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A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

Heretofore, Italian food was my ONLY favorite, however I have added French cuisine to the list after trying it couple of times toward the tail end of my visit to Paris, but it was an ephemeral experience thus I am destined to return and fulfill this insatiable curiosity. I also tried a French restaurant last night in Tehran, the food was great, the chef has graduated from a French culinary and worked in Paris for over 15 years, but having French food without the wine, is like death without the witness (the dramatic side of me LOL), because serving alcohol in public is prohibited by the Islamic law in Iran.

Sep 22, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

My dear cyber friends, I am glad the Webmaster has decided to delete the last several posts to this thread, as they capriciously diverted from the food, or getting to the restaurant. I was able to view ONLY excerpts of the deleted posts in my email and not the entire content. I certainly did not intend to be the causes for the proliferation of assorted topics such as “justifying employee’s oblivion to their surroundings”,”map quality would have made the difference”, ” tourist with mangled pronunciation of the street name”, “the desert as oppose to Tehran” and so on. Despite the fact that I disagree with most of what has been said about map, street names and pronunciation, employee’s oblivion, I found Parisians as benevolent and Paris as a charming metropolitan, and French gastronomy (staying on topic) as an experience to further explore that I will return to Paris again. Next time, I will bring a little magnifier so I can read the fine prints on the map at night :-) By the way I don’t recall who called Tehran the desert? Interestingly I had similar preconceived notion about it till I moved here and of course I no longer think that way. Anyway I was at my best friend’s post funeral reception 2 days ago, and with his wife permission, I decided to take a picture of Tehran from his balcony and share it with you guys.
Love Paris,
Joe.

Sep 21, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

<<Secondly, I still don't understand why the hotel address was a problem for you or for the staff. Just a crazy idea of mine: Is it not printed on the hotel cards? Even 1-star hotels have those. Even youth hostels must have those.>>

You made a few interesting point, and perhaps, I should have looked at the hotel card in my wallet, but here is what happened: I stopped at the concierge desk with a Map in hand asking for metro stops to a few landmarks such as “Opera House”, “Arch of triumph” and so on. The hotel was already circled in red on the map but there was a landmark icon printed over the street name, which made it onerous to parse the entire street name. When I inquired the street name, he had to call someone else to get me an answer. I am not certain, if he was a local Parisian but he claimed being employed there for couple of years. Now, I moved to Tehran 3 years ago, and if you ask me the street name where I live or work, I don’t have to call anyone to get you an answer :-) I also agree with you that the streets in Paris are not so neatly aligned in orderly manner, and I didn’t really expected anyone to offer me directions in terms of north, south, east or west, because I am cognizant of the fact that most people do have difficulties with such orientations. In Manhattan where all streets and Avenues above the financial district run perfectly North-South and East-West people still fail to comprehend directions in these terms, and they are very familiar with up, down, left and right terms, but what I found astonishing in Paris when I got lost in Latin Quarter at night, I would approach people with map, and showed them exactly where I wanted to go and yet they would point me to wrong direction (This wouldn’t happen if I could read small fine prints at night). Of course one could argue that perhaps they weren’t familiar with the area, or they were tourist themselves but I discriminately profiled people who I would approach for help :-) If you would want to know my profiling scheme, that would be another post but I have already promised the “Chowhound Team” to refrain from posting none food related content, which I think, I have violated my commitment already.

Sep 19, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

John (LOL). Aside the sense of direction nuisance, I found Parisians very lovely :-) In every place people have some caveats and Parisians are not exempted. Next time, if I make it to Paris with healthy dinning budget, I would like to go through your list of recommendations.

Ciao

Sep 19, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

My pleasure mangeur. LOL, when the front desk attendant at the hotel didn't know the street name where the hotel is located, I should have detected something is seriously wrong :-) I really need to come back to Paris and explorer the gastronomy more in detail. I kept regretting that I had to stick to a meager budget and couldn’t try the other places. I saw so many places in arr 13 and 14 that I really wanted to try but my meal budget was far lower than I estimated. At the day, I first posted on Chow forum, the exchange rate was 2320 Iranian Toman = 1 Euro and by the time, I got my trip conformation from the travel agency, the exchange rate was 3150 Iranian Toman = 1Euro, so it was really hard. The latest round of sanctions against Iranian central bank has devalued their currency tremendously. Luckily our hotel was serving great complimentary breakfast, so I used to make coupe of Ham and Cheese sandwiches for lunch at breakfast time and I only paid for dinner :-) I also bought a dessert at a small shop located on Rue de la Sante in arr 5 but I forgot to record the name and the address, it was a life experience. Parisians are lucky people to live in a spectacularly gorgeous city with awesome gastronomy.

Sep 17, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

My dear friends, I had a wonderful experience in Paris and I certainly would like to return again, because 4 days just wasn’t enough. Once I arrived in Paris, I decided to walk around the city as most of you suggested and whenever I felt hungry, I dined at the most reasonably priced restaurant that was accessible. I spent most of my personal time (when not with the tour) at arr 5, the Latin Quarter which I found extremely charming. Before I put forth my review on places I dined, I MUST remind you that unlike most of you, I am not a gastronomic connoisseur by any measure, so please do not expect elaborated feed back with technical details. Typically, I insert the food in the mouth; if it tastes good then I am happy.
IL Palazzo in arr 5: I had Fusilli al pesto priced at 13 euro, it tasted good, I had a similar dish at Little Italy in NYC with similar quality.
Brasserie Café in arr 5: I had Beef carpaccio with parmesan and basil priced at 16.10 euro and for dessert I ordered light fresh cream cheese with spicy honey for 8 euro, it was spectacular.
Ley gay lussac at rue Royer Collard arr 5: I had Spaghetti Bolognaise in meat sauce priced at 10 euro, the food was good but the sauce was fabulous.
Le refuge du passé in arr 5: I made a reservation the night before while passing by this place, because I just loved the ambiance. I had poisson et plat du jour priced at 26 euro, I almost licked the plate off :-) it was a new experience, though the price almost broke the bank.
My hotel wasn’t near Eiffel tower, as I was told previously, we stayed at Marriot Hotel located in arr 14 at 17 Boulevard Saint-Jacques, and it was close to Glaciere metro station. The French were very charming and helpful and of course I always spoke a little French such as “excuse me Sir/Maddam do you speak English” then I would continue in French.
The ONLY thing I found odd about the people there, was their sense of direction, most French that I asked for direction did NOT know the street names that we were on, and had no sense of direction such as North, South, East and West. Starting at the hotel reception, I asked the gentleman behind the counter what is the street name we are on, he had to call someone on the phone to find out that the hotel is located on 17 Boulevard Saint-Jacques!!! I asked him, if he was a new employee but no he was working there for 3 years just never pays any attention to the street names (I should have considered this as a red flag but I didn’t)?? At night I can’t read small prints even with my glasses, so while walking around in arr 5, I got lost somewhere near the border of arr 5 and arr 14. I had the map with the hotel circled on it, so I asked 7 people all seemed well dressed French, speaking good English and each sent me to a different direction, finally a Chinese man with broken English pointed me to the right direction. Anyway it took me 2.5 hours to get to the hotel from the point I got lost. Next day I ended up at the same place during the daylight and I got to the hotel in 20 minutes :-)

Sep 17, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

My most sincere apology, I will refrain from any further none food related inquiries.

Joe.

Aug 21, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

I actually feel sorry for the travel industry here, they are like orphans in the worst orphanage you can ever imagine. The fact that they are trying so hard to make this package to work at such low cost, and deliver all promised, it makes me happy. Unlike the travel industry in the U.S, Europe and other parts of the civilized world that are part of a wider network of alliances, these guys are bunch of mom and pop shops that have to do everything the hard way, analogous to those who wash clothes, dishes and bathe in Ganji river in India all simultaneously and those of us who have the luxury of having washer/dryer, dishwasher and shower in our house.

Aug 20, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

:-)

Aug 20, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

LOL, they are tricky indeed. Thanks for the tip, I 'll make a note of it

Aug 20, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

But further in the same post, I said:
<<Can someone recommend ONLY one reasonably priced restaurant (20 to 28 Euro PP) for lunch/dinner with a complete Metro direction and details from the Eiffel tower area >>
Which implies it can be anywhere, just tell me how to get there from the Eiffel tower area :-)

Aug 20, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

<<It would be a real shame to only limit yourself to the are around your hotel.>>
Hmmmm, I will remain oblivious about my hotel related information until a few days prior to departure, therefore I am not sure how I rendered such an impression, but this certainly wasn't my intentions. My initial concerns were the food cost and the language barrier, and I was asking for one affordable place (anywhere) to eat my meals and a Metro direction to get there, but the overwhelming responses on this forum crushed those concerns into pieces days ago. Now I am armed with a few basic phrases in French, topology of Paris and its arrondissements, so I am going to check out some of the places John Talbott and others recommended on this forum previously with fresh attitude toward Paris and Parisians :-)

Aug 20, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

Oh I see, so the arr is encoded within the postal code, thanks a bunch, this makes things much easier for me.

Aug 20, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

Oh yes indeed the roaming charges can get hefty, though the individual who was telling me about Paris WiFi, he was giving out an impression that the service is FREE :-) As far as the address, I am cognizant of the address in the paragraph, but this is the point, I am trying to get at: For instance if I had to meet someone at 415 E86th street,NYC, NY, I can easily tell the address is between 1st and 2nd Ave because the house number is in the 400s hence I was more wondering if one can detect the arrondissements by looking at the Parisian addresses? Anyway I am afraid the forum moderator might get into pet peeves with us, talking about WiFi and address in a food centric platform.

Thanks for you help

Aug 20, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

Hi Kirikara,

Thanks for the recommendations, regarding the Helene Darroze (le salon) do you recall which arr was in? I am sure there is a way to parse that out from the address but I don't have that familiarity with Paris yet. As far as directions, I have my Iphone and I have been told that city of Paris is WiFi enabled so I shouldn't have any problem navigating the city using the Iphone map application.

Thanks,
Joe

Aug 20, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

<<Make sure you have a croissant from a good boulangerie>>
I figured "boulangerie" in French means Bakery, and I believe Sunshine842 also recommended their sandwiches. By "boulangerie" do we mean just any bakeries or is this a chain supermarket?

Thanks

Aug 19, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

Adventure? Well me and 70 million others here prefer to live without it :-)

Aug 16, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

Well, since Iran is an anomaly in general, the travel agencies are no exception to this rule. They usually call the passenger 48 to 24 hours before the departure, and provide the flight and lodging information. I will post my hotel info, as soon as I get it.

Thanks

Aug 16, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

WOW, one post and I got 37 wonderful replies, thanks to ChefJune, Sunshine842, Parigi, Krystof, Parnassien, mangeur, Christina D and other food connoisseurs who helped me on this endeavor. I truly appreciate your inputs, and let's hope I become a frequent visitor to Paris.

Thanks again
Joe

Aug 14, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

Many thanks for your recommendations, I just got an email from the travel agent, that the hotel serves a great breakfast. Now I have to focus on lunch, dinner and desert :-)

Aug 14, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

hmmmm....yum yum... I love muscat grapes

Aug 14, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

Bipolar? hahaha ....if you ever live in Iran, bipolar is the first thing comes your way. Actually 'equanimity' for food cost and 'euphoria' for knowing that I can leverage simple French words to communicate in English(lol).

Aug 14, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

I will take your advice to the heart, and thanks for the web-site leads, this makes my search easier.

Ciao,
Joe

Aug 14, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

Cool, I made the correction.
Thx

Aug 14, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

Actually, I am an avid buyer of used books from Amazon; however at the moment, I am domiciled in Iran temporarily and any meaningful E-Commerce activity is implausible, hence the Internet is my only means of information acquisition (unfortunately access to some travel Internet sites are even blocked, and I can’t fathom why??). However I will pursue your recommendations on Amazon later for future trips to Paris. As you mentioned, I have garnered pretty good leads on the restaurants from this web-site, and now that I am buoyed by these information, and also knowing now that French are not so bellicose toward English speaking tourists, I begin to look forward to this trip with equanimity and euphoria. I MUST admit, that finding this web-site was just a fortuitous click :-)
BTW: Why should I avoid restaurants with English menu? (tourist inflated prices?)

Aug 14, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

Typically, if I like my experience with a city/country, I will return frequently. I am hoping Paris to be that one experience to bring me back again. This Web-site is awesome for the food, and now I need to find similar web-sites to help me out with Paris in depth, such as interesting neighborhoods, public transportation, tourist attractions, bargain hunters and so on, in order to hone my skills about the city. I remember learning about Rio de Janeiro in the late 80's where the Internet was not accessible to ordinary citizens, and it was an onerous task to master Rio but after 11 trips over the course of 3 years, l knew the city like the locals, and managed to learn a few words in Portuguese :-)

Aug 14, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

That's very good to know. In addition to learn a few phrases in French, I have to work on my French accent :-)

Aug 14, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

Well, it;s a little complicated. I am traveling with a group of senior people who have never been to France and want to be in the tourist hopping area, we are suppose to get a FREE tour of Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysees and then everyone are on their own. These folks have money and they will be fine. i am the ONLY budget traveler in the pack. I must note that we are getting a good deal for the air, hotel (4 start) and the Free tour, ONLY 650 Euro :-)

Aug 14, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

I agree, I am getting a sense that I MUST try a little French such as those words you recommended to get the ice melting before I continue in English. I have about 18 days before my departure, I should be able to learn a few words using the Google translate to get to a good start. Thanks to you, sunshine and everyone else on this site, I am beginning to loose the panic factor.

Aug 14, 2012
hrh747 in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

Parnassien, thanks so much these are great suggestions right within my price range, and maybe I even try the Latin Quarter if the food is so dirt cheap. Thus far I had 6 or 7 replies to my initial post and I have compiled all of it by price category, I might not, get to eat at all of them but I will certainly return back to this site with my feedback. This is truly a great forum with courteous and knowledgeable members. My next step is to find another forum similar to this to learn about the city of Paris, such as tourist attractions, the public transit system and so on, that I can maximize my 3 days stay. I will start with Wikitravel and go from there.

Thanks again

Thanks again

Aug 14, 2012
hrh747 in France