Paris – the city of lights, the city of romance, but more importantly the city with some seriously good eats.
This year for my annual “Birthday Trip“, Jared (my Birthday Twinsie) and Carly (the Usual Travel Partner) went to Paris. A little back history – I lived in France for a year in college and can speak “un peu de Français”. Which I am completely embarrassed by, I have a minor in French and lived in the country, and every day I am losing more and more of the language. My French is rusty, I haven’t used it in TEN years!
This trip I promised myself that I was going to try and speak French whenever I could. So of course every time I did I’d give myself a little pat on the back and say “Guys! Did you hear that?! I spoke French again and actually knew what was going on!” By the end of the trip Jared and Carly were probably sick of all the times I looked at them expectantly waiting for a compliment like “good job, you ordered us beer” or “nice, you really used some French today”.
One thing I am great at is ordering food in French. I can read a French menu like a wizard, which I showed off to Jared and Carly when they’d get a menu and they’d ask me to translate. I am bragging here but come on, I’m actually using my college education. Which is not something I do (or probably you do) on a daily basis.
Our goal while in France was to eat as much as we possibly could and if we happened to stumble by a famous site we’d stop by. I’ve put together four Parisian experiences that go well with eating, all of the restaurants mentioned are within a 10 minute walk from the site noted.
NOTE – I am in no way a food critic. I like food. Do I rely on Google Reviews and Yelp to make a sound judgement. Sometimes. The only time I ignore rating stars is when I go to Taco Bell. Taco Bell is life and if I want to go to a joint that has 1.3 stars I am fine with that. I know what I am getting at T-Bell and maybe the next day my stomach says “I hate you” but the 10 minutes it takes me to eat my Double Decker and Pintos and Cheese my heart says “I love you”. End Taco Bell rant.
So there is my credibility. Take it or leave it.
1. The Louvre and Wine (and Cheese)
Art + Wine + Cheese = a Classy Ass Time. When in France be a fancy pants (at least for an afternoon). After you’ve wandered the many halls of the Louvre you are going to be hungry. While wine and cheese doesn’t seem like a meal, the charcuterie board from Fromagerie Danard is a meal. You won’t want to eat again until noon the next day.
It’s part cheese shop, part wine cellar, part restaurant. Here we got a bottle of wine and the Plate “Tour de France”; you get six cheeses, three meats, and all the bread your heart can desire. Our waiter asked us about our tastes and suggested cheese that we wouldn’t have normally selected. But, let’s get real, I haven’t met a cheese I didn’t like. When the plate is brought out you get an in-depth tour of all of the tasty yum yums.
I was expecting small portions, nope, full on large chunks of cheese. By the end you will probably have cheese left over and that breaks my cheesy heart. We had this for lunch thinking we’d be able to walk off the mass of bread and cheese in our gut in time for dinner. I rarely skip a meal while traveling, that was a rare night were it would have been physically impossible to shove anything else in my stomach.
2. The Notre-Dame and Fondue
After you’ve toured the famous cathedral, climbed the spiral stairs to get a gargoyle filled view of the city for the “gram”, and sang a few Hunchback of Notre-Dame songs (are there any? I am not too familiar with this Disney “classic”, Jared knew some of course) you may want something to eat or at least I would.
Heureux Comme Alexandre, we stumbled upon this restaurant while walking back to our hotel and we were not disappointed. Their menu is short and sweet. There are a three options; cheese fondue, meat fondue, and desert. That’s about it. We couldn’t decide between meat and cheese so we got both. There are maybe 10 tables and the waiters run around like crazy people making sure everyone is happy. This place gets packed, it looks like you can make reservations online, we didn’t but were happy to wait. Especially since we were offered a beer to sip.
This is about a ten minute walk from Notre-Dame and is located in the Latin Quarter which is known for having cheaper eats. I’m not saying this place is cheap but compared to other fondue restaurants in the city it is probably a deal.
3. A Comedy Show and Tapas
Looking for a fun night on the town? Check out Olivier Giraud’s show “How to Become a Parisian in an Hour“. You can get Friday night show tickets for under 15 euro, Google Discount Tickets and his show name. There are several discount sites. He is raunchy (which I love) and if you’ve been in Paris for more than 24 hours you’ll recognize all of the Parisian stereotypes he mentions. His show is in English and he picks on people in the crowd which makes me laugh as long as it’s not me. This show was recommended by my friend Ruby who lived in Paris for ten years. So, I feel like she’s pretty legit when it comes to recommendations.
After the show head over to Pakito for some tapas and sangria. We met up with Ruby here and left stuffed full of croquettes, calamari, some sort of delicious crab dip, and four carafes of sangria (if you’re not into math that is a carafe each).
Not in the mood for tapas? This stretch on Boulevard Poissonnière has tons of bars and restaurants. A great place to bar hop if that’s your thing.
4. Sacré-Coeur and Inexpensive-ish Traditional French Fare
I love walking around Sacré-Coeur around sunset. The views of the city are fantastic plus the lights illuminate the basilica for some great night shots. Montmartre, in general, is still a cheaper place to eat out in Paris. If you are looking for some traditional French food check out Le Cabanon de la Butte it’s a short walk from the top of Sacré-Coeur. This was also recommended by Ruby, so there ya go.
*Bonus* Because I Cannot Not Write About This Fucking Ramen
Listen, I have a thing for Ramen. This place has the best Ramen I’ve had outside of Tokyo, it’s that fucking good. Here is how I judge Ramen – 1. Is there a perfectly soft-boiled egg? If yes, proceed. 2. Is the broth spicy to where I get small beads of sweat on my upper lip? If yes, proceed. 3. This is really the only question that matters, do I want to take the broth, fill a bathtub, and bathe in it? If yes, tell all the people about it and then see how much it would cost to get said bathtub of Ramen broth.
Kotteri Ramen Naritake is located in Paris’s Little Tokyo. Japanese restaurants line the street each with lines waiting to get in. This joint is tiny and I am guessing it will have a line out the door. That’s ok. Wait. It is worth it. A waiter will come through the line and take your order while you wait for a seat, then you can watch as the Noodle Master (I made this name up) slings broth into bowls and tastes every batch to make sure it is seasoned to perfection.
*I wish I had a picture to show you the deliciousness but of course I was too excited to snap a photo.
If you want to pair this with a site, I’d recommend eating before nightfall then heading over to the Tuileries to walk off your new Ramen food baby and ending the day with my favorite place to catch the sunset — outside the pyramids at the Louvre.
When I visit Paris I like to center my time around food. Check out a few sites, eat, check out a couple more, eat, take a nap, eat, get hooked on a French reality show called Island Village Romance Something or Other, eat. I am not kidding about the reality show, I really need to know what happened between Bastian and Julia.