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Foie Gras on the Lips Goes Straight to the Hips

It’s the day after Christmas and already I’m feeling like a stuffed sausage. We all do it — eat too much over the holidays. If you’re like me, you’re going from party to party, restaurant to restaurant, with hardly a moment in between.

But, here in Paris, the decadence is even worse. No one can deny that life in France centers largely around the pleasures of its “produits du terroir” — we pop the cork on champagne with any little excuse, bring along a box of the richest dark chocolates to our friends who deserve to be spoiled, order up a platter of Brittany oysters to be shucked ready to eat right on the street and serve the best quality foie gras on light toast as the ultimate delicacy.

If we aren’t entertaining with a plethora of goodies in our own homes, we can be found in any one of the thousands of great little bistrots Paris has to offer — one of the many reasons to live here, n’est-ce pas?

You may already know that dining out is not only one of my favorite sports, but is a “raison d’être” — to ferret out the classic good-value classic French bistrots the tourists haven’t yet discovered (at least, not on any large scale.) The past couple of weeks have been virtual marathons, making reservations for both lunches and dinners with friends and family in our treasured little spots. I’ve discovered several worthy ones I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing before in just the past few weeks, plus rediscovered some old “friends” that are still making the grade. Here is just a small sampling…

Le Bistrot d’Henri — one among the others along rue Princesse, but one of the 6th arrondissement’s real hidden treasures. What a shame there are so few left in this once bohemian “quartier.”

Le Mazarin — another one of the very few left in the 6th…but classic and hearty, with professional service, not so frequented by the overflowing tourists in the area.

Chez Omar — the best neighborhood (3rd) “cantine” for guaranteed fun and divine grilled meats with peppery sauce. A week without a meal at Chez Omar is like a week without a bath. There’s something simply necessary about being there regularly.

Au Petit Riche — classic, classic, classic old world French bistrot dating back more than 100 years in the land of the Grands Boulevards (9th) where the bourgeois once filled it and still are. What a great cozy spot for a romantic meal with your best lover.

Le Coude Fou — you’ll find me at this “bistrot à vins” near the Hôtel de Ville almost as often as Chez Omar, with one of the best wine lists and an ever-changing menu of interesting fare. I love the hilariously primitive paintings of French life both in the city and the countryside that adorn the walls.

Now, you’re thinking that with all this dining out, my entertainment budget must be eating me alive. Au contraire! Funny thing is that CNN ran a story last week noting the average costs for meals in 12 of the major U.S. cities and 3 international cities, according to the Zagat Restaurant Survey. Paris reported $62.97 as the cost of an average meal compared

to London at $67.69 and New York at $37.61.

Phooey! Don’t believe a word of that. That must be the Zagat skew — since their surveys consist more of the restaurants that the tourists HAVE discovered, rather than NOT. Tourists are willing pay a whole lot more for a great meal in a well-known restaurant in a visiting city than the average resident will, right?

Well, every year I rack up every restaurant meal I’ve had on an Excel spreadsheet to determine just how many times I dined out and how much my average meal in Paris costs. Next week, I’ll be pulling out all the receipts to do just that, but I already know what to expect, since I do it every year and have for the last 10 — as long as I’ve been writing and publishing the Insider Paris Guide for Good Value Restaurants.

Last year, my restaurant meals averaged 20 Euros ($25 when the rate of exchange was $1.25 = 1 euro) and one restaurant meal per day. That’s a far cry from what Zagat says you will spend, no? And you can bet I don’t skip the wine or dessert!

One more week of decadence to go…but am I counting calories yet? Mais, non!

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]

P.S. Just this weekend, I updated and uploaded the Insider Paris Guide for Good Value Restaurants with my newest finds, deleting those no longer worthy of the recommendation. When you order it now, you get the latest inside scoop on my favorite more than 200 Paris good-value bistrots the tourists haven’t yet discovered (at least on any large scale). Visit to learn more or order your electronic guide.


French Property Insider

Living on the Riviera
By Adrian Leeds

Last week, a beautiful blue covered book arrived in my mailbox with an imprint of a painting by Raoul Dufy in Provençal colors, broad strokes and sketchy lines denoting the city we often say is “nice” — Nice. Yes, Nice is nice. The author, Ted Jones, writes “Nice is the capital city — and cradle — of the Riviera”Subscribers Read On…

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