Trip Coach: May 13, 2008
Clotilde Dusoulier, author of 'Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris' and 'Chocolate and Zucchini,' answered your questions on Paris and food.
Chattanooga, Tenn.: Heading to Paris next month. Can you recommend a good restuarant(s) to have a good, but not necessarily super-fancy or expensive meal in Paris. We will typically be eating picnic-style from markets, but we would like to have at least one French cuisine dining experience while in Paris. Thanks!
Clotilde Dusoulier: Paris offers plenty of what we call "neo bistros," i.e. casual restaurants that offer great food for a reasonable price. I can for instance suggest Au Fil des Saisons in the 3rd, or Le Pré Verre in the 5th.
St. Paul, Minn.: I will be in Europe from 9/5/08 to 9/22/08. While in Paris from 9/15 to 9/22, I would like to dine in Alain Ducasse's restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, Le Jules Verne for lunch. I would welcome any advice on obtaining reservations or other tips. Thanks for your help.
Clotilde Dusoulier: Excelent idea—the lunch service at Le Jules Verne is an very good deal. Reservations for lunch are not too difficult to come by: call two or three weeks in advance to be safe, and don't forget to request a windowside table.
College Park, Md.: Hi, Clotilde! Your blog is wonderful. I was wondering if you could recommend some good strategies for vegetarians who love Paris but don't want to starve? Any restaurant recommendations? Thanks!
Clotilde Dusoulier: Rather than going to all-vegetarian restaurants (I'm usually not impressed by the ones we have in Paris), I recommend going to vegetarian-friendly restaurants that offer vegetarian options, or whose cuisine is so vegetable-oriented you will find it easy to get by with a few adjustments. I can mention Rose Bakery in the 9th, Soya in the 11th, or Macéo in the 2nd.
St Nicolas du Pelem, Brittany: We love day trips to Paris, but have yet to find a decent 'formule'. We seem to find expensive mediocre food, especially in the tourist spots. We are looking for a possibly family run restaurant, that has a set lunchtime menu for a good price.
Clotilde Dusoulier: Good lunch deals abound in Paris if you know where to look—lunchtime is actually the best time to eat out if you're on a budget. Two lunch formules that spring to mind are that of Mon Vieil Ami, a handsome bistro on Ile Saint-Louis in the 4th, or that of Autour d'un Verre, a homey wine bar in the 9th.
Minneapolis, Minn.: I will be in Paris (for the first time) with 4 other women friends (all of us in our 40's) this June (16-18th). With the value of the American dollar going down, what would be your recommendation for "tasting" Paris on a budget? Also, do you have any recommendations for the wine lovers in our group? Merci, Laura
Clotilde Dusoulier: To enjoy Paris on a budget, one of the tips I can share is to take advantage of greenmarkets and food shops : buy quality prepared foods (quiches, terrines, salads, cheese, bread, fruit, pastries) and eat "picnic-style" for at least part of the time. Renting an apartment with a kitchen is also a great money-saving strategy.
Pittsburgh, Pa.: My teenage daughters and I will be traveling to Paris in less than a week. We do not speak French, and are wondering how to find places that speak English, and are "American Friendly." We hear stories about the French not liking non French speaking customers. Any advice on how we can plan an itinerary that includes safe areas and menus we can read and easily order from would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
Clotilde Dusoulier: That's a great question, as the language barrier can sometimes get things off to a faulty start. My first recommendation is that you try to find a little time before you leave (or on the plane!) to learn a few very basic words and phrases; it really is the best investment you can make to prepare for your trip.
The idea is simply to show that you're making an effort: people will then be happy to meet you halfway. 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.
Staunton, Va.: My wife and I are planning on visiting Paris in mid August. What are the negatives of this time of year and the upsides? Thanks.
Clotilde Dusoulier: Re: August in Paris, the pros are that the weather is usually nice and that there is a uniquely relaxed atmosphere in the city. The con is that many businesses, including restaurants and food shops, close down during the month of August, or from mid-July to mid-August.
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