This is the last the article about my recent trip to Paris… I promise. I had to write this one, as I feel compelled to share some tips with you- should you find yourselves in Paris in the near future.
France is home to one of the finest cuisines in the world. Most of the master chefs in world have launched their careers with french cooking experience under their belt. With names like Alain Ducasse, Alain Passard, Paul Bocuse, Jacques Pepin, Daniel Boulud, Hubert Keller, Eric Ripert, Francois Payard and more shining examples of all that France has to offer …. it is no wonder that France makes it on every food lover’s bucket list. And to me, Paris is ultimate showcase of all that France has to offer.
I was practically giddy on this recent trip to Paris with my honey. We had been there many years ago – but back then our wallet used to be lighter and our knowledge of French cuisine minimal. So it is safe to say that our first experience of Paris years ago, was a pure touristy one. But not this time. This time, I was determined to experience this city like a local.
Paris has the highest concentration of Michelin starred bistros and restaurants, its true! But it’s not that easy to eat at these places. And that is because everyone else in the city has the same exact idea as you! I highly recommend that you do your research well in advance. Identify the restaurants you want to try and make your reservations ASAP. The best resource is people you know who have personal experiences, of course. The next best thing is to use a hyper-local website called LaFourchette.com (or TheFork.com – the english version) which offers a comprehensive list of restaurants, their menus as well as diner reviews. It even allows you to make your reservations online. Super easy and super helpful.
As we were taking the car ride from the airport to our hotel, I chatted with our cab driver. I wanted to ask a local person where he likes to eat. The ultimate insiders tip. It was shocking when he told me he prefers to eat out at Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants. He said he gets enough french food at home, so he craves things with more spice when he goes out. He did warn us about most bistros in Paris serving canned and frozen foods. I couldn’t believe my ears….. until our very first meal in Paris that evening. We strolled down rue St. Honore and stopped at a charming corner bistro. We ordered the typical french fare – French Onion soup, Croque Monsieur and what not. YUCK!!! The cab driver wasn’t lying! French onion soup actually had frozen, pre-processed cheese bits on top. I cant even talk about the rest of the food without feeling disgusted all over again. 🙁 Moral of the story – just because Paris has tons of amazing restaurants, it doesn’t mean that every place will be fab.
The highlight of my culinary adventure was our multi-course meal at L’Arpege, of course. You can read all about it here.
My foodie-pal Fairfieldista told me to try Restaurant Astier on rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud. LOVED IT! Totally authentic, super cozy and friendly little gem of a place. The food was so french, complete with foams and all. 🙂
There is a really fun and trendy dining scene thriving along the banks of Seine. I had read about it in an article by Patricia Wells. What a great tip. We loved stopping there and enjoying some wine and tapas – as we gazed on the beautiful river Seine in the setting sunlight, waving at the river cruisers with city of Paris as its backdrop. Spectacular!
Perhaps my most favorite, and the most delightful meal in all of Paris – happened totally by chance. We were on our way to have the best eclairs in all of Paris, and stumbled upon a farmers market. I spotted a whole bunch of people walking around and munching on something wrapped in paper, and I couldn’t resist asking one of them what it was. He said it was pancakes. You and I call them crepes. 🙂
Sweet crepes, savory crepes…. lots of different types of freshly made-to-order crepes. Can you believe these gentlemen manning the crepe stand were even chopping onions and tomatoes as each order came in. I mean, how much more fresh can it get?! I ordered a ham and cheese crepe with tomatoes and onions. It was divine. I struck up a conversation with the crepe vendors as they prepared my order. They were super friendly and talked about their dream to open a crepe stand in USA . They insisted I taste their caramel butter crepe. The caramel butter is home made and they also sell it in jars. The warm caramel butter oozing out of the freshly prepared crepe was phenomenal . This experience was the the epitome of what I had hoped to achieve on my trip to Paris. I wanted to eat like a local. And I did!