“Enchanté, je t’adore Paris.” Said in a low voice that resembles Serge Gainsbourg just about sums up my French vocabulary. Terrible. Oh and “cafe au lait s’il vous plait”, a must if you drink as much coffee as I do.
I have just came back from a weekend in Paris with my boyfriend and I’m ashamed to say we were one of those typically English couples who intentionally speak really loudly in English when the waitress comes to take your order as we were both terrified to even attempt to speak the language. I am thoroughly ashamed of myself, after getting a B in GCSE French I can’t remember a word of it.
Paris is one of my favourite cities, beautiful architecture, a thriving cafe culture, fantastic art galleries and more escargot than you can shake a stick at. Perfect place for a weekend break. Before we left I was in a real panic searching on my Timeout Paris app for good places to eat, looking at the editor’s picks and realising this Monsieur has ridiculously expensive taste. I was just resigned to the fact we’d probably be dining on Croque Monsieur and frites every night, but I was wrong.
Our first night, after an afternoon of walking around the epic Pompidou Centre, we were starving. We wandered around Notre Dame and finally settled on a little Bistro. Every restaurant seemed to have identical menus and nothing stood out apart from the fact the French seem to have a fascination with Oeuf Mayonaisse as a starter. Most of the places looked tired and the waiters stood in the doorways in their dicky bows and waistcoats felt a little dated. We sat down to a steak with peppercorn sauce with the scent of oeuf mayo wafting over from the next table, it came out of the kitchen almost as soon as we’d ordered it giving an impression that they’d made it a million times before. It was a limp, thin steak with a sauce that left a bitter taste in your mouth. Non! I was determined that we were going to eat well on our holiday.
On our second night things were looking up. We discovered the delights of Bastille, it was like the East London of Paris. Boulangeries selling amazing bread, delis, boucheries, young, fashionable people littered the bars, drinking wine, with a cigarette in hand. I was excited, not because I think smoking is cool, but they did look pretty chouett. I wanted to be among them, and not feel like a tourist. We found the perfect place to do this. Cafe de L’industrie ,16 rue Saint-Sabin
A huge place with an eclectic range of art hanging from the walls. It was a classic Parisian restaurant, but dragged into the 20th century, unlike a lot of the other Bistros around clinging onto their Toulouse Lautrec prints, whose posters I admit I bought in armfuls on my previous trips to Paris as a youth. The food was at a reasonable price and was delicious.We started with Escargo, which were buttery and garlicky and surprisingly tender. For the main, Onglet de Boeuf which consisted of a beautifully cooked rare piece of beef, topped with sauteed onions with a very generous serving of dauphinoise potatoes.
I would recommend this place to anyone I think it represents french cuisine at its modern yet, authentic best. For an after dinner treat we hotfooted it down to the Eiffel Tower a little woozy on the fantastic dry white wine we’d been enjoying all night, and stood right underneath it to watch the light show, an essential part of a Parisian holiday.
I’m breezing over our lunches as we mostly ate on the go, picking up baguettes. One tip, do not buy a baguette from the Eiffel tower. The 500 steps can make you delirious and very hungry, but don’t make the mistake of purchasing one as the ham tastes like corned beef and the baguette was so hard you could use it as a door stop. Just saying, but there are a lot of treats you can pick up on your way around Paris
On our last night we saved up our pennies for a place that we’d spotted on our first night whilst strolling down the ile de la cite. Le Reminet is a tiny place, but it’s hard to miss the many recommendations stuck all over the door way. We pressed our faces up against the window and realised this was a fancy establishment, and after looking at the menu we moved on tutting at the prices, yet longing to sit beneath the antique chandeliers eating by candlelight with the rest of them. So on our last night we put our glad rags on and went down there and were delighted to be told that we’d get a table. The waiters were charming, placing a complimentary shot glass of soup in front of us to start the meal. I had slow cooked lamb, with haricot beans, green beans and carrots with a snail butter. The dish was wonderfully rich and full of flavour. Chris had chicken stuffed with mushrooms and parsnip puree. The chicken looked a little on the pink side, which as typical British diners we flagged up immediately with the waiter who assured us that this was the way it was meant to look as it had been poached.
For desert we shared a chocolate fondant, with mango puree and a pistachio cream. Perfect, sweet way to end our meal.
If you’re going to Paris, I highly recommend both of these restaurants. Classic French cooking with a modern twist and both hold on to the romance that makes Paris the city that people visit again and again.