Review: Various Restaurants in Paris
Dining and Gardens in Paris
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There is so much to see and do in Paris it is difficult to pinpoint favourites though I think all would agree that spending time in the cafés and gardens would be a close tie for the top of the list. The Café La Frégate is on the corner of rue du Bac and Quai Voltaire overlooking the Seine and the Louvre. Like many of the older buildings in Paris the interior is quite ornate and lovely to see (remember to look up at the ceilings) though you may wish to sit outside with the smokers and watch the action along the river. We had breakfast there most days; it was delicious and often included freshly squeezed orange juice, pain chocolat, fresh baguette with butter and jam, fried eggs, hot chocolate/coffee or some variation of the above. Our first day however, we arrived in time for brunch and were not disappointed with quiche Lorraine and French onion soup. For an afternoon break we also enjoyed rhubarb and pear/almond tarts at the aptly named Bistrot des Tartes on rue Lagrange just off rue Dante.
Another lovely meal was at the Café de la Paix which is across from the Opéra Garnier. The restaurant is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2012 and the beautiful building is certainly a showpiece inside and out. The long green canopy outside is hard to miss as is the Grand Hotel building which takes up the whole block. My aunt declared it to have the best French onion soup she has ever had. The shrimp, avocado and grapefruit salad I had was also delicious. The café has an expensive dining room but also has less formal dining in the indoor terrace which is where we ate.
Our last dinner in Paris was in Le Terminus on rue du Bac. My aunt had steak and frites while I had lamb chops and frites and it was a sublime meal to end a wonderful week in Paris. The waiter was very busy, very efficient, very helpful and very friendly. The food was plentiful, cooked to perfection and the nutella crèpe (which we shared) and coffee was a divine end to the meal. I usually found the coffee too strong (not so my aunt!) and stuck to hot chocolate but at Le Terminus it was perfect. When I return to Paris I would definitely try this café for breakfast and/or lunch as well. This restaurant is very close to the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay so it is convenient to tie into a trip to either museum.
As for green spaces, Paris has numerous to explore and we started with the Luxembourg Gardens. My father had been billeted near the gardens when he was a boy on a school trip so we were in search of Rue de Fleurus to find the hotel, take some pictures and see if he was able to recognize anything 60 years on. It was Sunday and the gardens were full of families enjoying the nice weather. If not strolling along the paths, they were sitting around the fountains or listening to the jazz band. It happened to be the day the presidential election results were being released and we had been warned of possible rioting, depending on the results, but as we observed the Parisians at their leisure, it seemed to be the furthest thing from their minds. This was a scene we were to witness many times in our week in Paris – people out in the gardens at all times of the day and evening, taking advantage of pleasant temperatures, availing themselves of the chairs around the fountains and flower beds, visiting, reading and enjoying life. We meandered our way back to the Seine, crossed the river and walked by the Louvre, through the Tuileries Gardens and to the Place de la Concorde. As we headed back to the hotel we began to see television crews and members of the two major political parties in their t-shirts and with their banners moving towards their designated celebration locations (Place de la Concorde and Solférino), police on every street corner ensuring a peaceful transit. We chose to order room service (the most light and fluffy omelets and frites) and watch the results from our hotel room over a bottle of wine from the fridge. As it turned out, it was close but the people voted in a new president and apart from some innocent celebrating, all was quiet, at least near our hotel.
Due to our hotel’s proximity to the Seine and the Louvre, we were in the Tuileries Gardens most days, even if just passing through on our way somewhere else. However we did spend one wonderful afternoon having a late lunch at Café Renard which has been in the Jardin des Tuileries since 1905. Even in the gardens there is a tremendous sense of history and longevity in Paris. It was a pleasant way to escape the heat under the canopy of trees while enjoying the beautiful weather, watching the people and wildlife, and replenishing ourselves with salads and wine. I would be remiss at this point not to mention the gelato stand that is in the gardens near the entrance to the Place de la Concorde as the selection of flavours is extensive and interesting and the ones I tasted (chocolate and tiramisu) were delicious! As with most things in Paris, they looked like pieces of art as our server sculpted the gelato into flower petals on our cones. In the peacefulness of the gardens you can forget that you are in a huge city with all its noisy traffic and bustling workers even though it is just a few steps away.
The same can be said for the tranquility of the Place des Vosges, a little oasis on the Right Bank. To walk into the Place des Vosges is like stepping back in time; the cobbled street, vaulted ceiling around the square, the ornate street lights, and the black iron fence around the garden. The centre of the square has a statue of Louis XIII hidden under the trees and the garden has a fountain in each of the four corners. The square is surrounded by buildings and the ground floor is a series of shops and restaurants. Residents of the apartments overlooking the square mix with visitors spending the day in the square, visiting, shopping and eating. It is a peaceful spot to relax and soak up some Parisian atmosphere. We had a delicious meal at La Place Royale while we contemplated the possibility of living in such an ideal spot.
For hotel information, museums and getting around Paris, see other reviews on this site.
Two salads and 2 glasses of wine were €31.60 at Café Renard in the Jardin des Tuileries and were well worth it.
La Place Royale
Two nicoise salads and 2 glasses of wine were €34.50 at La Place Royale in La Place des Vosges. There is no website listed but the telephone number is 01 42 78 58 16. It is open from 8:00 am – 1:00 am.
Café de la Paix
A salad, one soup and drinks at Café de la Paix was €53.
Dinner for two with water, wine, dessert and coffee was €74.50 at Le Terminus, 5, rue du Bac. There is no website listed but the telephone number is 01.42.61.19.76.
There were a few little grocery shops (Tabac) in the hotel vicinity and a Monoprix grocery store across the street so we were able to buy very nice and reasonably priced wines to enjoy in the evening (rather than the expensive wine in our room fridge) along with snacks we could refrigerate if need be.
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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.