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Where to eat in Paris

19 Mar

You’ve booked your trip to Paris and got your sightseeing plan all mapped out. Eiffel tower, check. Louvre, check. But as evening falls, you wonder – where should I eat?

The city boasts thousands of restaurants so choosing a good one can be a tricky task. Websites and Paris guides present a ‘definitive’ list of which restaurants you should be eating in, such as the Guardian’s one here.

However, they usually won’t have tried and tested them and the prices are out of the average person’s range.

So here’s my selection of some of my favourite restaurants you won’t find in the guide books. They may not be Michelin starred or incredibly quirky, but they do fit my key criteria of being very tasty and very reasonable.

Mediterranean cuisine
Le 7eme Sud
159 rue de Grenelle 75007, metro: Ecole Militaire

7eme sud restaurnt

7eme Sud: Mediterranean treats

This has long been my favourite restaurant in Paris and is responsible for introducing me to the joys of spicy pasta as a child. My current addiction is fuelled by the need to recreate their exact arrabiata dish.

Tagines, greek salads and pasta dishes; the menu features the best of Mediterranean cuisine and has something for everyone. I’ve sampled many of their mains over the years and keep coming back for more. The tiramisu is also to die for.

The cosy decor and relaxed atmosphere make it the perfect place to spend an evening catching up over a glass of wine.

Asian cuisine
Baan Thai
15 Rue de la Ferronnerie 75001, metro: Chatelet

spring rolls

Unlimited spring rolls - nom nom

I only recently discovered this restaurant and was very pleasantly surprised. You can’t go wrong with their traditional and delicious all-you-can-eat buffet for 20 euros.

The food is excellent; a choice of seven different mains and all the spring rolls and soup you can possibly digest. Heaven. I sampled everything, topping it off with a banana cake fresh from the oven – before rolling home.

Plus, it’s reportedly the tastiest Thai eatery in Paris according to my Thai friend.

French cuisine
Le Petit Lyon
24 rue Vintimille 75009, metro: Blanche

confit de canard

Classic confit de canard

Good French food is almost guaranteed in Paris. But Le Petit Lyon has made it onto my list because of how authentic the bistrot is.

With a menu featuring pigs trotters, tripe and snails, this is the place for those seeking a true taste of France. Or if the thought makes you feel queasy, they also make a succulent steak au poivre with home cut chips or a confit de canard with herby potatoes. The chips and pepper sauce were so good, I physically licked my plate clean.

Tucked away in a quiet street in the Pigalle area, it’s surprisingly a tourist-free zone. The checkered table cloths and old men philosophising over a galleon of wine in the corner will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

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The perfect macaroon

4 Mar

Mmmm macaroons. This French delicacy is the creme of the crop when it comes to teatime snacks. The British may have finger sandwiches and scones, but the French do macaroons to perfection.

A mountain of macaroons

A macaroon is an almond biscuit sandwiched together with ganache or fruit preserves. They come in a rainbow assortment of colours and flavours, from chocolate to rose via lemon and almond.

These bite-sized treats are available at every good patisserie, but for the official stamp of quality look no further than Ladurée. In 1862, Ernest Louis Laduree opened the original bakery at 16 rue Royale in Paris. Upon his wife’s advice, it was soon transformed into the venue par excellence for socialites to gossip over a cup of tea.

laduree patisserie france

The Ladurée logo

Pierre Lafontaine, Ernest’s heir, whisked up the first macaroon and the rest is history. Ladurée now has branches all over Europe and has evolved into France’s top bakery/tearoom/shop/restaurant/chocolatier.

Ladurée macaroons are so amazing because they are: A-beautiful, B- luxurious and C-delicious.

A box of macaroons makes the perfect souvenir gift from your trip to Paris – handy, since you can even pick them up from CDG airport.

If you’re not heading to Paris any time soon, here’s how to recreate the mini treats in your own home courtesy of the Daily Mail Online. Follow head chef Philippe Andrieu’s recipe for a chic tea party.

laduree macaroons

Too good to eat

INGREDIENTS

480g icing sugar
280g ground almonds
7 egg whites
A few drops of flavoured food colouring such as strawberry

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Mix the icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor until you have a fine powder. Sift to remove any lumps.
3. Beat the egg whites, adding the food colouring as you go. Quickly and carefully add the almond-sugar mixture.
4. With a wooden spoon, mix from the centre of the bowl outwards, turning the container as you go. You want to achieve a smooth, lightly coloured mixture.
5. Using a piping bag with a centimetre-wide nozzle, pipe three centimetre-wide macaroons onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
6. Cook for eight to nine minutes, leaving the door of the oven slightly ajar.
7. Remove the macaroons from the oven. Pour a little water between the baking tray and the greaseproof paper – this makes the macaroons easier to lift off when they have cooled.
8. Sandwich the macaroons using marmalade, raspberry jam or whipped cream to serve.

TIP: Leave the finished macaroons for 24 hours in the fridge. This allows the flavours and texture to develop and intensify

VOILA!

Your views about France

8 Feb

It’s over to you…What do you like/dislike about France?


“I like the food in France, the countryside, the Alps, the southern beaches, the coffee, the ice cream, the wine. I dislike the roads, especially how you have to give way to people turning out!” Sophie Askew.

“I love the sarcastic/cynical sense of humour, and the fact that generally we bitch about everything but in a light way not in an annoying grumpy way, but dislike the utter arrogance of certain groups in France, and the very rigid elite education system where only the name of your school matters.” Claire Marx.

bottle of french red wine

Quality French wine comes top of the league

“Dislike: dog poo. Like: Their general ‘je m’en fous’ attitude. Nicola Hebden.

“I like the food…the duck stuff (aka confit de canard.) Wandering through Paris is very nice, especially when it was sunny on the Champs Elysees. Can’t think of any dislikes…” Will Miles.

“The food and wine being amazing, living on bread and cheese/wine being acceptable. I guess people can be a bit off/rude? Paris also feels very exclusive, it’s easy to feel like an uncool tourist.” Lucy Thackray.

“I love the food, the beauty of the cities and countryside, the language, the dress sense, the amazing culture… I dislike the elitist education system, the fact that the arts are undervalued career-wise, the unfriendliness/rudeness (especially when it comes to customer service/bureaucracy), the closed-minded mentality and snobbishness of some people.” Emilie Jarrett.

“I’ve only been once but loved skiing in Chamonix!” Robbie Lesbriel.

“I think the place the food takes in france’s traditions is really important. The way it frames the day and makes wine drinking a civil thing… Also the cafe culture instead of pubs avoids the binge drinking problem we have in the UK!” Margot Jourdan.

“The timelesness of it and the pride in tradition and culture…but mostly the FOOD.” Harri Davies.

sign banning dog poo

Dog poo is one of people's pet peeves in Paris

“I LOVE the food. The fact you can get good wine at a cheap price. The cafe culture, and all the lovely gardens (but maybe that’s more Paris). The art collections too. On the downside, thesnobisme, the strikes, the french shrug and those godawful puffa jackets.” Lucy Smail.

“Likes: pain au chocolat, cheese and wine. Dislikes: the prominence of mullets (in the North of France anyway) and denim + denim combos.” Andy McNicoll.

“Pommes frites and mayonnaise! And of course the French accents.” Rebecca Prescott.

“Hate: the dog poo everywhere, the tramps in the south, the greves and politicised students and rude Parisiens. Love: the food, the importance of family, Sancerre, the language (that’s my favourite), the trains that are like Harry Potter and the TGV and the wine.” Hollie Bond.

Feel free to add more!

Paris according to Sedera

31 Jan

sedera

Presenting: Sedera


British Girl in Paris talks to Sedera Ranaivoarinosy about her personal experience of Paris.

A journalism student at NYU, Sedera is something of a music guru who loves good films and experimenting with photography. The 20 year old has lived on three continents; oringinally from Madagascar she has resided in Paris most of her life but now studies in New York. Read her weekly musings on her blog.

What is your absolute favourite thing about Paris?

les quais, la Seine

Les quais de la Seine

I love the quais because it’s so calming to walk along the water (the Seine and the canals), or sit there to read, eat or even nap. I also love the parts of the metro that are above ground, like around the Boulevard de Grenelle and near Barbès. I like the design of the bridges the trains run on and the way you can see into the life going on around you (the train is on the same level as many apartment windows). I don’t mean that in a creepy way; I just like seeing the city flash by me.

What areas do you like best and why?

I like the area where I live, the 20th arrondissement by the Gambetta métro stop, because you can tell people live there and interact unlike the 16th arrondissement for example, which is very fancy, but in my experience, rather dull. The Canal St Martin is a very nice area as well, especially during the summer time when you can hang by the water. It’s surrounded by lots of cute places to go to for a nice bite. The food selection around there is often a bit more edgy than other areas.

If you only had 24 hours in Paris how would you spend them?

I would visit the catacombs because I have never been and have always wanted to go. Then I would visit a museum, probably the Musée D’Orsay, which I haven’t been to in a while. Finally, I’d picnic at the Parc des Buttes Chaumont and finish off my day by eating a blanc manger at the restaurant Hôtel Du Nord, where the movie of the same name was set. I’m not exactly sure what the ingredient is, but they put in little crunchy things in the dessert that create a sort of firework in your mouth. It sounds ridiculous. Until you eat it. It’s delightful.

What are the most overlooked attractions in your opinion?

vintage clothing shop barbes metro

Vintage clothing shop Guerrisol near Barbes metro

Paris is known for its shopping options, but going to the Galeries Lafayette and the Boulevard Haussmann won’t really give you a selection that is that different from other capitals of the world. If you have the patience to dig through the masses of throwaway clothing, the thrift stores of Barbes like Guerrisol are full of good finds. A thorough search through the racks at a thrift store could lead to a much more unique, and sometimes much cheaper, find.

What is the one thing you like least about Paris?

The métro, as convenient as it is most of the time, only runs until 1 am on weeknights and 2 am on weekends, which always makes my evenings end early. I don’t have the type of stamina that would allow me to party repeatedly until 5:00 am, when it reopens, so it would be nice to be able to hop on a metro at 3 am sometimes instead of waiting for a night bus or taxi. Parisians also need to pick up the habit of cleaning up after their dogs.

Any favourite films set in Paris?

One of my favourite films of all time is Les Chansons d’Amour by Christophe Honoré, which is set in Paris. There’s also Amélie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet; I love the playful way in which it represents Montmartre.

What about music – any songs that you feel capture the essence of Paris?

An old classic, Jean Renoir’s “La Complainte de la Butte,” which Rufus Wainwright covered, comes to mind because it references an iconic area of Paris, Montmartre. For a more updated view, Thomas Dutronc’s “J’Aime Plus Paris” and Camille’s “Paris” articulate well the love-hate feeling that can arise towards Paris after a while. In both songs, the protagonists sing about their disillusionment with the French capital and threaten to leave, but do not succeed. The stress, the dirty sidewalks, the early nights etc. cause annoyance but it’s a city like no other; it’s hard to get away once you’ve made your nest there and its advantages always manage to trump the inconveniences.

How would you define being Parisian?

That’s a really tough question because the socio-economic make-up of the different arrondissements are so different but I would say first and foremost that a Parisian is an urban being. He/she cannot function outside of a big city, no matter how enjoyable a few days away can be. It’s only enjoyable because it’s not a permanent move. Also, an encyclopedic knowledge of the metro map, as wellas the exact places to be on the train to get to your exit of the metro stations the fastest, is essential. I always used to feel odd telling people I was from Paris when I lived in the suburbs. Now that I am in Paris intra muros, as they say, and the metro is not the mystery it once was, I feel like much closer to owning that “Parisian” moniker.

Pont des arts, Paris

People relaxing on the Pont des Arts in Paris


Do you think the Parisian stereotype is true?

If by Parisian stereotype you mean the idea that the Parisien is pretentious, stylish, unpleasant and intellectual all bundled into one, there’s some truth to it in the sense that Paris doesn’t always emanate friendliness: people seem rushed, nervous, and never run out of things to complain about, especially when public transportation employees are on strike. But in more personal environments, Parisians like to chill with a bottle of wine and have a laugh as much as the next person.

And even though there is lagging sense that being Parisian is better than being from other places in France, which I don’t agree with, I think the problem is due to the way France is represented elsewhere: unlike what could be inferred, this fancy image of Paris applies to a specific population and area. The way it is often depicted as being representative of the entire country unrightfully brings down the other regions and cities.

Paris in winter

3 Jan

A day out in Paris: an art exhibition, exploring the Christmas market, great food and strange fashion.

What to do

The exhibition du moment is Claude Monet at the Grand Palais. Over 200 of Monet’s best paintings have been reunited in this special showcase, including some of his best loved works such as “Les Coquelicots.”

Monet: "Les Coquelicots"

Claude Monet, "Les Coquelicots, Environs d'Argenteuil"

People waited in line outside for hours, yet once inside the rooms were so full you had to queue to see each painting. Impatient art lovers forget their manners and there was much pushing, sneaky queuing and swearing in true French fashion. And that was just me. Read The Telegraph’s review to see what you’re missing. The exhibition ends 24 January.

The Christmas market at the end of the Champs Elysees is well worth a browse. Selling everything from furry hats to watches, rich tourists left laden with gifts. The best part is no doubt the food; from sweet treats to cheeses and sausages, the air is thick with tempting smells. There is even a special ice sculpture exhibit and fairground slides for little ones. It certainly puts Cardiff’s measly craft and food stalls to shame. Unfortunately, it is very popular with tourists, and the crowds can be off-putting.

Eating out

You can’t get much more French than Le Relais de l’Entrecote.

le relais de l'entrecote

Le relais de l'Entrecote's only dish: steak frites

The famous bistrot had tourists waiting in line outside until the doors opened at 7pm. Alarmingly, there is no menu. Ushered to your seats like children in a school canteen, you are served a small and flimsy salad for starters. But then comes the main course; juicy steak and homemade frites allumettes with a rich basil sauce. As soon as your last mouthful is finished, the brisk and no-nonsense waitresses dump a second portion on your plates, despite any protests you may have. Even with a dessert and a coffee, you’re out within the hour and the second seating begins. The efficient service and excellent food have earned the restaurant its top reputation much like the famous Chartier. I defy you to find a more French menu anywhere. For very reasonable prices, these eateries pride themselves on giving tourists and locals alike a classic taste of France.

Trends

Doudounes uniqlo

Doudounes from Uniqlo; invading Paris

Doudounes appear to be the height of cool. I have been informed by a current lyceen that owning one, especially an expensive one, gives you cool status in school. About eight years ago, we banished them to the backs of our wardrobes after years of wearing unflattering knee-length ones which made us look like Michelin men.

Michelin man

The Michelin Man look is back, apparently

Now they are back and invading Paris. In all colours and price ranges – because, yes, there are designer doudounes de luxe which cost hundreds if not thousands of euros – they are sported by people of all ages and backgrounds. You cannot walk down the street without being assaulted by an army of doudounes… it’s enough to contemplate buying one, except I know I’d look like a prize wally upon returning to the UK.