Paris recommendations Summer 2018
Recently, a guest of Le Pichet asked me for advice for an upcoming trip to Paris. She is to stay on the Île de la Cité, and was hoping for recommendations on a simple Left Bank restaurant in the style of Le Pichet, a grand restaurant for a splurge, museums and some advice on tipping.
I am reprinting my reply here in the hope that they may be useful to others lucky enough to be heading to Paris soon. Note that these recommendations are not intended to be comprehensive, as Paris offers an endless palette of choices; these are just the things that answered her request. Enjoy!
“Restaurants: Honestly I have not spent a ton of time on the left Bank as we generally stay either near the Marché at Place Aligré (between the Place de Bastille and Place de Nation) or near the Place Batignolles in the 17th. That being said, I do know a few good places not far from the Cité.
Just across the river near Chatelet, try La Robe et Le Palais, a bistrot a vin. A cute little place like Le Pichet.
A bit further north near Les Halles, there is a wine bar called Le Garde Robe, very tiny, lots of natural and bio wine, small menu but well done.
Oh, I just thought of a Left Bank favorite: Restaurant Perraudin. Back in the 90’s when we lived in Paris, it had the reputation of being a haunt of students and profs from the nearby Sorbonne. I think it’s audience is wider now; our last visit 3-4 years ago was very good. Note that at that time, they still didn’t accept credit cards.
You could try Baieta, new restaurant serving Niçoise cuisine, woman chef/owner who is also the youngest person ever to receive a Michelin star when she was at Les Fables de la Fontaine. I have not been but have read tons of good reviews and want to try when I am in Paris in November.
For a splurge, I mean a burn-up-the-mortgage-once-in-a-lifetime splurge, I would recommend these three:
l’Arpège: Chef/Owner Alain Passard is considered to be almost a monk, a true purist who is behind the stoves everyday, unlike many of the 3-stars chefs who are busy opening branches around the world. His menu always places vegetables in the forefront of his cooking, although he does cook with some meat. Near the Rodin museum. Very simple and tasteful dining room features Lalique glass panels.
L’Ambroisie: On the beautiful Place des Vosges, eating here is like dining in a small, stylish salon in an 18th C home. Simple but stellar food, wonderful ingredients impeccable service, breathtaking ambiance. Probably the greatest dining experience that I have ever had.
Prunier (the restaurant on rue Victor Hugo): Stunning Art Deco restaurant (historical landmark status) specializing in seafood, especially fruits de mer du luxe, meaning oysters, caviar, smoked fish etc. Not far from the Etoile, really really swanky experience. And very good.
Museums: Recently we really enjoyed visit to the Musée Quai Branley (which features art from the former French colonies, not to put ot fine a point on it). Beautiful modern building and nice walk along the Seine to get there. Also big fans of the Musée Nissam de Comando (18th C Decorative Arts). Housed in beautiful mansion facingn onto the wonderful Parc Monceau, it is a bit under the radar so usually not busy at all.
Tipping in France: tip is included in price shown on the menu. Common practice is, if you really enjoy your service, leave a little extra on the table in cash, maybe 2%-5%. For a normal bistrot meal, a couple euros is plenty.”