TOURING IN FRANCE
You will sometimes hear that the French are
snobby and rude. I have not found this to be the case. My experience has shown
that if you are reasonably friendly and polite, you will be treated in kind.
Please do yourself a favor and learn a few basic phrases in French.
There are plenty of audio tapes available, as well as phrase books to help.
If you go to France not even being able to say "Bon jour," you
are doing yourself a disservice!
I also suggest carrying a small, pocket-sized book called
a "Marling Menu Master." These are available for a number of European
countries. The guide is organized as you'll find most restaurant menus...so it's
easy to make sense of the appetizers, fish, meats, vegetables, desserts, etc.
Visitors to Paris should have the
most current edition of Richard Saul Wurman's "Paris Access" book.
The book is organized by "arrondissement" or neighborhoods. You'll find
information on the best hotels, restaurants, museums and unusual shops in this guide,
along with a good map of the city. A map of the Metro subway line is also helpful
and a part of Wurman's book.
other book I'd suggest dragging along (and reading before you go) is Patricia Wells'
"Food Lover's Guide to Paris." This is now in it's fourth edition and is
Patricia Wells maintains a web site, www.patriciawells.com
and this is worth a look. She has a list of "best tables" of favorite
dining spots. A bulletin board also has suggestions from readers.
Other helpful websites:
If you need someone to organize a wine/food tour, either self-guided or
accompanied, try this site:
A friend of ours, whom we met here in Burlingame when she was visiting as part
of a tour from France, runs a company touring the wineries and wonders of the
Languedoc, the Rh˘ne and Provence.
Martine LaBorie organizes escorted tours for groups...she personally chauffeurs
guests to see the sights; wineries or tourist attractions. She works with
small groups, so a party of two or four is no problem.
on this link or the photo below to access her web site.
This is a cool link if you want to see panoramic views!
Someone has filmed numerous views of the south of France with places such as
Carcassonne, Nimes, vineyards in the Rh˘ne, etc. Check it out!
Here's a potentially helpful site for getting
rudimentary driving instructions:
I don't know if the directions have been perfected, but at least you can get
some idea of mileage and driving times using this site on Expedia's web site.
Michelin also now has a mapping service on its site.
If you click on the British map, you'll reach their English site
and be able to have a look, for free, at a good Michelin map of the region
you're interested in.
Board of Alsace
in Avignon & Provence
A FEW FAVORITE RESTAURANTS
7 rue de Mondovi (near the Louvre)
Closed Saturdays and Sundays and for a few weeks in August.
This is a great lunch place when you're visiting the Louvre! It's
in an alley-way several blocks from the Louvre. The place is known to the locals and
doesn't really cater to tourists.
We found the place packed on our visit. A few "community" tables
are jammed in with several smaller tables. The daily lunch menu costs around 100FF
and includes a small starter, a main plate, dessert and a glass of very simple vin de
table. This is good, solid peasant cuisine.
108 boulevard du Montparnasse in the 14th arrondissement (Metro
station is Vavin)
Open noon-2 and 7:30-11:30 daily.
This is a very famous seafood place with amazingly fresh shellfish and
seafood. The food is simply prepared.
The wine list here is pretty good and you'll find suitable Loire Valley wines along
with entries from Bordeaux and Burgundy.
It's not an inexpensive place, so if you're watching your centimes, try the
satellite place around the corner called LE BISTROT du DOME at 1 rue Delambre. Same
hours of operation. Smaller menu. Smaller prices.
39 blvd. du Temple in the 3rd arrondissement.
Open daily until about 11pm.
We were surprised to find such a large and popular restaurant which was
unknown to the Guide Michelin! It's an Alsatian-styled place and we found a
Choucroute Garnie here that's about as good as you'll find in Alsace. The wine list
is rather ordinary, though it's certainly improved since our first
Grand Choucroute at Chez Jenny, 2003.
41 rue Croulebarbe in the 13th arrondissement
Closed Sunday. Dinner only.
There's a small hotel adjacent to the restaurant which is modestly priced.
Have a look at their web site.
This is a Basque place serving a rather nice version of Paella.
We had a starter of peppers and cod which was delicious! The Paella was better than
some I have had in Spain. The wine list was rather modest when we dined here some
years ago, though it did feature wines from the southwest of France.
5-7 rue de la Bastille in the 4th arrondissement.
Mon-Fri noon-3, 6:30-1am. Weekends noon-1am.
My folks suggested this place as it's one of their favorites. I read
they actually have a non-smoking section! The place features much art deco and even
the bathrooms are curious (the men's bathroom even has special urinals!). This is
somewhat of a national treasure. The menu is diverse, offering choucroute and fresh
seafood. You may find servers who speak English.
There's a very famous baker whose bread is found in many of the
top restaurants in Paris: LIONEL POIL┬NE.
This firm makes great French bread. I brought some back one trip for some friends
who are great bakers....they were impressed by the density (the bread's, not mine) of this
loaf (a huge, two pound, round job which is baked in wood-fired ovens!). The bread is
subject to the weather, so each day's loaf is different!
8 rue du Cherche Midi (in the sixth arrondissement)
Also there's a satellite location at 49 Boulevard de Grenelle in the 15th arrondissement.
There is another PoilÔne in Paris....Max. His bakery also turns out big, crusty,
wood-fired oven breads. This is also worth a look (and taste).
42 place du March Saint-Honor (in the 1st arrondissement).
NOTES ON PARIS