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Daring To Whet Your Parisian Appetite

Social life in Paris is often centered around trying out everyone’s favorite restaurants and talking about them. We leave the two and three star restaurants for tourists who “collect stars” and business people with big expense accounts. Those who live here agree — on the whole they’re just not as much fun as the “vrai” Paris bistrots that only the “insiders” can know about where the food is good, the atmosphere warm and friendly and the “l’addition” won’t break the bank.

So, it’s easy to imagine how someone, as devoted to eating well (but with a small budget) such as myself, might have gotten started writing about the “good value” Paris restaurants. It was the summer of 1996 when the Internet was in its infancy and the idea of an electronic publication was a new concept. Even at that time, it wasn’t difficult to make a list of 50 favorites. Today, the list is more than 200, but it’s kept slim and trim for a reason…if it doesn’t make the grade, it doesn’t make the guide.

Now, you’re probably thinking, if they’re written up in the guide, what prevents them from being overrun with tourists and turning into the same bad experience as a “Chartier” (great atmosphere, cheap prices, disgusting food, packed with tourists) or a L’Epi Dupin (great food, rising prices, solid with American tourists).

The answer is simple. 1. Restaurants which make the grade are mostly “off the beaten track,” in neighborhoods less frequented by tourists, so not as likely to become “overrun.” 2. Readers of the guide, like yourselves, aren’t the average tourist. You want a deeper experience of Paris, so you’re more likely to fit in and feel comfortable like the other Parisian diners.

This past weekend, I had the good fortune of frequenting a few of my own personal favorites. I dare to tell you about them…just to whet your appetite:

BAR ANTOINE, Continental, 17, rue Lafontaine, Arrondissement 16
Phone, Métro Ranelagh…not more than 14 can dine inside (now there are a few tables on the sidewalk under heaters) under a hand-painted ceiling (actually on canvas covered by glass) in an art nouveau decor (1911). Two older gentleman from the neighborhood eat there every single day at the same table! A small selection of “plats” at about 11 to 13 euros are noted on tiny “ardoises” positioned around the room and are accompanied by a green salad with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The homemade “millefeuille” is the best in the city, but be sure to order it when you make your reservation to insure your piece will be still be there!

PARIS MAIN D’OR, Corsican, 133, rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine at Entrance to Passage de la Main d’Or, Arrondissement 11, Phone, Métro Ledru Rollin…owner Hyacinthe Raffiani is a good looking Ajaccian with a thick head of white hair and a warm friendly personality much like his native island. A perfect blend of Italian and French cultures, the Corsican cuisine he’s cooking up exhibits the same robust flare of a movie co-starring Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastriani.

L’HOMME BLEU, Berber Specialties, 55 bis, rue Jean Pierre Timbaud, Arrondissement 11, Phone,, Métro Parmentier…the Arabic word “couscous” comes from the Berber “seksu,” which dates back to North Africa before the Arab Muslims arrived within 100 years after the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632. Try the “Tajine Iham Lahlou” — tender morsels of lamb, cooked pears, prunes, nuts, olives, oranges is sweet and fragrant. Top off the meal with fresh Thé à la Menthe poured from a half-meter height over the tiny hand-painted drinking glass.

Since launching the Insider Paris Guide for Good Value Restaurants, we launched another eight Insider Paris Guides over the past seven years. Like the restaurant guide, each is devoted to giving you tons of valuable information, keeping it as up to date as possible (the restaurant guide was updated as early as this morning!) and providing an insider point of view that you can’t get from the other big name guidebooks. These guides are written by folks who LIVE here…not the writers the travel industry sends in to research and write about Paris, who don’t have a clue about life in Paris.
(Plus, many guide books are just edited and updated old information…and then, any printed book on a bookstore shelf took a minimum of six months to get there and usually much longer, so the information can easily go out of date!)

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
E-mail: [email protected]

P.S. Hope to see you tomorrow at Parler Paris Après Midi — 3 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais. See /parlerparis/apresmidi.html for more details. Then, we’re taking Christmas Day off to be with family and friends…so you won’t hear from me on Thursday. Happy Holidays!

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* Further resources:


* The Insider Guide for Novelists, Journalists, Poets, Dreamers and Doers Alike!

* Dream of working and living in France? Don’t know how to go about simply DOING IT? Rose Marie Burke tells you how!

* Though France might seem as familiar as any other Western country, the truth is, from paying taxes to having a baby — things are done differently in France. Read the stories how other people maneuvered the system.

* Where the Black hair salons were, where you could go to listen to soul and gospel music, where to buy sweet potatoes, corn meal and black-eyed peas.

* The best 35 hotels under $100 a night in Paris…

* Two wheels can see the sights of Paris faster and better than two feet.

* He tells it all in this candid, fun, tongue-and-cheek out-of-the-closet guide to Gay and Lesbian Paris.

* The Bojangles Book of Gumbo…For the very first time, Sharon Morgan shares her knowledge of gumbos with us!


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