The answer is not simple. After years of visiting France, I’ve come to this conclusion. The best way to find a really good, inexpensive and typically French restaurant – and enjoy it – is to learn to speak French first.
This is not meant to sound haughty – or snobbish – or preachy – but learning to speak the language REALLY makes a huge difference, so if you’ve come to France to study the language – you’re here on a 3-month or 6 month program and you’re getting either fed up or frustrated with trying to conjugate verbs, remember some day, you’ll say ‘It was worth it.”
Of course there’s short cuts. You could go out and buy Catherine Jarrique’s book “Les Meilleurs restos a petits prix” (The Best restaurants for a small price). Take your French/English dictionary in hand – and explore, and tumble into a neighborhood lunch spot tucked into a ‘Cite’ or passage like I did today (thanks to the help of Mme Jarrique’s book!).
What I liked about
Lou Cantou was its straight forward cuisine, simple plates with no pretention. With flavor right on target. Along with that, being able to exchange a few words with table mates and wait staff really makes one feel more at home. A big part of dining in French is also being able to talk – food and conversation are almost inseparable. (If you don’t have anyone to talk to, you’re probably on your cell phone).
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So, brush up your French, or find yourself a bilingual friend who will help introduce you to the fine art of dejeuner in Paris.
Lou Cantou is the kind of place where you can enjoy a hearty meal – just as you might expect in the French countryside –
I had a beet salad with vinaigrette sauce to start.
Boudin Noir with mashed potatoes and smothered onions and gravy.
Ile Flottante. Floating islands with a creme anglaise sauce and almonds.
The menu which includes the appetizer, main dish and dessert is 14 Euros.
One of two ladies at the table next to me admitted that she preferred more separation between tables, but I liked didn’t mind the side by side tables. She also reminded me to be aware of the ‘supplements’. Supplements are two or three Euros added to specific dishes because they are more expensive items (so for example if you order the apple tart instead of the Ile Flottante, or the steak instead of the salmon, you may pay 3 or 4 Euros more. It’s market on the menu and the blackboard.
PS (If you’re not carrying your ‘Plan de Paris’ or ‘Paris Classique’ map, you may miss this little alley/passage located just off Lafayette.
35 Cite d’Antin 9eme
Tel. 01 48 74 75 15
Open 11 am to 3 pm
Closed Sundays and one week in August.