I haven’t updated much since I got back for two main reasons: (1) I have a nasty cold; and (2) I really liked that the main page was completely filled with my Paris posts and videos for latecomers to graze over. But now that grazing time’s over, I thought I’d do a wrap-up. Mainly this is written to those who wrote or left comments saying they’re going to Paris soon and are using my posts for suggestions. For everyone else, perhaps one day you’ll go and try these places too. It’s not as impossible as you might think. If I were you, I’d keep checking the Virgin Vacations site. The package we were on was $449 for round-trip airfare and 5 nights at a hotel. True, the hotel wasn’t luxurious or anything but it was totally fine and well-worth it for the days we spent in Paris.
Ok, so now for my round up. A few things. This is an idiosyncratic list. Meaning: these aren’t Michelin choices, they’re based on my experiences and tastes. In fact, all five restaurants are quite reasonable money-wise and better for students than, say, Ivana Trump. For the glitterati, go to Joel Robuchon—he’ll turn you away and you’ll love it. Everyone else, follow me!
Adam’s Top Five Favorite Meals in Paris
[Note: to read detailed accounts of these meals, just click through the Ah, Paris archive.]
1. Chez Omar. Recommended by David Lebovitz, this was the meal John desires for his final meal should he ever be executed. I agree. Well. If the meal had to be from Paris, then yes: probably this. Just simple, classic French dishes in a boisterous, authentically Parisian environment. The steak frites had us floating out of our booth on wings of meaty ecstasy. And all very reasonable.
2. L’As Du Fallafel. When readers recommended I try fallafel in Paris I thought they were out of their heads. “Go to Paris for fallafel? Why that’s absurd!” said my thought bubble. But having been to L’As and having discovered Le Marais, I am converted. In fact, I get hunger pangs just thinking about that overstuffed pita drenched in sauce. With fries on the side and a perfectly tart lemonade, this is a meal you shouldn’t miss.
3. Au Gourmand. This place is the fanciest of the bunch but it’s also the cutest. They’re so eager to please and the food’s just dynamite. Patricia Wells recommended it and I second that recommendation. It’s on the left bank so this can be your left bank day: see Shakespeare & Co., explore Luxembourg Gardens and then lunch here. And don’t miss the french toast dessert, you’ll cry it’s so good.
4. Chez Paul. Here’s where David took me for lunch on the day we met. You walk in and the room’s alive, just like it is at Chez Omar only a bit cozier here. This, you feel, is where real Parisians eat and now you’re one of them. Start with the frisee and lardons salad (if you don’t fear choking) and then feast on a pot-au-feau; a meat-lover’s dream come true, steaming in its aromatic broth, presented with coarse salt and spicy mustard. Get a carafe of wine and you’ll be eating pretty.
5. Le Clou. This one’s more a sentimental choice for me, so don’t go out of your way to eat here: it’s just the place I ate my first (and last) night in Paris right near my 17th arron. hotel. The food’s lovely and the environment’s really friendly, if a tiny bit trendy. Should you be in the neighborhood, check it out. Have the venison, it’s Bambi-riffic.
And as for all the non-meal places we noshed? Here’s a list for that!
Adam’s Top Five Favorite Bites in Paris
1. Pierre Herme. When pastries die and go to heaven they are judged and if they are judged well they are reborn on the shelves of Pierre Herme. This is the most beautiful, exciting, lavish pastry shop I’ve ever visited. The passion fruit chocolate pop I sampled (you can watch me eating it in the first Paris film) is an edible thesis on the existence of a higher being, or at least a higher pastry maker who can take simple ingredients and explode them into something extraordinary. Not to be missed.
2. Lauderee. Debates ensue about the best macaroon in Paris, but for my money sitting on the 2nd floor of the Lauderee near the Opera station (there are a few Lauderees) eating macaroons and sipping tea confirmed my belief that deep down in my soul is an old lady trying to break free. Lauderee let my old lady shine and if I’m ever in Paris again, I know I’m going back. Get the macaroon sampler–you get to try them all (though it is a bit pricey. But my old lady’s rich.)
3. Poilane. Best bread in Paris? That’s what they say. But John’s croissant and my pain chocolat were top-notch. If you’re nearby, stop in and sniff the air, admire the breadwork (there’s a bread chandelier and a bread mosaic on the wall) and buy something to taste and appreciate. Apparently, you can even see the ovens if you ask. In case you don’t know the French it’s: “Voulez vous coucher avec moi.”
4. Berthillion. I don’t regret going in winter, but should you go in spring or summer you have no excuse not to visit Ile. St. Louis (right behind Notre Dame) to stroll past the stores and specialty shops and then to stop for ice cream at Berthillion. Try the honey nougat or prune armagnac or one of the other unusual flavors. If you’re feeling decadent ask for whipped cream and a feather boa. Then sashay out without paying your check. Just kidding: pay your check and then sashay out.
5. La Grande Epicerie. If you like shopping, check out Le Bon Marche and then stop into La Grand Epicerie just to see a high-end Paris supermarket and to try one of the pastries from the pastry case right near the front. I had a cannelle and I don’t regret it. Neither will you.
Hope all of this has inspired you to consider a trip to Paris! Remember: all it took was a whim and a click of a button and John and I were on a plane three weeks later. If you do go, let me know. I know a great hotel…
It is with great honor and self-aggrandizement that I present to you two of the greatest films to hit the internet since Pamela Anderson uttered the words, “Tommy Lee, I do.”
Dragging a video camera through Paris takes work and effort, and here is the product of that work and effort. The first film–”J’Eat Paris”–stars John (on the right), his brother Chris, and myself as we eat our way across Paris.
The second film features the renowned David Lebovitz as he treats us to one of his much sought-after chocolate tours, but starting with a tour of his favorite Paris market. The man is a consummate professional.
David expressed concern over my choice of music, but I think I handled that issue nicely. These films, if not future Oscar winners, will certainly survive as my own special, personal souvenirs from a fantastic trip. Hope you enjoy them too.
Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco; I left my heart in Paris. I also left my jeans in Paris. Seriously. They were my favorite pair. And right now they’re under the bed in room 204 of the Pavillon Pereire Arc de Triomphe Hotel. I suppose the saying is true: you can take the boy out of Paris, but you can’t take the boy’s jeans out of Paris. Now that bumper sticker totally makes sense.
Abrupt segue alert: French Toast!
This is my favorite food picture I took the whole trip. It comes from “Au Gourmand” a restaurant I discovered from Patricia Wells’s website. She writes: “A Left Bank newcomer worth visiting is Au Gourmand, a tiny restaurant the size of a railroad car just across from the Luxembourg Gardens. Chef Christian Courgeau and partner Hervé de Libouton offer an unpretentious, carefully conceived little spot that’s run with care and attention….If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss the pain perdue aux cerises, classic French toast paired with super sweet cherries and a dollop of pistachio ice cream.”
You can just look at that picture above and savor the simplicity and the wonder of those flavor pairings. And the color and presentation. This is what Paris is all about. And this was the first meal I ate after John left…
Like any major city, Paris has the face it shows to the world (the tower, the arc, Jacques Chirac) and then it has its own secret, private identity. For tourists breezing through, you hit the major spots–you ride that elevator and take pictures, you stroll down the Champs and buy “Paris Original” t-shirts. But for those lucky enough to stay a bit longer, you begin to discover secret little nooks most tourists don’t know about and in the process you add whole new shades to the Paris tapestry you’re weaving in your head. I’m grateful to my readers (five in all) who urged John and I to hit L’As du Fallafel at some point in our visit:
For anyone planning to visit Paris in the future (and it seems like there are a few of you), add this to your “must do” list. There are a few reasons why. First of all, the falafel’s fantastic…
I am a bad Parisian food blogger. Today’s Wednesday, Day 7, and I have to backtrack now to Day 4. But this is a good thing, I think. It means I’ve been so busy enjoying this beautiful city I fell behind. Or it means I’ve been kidnapped and replaced by a young Parisian upstart whose attempt to assume my identity will be thwarted by his inability to finish his sentences in English, monsieur. Mon dieu!
The scope of our Sunday eating was such that the alternative title for this post was: “From Decadence to Squalor” but that seemed too dramatic. Suffice it to say there was indeed some decadence and some squalor. Here’s a taste of decadence:
That’s the colorful window at Pierre Herme where we enjoyed some of the best desserts we’ve ever eaten. But our day began a bit further away at the Arc de Triomphe….
Saturday was the Day of Food. A video camera is my greatest tool for coercing innocent friends (John) and brothers of friends (Chris) into binge eating their way across a city. In this case the city was Paris. A list was made of all the most important places we needed to hit in our film—the Best Bread, the Best Cheese, the Best Macaroons–and a strategy was developed that would allow us to visit these places in succession without riding the Metro (John only had a few tickets left) and without destroying our feet. I am here to report that our mission was a success. The film will be edited next week for your enjoyment, but for now please sit back and soak in the many still pictures of the food we consumed. Hope you’re hungry like these people are hungry lining up for macaroons at Laduree.
But Laduree is not where our story begins. We begin at the very beginning after the bump.
On Friday morning, John would arrive the same time I did on Thursday (he took the same flight). Because I napped for six hours Thursday afternoon, I woke up at the crack of dawn on Friday (around 6:30 am) and decided to go exploring before John got there after 10 (the flight landed at 7:30 so I figured it’d take him 2.5 hours to commute to the hotel). Since I hadn’t made friends with the Metro yet, I decided to purchase a three-day Metro pass (the orange “week” card could only be bought on Monday) and I rode the train to the Opera station because it seemed very central.
When I got up the stairs, this is what I saw:
I think it’s one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen. And in that morning glow, it was magical.
I walked around the area and it suddenly seemed very familiar…
Here I was, eager to share with you every moment of every experience I’ve experienced thus far on my Paris adventure and then Typepad goes nuts and won’t let me post for two days. Ah well: now’s the opportunity to scramble and catch up. John’s already asleep so I’ll keep my typing noise down and try to cram as much in here as I can without writing a mini-novel.
When you last left me, I had reached my hotel in the 17th arrondissement. John’s brother Chris (who arrived yesterday) joked that our hotel’s so far out of the way we’re practically in Normandy. He’s not even kidding. What’s frustrating is that part of the reason we chose this hotel from the options Virgin Vacations gave us is that the hotel has “Arc De Triomphe” in the title and so we figured, naturally, that the hotel was quite close to the Arc De Triomphe. Boy were we wrong. Here’s our hotel:
The Arc De Triomphe? Oh it’s about 30 minutes away by foot. Not exactly in the hotel’s backyard. The hotel is about 10 minutes from the nearest metro station and once on the metro it’s not a problem getting anywhere we need to go. So in the end, this hotel is fine it’s just not ideal but when you’re paying as little as we did for this trip I guess we can’t complain. Plus we got hot water back last night and for that I am very grateful.
But you’re not here to read about hotels and hot water and Metro rides. You’re here to read about food. Are you curious about the very first thing I ate upon my first visit to Paris in seven years? Click ahead to find out.