travel guide

Information about restaurants in Paris

Paris has some of the best restaurants in the world. You can find anything you want to eat in Paris at almost any price you wish to pay. Lunch is a two to three-hour affair involving several courses. The cheese is wonderful, hors d’oeuvres are usually superb, sauces are a national specialty, pnte de fois gras is different from anything you’ve had in tins. Coffee is strong but can be ordered to approximate the American taste. Try puree de marrons, chestnuts cooked with celery, spices and chicken consomme.

Wonderful snails in garlic sauce and saddle of spring lamb done in white wine with chopped tarragon. There are hundreds of other magnificent dishes and regional favourites. The wines range from ordinary to superlative, depending upon price and taste. They are served with all meals. The French rarely drink water, but it is entirely potable. Pastries are famous, as are the potages, or thick soups. The French also do well by fish and salads. French wines, champagnes and brandies have no peer in the world. Whisky is rather expensive. Brandy is really the national drink, but you can name your brand only in the best restaurants. But even the “bar brandy” in other spots is better than you often get at home. Vouvray and Mousseux are similar to Champagne, but cheaper. The Champagne name, of course, is patented and is applied only to wines from a certain,, district, just as Cognac applies only to the Cognac district. Best try a few wines and brandies and liqueurs for yourself and make up your own mind. Pastis is probably the national drink of France try Pernod or Ricard best mixed with water or ice.

Look in at An Lapin Agile in Montmartre, a spot with atmosphere. Drop in at Scheherazade, Novy, and Dinarzade and let yourself be carried away by old Russian atmosphere, to the strains of gipsy violins. All famous, all good. For big brassiness, visit Casino de Paris. For formal elegance go to Maxim’s, where on Fridays you must dress for dinner. Maxim’s also offers piano and guitar in its informal and luxurious Midnight Room for after-dinner clientele. Monseigneur, Le Drap d’Or, Jimmy’s and 1’Elephant Blanc are elegant too. The Nouvelle Eve and Moulin Rouge are extremely popular and have floor shows. If you want to get real low-down, there is always the Place Pigalle in Montmartre with its many, many clubs of varying repute. If you hanker after a glimpse of the Existentialists, your best bet is the Cafe de Flore in St. Germain des Pres. Other spots where the prophets of this philosophy may be found are Club St. Germain, Le Vieux-Colombier. There’s a night-club tour available from hotels. It is always possible to find a good little outof-the-way spot undiscovered by tourists which has magnificent food and cheap prices. However, here are some of the better known in Paris: Maxim’s, Laperouse, La Tour d’Argent and Le Grand Vefour, others such as La Cremaillere, Lasserre, Taillevent, La Bourride, Laurent, Drouarvt, are also very good. Food at the Plaza Athenee is excellent.

Chez Docrcet is a chain that is well known and one of the less expensive. Prunier and Mediterranee specialize in seafood. Pavillion d’Armenonville, Pre Catelan in the Bois de Boulogne have good food and delightful surroundings. Over on the left bank there are La Coupole and La Dome.Some of the noblest cooking in France is still served in the humblest of surroundings. French food is relatively expensive, because the raw ingredients are so, but, whereas Maxim’s or Lasserre in Paris may well cost you 80 francs a head, in thousands of lesser French restaurants you can still get a good meal for a few eoro. On main roads, the routiers restaurants (carrying a prominent R sign), used by lorry-drivers, offer excellent, copious meals at very good value for money. 
French cooking is based on an unbroken tradition, and its hallmark is regionalism. The greatest regions, gastronomically, are the Lyonnais, Burgundy, Normandy, Perigord, and Provence. The Basque country, Brittany, the Loire, Alsace, and Savoy also have their own interesting dishes. Even in Paris, many of the best restaurants are run by provincials who get produce fresh every day from a farm at home. But in Paris a new, imported tradition is beginning to assert itself, with snack bars and cafeterias.
Lunch still tends to be a bigger meal for the French than dinner. Horsd’ouvre is more usual than soup at lunch, soup is preferred at dinner. The French as a rule eat their vegetables separately from the main dish, especially if this has a rich sauce – they do not like the vegetables to muffle its taste. And they always eat cheese before the sweet or fruit course, not after.
A very short list of good dishes (common to many parts of France) would include moules marinieres, artichaux vinaigrette, salade de cruditis, pates, escargots, coq au vin, canard d l’orange, escalope a la creme, and, for sweets, profiteroles, diplomate, and souffles. The French cook richly, using plenty of butter, cream, and wine, and are not afraid of garlic and other herbs that add subtle flavours.
Table wine (vin ordinaire) varies in quality but is usually drinkable, red better than white, and cheap. In a wine-growing area, local vin du pays en carafe is always good value. The better bottled wines are little cheaper than in London, the best years are ’53, ’55, ’57 (for Burgundies), ’60, ‘6i, ’62, and ’63. Muscadet, from the Loire, is a fine light wine to go with shellfish, while Fleurie, Julienas, and Brouilly are Beaujolais with a more narrowly defined appellation, and therefore more to be trusted. Before or after meals, the French drink Scotch whisky, but never gin and rarely sherry, sweet red Cinzano, Dubonnet, Pernod, Pastis, and Ricard are popular aperitifs. French beer is sharp, without much body, but is served ice-cold. Diabolo menthe (lemonade and green peppermint syrup) is a good thirst-quencher. There is no substance in the myth that you cannot drink tap-water in France