Dining and Drinking, Paris
There are so many Japanese restaurants in Paris, but very few of them are genuine. The photo we took is of a Japanese restaurant that was closed on January 1st. Take and I couldn't believe a restaurant would leave a table like this by their front window for all to see. Moreover, we couldn't believe a Japanese person would ever leave a table like this.
Some Japanese restaurants in Paris state the fact that they are Japanese and Chinese, but many don't. Japanese food isn't cheap in Paris (or anywhere really), so if you're going to pay that much try to find an authentic one. Most we walked by were run by Chinese or Koreans. The flavours and ingredients will be better if you find an authentic one.
Unique Suggestions: Go with what you know and order the sashimi if you like raw fish. Generally it should be a good option.
At the restaurant, the menu has a fixed price including the dishes and the tip but NOT the beverage. If you ask for water, the waiter will bring you a bottle of water (still or sparkling) which will be added to the bill.
2 sentences can help you to save some money :
1) 'Avec une carafe d'eau s'il vous plait' (with a carafe of water, please)
and when the waiter come back with the meal,
2) 'Excusez-moi, vous avez oublié la carafe d'eau' (I apologize, you forgot the carafe of water).
The 'carafe d'eau'' is free (the refill too) and they are reluctant to supply it.
Fun Alternatives: No. You cannot bring your own bottle of wine. Sorry.
The price of dining out in Paris can be astronomical : escargots, truffles and Fois gras don't come cheap in life.
Even the restaurants (such as the tons around the Latin quarter) which seemed to offer a reasonable 'fixed' price menu will inevitably find a legal way to 'bump up' the bill.
The price of drinks is the most obvious extra with a half-litre costing up to a 10 euro note, and a carafe of wine twice that. Restaurants also add 'service', 'cover charge', 'chefs booze fund' or 'tax' on as well - and you have little way of knowing if they are being reasonable. And that is all before they start sniffing for a tip.
Unique Suggestions: Read the menu carefully, and ask for prices that are not marked !
Fun Alternatives: Stick to take-away outfits, or eat in less touristy place. A chinese out at La Defense for example will be cheap in comparison, and without those dreaded 'extras.
My wife and I figured out one very important gem of information while eating across Paris - if it is withing viewing distance of a monument, museum or any kind of tourist attration- the food will suck and they will treat you like crap.
Everytime we went to grab a lunch next to where we visited, hungry and sore feet, we'd walk into a place and they would stick up upstairs with the other American tourists. Everytime! I mean downstairs was for locals and we'd get screwed with the new waiter or rude one and be in a back room. They really, really could give a crap about you. Plus is usually was 2 times as expensive.
Unique Suggestions: Just grab a glass of wine and an appetizer to hold you over until you can find somewhere good. Trust me.
Fun Alternatives: Have a snack in your bag or grab a lite bite and then walk another 4-5 block away from the attraction and you can find something so much better. This worked everytime - 4-5 blocks off the main strip there we all kinds of great places to eat who welcomed your business.
FYI this tip applies to Rome too.
I try to avoid mediocre restaurants that cater to tourists, and I am sometimes skeptical if the menu is in English or if the place has a sign that advertises they speak English.
Unique Suggestions: Non... Not in Paris. Life is too short.
If you encounter one of the "trap" restaurants or cafes on the Champs Ellysees, Blvd. Montparnasse, Latin Quarter, or anywhere that advertises "loudly&proudly" in English,
more and more french restaurants are putting little lines in English on the cartes.
I personally hate it.
Fun Alternatives: Get a Marling Menu-Master for France. (I have three: one for France, 1 for Italy, and 1 for Germany.) These are useful little tools for reading menus in any language.
Then look for smaller places off the main streets that have a lot of locals eating there.
Your hotel conscierge should most certainly be able to help you find good local places to eat. With a little practice you will be able to use your menu-master to decode any menu in any language.
"Emince de Volaille?"
I'd love reheated slices of roast bird (probably chicken) in it's juice and mild sauce for $10. (menu-master pg. 69)
You can find a Marling Menu-Master for France at many places online, such as Amazon.com and others. Check it out here:
you can buy Marling here
My advice, for what it is worth:
Don't waste your valuable time and money on mediocre cuisine in tourist traps.
The second foto of a red Latin Quarter Menu is by Anthony Atkielski
My 'mistake' occurred on my second visit to a charming little restaurant not too far from the Notre Dame. After ordering a cup of tea and a crepe the waiter casually asked me whether I would like a glass of water. Although the water was clearly decantered from a large bottle in to the little bottle I received, they charged me E$4.00 (about AUD $6.60). When I queried the price they said a couple who had just left had paid the same amount. Not willing to haggle in English, and unable to speak much French I paid and though 'at least I have a tourist trap to add to my VT site!'.
Fun Alternatives: Always, always, always check the price of each item you order!
La Rotonde de la Muette
12, chaussée de la Muette, Paris 75016
Don't get sucked into eating at this restaurant in the 16th arrondissement just because it's convenient to the Marmottan! Although it's listed on one of my new favorite Paris websites, Philocafés, the food was just "okay" and I couldn't highly recommend it. I made the mistake of assuming this was like the historic café in Montparnasse, La Rotonde, which goes to show you where assumptions will take you.
I'm not one who expects to get chummy with her servers and expect an aloof yet professional staff but the personnel here was rather distant, both physically & personality-wise. Because it is near the Musée Marmottan, out in the 16th arrondissement so I thought it would be a safe bet, meaning out of the touristy sections, but I was wrong.
Out of three trips to Paris, this is only one of two places with which I've ever been dissatisfied.
For 31.50€ I had a Filet de "bœuf de Cantal" grillé (grilled fillet of beef from the Cantal region)(with frites) and a fromage blanc au miel (white cheese with honey) accompanied by a 1/2 carafe of the house wine. Not bad but for that price I've had better.
Photo Credit: Pages Jaunes
Unique Suggestions: Go to the Musée Marmottan. Too bad they don't have a café on-site like the Louvre, the d'Orsay or the Centre Pompidou.
Fun Alternatives: It seems like all the good restaurants in the 16th are north of Palais de Chaillot so if you find yourself in this area pick up a sandwich (and some macarons) at Boulangerie Paul, located at 44 rue l'Annonciation, about a block or 2 past La Muette Métro station.
Or if you're on your way to la Tour Eiffel after this little jaunt then go to one of my fave small not-well-known restos, Restaurant Chez Ribe at 15 avenue Suffren, 5 minutes south from La Tour.
Photo: August 2005
beware of bars and resturants within the center of Paris...they can charge up to five pounds for a small glass of coke! only drink in a bar during the day if you really need too.
Unique Suggestions: instead, try and buy a drink for a local supermarket as it will be at least half the price and you don't have to waste any time sitting when you can be exploring the city!
If you are on a budget be aware that the waiter will happiy show you to an outside table. That's fine but the prices are usually higher. You'll sometimes find that you also have to remind the waiter about the change you are due.
Unique Suggestions: Why not sit inside by the window or stand at the counter.
Well maybe I've been just unlucky, but restaurants I've been to, in le Quartier Latin, were just not the best I've been to, in Paris.
Unique Suggestions: Have a crêpes in a stand. Really yummy.
Fun Alternatives: If you don't have a guidebook that suggests any parisian and french food, and not a lot of money, try a typical taverne and then you can upgrade if you go crazy. Hah.
The atmosphere and setting of the latin quarter is great - no one is going to argue with that. But the quality of food is pretty appauling. I was served up a plate of mussels that would embarrass any frenchmen.
Unique Suggestions: Eat first!
Fun Alternatives: Ask the locals where they go to eat, ethnic food is always cheaper and of good quality and good french food shouldn't leave you too out of pocket. See my tip on Chez Michel as a good starting point.
My Bofinger experience is probably the most disappointing of anything in Paris. I went there with three friends, all of whom spoke French. We were seated in a small, windowless room on the second floor which was crowded with other Americans ONLY. The food was mediocre, at best and while the service was formal, it was severe. I was not impressed. Read Patricia Well's review of Bofinger in "Food Lover's Guide to Paris". It hits the nail on the head.
Unique Suggestions: I should have asked for a different table, which I did not. Try asking a local in the boulangerie or the patisserie where they would eat. I've gotten some great recommendations.
I once sat with my friend at the cafe opposite to Moulin Rouge,he wanted beer so he ordered one and i didn't feel thirsty so i just sat.Minutes later,the waiter served me tab water with lemon sliced.Turns out they charge me at the same price as one pin of beer what my friend drank!! Jesus... I didn't order that god d*** tab water...
Unique Suggestions: If you really need to sit at the cafe with your friends so you must order something more classy than the t ab water :S
I don't remember the name of this area, but there's a huge number of tourists, and a lot of greek restaurants...there's also french restaurants with menus (menu is a complete set...or a 3 course meal) around 10-15 Euros.
The one we chose must've been the worst food I'd had in a few years (even counting my own cooking).
Fun Alternatives: As anywhere, the best rule, is look for locals...since locals won't go twice to a bad restaurant...so if you want good food, and not TV dinners, follow the locals.
Walking in the Latin Qtr. you will definitely not miss Rue St. Severin and Rue de La Huchette off of Blvd. St. Michel. They are two of Paris' medieval streets, cobblestoned, tiny. But they are loaded not only with the typical TT (tourist traps) but also another kind of TT: Greek restaurants. The guys stand in the doorways beckoning passersby to eat at their restaurants. And if they are not eyecatching, then out come the dinner plates that they smash at their feet. Hopefully by doing this your attention is theirs. Mostly the food is overpriced and not of the greatest quality.