Artisan Chocolate

Chocolate. Let me count the
ways. I should say at the start that I’m pretty close to a purist: I adore dark
chocolate in the percentage range of 70-75%. And for the most part, I want my
chocolate unadulterated. No foreign bodies mixed inside, save almonds or
walnuts or cocoa beans. So, when in Paris, craving chocolate, I revisit old
favorites chocolatiers and search for new ones. Read more ›

Paris in Flood

Note the guardrail on the left, normally a lane of traffic. But the Eiffel Tower shines on.

Paris Après le Deluge

Last week, we arrived in Paris to an overflowing Seine and heavy traffic due to roads underwater. Even the Louvre & Musee d’Orsay closed for a few days and treasures were relocated to top floors. The water was about 20 ft higher than normal. Hasn’t been this high since 1982 and before that 1910. See this comparison in photos with that Great Flood: http://imgur.com/a/k5I6M, and below for a few of my own views. Read more ›

Silverscreen Entertainment in Paris

Photo from Five Hundred Buildings of Paris, text by Kathy Borrus, photos by Jorg Brockmann and James Driscoll.

Blogathon June 30

Since the Middle Ages, theatrical entertainment in Paris was more spectator sport than high culture. Whistling, shouting, stomping, or hooting audiences—often drunk and rowdy—routinely disrupted performers in opera and theater. Even in the seventeenth century, playwrights such as Moliere wrote and presented satirical pieces that mocked religion, the aristocracy, and the bourgeoisie to jeers and cheers.

By the late nineteenth century, an evening out at the theater became a fashionable event—as much (if not more) about who was wearing what as it was about the dramatic events on stage. But by the 1920s, the emerging film industry captured the public’s imagination, and The Rex shined brightly as a temple to cinematic wonders.

There are theaters older than the Rex and a few are worth visiting to gaze up at the stars on screen (or overhead, in the case of the Rex). Please note: If your French is only restaurant ordering level, look for the letters, VO, “original voice,” under the film title, which means you can listen to the film in its original language often English. If VO is not there, then voices are dubbed in French.

2nd Arrondissement
Le Grand Rex
5 Boulevard Poissonnière
http://www.legrandrex.com

On December 8, 1931, 3,500 lights pierced the night sky from the Rex’s Art Deco tower. The blazing illumination announced this new cinematic landmark, possibly the largest in Europe at the time. Its monumental screen stretches almost 60 feet high and more than 40 feet wide. The baroque interior is outsized with seating for about 2,700 on three different levels. Even if you don’t watch a film here, it’s worth a visit to view the ceiling where stars rotate above the gigantic screen—a bit of cinematic magic intended to give the illusion of watching a film under the night sky. The Rex specializes in Hollywood films but dubs them in French.

Besides movies, the Rex offers other events and concerts in its Grand Salon. You can also stargaze at an interactive, behind-the-scenes, audio tour called “Etoiles du Rex” (Stars of the Rex) to discover more about French cinema and, specifically, about the projection screen and special effects. Consult the Rex’s website for event or film times and prices, or to reserve online.

Independent Film Venues

The ones below often show Hollywood films in VO, but they are considerably smaller theaters than the Rex. As independent cinemas, they attract art house aficionados and they project a bit of old-time celluloid history and culture in Paris.

5th Arrondissement
Le Campo
51, rue des Ecoles at rue Saint-Jacques
http://www.lechampo.com/

If you’ve wandered the Latin Quarter near the Sorbonne, then you’ve probably seen the Campo’s marquee on the corner. This two-screen, art house cinema opened in 1939 and achieved historic landmark status in 2000. Most films are shown normal hours, but check their website for the midnight trio—“Nuits du Champo”—a three film showing that begins at midnight and lasts till breakfast.

Cinéma du Panthéon
13 Rue Victor Cousin
http://www.whynotproductions.fr/pantheon/

Another recognizable landmark for its Art Deco, metal-outlined fixed camera image on the facade, this 1907 movie house was the first one in Paris to show original English language films. It’s also the oldest extant cinema in the city. Catherine Deneuve and Christian Sapet decorated the upstairs salon and café.

Les Studio des Ursulines
10 rue des Ursulines
http://www.studiodesursulines.com/

Behind its ordinary façade is a history of avant-garde film projection since opening in 1925, including movies by May Ray and Andre Breton. Truffaut shot a scene here for Jules et Jim, and it’s supposedly the first theater to screen Charlie Chaplin films. Its plush red seating is a retro and cozy venue for viewing in any era.

6th arrondissement
Le Lucernaire
53 Rue Notre Dame des Champs
http://www.lucernaire.fr

This one is a relative newcomer compared with the others above. It opened in 1968 as a cultural forum and received official recognition for its creativity in 1984. More than a film venue, it’s a bar, a restaurant, an art and cultural bookstore, a theater, and an intimate concert space with Sunday music programming. All this makes it sound enormous, but actually it’s a unique space for hanging out and viewing a film especially if you want to nibble on something more substantial than popcorn.

The Flaneur as Parisian Market Shopper

Photo of Les Halles, undated.

Blogathan June 29

Once, in London at The Travel Bookshop—the same one in the movie Notting Hill—an eccentric looking woman in her sixties with a gray pageboy hairdo, dressed in early flea-market finds and a wide brim straw hat, confided, “I hate to shop. I hate department stores. I love open air markets.”

“Then you’ll love my book, The Fearless Shopper.” I said.

And she bought a copy. But It’s not what it seems, and here’s my little secret: I hate to shop.

I loathe malls; I get intense headaches and claustrophobia. I hate department stores unless they are free standing and even then I hyperventilate. When department stores are a necessity because I need something specific, I adopt the male approach: Buy it and get out.

I do, however, love to wander—just stroll around especially at outdoor markets. If you are a flâneur (stroller) and a shopper, then Paris is your city. For wherever your feet take you, Paris is, with apologies to Hemingway, a moveable feast. Hemingway meant, of course, that the city is in your blood, always with you. I mean the city is an undeniable treat with street shopping that entices you in every arrondissement. Below are a few of my favorites.

Markets Streets

Most commercial market streets with indoor and outdoor kiosks are open six days a week. Normal operating hours are 9 AM to 1 or 1:30 PM and 4 PM to 7 PM, Tuesday through Saturday; and Sundays, 9 AM -1 PM. Most are closed on Monday.

2nd Arrondissement
Rue Montorgueil

Since the Middle Ages, the central food market of Paris centered around Les Halles—a space brimming with market activity day and night (yes, that activity, too, along with wholesale food vendors)—until 1969. Before city officials tore down its then mid-nineteenth-century iron girders and the wholesalers decamped to Rungis, south of Paris, rue Montorgueil was an area where restaurant buyers purchased the catch-of-the-day from northern fishmongers. Today, this renovated pedestrian street is gentrified and lively. A few of the old restaurants date back to a bygone era. Restaurant Au Rocher de Canale  dating from 1850 still serves locals and tourists and has an outdoor terrace—perfect for people watching. Stohrer, Paris’s oldest patissier, creating pastry since 1730, is in the national historic registry and may tempt you with a sweet along this street.

5th Arrondissement
Rue Mouffetard  

Inhale as you meander down this classic market street where food merchants hawk their goods, piling up produce and more all colorfully stacked in wooden crates. Just to walk Rue Mouffetard makes you feel like a local in search of ingredients or a fresh baguette for your evening meal. It’s a bit on the grubby and scruffy side, but you’re sure to sense a certain charm here as well, even as another client may jostle you aside to peak into the cheese vitrines.

9th arrondissement
Rue des Martyrs

Just down the street from the rough and tumble Pigalle area, Rue des Martyrs has the usual blend of restaurants, cafes, butchers, patisseries, and bakers, all still retain the essence of its two-century-old beginnings. It also is multicultural with kosher and halal vendors selling side by side. It’s another street I love to wander up and down just inhaling. At 25 Rue des Martyrs, the Italian restaurant Fuxia offers fresh takeout and a grocery selection of Italian wines, olive oils, and balsamic vinegar at the front of the store as well as seating for a more relaxed meal that spills out onto the sidewalk in warmer weather. If you continue walking up the street you’ll find rue Lepic in the 18th arrondissement with its many artisanal bakeries and other cafes and wine and craft shops. You may recall that Audrey Tatou donned a waitress outfit to play Amélie serving patrons at 15 Rue Lepic, Café les Deux Moulins, the corner art deco bar that is now part of film history.

16th Arrondissment
Passy

Just as each neighborhood has its own , and character, each market has its own local vibe and Passy is no different. It’s imbued with a civilized ambience that reflects its chic residents.  This one is a shorter street with less selection, but you’ll find the usual assortment of merchants including the Belgium chocolatier  Jeff de Bruges. And if you wander down to Avenue Mozart you can enjoy being a flanuer: The upscale clothing boutiques beckon you inside with their trendy displays.

Late Evenings Out In Paris: Wine Bars & Clubs

Blogathon June 26

When a 30-year-old friend from a small city in northern France came to visit my boyfriend and me in Paris, she asked, “Where do you two go clubbing.”

Ha! I didn’t go clubbing when I was in my twenties—too much smoke. But now that the interior air has cleared in recent years, we do occasionally venture out away from our computer screens and our Netflix’s films to join in the fun at one of the local clubs.

My favorites below offer choices beyond wine or sitting around a bar, which makes an evening out a more appealing prospect. But remember, if you’re sitting at outdoor terraces anywhere in Paris, expect smoke.

2nd Arrondissement
Club Rayé
26 Rue Dussoubs, http://clubraye.com/
Phone: 01 40 13 72 93
Metro stops

Wine, imaginative cocktails, jazz, and small plates in an intimate, black & white striped (rayé) art deco setting. Though their food is quite tasty, it’s more like munching on tapas. If you get hungry early, I suggest stopping for dinner elsewhere or eating a late lunch. I’ve been here with a large group of about 10 and also with just another couple, which is much more preferable. The tables are bistro size so really it’s just right for two or four at a table. The air is charged with enthusiastic chatter, then attention turns to a jazz singer (male or female) and a jazz pianist. Club Rayé is a perfect after-dinner spot. It’s a mellow way to blend into the Paris evening.

Hours:Tuesday – Saturday 5 PM – 2 AM.
Sunday Jazz Brunch 12 PM – 4 PM.

Closed Mondays. Check their website for their music schedule and their cocktail of the day.

4th Arrondissement
La Belle Hortense
31, rue Vieille du Temple
Tel : 01 48 0421 60
Métro: Hôtel de Ville/ St-Paul

Sip wine in a nineteenth-century library in the heart of the historic Marais. Enter the Wedgewood blue façade and you’ll soon discover a bit of tranquility amidst the bustling Marais streets. Stocked with classics, poetry, rare volumes, and new releases, this literary café is a combination wine bar / bookshop. Settle in with a book and a bottle. What could be more civilized?

Hours: 5 PM- 2 AM
No website but you can call for special events and readings.

11th Arrondissement
Le Baron Rouge
1 rue Théophile-Roussel
Tel: 01 43 43 14 32
Métro: Ledru-Rollin

Yes, this is a repeat (see my restaurant blog post: http://kathyborrus.tumblr.com/post/122124143148/photo-above-from-one-thousand-buildings-of-paris) but one worth including here. In the 11th arrondissement, this joint is close to the d’Aligre market and has a working class ambience. Join the locals at the zinc bar or fill an empty bottle from the large wine kegs at the bar entrance while downing freshly shucked oysters.

Closed Sunday afternoons and Mondays, no website.

13th Arrondissement
Batofar
http://www.batofar.org
11 quai François Mauriac
75013 Paris
Phone: 01 53 60 17 00
Metro BNF ou Quai de la gare
Bus 325 – 89 – 64

This unique club on a boat makes waves, so to speak, gently swaying as the DJ plays music or a band entertains you. I’ve not recaptured the mood recently, but the couple of times I’ve been there in the past, the experience was pleasant, the staff cordial, and the drinks flowed along with the dancing. Dine here also or just take in the ambience along the Seine. Don’t fret if you’re prone to seasickness. The boat is moored and never leaves the dock. Club, restaurant, theater, heated terrace (smoke), or beach—you’ll find it all very late night near the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand.

Hours:
Tuesday 7:30 PM- Midnight
Wednesday- Saturday 7:30 PM-3 AM
Closed Sunday & Monday

 

For a larger helping of clubbing, I refer you to this website: http://girlsguidetoparis.com/nightlife-for-gals-in-paris/

Bookstores in Paris Linger On

Blogathon June 25

Part 3

There are still so many book vendors in Paris despite Amazon France, which, by the way, is extremely efficient (I’ve ordered from them and books are not only delivered timely, but Amazon also gives you an introductory Prime membership for next day delivery–constantly tracking the package and sending email notices frequently when to expect delivery). As a sign of the times, though, Tea and Tattered Pages closed permanently (as did Village Voice Paris), which means its cozy little tearoom is also gone with the wind. Perhaps it will return some day with a wealthy benefactor, but then it probably wouldn’t be the same. Still, wandering through a live bookstore is always a treat of discovery, but this will be the last blog installment on the subject until I revisit the stores next year.

4th Arrondissement
The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore
22, rue Saint-Paul
http://rwb.paris.free.fr/
Phone: 01 48 04 75 08

Marked by its bright red welcoming facade in the Marais, The Red Wheelbarrow offers friendly service and serious literature as well as a variety of topics from classic and contemporary fiction to books on politics, current affairs, biographies, history, poetry, and French interest titles.

It’s also stocked with a variety of children’s books in English, and each year there is a writing contest for children and teachers. Check their website for the contest deadline, events, and readings by international writers and poets.

Hours:
Monday 10 AM-6 PM
Tuesday Saturday 10 AM-7PM
Sunday 2 PM-6 PM

6th Arrondissement
Gilbert Jeune
10, place St-Michel
http://www.gibertjeune.fr
Phone: 01 43 25 91 19

In 1886, Gilbert Jeune was a bouquiniste on the Quai St-Michel. The original Parisian retail store, founded by his brother Joseph Gilbert, opened its doors in 1888 on Boulevard St-Michel. Today, it sells mostly French titles (about a third used) in multiple locations. It’s fun to linger over the outdoor book tables, but I’ve never found the staff to be particularly helpful. Once near closing time, I was looking for a specific title. One clerk sent me to their store across the way. When I got there, another clerk sent me back to the original store. My feeling was they were ready to close and didn’t want to bother helping me.

Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9:30 AM to 7:30 PM

Nouveau Quartier Latin
78, boulevard Saint-Michel,
Phone: 01 43 26 42 70

No used books but plenty of paperbacks. No website either.

 

13th Arrondissement
Attica
15 rue Boussingault
http://www.attica.fr/
Phone: 01 55 28 80 14
Founded in 1977, primarily to promote Anglo-Saxon culture, this bookstore offers multiple language titles including films and books for children. In addition to English and French books, their selection includes those in Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese as well as other languages. Their website claims over 200 different languages.

Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 AM – 7 PM

Bookstores in Paris, Plus Frills

BHV, from Five Hundred Buildings of Paris, photos by Jorg Brockmann and James Driscoll, text by Kathy Borrus

Blogathon June 24, 2015

Unlike yesterday’s blog (http://kathyborrus.tumblr.com/post/122289504068/bookstores-alive-and-well-in-paris-plus-ou), which featured bookstores primarily selling English titles, the ones below either specialize in a particular subject such as architecture (Le Moniteur) or offer a different ambience with titles, new and used, in either French or English or a combination of both, as well as gifts.

2nd Arrondissement
Brentano’s
37 Avenue de l’Opéra
Phone: 01 42 61 52 50

An independent American Bookstore dating back to 1853 in NYC, it opened a branch in Paris on rue de l’Opéra in 1895 where it operated until 2009 when its parent company, Borders, filed for bankruptcy and closed the store. But a year later, in 2010, Iranian businessman Farock Sharifi gave it new life (and financial backing). Under his guidance the store now sells gifts and stationery products as well as books. It’s bigger than it appears on first entry as it winds around to a more spacious interior. Although I once did a book signing here, I haven’t been back to see its expanded selection of gifts. Next trip!

An interesting historical side note: During WWII and German Occupation, Brentano’s began publishing French literature by French writers-in-exile, under the imprint Éditions Brentano’s.

Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:30AM-8:30 PM. (The website listing does not seem to work, so call to be sure it’s open.)

 

4th Arrondissement

BHV
52-64 rue de Rivoli
http://www.bhv.fr/en/magasins/bhv-paris/
Phone: 09–77–40–14–00

Formally known as Bazar de l’Hotel de Ville, BHV informally dates back to 1856 when Xavier Ruel peddled a cart with tchotchkes at the same location. In 1904, it opened its doors as a department store and has always been a popular store with great prices where you can find anything. So, technically it’s not a bookstore at all, but it has quite a large selection of titles, DVDs, and it’s simply a fun store to visit (though the prices are not as Wal-Marty as they used to be), and a great place to find gifts and shop as the locals do. It sells just about everything: fashion, household goods (door knobs, paints, dishwasher, anyone?) to office and art supplies, linens, lingerie…you get the picture. It’s still a bazaar—BHV in the Marais.

Hours:
Monday – Saturday: 9:30 AM – 8:00 PM
Wednesday: 9:30 AM – 9:00 PM

6th Arrondissement

Berkeley Books of Paris
8 Rue Casimir Delavigne
http://www.berkeleybooksofparis.com/
Phone: 01 46 34 85 73

This one was inadvertently left off my English only list. Former employees of the San Francisco Book Company opened this store in 2006. The shelves are stacked with secondhand American and British books. And they’ve got a deal for you: You can buy, sell, or exchange books here. Whatever you decide, you are sure to come upon a serendipitous discovery.

Hours:
Browse and buy: Monday – Saturday 11AM-8 PM; Sunday 2 PM-7 PM.
Sell or Exchange: Monday 4 PM- 8PM; Tuesday – Saturday 11AM-4PM.

Le Moniteur Bookstore (Librairie Le Moniteur)
http://www.librairiedumoniteur.com/boutique/liste_rayons.cfm
7 Place de l’Odéon
Phone: 01 44 41 15 75

A haven for architects, store designers, landscapers, urban planners and anyone who loves buildings and design. Located near Luxembourg Gardens and the Théâtre du Odeon, Le Moniteur stocks specialized books on architecture and related subjects with at least 30% English titles, including Five Hundred Buildings of Paris, which is now out in French as 500 Monuments de Paris.

Hours: Most days 11AM-7PM. Thursdays until 8PM. Closed Tuesdays.

Taschen
2 rue de Buci
http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/stores/73.store_paris.htm
Phone: 01 40 51 79 22

The art of the upscale book. The Taschen Store in Paris is a retail branch of the Publisher by the same name. They produce quality books on art and popular culture including those on photography, artists, architecture, sex, fashion, as well as limited editions. Their books make great gifts.

Hours:

Monday – Thursday 11 AM – 8 PM
Friday and Saturday 11 AM – Midnight
Sunday Noon – 7 PM

Neighborhood Restaurants in Paris: Part 2

Photo above from One Thousand Buildings of Paris, Text by Kathy Borrus, photos by Jorg Brockmann and James Driscoll

Neighborhood Restaurants in
Paris, Part 2

Blogathon June 21

Le Train Bleu (12th arrondissement)
20, Boulevard Diderot/ Place Louis Armand in Gare de Lyon
http://www.le-train-bleu.com/

This is my bonus offering. Not because the food is exceptional (I don’t have first-hand dining experience at Le Train Bleu; I hear that it’s just fair these days) or reasonably priced, but because the interior is a must-see This Belle Époque-dining hall, built 1899-1900, was classified as a historic monument in 1972. In the glorious days of steam travel, passengers dined here when traveling along the Paris-Lyon-Marseilles route, and the restaurant’s name pays homage to a rapid train that went to the Cote d’Azur. According to the restaurant’s website, Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot, Jean Cocteau, and Colette were regulars. Renovated in 2014, the glittering brass and glass interior includes chandeliers, a sweeping staircase, and mounted canvas wall paintings of the destinations on the southern train route. You don’t have to dine here to take a peek.

Below for Part 2 dining in Paris are more affordable neighborhood French restaurants. There are so many that I could go on and on. I may yet add another listing to this to cover other neighborhoods not previously mentioned. If I haven’t listed a website, it’s because they don’t have one. For additional notes see my dining blog posted June 19th: http://kathyborrus.tumblr.com/post/121971508978/parisian-neighborhood-restaurants

7th Arrondissement

Le Bistrot du Septième
56 , boulevard La Tour Maubourg
http://bistrotdu7.com
Phone: 01 45 51 93 08

This bistro serves up traditional French fare on tables covered in crisp white linen. The menu is varied with a changing entrée du jour and the principle plat du jour (usually the best deal). The menu selection focuses on beef, lamb, fish and duck. I like the seafood offerings, and the wines and dinner are reasonably priced especially since its location in the chic 7th would indicate otherwise. The staff is pleasant, but they tend to group the Anglophone diners together, which seems to me to be a touch on the condescending side. Nonetheless, you can’t beat the meal and the wine for the price. Closed Saturday and Sunday Lunch.

11th arrondissement

La CuiZine
73 Rue Amelot,
http://www.lacuizine.fr/
Phone: 01 43 14 27 00

I haven’t been back here since 2013, but it was quite good then. It’s not much on décor but great food.  I had a grilled shrimp salad and Dorade. Noel and my friend, Adrian, each had two entrées instead of a main course (hardly ever done in Paris except at brasseries), but Adrian has lived here long enough to be bold about it. She and Noel both started with clams, and then Noel had duck foie gras, and Adrian had the shrimp salad. She and I shared their incredible decadent chocolate-molten cake drizzled with raspberry sauce. All of us enjoyed our meal and I will definitely go back next Paris trip. Closed Sunday and Monday, and midday Saturday. Open noon to 2 PM and 7 PM to 10PM.

12th arrondissement

Le Baron Rouge
1 rue Théophile-Roussel
Phone: 01 43 43 14 32

I wish I loved oysters because if I did, I’d hurry over to Le Baron Rouge where everyone appears to be having so much fun. No one seems to mind waiting either. A lively crowd often spills out onto the street, waiting to eat freshly shucked oysters over large wine kegs at the bar entrance. Indeed, I took Noel here and he loved the oysters and the atmosphere. Slightly off the well-worn tourist path, Le Baron Rouge is close to the lively indoor d’Aligre market. Closed Sunday afternoons and Mondays.

15th arrondissement

Cave de L’Os Moëlle
181, rue de Lourmel
Phone: 01 45 57 28 28

An unusual, communal dining adventure at Cave de L’Os Moëlle (Cellar of the Bone Marrow). Unusual that it is communal/self serve but also unusual with the “French women don’t get fat” mentality that it’s “all you can eat;” the caveat being you must eat what you take. A friend of mine who lives in Paris loves it and I’ve eaten there twice, but I’m too picky an eater to enjoy it. Your food is whatever the restaurant decides they are making that day. They pass it around family style. I’d rather order my own, but it’s different and most people love the atmosphere. Closed Mondays. Open Tuesday 4PM -10PM, Wednesday-Sunday, 10:30 AM-10 PM.

 

16th arrondissement

Le Beaujolais d’Auteuil
99 Boulevard de Montmorency
www.lebeaujolaisdauteuil.com/
Phone: 01 47 43 03 56

This neighborhood restaurant/café is a great afternoon stop, where you can sit outside, sip a glass of wine, and munch on a tasty cheese offerings. But you can also have a lovely dinner inside or out at reasonable prices, served by young, friendly, and whimsical waiters who sport wooden bowties. Dine on classical French cuisine with a modern twist including smoked herring caviar and celery roumelade. Located at Porte d’Auteuil, its contemporary interior has mirrored walls, tiled floor, and velvet chairs. It’s a perfect stop if you’re on your way to Roland Garros or the Auteuil
Hippodrome. Open everyday from 8 AM to 1 AM.

Drink French Wine in Paris the American Way: O Chateau Restaurant

Blogathon July 20

Today’s feature: O Chateau—Restaurant, Wine Bar, Tastings
rue 68 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1st arrondissement
http://www.o-chateau.com/

“Wine education is too old, too stuffy, too pretentious,” says Olivier Magny, owner and founder of O Chateau, offering wine tasting experiences in Paris. “I’ve always thought that most people talking about wine were just boring and uptight.”

Magny is anything but old, stuffy, or pretentious. On the contrary, the youthful, clear blue-eyed entrepreneur smiles broadly while deftly opening the first bottle of wine for his audience of American tourists. Instantly, Magny uncorks the stuffiness in French wines and simultaneously releases a full bouquet of fun, American style.

Magny promises a unique experience and delivers. “To me, wine should bring people together. And I’ve realized that most people talking about wine just set barriers between them and ‘novices’ with unnecessary jargon or supposedly refined, deep and chic wine-related thoughts and analyses –more or less consciously. While in the USA, I realized most Americans thought French wine was very complex and intimidating. I figured I could try something to cope with those two things.”

With un-bottled enthusiasm, charm, and humor, Magny dispels the mystery of French wines as he chats casually about the regions of France and asks questions that prompt taste buds to discover that hint of oak or berry or spice.

I was invited to one of Magny’s original wine tastings when he was just getting started about 10 years ago, and it was a delight. Today, he has expanded his offerings to include a restaurant, wine bar, private events, and tours including a Day Trip to Champagne as well as different levels of wine tastings.

“Our tastings are a great opportunity to meet new people,” says Magny. “People get to talk with me, with other customers. And it’s actually quite rare when you’re traveling to get a chance to really sit and meet with other people. I enjoy it very much. And wine is my best ally for this—the more the tasting goes, the more people talk and have fun! It’s great to see people open up.”

Magny, a rugby player, selects wine with the same energy and passion and openness he brings to the game.

“Wine like rugby,” he says, “gives you an excuse to go talk to the person next to you. An oval ball and a glass of wine are just like an open door. A warm welcome.”

His infectious delight in wine extends to his customized tastings for any personal or business occasion. “Wine when used properly and not in a boring manner is a great and oh-so-effective team building tool because it makes it possible to go beyond just work talk.”

In the words of rugby player Pierre Berbizier, Olivier Magny is “the best ambassador for French wines in Paris.“

I’ve yet to try the restaurant or the wine bar, but given the fun I had on the first wine tasting, the restaurant is on my list for my next visit. By the way, the location is a five minute walk from the Louvre and you can enjoy complimentary wifi with your wine.

Parisian Neighborhood Restaurants: Part 1

Blogathon June 19

Below, I’ve compiled a relatively up-to-date neighborhood restaurant list of my favorites. Most are all reasonably priced, generally non-touristy, and very good.

I’ve noted some of the meals I’ve had with friends—no guarantee that they are still good by the time you go, or that your taste and mine are the same.

If you are looking for fancy, expensive Michelin rated restaurants, look elsewhere. But if you want a good local meal with decent wine at prices that won’t break the bank, then look below. Most also have a low decibel level and thus are easy to have a conversation in without shouting.

A few other notes:

  • Except for brasseries, most French restaurants don’t start serving dinner until 7 or 7:30 PM. So, if you get hungry early, find a brasserie (most serve all day) or eat a
    late lunch.
  • A strict no smoking ban exists inside restaurants. If you enjoy dining outside, expect smoke.
  • The best deal dollar-wise is usually the plat du jour.
  • Many small French restaurants do not have their own website, which is why a few websites are missing below. But you can usually find out more about them through websites such as TripAdvisor.com. Just Google them and information will usually pop up.
  • I have listed phone numbers, if you want to make a reservation, but if you are worried about your French, don’t; many owners speak English. Or try reserving with the French
    equivalent of Open Table, la fourchette: http://www.lafourchette.com/.

Restaurants are organized by arrondissements:

1st arrondissement

Goumard
9, rue Duphot
www.goumard.com
Phone: 01 42 60 36 07

This first one is the exception to the pas cher list; it’s pricey, but exceptionally good. Friends Arnaud and Dan recommended it, and Noel and I had a great meal here in May this year. Fish is the specialty of the house. Noel had Belen oysters then the monkfish grilled in a stew with mushrooms. It was outstanding. I had a crab frothed appetizer that was good but a little rich and weird, then grilled salmon on a beetroot concoction. Tasty but Noel definitely picked the winning dish. There are nice little touches with bread stick crudities and crusty baguette rolls with an anchovy butter. The ambiance is low key but stylish with velvet banquettes, wood-paneling, and even elegant bathrooms with mosaic décor.

2nd arrondissement

Domaine de Lintillac
10, rue Saint Augustin
http://www.lintillac-paris.com/
Phone: 01 40 20 96 27

This restaurant is all about duck and is a typical French bistro that mostly locals know about. It’s a lively neighborhood place, good food, good vibes, but note: The French always like to prepare their duck on the rare side. To get around this (if that doesn’t suit your taste), I always have Confit de Canard (has to be well-cooked). You usually need a reservation.

 

3rd arrondissement

Cafe Charlot
38 rue de Bretagne
http://www.cafecharlotparis.com/en/
Phone: 01 44 54 03 30

Typical French neighborhood café in the Marais with a lively crowd. My friend Adrian (it’s in her neighborhood) and I had grilled salmon with veggies, Noel had veal Milanese. Three of us ate here for 84 Euros including three glasses of wine and a beer. Very good, light meal.

Chez Omar
47 Rue de Bretagne
Phone: 01 42 72 36 26

Couscous and more here. A neighborhood joint that’s busy and noisy, but entertaining. It’s walking distance from the Centre George Pompidou. It has a limited menu but consistently good grilled fish and other fare. I usually have the grilled swordfish. Waiters are friendly and fun.

 4th arrondissement

L’Ange 20 restaurant

8, rue Geoffroy L’Angevin

http://www.lange20.com/lange20/Accueil.html

Phone: 01 40 27 93 67

This is a tiny restaurant so make a reservation. It used to have a waiting list of a couple of months, but I think it’s not quite as popular as when it first opened. It’s creative but a bit inconsistent. The restaurant sits twenty in a square space with diners packed in like sardines and an open kitchen at the back. A waiter, a chef, and a sous chef serve up entrees, plats, and dessert for about 30 Euros fixed price.  I’ve had delicious meals there that included a smoked salmon salad with potato salad on the side. Main dish was a blanquette du veal dans sauce crème avec  champignon. I’ve eaten there about four or five times. Each time the food was great, but the most recent time was a bit disappointing and uneven. But if you’re planning to be near the Centre Pompidou, it’s worth the walk down the nearby street, which looks deserted and a little iffy, but it’s perfectly safe.

Le Felteu
15 Rue Pecquay
Phone: 01 42 72 14 51

I ate here for the first time this past February with my Parisian friend, Isabelle, who is also a wonderful artist (http://www.isabelle-bonzom.org). Tiny, old-time, neighborhood bistro near Centre Georges Pompidou on a nondescript, deserted side street. An online review I saw called it “a hole in the wall” (just so you know what you are getting into). I had a delicious goat cheese salad–it’s quite large so easy to share with someone else, then excellent Confit de Canard. Isabelle had a tasty lamb dish and we shared a side of potatoes au gratin. An excellent meal, reasonably priced with wine. If you go, don’t miss the potatoes au gratin.

Le Petit Bofinger
6 Rue de la Bastille
http://www.bofingerparis.com/en/menu/petit-bofinger.html
Phone: 01 42 72 05 23‎

This is the baby version of the larger brasserie across the street. Both are very close to the Bastille. Charming. Typical French fare of meat or fish.

 

5th arrondissement

Les Fêtes Galantes
17, rue de l”Ecole Polytechique
Phone: 01 43 26 10 40

Traditional family-run French bistro. Tiny joint with tables close together. Charming but quirky: Postcards, business cards, and dollar bills cover the walls, and women’s bras hang from some of the rafters. The street is a bit difficult to find but worth the effort. I’ve never had a bad meal here. You might get lucky and get a table, but it’s best to call for a reservation.

Restaurant Marty
20 Avenue de Gobelins
http://www.restaurantmarty.com/page.php?id=1&title=Accueil
Phone: 01 43 31 39 51

Excellent seafood. I’ve had two very good dinners here, but it’s been a few years.  With its Art Deco décor it’s more upscale and a bit more expensive than the others.

Moissonnier
28 rue Des Fosses des St-Bernard
Phone: 01 43 29 87 65

Best quenelle—a ground fish loaf that’s poached—you will ever taste. Ever. Recommended by a Parisian friend. Lives up to its reputation. It’s family-run, home-style Lyonnais cuisine so there are other menu options, but I usually just have a salad and the quenelle. It’s a small space so make a reservation.

6th arrondissement

La Maison du Jardin
27 Rue de Vaugirard
Phone: 01 45 48 22 31

This one is a lovely discovery near Luxembourg Gardens, a block or two away. Typical fare: grilled sea bream, lamb stew, braised veal, duck pate, spinach and smoked fish salad. Meals here prepared in classic French style and the staff is quite pleasant.