No two Paris neighborhoods could be more different – the 1st arrondissement on the Right Bank and the 13th arrondissement on the Left Bank, but after having spent several hours yesterday and today in both neighborhoods- and having two excellent meals to finish off each day, there’s no doubt in my mind. Each neighborhood is entirely unique and has a certain flavor.
If you find yourself strolling down Rue St. Honore or Rue de Rivoli in the 1st arrondissement and you feel hunger pangs, head for the Auberge St. Roch. It’s easy to find if you’re already on Rue St. Honore near Place Vendome. Find St. Roch Church on Rue St. Honore and take the side street to the left of the church’s main entrance . You’ll find the Auberge St. Roch on the left side of Rue St. Roch.
I arrived about half an hour before dinner service began, and killed some time by having a beer at the Point Bar (3.50 Euros for a half-pint) just around the corner on Marche St. Honore.
You can tell some places are going to be good just by the vibes. Apparently, the Auberge is no secret because plenty of English speaking patrons arrived soon after I did. The owner and his wait staff all spoke English and they showed patience in translating the menu for guests.
For the heart of the Right Bank, the prices, starting at 16 Euros for a main dish and 23 Euros for an evening menu are well within reason. The ambiance is old-fashioned rustic. like the name implies, the auberge is a welcoming locale, not ultra trendy, just the kind of place where you can relax and enjoy your meal.
You want to try escargots or foie gras? You have a hankering for a huge slab of Charolais beef (Charolais is considered one of the best sorts of beef in France. I opted for a filet of sea bass. It was seared to perfection – and best of all- the filet was framed by an assortment of perfectly cooked broccoli, snowpeas and green beans.
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With an appetizer of snails, a main course, a glass of wine and expresso, the bill came in at under 30 Euros. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to walk in off the street. Another American couple had also been enticed by the rustic decor. Having rented an apartment for the week, and after walking by a few times, they couldn’t resist stopping in.
I will definitely return to the Auberge St Roch to try some of their desserts.
Auberge St Roch
33 Rue St Roch
01 42 61 4083
No one ends up in the 13th arrondissement by accident, and it takes a while – maybe several years to make heads or tails out of this neighborhood which, depending from which Metro stop you exit, can resemble Chinatown or Montmartre- the way it may have looked forty years ago. The Butte aux Cailles neighborhood is one of the few places where you can walk or bike ride and feel like you’re in Gene Kelly’s Paris (and his was a movie set). But this is the real thing.
Getting to the 13th takes some time if your lodging is on the Right Bank, but if you’re already in the Montparnasse district, you’ll find that the trip is only a few Metro stops to Corvisart. From here, head up the steps through a small park which leads up to the Rue des Cinq Diamants.
At Le Deci, 51 Rue des Cinq Diamants, you probably won’t run into too many English speaking clients, but Armand the proprietor speaks excellent English. You’ll want to be sure to book a table in advance because this is a favorite with locals.
Refined and delightful, duck breast served in a wine sauce, accompanied by polenta was the single plate I sampled, but more than enough to merit a second visit when I’ve worked up an appetite for a full three courses. At 18 Euros for a main dish, this is also very reasonably priced for the quality of the food, the fine wine selection (which you can enjoy by the glass), the ambiance – soft shades of green, very Zen. This is the ideal restaurant if you arrive in Paris as a ‘quiet observer’ of a local neighborhood. It can be a real treat if you happen to be dining alone or with that certain someone.
Rue des Cinq Diamants
51 Rue des Cinq Diamants
Tel 01 45 80 61 38