. Generous portions of the veal cutlets swimming in cheese and tomato sauce. English speaking staff. This restaurant is a safe choice for the less adventuresome traveler. It’s also a good place if you’re famished and can’t wait until 7:30 or 8 pm for dinner.
For a big splurge. Particularly if you like oysters. La Coupole may be more well-known to Americans. We’ve eaten at both restaurants, but we keep returning to Le Dome. Their ‘millefeuille’ dessert is celestial.
22 Rue Daguerre
Metro: Denfert Rochereau
Somewhat trendy, go here for a glass of wine, a light meal and their not-to-be-missed Chocolate gateau d’enfer. (Enfer means ‘hell’) so I guess that would translate as a devil’s food cake. There is a historic neighborhood not far from Rue Daguerre called d’Enfer as well.
Other Parts of town:
Across from Eglise St. Etienne du Mont
Metro: Cardinel LeMoine (or walk over from Luxembourg Gardens and Blvd. St. Michel via Rue Soufflot and the Pantheon)
Go here to watch soccer games, have a pint and a good solid lunch. Reasonably priced. English speaking staff.
Metro: Cours St. Emilion
The restaurant is fairly pricey, but you can go into the wine boutique ground level dining area and have an afternoon wine-tasting with food. (Wine is always better with food). You must go inside the boutique for the indoor menu. Appetizers like nachos are served outdoors (not recommended).
40 Rue Veron (in the labyrinthe of streets leading up to Montmartre). Metro: Abbesses Don’t go to this restaurant unless you have you’re Plan de Paris or a detailed map!
How many restaurants in town serve pig’s cheeks? I liked this restaurant because it was described in the Paris Pas Cher guidebook as ‘insolite’ or unusual. The flavors tend toward sweet and sour which is not typical of French cuisine. I’m including the phone in case you get lost in transit: Tel. 01 42 23 06 22
Le Train Bleu
Gare de Lyon
Metro: Gare de Lyon
Located on the upper level of the train station, its sheer juxtaposition to a crowded unglamorous station makes the gilded ceilings and the 19th-century embellishments all the more gorgeous. Special occasions? Yes. Definitely. Take good friends and family.
Le Grand Vefour
Palais Royal gardens
Metro: Palais Royal
For me, this is the summit. There are other Michelin-star restaurants. This is the only time I’ve felt completely at ease and relaxed in a Michelin-star restaurant. Before you can enjoy the dining experience, you have to feel truly welcome. N’est-ce pas? Outrageously expensive. Go for lunch rather than dinner. (It’s said that French president Nicolas Sarkozy has patronized this restaurant in the past). Even though the Grand Vefour has recently lost one of its Michelin stars, I ‘d never turn down a dinner invitation for this gem.
These are just a few names off the top of my head . . . times change and so do restaurants, quality wise, in particular. I’ll continue to post as we discover new spots and pass along the good word to Parislogue readers. Likewise, if you have found a good place, share, share, share!