Suggested places to stay and things to do... (#1)

 And also :

 My selection of restaurants    Hotels

Here are a few of our favorite and not always that well-known places in Paris! Some of the restaurants have average food but enormous historical value, others have great food and great historical value. All of the restaurants listed have SOMETHING to recommend them!

This is a picture of Gérard Margeon, head sommelier at the Alain Ducasse restaurants in Paris who taught Harriet everything she knows about wine !

 
Here are some good places with either good or acceptable food (but not haute cuisine) in a Parisian "ambiance" (most of them in the very center of Paris)
 
  • Mama Shelter*** is a new and very innovative hotel, with the comfort and the class of a 5-star (design by Philippe Stark) and the prices of a 3-star, in a part of Paris Americans don't know (and should know) : do not go where all tourists go! 109 rue de Bagnolet 75020 Tel : 33-(0)1 43 48 48 48
  • Hôtel des Chevaliers***, a very friendly and comfortable hotel in a historical setting (air-conditioned, which seems to be a must for American tourists..) 30 rue de Turenne 75003 Tel. 33-1 42 72 73 47
  • Hôtel Odeon***, a charming hotel, in a very nice neighborhood near the Latin quarter, 3 rue de l'Odeon 75006 Paris Tel. 33-(0)1 43 25 90 67 (150 to 180 Euros)

 

  • "Authentically French" : Le Quincy, excellent food and lively service, old-fashioned 28 avenue Ledru-Rollin 75012 Paris Tel 33-(0)1 46 28 46 76
  • Lively" : La Fontaine de Mars, traditional French cooking and the possibility to eat outside, weather permitting 129 rue Saint Dominique 75007 Paris Tel. 33-(0)1 47 05 46 44 (30 Euros)"
  • "Good" : Les Bouchons de François Clerc, 12 rue de l'Hotel Colbert 75005 Paris Tel.33-(0)1 43 54 15 34, excellent wines, in a XIIIth Century cellar (40 Euros)
  • "Historical" : Procope : the oldest café (now restaurant) in Paris dating from 1686. In the heart of the Quartier Latin, 13 rue de l'Ancienne Comédie, 75006 Paris, Tel. 33-(0)1 40 46 79 00. (40 Euros). Click here for its WebSite.
  • "Poetic" : Le Coupe-Chou : a wonderful XVth century building also in the Latin Quarter, 9 rue Lanneau 75005 Paris, Tel. 33-(0)1 46 33 68 69. (45 Euros) We held our wedding lunch at Le Couple-Chou and the experience was inoubliable.
  • "Moving" : Auberge Ravoux (Auvers sur Oise, 20 miles North West of Paris) : the place where Van Gogh died. 52 rue du Général de Gaulle 95430 Auvers sur Oise Tel. 33-(0)1 30 36 60 63. (40 Euros) : a charming restaurant and small museum.
  • "Regional" : La Galoche d'Aurillac : a restaurant with typical products and food from Auvergne (central France) in a very picturesque and animated street, 41 rue de Lappe 75011 Tel. (0)1 47 00 77 15
  • "Traditional" : Vagenende : a classical "Belle Epoque" restaurant, 142 blvd Saint Germain, 75006 Paris, Tel. 33-(0)1 43 26 68 18. (40 Euros)
  • "Original" : Wally Le Saharien : a delicious and surprising very light Saharian couscous, with no greasy sauce, 36 rue Rodier 75009 Paris, Tel 01 42 85 51 90
 
  • Hôtel Malar** : 29 rue Malar, 75007 Paristel. 33-(0)1 455 51 38 46, well located, friendly and affordable (100 Euros)
  • Hôtel de la Tulipe** : good value, near Eiffel Tower, 33 rue Malar 75007 Paris Tel.33-(0)1 45 51 67 21
  • Hôtel des Grandes Ecoles***, a captivating hotel with an inner garden, ideally located in the heart of the Latin quarter, 75 rue du Cardinal Lemoine 75005, 33-1 43 26 79 23 (100 Euros, reserve 3 months ahead of time)
  • Hôtel Charlemagne** : an inexpensive recently renovated hotel in Neuilly on the metro line. Small rooms but comfortable. 1 rue Charcot, 92200 Neuilly. Tel.33-(0)1 46 24 27 63. From 80 Euros
  • And also : Hotel du Danube***, in Saint Germain des Prés, 58 rue Jacob 75006 Paris, Tel. 33-1 42 60 34 70, Grand Hotel Jeanne d'Arc***, in the Marais, 3 rue Jarente 75004 Paris, Tel. 33-1 48 87 62 11 or Hotel Delambre***, in Montparnasse, 35 rue Delambre 75014 Paris Tel. 33-1 43 20 66 31
  • For students :
    • 3 Ducks Hostel : cheap and friendly (in the 15th Arrondissement)
    • BVJ has two very clean, safe and well-located youth hostels. Louvre and Quartier Latin (Tel.33-(0)1 53 00 90 90 Fax 33-(0)1 53 00 90 91) (18 Euros/night)
    • FIAP-Jean Monnet, 30 rue Cabanis 75014 Tel. 33-(0)1 43 13 17 00 is an excellent welcome center in Paris for groups of students, with 200 rooms, a restaurant, French lessons, etc...
  • Why not try a Bed & Breakfast ? There are not many in Paris, but most of them are very charming.
  • If you travel outside Paris, try one of the French Bed & Breakfast in a luxury castle or a charming manor. There are several excellent chains and for the price of a traditional hotel, you may have a wonderful experience.
  • "Convenient" : Restaurant du Musée Jacquemart André : a warm atmosphere in a beautifully furnished XVIIIth century mansion and one of the few places in Paris restaurants where you can order only a salad in a restaurant! (20 Euros)
  • "Parisian Bistrot" : Bistrot Paul Bert : reasonably priced, traditional and friendly, 18 rue Paul Bert 75011 Paris tel 01 43 72 24 01
  • "Elegant" : Pré Catelan, route de Suresnes, in the middle of the Bois de Boulogne : for a special occasion, this restaurant is endlessly romantic. Harriet reports : "My husband took me there when I got my French nationality in 1996 and it was an unforgettable experience. If you have a special event to celebrate when in Paris, I highly recommend it." Tel.33-(0)1 44 14 41 14. (100 Euros)
  • "Family Style" : Chez Georges, good food, elegant 18th Century neighborhood, 1 rue du Mail 75002 tel. 33-33-(0)1 42 60 07 11 (40 Euros)
  • "Romantic" : Le Pavillon Montsouris, 20 rue Gazan 75014 Paris, Tel.33-(0)1 45 88 38 52, a 1900 cottage in the charming Parc Montsouris and a lovely place to eat outdoors overlooking the park in summer. Expensive (45 Euros)
  • "A Real Trip" : Le Président, 120 rue du Faubourg du Temple 75011 Paris Tel.33-(0)1 47 00 17 18, a huge and authentic Chinese restaurant, with a spectacular staircase, a traditional place for Chinese wedding parties (20 Euros)
  • "Typical" : Chez Fred, is a quite typical "bouchon lyonnais", i.e. the kind of small restaurant you find in Lyon, good food, good wines, reasonable prices (40 Euros) and a warm ambiance : 190 bis blvd Pereire 75017 Paris, (0)1 45 74 20 40

A few DOs and DONTs about restaurants in France :

  • DON'T go to a French restaurant and order ONE course : restaurants are places where you enjoy a MEAL
  • unless you are sure they'll enjoy it, don't take children to a good French restaurant
  • DO learn a few words to figure out what is on the menu (the translations are often whimsical) : see a short glossary
  • more to come
 

USEFUL TIPS.... A word to the wise: unless you are in an international chain like the Hilton or Sofitel, you may find French hotels a tad small. That's normal: there's less space in Europe and space is considered less important for comfort ! In many hotels, there is no air-conditioning and noisy traffic : select a room on the garden...

DID YOU KNOW THAT...? In France, in general and unless very clearly specified, the French don't usually share the bill. This is a complex situation and you have to be very careful about who had the idea for the dinner, how the decision was made, etc... And remember, if you split, divide the bill by the number of guests : anything like "I didn't take wine" or "I had no dessert" is a HORROR SHOW in France and considered very rude.

USEFUL TIP.... about tipping (!)..... : as you can see on the bills, the tip is always included in restaurants, cafés, bars, etc... (15%) and you can collect the change and leave without the waiter giving you a dirty look. Nevertheless, it is frequent to leave some small change on the table in cafés and a few Euros in restaurants to show your appreciation (from 2 or 3 Euros in a small restaurant to 20 Euros in a top restaurant). It is customary to give a tip to cab drivers (10%), hairdressers (a few Euros), movers (20 Euros each), etc... One word about cabs : NEVER follow a so-called "cab-driver" who sollicits you from outside his cab. It is strictly forbidden and those who do that are, in the best case, illegal cab drivers (and thieves) ; in the worst case, they are serial killers. 

USEFUL TIPS .... In Paris (like in New York and many other places), a restaurant may be wonderful, then successful, then a rip-off within a six-month period of time : beware of young fame... Always remember that prices in Paris restaurants are approximately twice as high as anywhere else in France : you will have this confirmed if you travel outside Paris...

 Shopping    Just-like-home places in Paris
  • The Galeries Lafayette : This is the Parisian department store par excellence, with just about everything under the sun (including a nice Sushi Café on the 5th Floor).
  • The Bon Marché in the Latin Quarter is another typically Parisian department store which has been entirely renovated. It's known for its spectacular "épicerie" (food department) which is very good, but very expensive.
  • The Galerie du Louvre : Fabulous shopping for clothes, CDs, art objects and gift items in the gallery underneath the Pyramid. And don't forget to go to the Louvre while you're at it!
  • Oliviers & Co. 81 rue Saint Louis en l'Ile 75004 Paris Tel.33-(0)1 40 46 89 37 gastronomical, inexpensive and wonderful (light) gifts.
  • Click here for the French system of units (size, etc...) , for intelligent shopping in France and here for a letter from a visitor!
  • The Flea Market (Porte de Clignancourt, Sat./Sun./Monday) : It's always fun to go to the Flea Market just for a change of scenery (but you really do have to watch out for pickpockets : this is one of their favorite places). There is also a flea market Porte de Montreuil (Sat./Sun./Monday), big but it is less interesting. Another Flea market, Porte de Vanves (Sat./Sunday), is worth the visit and much smaller.
  • Want to see how the shopping malls were designed nearly two centuries ago ? Visit one of the Galeries in the 9th Arrondissement ; some of them are very pretty : for example Galerie Vivienne (jewelry, books, tea-rooms, etc...), Passage Verdeau and Passage Jouffroy (antique shops, small shops selling only incredible things such as mini-furnitures for dolls or ancient canes etc..., cheap restaurants, hotels, ....) ; these passages are very well described in Aragon's "Le Paysan de Paris".
  • More to come...
 

 When homesick, you can go places which look, more or less, like their American models and where you can meet lots of Americans like you. Among them :

  • American grocery store : genuine US products available in-store at Thanksgiving, 20 rue Saint-Paul 75004 Tel. 01 42 77 68 29
  • And also : The Real McCoy, 194 rue de Grenelle 75007 Tel. (0)1 45 56 98 82
  • A TexMex Restaurant: Café Pacifico, 50 blvd du Montparnasse 75015
  • A New York Restaurant : Joe Allen, 30 Rue Pierre Lescot 75001 Paris tel. 33-1 42 36 70 13
  • A New York Bar : Harry's Bar, 5 Rue Daunou 75009 Paris, famous for its election nights and straw polls (founded 1924).
  • A Southern Restaurant : Haynes, 3 Rue Clauzel 75009 Paris tel. 33-1 48 78 40 63
  • An American Museum : Musée d'Art Americain, 99 rue Claude Monet 27620 Giverny tel. 33-2 32 51 94 65 ; a well put together collection of American painting of the times of Claude Monet, facing the archi-famous house and garden of the painter
  • For food and music, Chesterfield Café is the best but there's also Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Café, not to mention many Irish Pubs, generally friendly and affordable.
  • An American Church, 65 Quai d'Orsay, a key-landmark of the American community in Paris
  • Paris Live Radio is the only radio station in Paris exclusively in English.
  • Order American products online, go to an American bookstores, play paintball, visit American landmarks in Paris, play in one of the very few French baseball clubs or go to Disneyland Paris !
  • More to come

Click here if you are not American.

 Bistrots,bars, tea rooms, etc...    
  • Le Batofar 11 quai François Mauriac 75013 is moored near the National Library (very "in", with quality DJs)
  • Le Café Charbon, 109 rue Oberkampf, 75011, for the "in" crowd, in a booming neighborhood
  • Le Rosebud, 11 rue Delambre 75006, something of the atmosphere of a New-York bar
  • If you have a drink at the Closerie des Lilas, also in Montparnasse, each table has a little copper plate on it with the name of one of the illustrious people who had a drink at this table before you (Ernest Hemingway, Soutine, Picasso, Henry Miller and many others).
  • The Long Hop, Place Maubert 75005 for a drink, a pool game, a quiz etc...
  • Le Barrio Latino, 46 rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine 75011, a must hang out for the "in" crowd
  • Le Petit Journal Montparnasse, 13 rue de Commandant Mouchotte 75015, drinks or inexpensive dinner and (very often) good jazz music
  • Le Buddha Bar, 8bis rue Boissy d'Anglas, 75008, for yuppies
  • Le Sancerre, 22 Avenue Rapp 75007, a pleasant wine bar, just in front of one of the most beautiful apartment buildings in Paris (Art Nouveau style)
  • Auld Alliance , 80 rue François Miron, 75004, is a very friendly Scottish sportsbar in the "Marais"
  • More to come...
 

DID YOU KNOW THAT..... If you shop at the Galeries Lafayette, do not miss (just across the street) the most beautiful bank agency in Paris : a huge and spectacular Art-Nouveau hall (Société Générale, 29 blvd Haussmann).

USEFUL TIPS : shoppers are invited to view the latest styles at free fashion shows at Le Printemps (Tuesdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. from April 1 to October 31) and at the Galeries Lafayette (Wednesdays 11 a.m. and Fridays 2:30 p.m. from April 1 to October 31, reservation required Tel. 01 48 74 02 30 or welcome @galerieslafayette.com).

DID YOU KNOW THAT.....? French shopkeepers are famous for being unpredictable and often unpleasant. The concept of service to customer doesn't mean the same thing as it does in the USA.... When they say "non", it doesn't always mean "no" : click here to discover what it means.

 Tea rooms

  • A Priori Thé, a friendly tea room in one of the most charming passageways of Paris, light lunches, 35 Galerie Vivienne 75002 Tel. (0)1 42 97 48 75
  • Among the best tea rooms in Paris : Mariage Frères, 30 rue du Bourg Thibourg 75004 Tel (0)1 42 72 28 11 (the Mecca of Tea in Paris, large variety of teas, light lunches, gift shop), Crillon, 10 Place de la Concorde, 75008, very "chic", Fauchon, 26 Place de la Madeleine, 75008, Toraya, 10 rue Saint Florentin, 75001, Forêt Noire, 9 rue de l'Eperon 75006, la Maison du Thé, 20 boulevard Saint Germain, 75005. If you are fascinated by the ceremony of tea in Japanese culture, every Wednesday at the Maison de la Culture du Japon at 3pm and 4pm (Tel.(0)1 44 37 95 95).
 

DID YOU KNOW THAT...... ? Paris used to be a very clean city but now, in spite of all the little "men-in-green" (city Waste & Parks Department), the city is much more littered than it used to be. The reason is what the French call "Plan Vigipirate" (literally : "watch-out-for-pirates-plan") implemented after the terrorist attacks in 1986. All the traditional street garbage cans have been transformed into ugly plastic sacks, so you could see a bomb through them if there was one. Unfortunately, they are often torn apart. Too bad....

DID YOU KNOW THAT....? Lively neighborhoods (and bars...) follow creators, stylists, artists, musicians, writers : from Montmartre (XIXème siècle) to Montparnasse (in the 1920s), Saint Germain des Prés (after WWII) and now la Bastille and the East of Paris (11th, 12th and 20th arrondissements). and then the edge of Paris : Montreuil, Aubervilliers, etc...

 See also outside Paris..., less known museums, Theaters, concerts etc..., local colour andoff the beaten path (some ideas....) : remember that sometimes, you can experience a magic moment in Paris...

To related pages : more suggested places (#2), Where do Americans live in Paris ?, links to American - run businesses in Paris, Chinese Paris, Japanese Paris, etc....

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Harriet Welty Rochefort writes articles and books about France and the French. Order her books :

  • "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
  • "French Toast, An American in Paris Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press, New York, 1999
  • "French Fried, The Culinary Capers of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001

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