After being on the road for a month, my boyfriend and I actually had the best meal on our last night! It was in a unique and friendly restaurant called Ave Maria, 1 Rue Jacquard (Metro Oberkampf/Saint Maur), the decor was beautifully gaudy, the veggie curry I had was heavenly and the mojitos so good I almost had to be carried home!
The prefect way to end a day of wandering with a great meal in a really friendly atmosphere. They do a fantastic soup as a starter which is served inside half a crusty loaf of bread - ie the bread becomes the bowl - it really works and you won't end up with soup in your lap. Lively music and staff, with great artwork and writings all over the walls. Seek it out.
12 rue du Bourg-Tibourg, just south of the Marais.
In the bustling, attractive Place Georges Pompidou, there are some good places to eat. In the Rue St Martin, on the first floor above an art shop called ‘Images de Demain’, is a small, quiet, pretty café nestling among conservatory plants, and a good selection of clocks and attractive kitchen items for sale.
The café has tall windows overlooking the square, and serves teas, coffees, cakes and other delicacies. Nearby, on Rue Rambuteau, is Le Potager du Marais – a café/restaurant which has long refectory tables where the mainly local clientele lunch on reasonably priced, delicious organic, veggie food.
If, like me, you want on occasion to feel like a true Parisian and don't have an aversion to early mornings then why not try the Bastille open market on a Sunday morning.
The range of fresh fish, bread, vegetables, cheeses and wine is truly mouth watering and all at very reasonable prices. Your euro here goes a long way towards sampling the very best of French food.
The market is huge and the atmosphere intoxicating in terms of a real Parisian experience and can't be recommended highly enough to the discerning visitor.
Take Metro 11 (brown) to Porte des Lilas, walk down Rue Belleville using the Metro stations as your guide. Pass through neighbourhoods such as Jourdain, Pyrenees, Belleville and, passing canal St Martin, finish in Republique, the venue of many a Parisian Riot.
Alternatively, at Pyrenees, turn right on to Avenue Simon Bolivar and head for the surreal, landscaped Parc des Buttes Chaumont (19th Arr), complete with its own mountain, waterfall, temple and an incredible view of the Sacre Couer.
To finish the day, head to restaurant Au Pied du Sacre Couer, for fine yet inexpensive French cooking (metro Lamarck-calaincourt, 18th Arr).
Get lost in the cobbled streets of the Marais district, and stumble upon Oliviers & Co, purveyors of the finest quality produce, sourced from artisan crafters of olive oil and other Mediterranean foodstuffs.
The multi-lingual staff will even give you advice on how to integrate your truffle-infused olive oil into your next dinner party menu! Emerge laden with natural olive oil beauty products, speciality breads to wow your guests back home and return on the Eurostar with your own Oliviers & Co olive tree!
Paris is the city of love but, whether you find yourself there with that special someone or on your lonesome, make your way down to La Coupole at Montparnasse.
The famous haunt of Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir has stunning internal décor and takes you back to another era. The food is delicious and if you are seeking the true Parisian experience then there is nowhere better to dine.
And, even if you end up alone there on Valentine's Day, indulging in their silky hot chocolate, at least the waiters know the way to a girl’s heart. Dessert on the house!
If you are a vegetarian desperate for some French-tasting sustenance, try Le Potager du Marais near the Pompidou Centre, Metro Rambuteau.
It is a wonderful change to eating pizza or falafel and really makes you feel like you are taking part in France's famous cuisine.
The downside of a weekend in Paris, people say, is that it closes on a Sunday. Not around the Rue des Martyrs it doesn’t.
Just by St Georges Metro, fifteen minutes from the Gare du Nord and Eurostar, lies this wonderful untouristy very French part of Paris with a Sunday morning market to buy your pastries, cheese, charcuterie, fish, wine, chocolate and second hand books.
Stay in the Trois Poussins hotel for discreet affordable luxury, and who could resist the No Stress Café across the road which does exactly what it says on the tin?
For something really out of the ordinary in the ancient heart of Paris, go to Nos Ancetres les Gaulois on the Ile St Louis.
It's an all-you-can-eat-and-drink restaurant, with a dark ages theme - skins on the ancient stone walls, rough-hewn wooden tables, help-yourself-to-wine from the barrel kind of place, labrynthine and bacchanalian in atmosphere - musical floorshow with lots of audience participation.
All-in for 39 euros; unbeatable fun and totally unexpected in its rarefied surroundings; a perfect ending to a day of trawling around the museums.
Probably the best 22 euro steak on the planet! The side of a cow smothered in immaculate sauce served with endless frittes. And the salads are not bad either. With impressive North African wines. It has a real feel, an authentic old Parisian atmosphere. It is where I proposed to my wife, and where I return at every available opportunity. You cannot beat it. Just remember, no reservations so get in early before the Parisians.
47. Rue de Bretagne
Imagine an authentic, reasonably priced, local French restaurant bang in the middle of the 1er, within a Wilkinson drop-kick of that concrete beast, the Forum des Halles.
Imagine such a place festooned in rugby memorabilia - permanently, and not just in Rugby World Cup year. Such a place exists. It's called Le Gros Minet (The Fat Kitten) and it's on Rue des Prouvaires (+33 1 42 33 02 62).
It's small, so book to avoid missing out on such treats as canard aux myrtilles. As any rugby fan would tell you, it's got to be worth a try!
For an authentic Parisian experience, visit the market on Rue Mouffetard (Latin Quarter) on a Sunday morning. Start at the top end, enjoy a coffee in Cafe Delmas in pretty Place Contrescarpe, then work your way down the narrow cobbled street, fresh fruit, veg, meat and cheese either side, then turn left onto Rue Monge before finishing off your shopping at the market in Place Monge. If you've got time, nip across the road to see Paris's very own Roman amphitheatre (reconstructed).
For an absolutely wonderful dancing and dining experience when in Paris, off the beaten track and not listed in all the tourust guides is a beautiful restaurant called Le Chalet du Lac Saint Mandé. It is located in the Orée du Bois de Vincennes in the park by the lake.
Le Potager du Marais restaurant, just round the corner from the Pompidou Centre, is a funky little veggie restaurant. The staff are really friendly, the atmosphere's cosy, the food's wonderful (with some of the best vegan food in Paris). Cosy means small, so book at least a few hours in advance.
Gourmet goodies: forget the opéra, éclair and tarte au citron. The macaron is the ultimate indulgent délice. Find these bite size mise-en-bouche adorning patisserie windows in rainbow colours: shocking pink, peach, sunshine yellow.
Head to Gerard Mulot on Rue de Seine: the haunt of true Parisian gourmands. Your senses will lead you to this treasure trove with the warm scent of almonds, cream and sugar wafting towards St Germain des Pres. Macarons au nougat, a l'abricot and a la fraise et au rhubarbe are some of the scrummiest. Nibble away the crisp outer shell to reveal soft, squidgy almond within.
If you enjoy duck then you will love 'Le Petit Canard Restaurant' at 19 Rue Henri Monnier, 75009 in Paris. They serve duck reared on their family farm in a vast variety of interesting and tempting ways. But beware if one of your party does not like duck as your visit could turn out to be like the Monty Python 'SPAM' episode as virtually all dishes contain duck to varying degrees. However the duck is delicious and I would recommend a visit.
19 Rue Henri Monnier, 75009
When recently in Montmartre we found a tiny shop called Manani, Rue des Trois Frères, selling bags made with the most beautiful African prints before making our way down to Fuxia which is such a simple and beautiful deli.
If ever you find yourself on Rue des Martyrs take a peek at their amazing array of wine, pastas, salads and vegetables. The beautiful waitresses are also very knowledgeable about the best bars and places to dance in Paris. Try happy hour at Fluid (same street), charming waiters and beautiful music, the perfect place to become a regular.
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