Cafés et Restaurants

One of the most anticipated parts of our trip was the wine tasting and French food. We visited more than 30 restaurants during our stay, including French, Brazilian, Moroccan and Italian. We were delighted with most of the food, especially the French, which included a wide variety of crêpes, escargots, tartes, and desserts. Here are some restaurants we visited.

Le Procope

Le Procope, our first French experience. Just moments after arriving from the airport we visited this Paris institution that opened in 1686. Figures such as Voltaire, Diderot and Victor Hugo visited and ate at Le Procope.

The Scene

Beautifully decorated. Chandeliers decorate the ceilings, while books and sculptures of celebrated and famous man decorate the 300 year old walls and their surroundings. Nine salons and dining rooms are decorated with style, although some of the rooms seem a bit deteriorated. Candlelight dinners are served throughout the night and visitors often enjoy sitting near the windows.

The Food

Le Procope offers a rich selection of platters, ranging from moderately priced to very expensive. The restaurant offers a wide selection of seafood platters and French traditional plates such as coq au vin, French onion soup and duck with honey sauce. The restaurant also offers a menu, which has limited items to choose from. Since this was the first experience for many of us to French food and to the "menu" idea, it was hard for many of us to choose good plates. As a result, many of us didn't enjoy our selections. For many of us, the best part was the desserts. Some of us had the opportunity to taste the galette de rois, while others craved glaces (ice cream) and the pommes au four.

Insider Tip: For a good time, dinner seemed the best time. Reservations recommended. Food is ok, not that great. Some dishes are over priced, others are reasonably priced. Be prepared to spend over $100 if you don't order from the "daily menu". Recommended.

La Coupole

This restaurant, established in 1927 at Montparnasse, has become another institution in Paris. La Coupole is one of the best examples of a Parisian brasserie.

The Scene

In a contemporary setting, the restaurant provides a good environment for an evening of good food, conversation and fun. The contemporary décor along with table booths give the restaurant a classy yet modern look.

The Food

The food is excellent. The menu offers a wide range of selections, such as escargots, green salad, mushroom cassoulet, fresh oysters, lobster, lamb and beef. The preferred choice of many was the filet dorade as an entrée. The dessert menu is pretty well varied, including delicious desserts such as profiteroles, crème brûlée, and tarte aux pommes.

Insider Tip: Great location, and a great ambiance. Service was adequate, but food was great. If you are up for a relaxing evening with good food, this is the place for you. Reservations not required, but recommended. Highly recommended.

Royal Turenne

This small café is a great place to catch a quick lunch.

The Scene

Located near the Place des Vosges, this café provides a great ambiance during lunchtime. The crowded atmosphere in this small café is reminiscent of a busy American café at rush hour. There’s hardly any walking space inside the restaurant, and visitors are forced to sit in the aisles, thus blocking sometimes the exit.

The Food

The food is decent, ranging from simple dishes such as salads and soups, up to more complicated dishes such as steaks and frites. Soups are not the house specialty, but, however, are fairly good. The soup de poisson is particularly good. Sandwiches are good, and the steak and frites is fairly good. Do stay away from the French onion soup, since it does not quite live up to expectations.

Insider Tip: Small, uncomfortable sitting areas and slow service, but good for a quick lunch. Moderately priced. Recommended.

La Tavern

La Tavern is a stylish restaurant located near the Opera Comique. Following the theater tradition of taking a soup a l’oignon after an opera, we headed toward La Tavern after Zazou.

The Scene

Beautifully decorated restaurant with chandeliers. A semi circular stairway is in the middle of the restaurant, giving the restaurant the look of a tavern. The restaurant ambiance is more familiar like, not for the trendy, young crowd.

The Food

Even though the intentions of the group were to have French onion soups, half of the group decided to be innovative and break the tradition. The French onion soup was disappointing; however, the quiches and salads seemed to be good. The dessert menu was unbelievable, providing more than 10 options. It was hard to decide between the glacesand the other desserts. All of the desserts were great, specially the Mont Blanc.

Insider Tip: Nice restaurant. Some of the items on the menu seemed overpriced. Avoid the French onion soup. If you are not that hungry, skip the aperitifs and entrées and go directly to the desserts. Recommended.

Bouillon Racine

This little restaurant on 3 rue Racine is a great place to have a meal.

The Scene

When entering the restaurant, one gets the sensation of being transported back in time. The green walls decorated with glass and the antique bar at the rear part gives the restaurant an antique look. Blended in the antique environment is a mix of modern and comfortable furniture that allows relaxation and comfort while eating.

The Food

Excellent. One of the best restaurants of the trip. All of our dishes were cooked to perfection. Dishes like duck au vin, and pork in beer sauce with sauerkraut were the highlights of the meal.

Insider Tip: If you want lunch and have time to spare, visit this small restaurant. It will be a truly rewarding experience. Highly recommended.

Pâtisseries, Chocolatiers et Boulangeries

During our stay in Paris, we were fortunate to experience one of Paris' most beloved treasures: fine pastries, chocolates and excellent bread. Ah oui, les baguettes! Paris' most famous bread, nonetheless a delicacy to foreigners. We visited various pâtisseries, chocolatiers and boulangeries, which included the famous Paul and Gerard Mulotestablishments.

Every time we passed by one of these places, we were indulged by the scent coming from the store and visually tempted by the number of pastries, bread and desserts that we saw through the glass windows. It was unbelievable to experience and taste the wide selection of pastries and chocolates available to eat. It seemed like we went into a candy factory. We had a hard time deciding what item to choose.

For a couple of us, the decision was obvious. For instance, for Sebastian it was the briochebread, which he faithfully bought most of the time he went to Paul. Then, there was Carrie who fell in love with the Parisian pastries, especially the galette des rois; Michael and Alexis who were consistently buying the petits fours; and Punya who always tried to experience something new to add to his rich variety of extravagant meals. At the end, all of our selections were excellent and even when we were full we always we wanted to eat more. Everything just tasted so great.