Trip Coach: June 5, 2007
Clotilde Dusoulier, author of the new book Chocolate and Zucchini, answered your questions about Paris and food.
Clotilde Dusoulier: Welcome everyone! Thanks for joining me in this discussion about food and Paris, and thank you for all your questions -- I'll try to get to as many as I can.
Portland, OR: My husband and I are going to Paris for 6 days on our first trip to Europe in August. We would love to experience as much of the Paris food and wine world as possible, but also need to save money where we can. Can you please recommend some good "cheap" places to dine as well as a few places that we should splurge on? We will be staying in the New Orient Hotel located on rue Constantinople near the Arc de Triomphe, so restaurants that are closer by would be even better. Thanks!
Clotilde Dusoulier: One of the best budget tips when eating out in Paris is to make lunch your main meal of the day, because most restaurants offer lunch formulas that are great bargains: a restaurant like Le Bélisaire (2 rue Marmontel in the 15th; +33 1 48 28 62 24) has an outstanding 3-course lunch menu that only costs 20 euros.
And in the evening, you can opt for a more simple meal at a wine bar, where you'll have drinks and a few nibbles of cured meat and cheese--try Le garde-Robe, for instance (41 rue de l'Arbre Sec in the 1st; +33 1 49 26 90 60).
Milwaukee, WI: Clotilde
We have been to Paris several times enjoy trying all of the food there, but where can we find the best and cheapest steak and frites? Thanks! Mary
Clotilde Dusoulier: Hello Mary! First of all, keep in mind that the best of anything is rarely the cheapest, especially when it comes to meat: high-quality meat and fresh, made-to-order fries have a price.
That said, I really like the steak-frites that's served at Le Sévéro (8 rue des Plantes in the 14th; +33 1 45 40 40 91) or its sister restaurant, Le Bis du Sévéro (16 rue des Plantes in the 14th; +33 1 40 44 73 09), where the owner ages his own meat. And although it comes with garlic potatoes rather than fries, I highly recommend the entrecôte (rib steak) at Corneil (18 rue Condorcet in the 9th; +33 1 49 95 92 25).
Los Angeles, CA: Hello,
Since we generally know that those restaurants that have menus printed in eight different languages probably aren't our best bet for a night of fine dining, what is the best way to approach a restaurant if you don't speak French?
Do you politely ask the host/hostess if they speak English, etc.?
Clotilde Dusoulier: That's a great question, as the language barrier can sometimes get the relationship off to a faulty start.
Try to find a bit of time before you leave to learn a few words and phrases; it's the best investment you can make to prepare for your trip.
Of course, no one is saying that all visitors should speak French fluently; the idea is simply to show that you're making an effort. And regardless of your language skills, you should always address a French person in French first, and never assume that they speak or even understand English.
There is no magic trick, really: say "Bonjour" ("Bonsoir" in the evening), smile, and politely ask, "Parlez-vous anglais?" If they do switch to English, thank them, show that you're grateful for their efforts, and speak slowly (but not louder) to make yourself understood. And if they don't speak English, well, keep smiling, and try to communicate with gestures and what little each of you knows of the other's language.
Also, there are several food-oriented dictionaries out there that will help you decipher menu offerings.
Greensboro NC: Sugguestions for a good Thai and or Vietnamese restaurants in Paris
Clotilde Dusoulier: For Thai cuisine, I like to go to Krung Thep (93 rue Julien Lacroix in the 20th; +33 1 43 66 83 74) and for Vietnamese cuisine to Dan Bau (18 rue des Trois Frères in the 18th; +33 1 42 62 45 59).
Studio City, CA: What's the best area to stay in for a month if you want to live like a local? Like you, I just want to meander, shop, eat, people watch, write and maybe visit a few museums. I plan on attending the French Open and travel to Cannes next year. Thanks.
Clotilde Dusoulier: I suggest you pick a place that's close to a good food shopping street, such as rue Montorgueil in the 1st, rue Cler in the 7th, rue des Martyrs in the 9th, rue de Levis or rue Poncelet in the 17th, or rue des Abbesses in the 18th.