The Perfect Paris Bistrot
Parler Paris–your taste of life in Paris and France
Monday, July 18, 2005
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Dear Parler Paris Reader,
One of the main reasons to be in Paris, whether for just a week, a year or a lifetime, is to EAT.
Sure, there are lots of other things to do (can you see me rolling my eyes?), but everyone knows that the French consider culinary an art form. With thousands of cafés, brasseries, salons de thés, bistrots and restaurants, all competing for the attention of you and the critics, there is no better activity in Paris than to dine to your heart’s delight.
As a native New Orleanian, where while dining in one restaurant everyone discusses their next meal with great anticipation, the attitude to never waste a single meal comes naturally. The quest for the perfect little good-value bistrot began from the first day I landed in Paris, even long before becoming a resident and has continued to this very moment.
This burning desire for a great meal at a bargain price was the beginning of survival in Paris when no one would hire a middle-aged American with limited French and no working papers. It was a crazy idea, but I set out to write the Insider Paris Guide for Good Value Restaurants — with only about fifty restaurant recommendations on about 20 pages. The Internet was in its infancy at the time and there was very little on the Net as competition, so when we launched it as an electronic download it experienced an immediate success.
It’s been the perfect venue to support my dining out habit. In 2004, I recorded a total of 219 meals in restaurants, an average of 4.2 per week at an average expense of $25.08. When you consider that the potential is to have at least lunch and dinner out and with last year’s unbalanced rate of exchange, this was not only prudent, but downright inexpensive, especially considering the quality of the fare. I can assure you, I eat very well indeed!
In the last couple of months, with the help of friends who live in Paris and know the little neighborhood bistrots you won’t normally find in the guidebooks, I’ve learned that the young French kitchen artists are still passionate about their craft. New restaurants are opening virtually daily that fit my idea of the perfect French bistrot: seating for about 20 to 50 and more intimate than not, simple traditional decor (I still get a thrill from lace curtains and a zinc bar), a varied menu of fairly traditional French dishes, but perhaps with a creative and innovative touch, friendly accommodating service all with fair and “correct” prices.
There are a few I’ve come to call my favorites and frequent them with some regularity. Others I return to from time to time and of course, am always seeking out a spot not yet overexposed. Just this morning, I updated the restaurant guide to include several little bistrots recently discovered — the kind you will find that fit the requirements and ones you can frequent often without breaking the bank or becoming tiring.
One warning: be prepared to leave the touristed neighborhoods to have a taste of real Paris. Here are two samples of new additions:
So, what do you think? Does the perfect Paris bistrot still exist?
A la prochaine…
P.S. Be sure to call for reservations in advance, as the independent restaurants often close for part of the Summer. When you do, mention you learned of them through the Insider Paris Guide for Good Value Restaurants as they don’t know they’ve been included! (I never divulge that I’m reviewing a restaurant when I’m there.) And if you want to get the newly updated version, visit http://www.insiderparisguides.com/restaurants/index.html to order your electronic copy.
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Come for a drink and to meet and chat with other readers in Paris:
The Perfect Paris Bistrot
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