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Normandy report

John,

I wanted to thank you for guiding us to La Rapiere. We took your advice and enjoyed an outstanding dinner while staying near Bayeux a few weeks ago. After 12 enjoyable days of dining in Provence, Normandy and Paris - La Rapiere stands out as one of our favorite meals of our trip.

Thanks again!

Oct 10, 2014
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Seeking Paris Restaurant Advice

Parigi,
Thanks for the nomination for sainthood but I'm afraid my wife might not concur. My open attitudes toward food were formed growing up in New Orleans en Louisiane where the cuisine was formed centuries ago by mostly French immigrants who believed eating parts of an animal or eating unusual animals was a better plan than starvation and they learned to do so deliciously. My wife, on the other hand, grew up in the heartland of America loving well cooked meat and potatoes.

My one saving grace is that the wife can sustain almost exclusively on pain, fromage et vin rouge and that she is typically a good sport about skipping courses in favor of those when nothing on the menu suits her tastes. In fact, if it were legal in this country to wed a hunk of stinky cheese, I'd likely be a single man today.

But I do have a specific question for you about Chez L'Ami Jean as I'm trying to convince myself it's safe to add to my list and I know it's one of your favorites. Is there ALC or at least a limited menu with a few reasonable choices per course at CAJ or are all diners typically served the same items based on what the chef is cooking that day? And are there "safe" items at CAJ that are regularly on the menu? For example, my wife loves charcuteries and she loves boeuf, poulet et porc provided that it's not served rare. Are those predictable choices most evenings a L'Ami Jean? While she's never tried, I think she'd eat duck too provded it was well cooked as in confit. Our last visit to Le Cinq I even coaxed her to try grilled octopus and she admited she liked it very much.

Thanks again for your sympathy and more importantly your guidance!!

Apr 24, 2014
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Seeking Paris Restaurant Advice

My wife and I are returning to Paris in September and I'm starting to plan our optimal dining experiences. I'm fairly open minded about what I'll eat as I love most food with few exceptions. However, my wife's food willingness is much more limited as she won't eat anything uncooked or undercooked and won't try dishes including cavier, runny yoke eggs, organ meats, foie gras, pate, tripe, head cheese, etc. If left to me, I'd rush to most anything from L’Ami Jean to Guy Savoy and enjoy whatever comes my way. But to keep our dining enjoyable for us both, I'm seeking great restaurants that offer a good Paris experience but also offer interesting to old school French food a la carte or from a menu with significant variety of choices for each course.

Last time in Paris, we both enjoyed dinners at Josephine Chez Dumonet, Aux Lyonnais, Violon d’Ingres and Le Cinq. All of those restaurants offered food we enjoyed but from menus with some significant choices and any would likely work again for this trip. But with 1,000s of great restaurants in Paris, we'd like to experience new places.

Ideally, I'd like to find bistros and/or fine restaurants where we can get great food made with farm fresh ingredients that the locals highly respect but where my wife would have choices to order from some variety. Just FYI, my wife does enjoy traditional dishes like bœuf bourguignon and coq au vin.

We aren't looking to spend money needlessly but finding the right place with the food we want is far more important than worries about budget dining. And we both love wine so also seeking venues with good quality wines.

Restaurants I've been considering are Chez Denise and Allard. I'd welcome advice about those ideas and/or any other suggestions CH can offer.

Thanks to all for any advice!

Apr 23, 2014
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Normandy report

John,

I've always found your restaurant recommendations in Paris to be spot-on and very helpful. We're venturing to Normandy in September for the first time ever and would much appreciate your recommendations. I'm particularly interested in any advice regarding restaurants around Bayeaux or Port-en-Bessin as that is our home base during our stay.

Thank you for all the help you've unknowingly given me in the past and for what I hope you can provide to make Normandy a more enjoyable experience for us as well.

Mar 23, 2014
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Germany - Baden Baden's Best, Brenner's Park Restaurant?

I realize your original post is over 5 years old but you asked the exact question we have as we are planning to visit Baden Baden, stay at Brenner's Hotel & Spa and are seeking advice about the restaurants in the area.

Now that I assume you've worked in Baden Baden / Park Restaurant - do you have any advice for us?

Jan 24, 2013
Traveling Boudreaux in Europe

Paris - May or June?

Thank you all. Another thought about June is the French Open (from late May / early June) which will end next year on June 10. The 2012 French Open is ongoing right now.

Are the tourist crowds that come to Paris during the French Open significant enough that I should weigh that in my plans and delay my 2013 travel to Paris until after the Open is over on June 10th? Or is the French Open crowds so small to make them a non-factor?

Jun 04, 2012
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Paris - May or June?

My wife and I spent a wonderful week in Paris last year in mid-Septemberr. Now, we are planning a return visit for 2013 and trying to plan the "when" for trip.

1. In terms of the crowds, tourists and Parisian establishments being closed, is June comparable to September? I know many residents and restaurants are closed in August and I think Paris is typically crowded in July & August with tourists. Can mid-June be like July / August or is probably more likely to resemble our experience last time in mid-September?

2. Do I need to worry about the French Holidays as a tourist? I expect that banks and government will be closed but no idea if some restaurants, shopping, museums, transportation may be closed as well.

Thanks for any advice you are willing to offer.

Jun 04, 2012
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Cheese tasting in Paris

For only 20 wonderful cheeses and a couple of bottles of wine, the price was indeed outrageously expensive. I have no doubt, one can easily go to the supermarche or even Madame's fromagerie itself and purchase all of the cheeses and wine we consumed for a fraction of what we spent. And if one perceives that we were mostly buying 20 cheeses and a couple of bottles of wine, they should never spend so much money on what we enjoyed.

But for us, it is a memory and experience we will treasure for a lifetime.

Oct 02, 2011
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Cheese tasting in Paris

Our charge (for the 2 of us) was 560E - but I don't think that is indicative of the price per person. I think I understood that the price was a flat fee for 2-8 persons - so I think the price would have been the same if we had several other couples with us (reducing the price per person significantly).

Sep 27, 2011
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Cheese tasting in Paris

I just returned from Paris and my wife and I spend 2.5 delightful and delicious hours with Madame Cantin for a tasting of 20 different French fromages including details about where each cheese was made, how it was made and the history of each cheese - starting with the mildest and working towards the most tasty / stinkiest cheese. The cheeses were presented with red and white wine and water and bread. It was amazing and Madame Cantin was a joy.

If you really love cheese and would like to taste and learn - I highly recommend. It's admittedly not cheap - but if you consider the variety of cheese, her time, the restaurant room with a view reserved for the event plus the wine - I thought was a worthy addition to our vacation.

Hope that helps.

Sep 27, 2011
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Just Returned from Paris...

We just returned from my first trip ever to Paris and want to thank all on CH for their advice. I had great expectations which were easily exceeded across the board. During our stay, we dined at Le Violon d'Ingres, Aux Lyonnais, Hidden Kitchen, Le Cinq, 404 and Joséphine Chez Dumonet. All were excellent - both service and food. Before my trip, I was a bit concerned before my trip because I'm not fluent in French and my wife lacks some of my adventure in dining (i.e. well done meat and potatoes preferred). I brushed up on some very basic French conversation and basic food vocabulary just in case. While I think my attempt to communicate in French was appreciated, almost every server asked us (in perfect English) if we wanted to communicate in French or English.

I was most concerned about Joséphine Chez Dumonet as I had read several stories of servers who were less than helpful for American diners. Our experience was delightful, the waitstaff was fun and the food was amazing. The foie gras, the duck confit, beef bourguignon, cheeses and souffle were all wonderful. During our desserts, Chef came by our table and we had a delightful exchange despite his English being apparently as limited as our French.

I have read many posters in CH who are about to go to Paris and, just after concerns about the quality of food, many seem to share common concerns: dress code, language, quality of service. As an American who enjoys wonderful dining fresh from his first trip to Paris, I offer the following:

1. Dress up a bit. Those in Paris are typically smartly but well dressed. Even during the day, dark slacks and dress shirts are typical and jackets / suits common. Nobody wears shorts and tee shirts - even to walk around Paris and see the sights. If you are going to dinner, at least wear slacks and a dress shirt. If you are going to spend more than $100 at dinner, wear a jacket. I'm not saying it's the dress code but I would have felt underdressed if I hadn't. And I think my experience was better because I was wearing nice slacks, a dress shirt, dress shoes and a jacket at each of the above restaurants. I wore suit and tie at Le Cinq but I was the only diner who did - all the rest only wore slacks, dress shirt and jacket.

2. Learn a little French. Nothing outrageous, not enough to be conversational - just some pleasantries and as much vocabulary as you can absorb. Especially food vocabulary which will help navigate the menu to at least know if you are looking at beef or fish or lamb or lobster.

3. Go with the flow and ask for what you want. I expected slow service with small portions. Instead, we had surprisingly fast service and either huge portions or so many courses that they added up to huge. But if you don't ask for something, you may or may not be offered. If you want water, ask for water. The only wait we'd ever experience as at the end of the meal as the check would not come until we asked for it. Not bad service but instead just the French being polite. But a single "L'addition, s'il vous plait" and voila, we had our check. Now, I'm not suggesting we were in and out of dinner in less than an hour. In fact, dinner typically lasted around 2.5 to 3 hours. But we were never sitting there with nothing to eat or drink and wondering what / when was next either.

Again, I thank all for their wonderful advice and wish all going to Paris can have as much fun there as we did.

Sep 27, 2011
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Monday Lunch between Portland and Boston

You are correct. I was only looking at their current schedule but I realized the schedule changes to 7 days a week after Memorial Day when I re-checked. Thanks to all for pointing out my error and keeping me from missing out on what appears to be an amazing restaurant.

Monday Lunch between Portland and Boston

MC Perkins was actually my first choice but their website says they are only serving Wednesday- Sunday (making me think they were closed Mondays and Tuesdays). But you thinik that's different in the summer and they are open for lunch on Mondays in July? That would be great!

Monday Lunch between Portland and Boston

I am looking for a Monday lunch in July on the drive between between Portland and Boston but most places are either only open for dinner or don't serve lunch on Mondays.

So far have narrowed it down to the following choices:

Cape Pier Chowder House (Cape Purpoise Harbor)
Nunan's Lobster Hut (Kennebunkport)
Pier 77 Restaurant orThe Ramp Bar and Grill (Cape Porpoise)
Mabel’s Lobster Claw (Kennebunkport)
Warren’s Lobster House (Kittery)
Robert's Maine Grill & Market (Kittery)
Bartley's Dockside Dining (Kennebunkport)

Any advice when choosing between the above choices? Or anything else not yet on my list that I have overlooked?

-----
Lobster House
Small Point Rd, Phippsburg, ME 04562

Bartley's Dockside Dining
Western Ave, Kennebunkport, ME 04046

Chowder House
RR 16, North Conway, NH 03860

Nunan's Lobster Hut
Mills Rd, Kennebunkport, ME 04046

Constant restaurants - which one?

Ptipois, thank you for your insight.

Are saying that, except for those haute restaurants that specfically require a jacket and tie for men, you would consider a suit and tie at dinner for any man visiting Paris as "overdressed"? And are there any restaurants like those most often recommended here on CH where Parisians would consider adding a jacket to dressy slacks and shirt to be overdressed?

Thank you again for indulging my curiosity.

Jan 23, 2011
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Constant restaurants - which one?

Thank you all very much. I think we will make it Violon. Will I feel out of place or insult my host at Violon if I were to wear only a nice shirt and slacks but no jacket?

Which I guess sort of leads to an even broader question - how in Paris does a gentlemen decide that a jacket (or jacket and tie) is appropriate va. only a nice shirt and slacks and dress shoes? I'd rarely ever wear jeans or shorts or sneakers anywhere (unless I'm exercising) and won't even bring any of those with me to Paris. But I also would not typically wear a jacket (much less jacket and tie) for dinner either except when it is appropriate to the host or I am in the mood to be more dressy for a special occasion.

Any guidelines you can give an American tourist about what to wear in Paris to appropriately honor his host and fellow diners?

Jan 18, 2011
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Constant restaurants - which one?

Our first night in Paris will actually be our 5th night in Europe having spent the prior five days in Germany and Reims. So jet lag shouldn't be an issue and will be our big meal of the day since we are taking the train to Paris from Reims that morning and settling into our hotel in Paris.

I think I'm hearing that if price is less of an issue, Le Violon is the better choice. I imagine we will mostly order la carte instead of a fixed menu as the wife is not very adventuresome in her dining and can be easy to get a course or two she won't eat with a fixed menu. From that perspective, would Café Constant or Le Violon be the better choice?

Jan 17, 2011
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Constant restaurants - which one?

For our first night in Paris in September, we are planning on having dinner at either Les Cocottes or Café Constant or Le Violon d'Ingres in the 7th. I think only Le Violon d'Ingres accepts reservations and I usually regard that as a plus. But we are planning an early dinner that night and plan to arrive at opening time for dinner - so I don't think a reservation or not is as critical in this decision.

Which of these three restaurants would you recommend if you have to pick only one of the three for dinner? Could anyone give me a "compare and contrast" about their differences and which is thought to be the best, which is more formal / casual and so forth?

Your assistance is much appreciated! Merci!

Jan 16, 2011
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Reims and Paris for a Week

I would much enjoy a chance to dine at Assiette Champenoise but we are only in Reims for Tuesday and Wednesday and they are closed both days. We are staying at Les Crayères so we want to eat there at Le Parc there one night and were seeking a casual bistro in Reims for dinner on the other night. I had read some good things about Au Petit Comptoir so that was our choice for now.

But thanks much for the advice and it's a shame we can't make it work.

Jan 03, 2011
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Reims and Paris for a Week

Understood and that makes perfect sense. Can you give me some examples of alternative restaurants not on my list that could be adequately enjoyed as a day's counter-meal (lunch or dinner) to L'Atlas, DCJ, Le Cinq or any other restaurant on my list? Thanks so much!

Jan 02, 2011
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Reims and Paris for a Week

I was assuming the same thing when I assumed that an ordinary appetite would easily desire both a lunch and dinner. But I do have tremendous respect for advice from knowledgable advisers who suggest that I limit myself to only one restaurant meal per day in Paris or suffer overload.

Jan 02, 2011
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Reims and Paris for a Week

Your points are well taken and I do want to avoid becoming the proverbial "kid in a candy store" who ends up with only a belly ache to show for his opportunity. For any day when I have two restaurant meals planned, my plan was that we would take it relatively easy for either our lunch and/or dinner to experience more but without abusing ourselves. Would the restaurants I've selected be upset if we only enjoyed a one or two course meal to allow us to accomplish the above plan?

Also, I am a fairly big man (188 cm, 89 kg) and I generally do eat two both lunch and dinner each day. But agreed, I don't try and do two 10 course meals with wine - and I wouldn't ever try to do that in Paris either.

Jan 02, 2011
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Reims and Paris for a Week

We starting a vacation in mid-September in Northern Germany (Sat - Tue), driving to Reims (Tue - Thu) and continuing in Paris (Thu - Tue). I am working to draft our daily schedules so I can start making reservations where available. The following are my current plans for dining while we are in France:

Tuesday Dinner: Restaurant Le Parc (Reims)
Wednesday Dinner: Au Petit Comptoir (Reims)
Thursday Dinner: Les Cocottes or Café Constant or Le Violon d'Ingres
Friday Lunch: Spring
Friday Dinner: Aux Lyonnais or L'Ami Jean or L'Ami Louis
Saturday Lunch: A la Cote Bretonne (While touring Versailles)
Saturday Dinner: Le Cinq
Sunday Brunch: TBD (Probably Le Cinq)
Sunday Dinner: Hidden Kitchen
Monday Lunch: L’Atlas
Monday Dinner: Chez Dumonet -Josephine

Because my wife is somewhat traditional about dining preferences (sort of a meat and potatoes girl), I more likely prefer to have a la carte options than only prix fixe. At the same time, she could be happy just eating bread, cheese and red wine for every meal I think if needed. I mostly want to find comfortable, fun places while enjoying this wonderful opportunity to try some of the finest food and restaurants in the world.

I'd much enjoy your advice, critique or reassurance about my draft dining plan above. I would especially appreciate input about the choices I'm debating between for Thursday and Friday dinners. Also, how soon in advance should we actually start to make our dining reservations?

Your thoughts are MUCH appreciated. Merci in advance!

Jan 02, 2011
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Lunch Near the Louvre

Thank you all for your consideration and very helpful suggestions and Happy New Year.

If we decide that we are looking for a lunch respite between a morning and afternoon at the Lourve as I was originally considering, I think we will try either Cafe Marly or Maceo.

If instead we decide one long morning enjoying the Louvre is all we want to devote on this visit, then I am inclined to try and get a reservation for a leisurely lunch at Spring afterwards. I assume we could spend all five days in the Louvre if we wanted and still not see it all - but I want to make sure we balance between all the wonder that Paris offers but not forgetting to have a vacation.

But I welcome any additional suggestions anyone might have about that plan.

On a side note, how far in advance of a September visit should I start making all of my trip's restaurant reservations?

Jan 01, 2011
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Lunch Near the Louvre

I've read many wonderful things about Spring but worried about rushing what I understand to be such a wonderful experience over lunch. Any ideas how long it takes to lunch at Spring? And is Spring fixed menu only at lunch or can you pick and choose what one would like a la carte?

Sorry for what are probably quite the neophite questions - but this trip will be my first to Europe and I'm trying to figure things out and I am admitedly quite a planner (even on vacation).

Dec 31, 2010
Traveling Boudreaux in France

Lunch Near the Louvre

We are spending a few days in Paris in September and trying to get a head start on our plan. We plan to spend one day visiting the Louvre and I am looking for a place to enjoy lunch that day in the middle of our tour of the museum. I know there is a cafe in the museum but I have a feeling there are probably better choices in the area for lunch.

I am considering Restaurant Du Palais-Royal. Any thoughts about that choice? Or are there other recommendations I should consider instead?

Price is of course a consideration but not my primary concern and we are willing to spend a little more to enjoy the right place. I'm more interested in finding a relaxing and casual place to enjoy good food, service and atmosphere. Any recommendations anyone can share would be greatly appreciated.

Dec 30, 2010
Traveling Boudreaux in France