Of all the quotes I’ve seen about Paris, this one is perhaps my favorite:
“You’ll have to fall in love at least once in your life, or Paris has failed to rub off on you.”
I was already in love when I went to Paris, but I had heard it’s a place for lovers. We were just beginning to settle in to the City of Lights when, before we could realize it, we were cuddled up on a bench sharing a baguette, kissing the Nutella from the corner of each other’s mouths, and leaving the last bite of crème brûlée for the other. I would be a liar if I didn’t admit to there also being a bit of bickering over missed Metro stops!
But Paris is definitely for lovers – lovers of each other, lovers of beautiful sights and sounds, and lovers of some of the most incredible food in all the world. Here’s where and what we ate. ** denotes the best of the best – our favorite places and dishes.
Lunch: La Gentilhommiere, Saint-Michel/Odéon
Pommes frites, Caesar salad with bacon, champagne
We arrived in Paris in the most wonderful of ways: on a lovely train that traversed the lovely countryside to deliver us from London to France. We were starved after the time it took to get through customs and figure out the legitimate taxis from the illegitimate ones. They almost got us! We checked in to our hotel (Hotel Victoire et Germain, which was one of the best places I’ve ever stayed with its perfect Paris location in the Latin Quarter) and ventured not far out before settling on the first cute restaurant we saw, packed with rows of tiny tables filled with Parisians. With all the locals, we figured we had made a good choice. We later saw Yelpers say differently, but I would disagree. Maybe it was the champagne, but I loved the Caesar salad I had with bacon, and my husband’s boef bourguignon was warm, comforting and full of flavor.
Dessert: Crêperie Chez Suzette, Saint-Michel/Odéon
Nutella and strawberry crepe**
You have your pick of places to enjoy a crepe in Paris. Savory or sweet? Banana or strawberry? The possibilities are endless. On our first evening in Paris, I threw caution as it concerns my diet to the wind and ordered a crepe slathered with Nutella and fresh, juicy strawberries tucked between the folds. Mon dieu! It was incroyable.
Lunch: The Smiths Bakery, Saint-Germain-Des-Prés
Salad niçoise, sandwich, tomato tart, baguette
On our first full day in France, we decided to take it easy with a nice, long sit in beautiful Luxembourg Gardens. We watched little toy sailboats chartered by children and couples canoodling. We stopped by a bakery along the way to pick our picnic items and made an American mistake of buying too much food. A tomato tart, a small tub of salad niçoise, un sandwich and a baguette (but of course) – we had more than we could eat, but it was all very good.
Dinner: Ippudo, Saint-Germain-Des-Prés
Gyoza, Shiromaru (classic) ramen
This ramen restaurant is located just a couple of doors down from our hotel. The gyoza was great, and the ramen was similar in a way that soothed, but with a slightly different taste I couldn’t place. It’s always fun to try something you’re used to in a different place.
Lunch: L’As du Fallafel, Marais
Pita sandwich, fries
If you’re going to Paris, the odds are good at least one person will tell you to go to L’As du Fallafel. They will not be wrong. Walk, take the bus, or get on the Metro – whatever you do, make sure you get here. We both ordered the sandwich, filled with crispy, garlicky balls of fried chickpea swimming in creamy hummus, pickled red cabbage, cucumbers, fried eggplant and harissa. The gorgeous French girl next to me ordered the same thing, but only one of us ended up with it all over our face (it wasn’t her).
Dinner: Hereaux Comme Alexandre, Saint-Michel/Odéon
BBQ beef, savoyarde (plain cheese) fondue, salted caramel chocolate fondue with fresh fruit
I live for fondue and this restaurant came highly rated. We had the fondue feast of my dreams, with slices of seasoned beef set to sizzle on a hot stone and chunks of French bread to dip in gooey cheese fondue. There was no dessert listed on the menu, presumably because it goes without question. We picked the pot with salted caramel chocolate, which came warm and creamy, served with fresh kiwi, banana slices, strawberries and apples for dipping.
Lunch: Paul, Saint-Michel/Odéon
Toasted ham and cheese sandwich
My husband had previously seen a pig roasting in a window and marveled at the beauty of such a thing. He asked if he could search for it while I shopped at Le Bon Marché. Is the sky blue? I did my damage, then picked up a sandwich from the popular boulangerie Paul, which I took back to our hotel for a bit of people-watching.
Snack: Ladurée, Saint-Germain-Des-Prés
Rose petal, Morello cherry**, chocolate, pistachio, orange blossom
I had my shopping bags from Le Bon Marché and suddenly I felt like Carrie Bradshaw! The only thing missing was a pink macaron (or several). I stopped into Ladurée, the lovely macaron boutique and tea room, and bought a row of colorful macarons with every intention of sharing them, but I’m sorry to say that didn’t very well happen. The Morello cherry flavor was sweet and light – definitely my favorite.
Dinner: L’avant Comptoir**
Pork belly, citrus foie gras, beef croquettes, empanadas
L’avant Comptoir came recommended by several people and turned out to be just a couple of short blocks from our hotel. We were forewarned of the crowds here, but it wasn’t until we arrived that it sunk in. Nobody sits – in fact, there’s so little space that menu items are strung from the ceiling. On the little bit of table space are big-as-your-head mounds of hand-churned Bordier butter, meant for everyone to share. The staff hustle to take orders shouted over the packs of patrons. The wine selection is fantastic – we loved the light red wine recommended to us. Here, it felt fitting to try foie gras for the first time. The one I ordered and the one I received were different, but the citrus was enjoyable. Still, I can’t say I’m going to crave foie gras now. We finished the night by taking in the black and white Woody Allen classic Manhattan at a small theatre tucked into an alley. It was a date night to remember.
Lunch: Les Antiquaries, Musee d’Orsay
Mixed salad with lightly fried goat cheese, bacon, Serrano ham and pesto**, white wine, crème brûlée **
This was a meal that caught us by surprise. We were hungry as a downpour was just beginning after a morning at the Musee d’Orsay. We stumbled upon this darling restaurant just around the corner and it turned out to be one of the best meals of our entire time in Paris. An elderly French man seated next to us was clearly enjoying a leisurely lunch, so I decided to do the same. As he ordered a second white wine, so did I! My mouth watered as I read the description of the salad I ordered. Lightly fried goat cheese, bacon and Serrano ham – oui, oui, oui! Since I had veggies (do you see the sliver of green below?), I decided I was allowed dessert. The crème brûlée literally melted as I slipped a spoonful in my mouth.
Snack: Little Breizh, Saint-Germain-Des-Prés
Choc and croc crepe
This recommendation, I’m sad to say, disappointed, although it looks spectacular, doesn’t it? Little Breizh is located literally next door to our hotel. I had high hopes for another incredible crepe, but I didn’t care for the batter or no filling in lieu of everything piled on top. It seems I’m in the minority because the reviews are excellent.
Breakfast: Marché Notre Dame de Versailles (Versailles open-air market)
Ham and cheese crepe**, orange juice
We took a train outside Paris to Versailles, where my girl Marie Antoinette once reigned. We were signed up for a bike tour around the gardens and palace, which sounded like a neat way to see somewhere. First, though, we had to cycle through traffic to get to the open-air market, called one of the best in the world, to purchase our picnic items for later. It got dicey for a second as it was my two wheels vs. four, but we made it. I rewarded myself with a savory breakfast crepe and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Both were incredibly delicious.
Lunch: Marché Notre Dame de Versailles (Versailles open-air market)
Cheese with herbs**, parmesan**, baguette, sliced Serrano ham, rosé
Shopping at the Versailles market was a treat. We visited the boulangerie, fromagerie and boucherie to make our picnic purchases. I wish I could remember the name of the cheese crusted with flavorful herbs – it was excellent. The parmesan was other-worldly. I would have liked to take at least a pound home. Everything was made that much more delicious by the fact that we ate them among new friends along the spectacular Grand Canal.
Dinner: L’avant Comptoir, Saint-Michel/Odéon
Chèvre crumble, chorizo cigarettes, beef stew, hot dog canard
After a tiring day in Versailles, we had worked up quite the appetite. There was so much still to try at L’avant Comptoir that we decided to return. This time, the creamy chèvre with a sweet crunchy topping and beef stew (so flavorful) were among my highlights. This was it for our time in Paris – what a way to end it!