Category Archives: Eating Out

Thanksgiving Dining Options

Mary Kay Bosshart, intrepid adventurer of Paris and author of the blog Out and About in Paris, recently posted her suggestions for Americans seeking a Thanksgiving dining experience in Paris.   She graciously allowed us to repost here.

IMG_2564When I was a child, my mother and father would ceremoniously gather our family of seven in the living room a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving Day. One by one, we were asked to name our favorite holiday dishes while my mother meticulously transcribed the menu onto a sheet of paper. My older brothers and sisters, who always seemed to go first, enthusiastically called out the star attractions: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. When my turn finally came, only the uninteresting dishes, like “relish plate” or “scalloped corn”, seemed to be left. Nonetheless, Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It’s a day for families. A time when we pause to give thanks for all of our blessings.

If, like me, you’re going to be far from your loved ones on Thanksgiving Day, here are some ideas for where to celebrate this American holiday in Paris.

Breakfast in America: This American diner is offering two seatings of a traditional dinner that includes an aperitif, a starter, turkey plate with gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetable, cranberry sauce and a slice of pumpkin, apple or pecan pie for €32.95. Wine, alcohol and other drinks are not included in the price. Reservations via email required: bia.thanksgiving@gmail.com. Breakfast in America, 17, rue des Ecoles, 75005 Paris.

Ralph’s: Ralph Lauren’s namesake restaurant in its flagship boutique in St Germain des Prés celebrates Thanksgiving in true American tradition with the season’s most festive dishes including turkey, stuffing, apple pie and more for €120 per person. Call Ralph’s at +33 (0)1 44 77 76 00 to make reservations. The two seatings (6:30 and 9:00 pm) are sure to fill up fast.

Blues-Bar-B-Q: My favorite barbecue joint in Paris will be serving a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for €35 per person. There will be two seatings (6:30 and 9:00 pm). Reservations are required. Blues Bar-B-Q, 1 rue Sedaine, 75011 Paris. Phone: +33 (0)1 48 06 79 53

The Moose: This Canadian sports bar and grill is organizing a Thanksgiving party with a traditional menu. If you would like to follow the NFL football games direct from the United States, this is the place for you. Call for more information and to make reservations. The Moose, 16 rue des 4 Vents, Paris 75006. Tel: + 33 (0) 1 46 33 77 00

La Cuisine de l’E7: The restaurant of the 4-star Hôtel Édourd 7 is offering a fixed price menu with pumpkin soup, cornbread, stuffed poultry, sweet potato purée, cranberry sauce, pumpkin tart and ice cream for €40 per person, drinks not included. Reserve online or contact the restaurant. La Cuisine de l’E7, 39 avenue de l’Opéra, 75002 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 42 61 86 11

Joe Allen: The classic American restaurant has created a special menu with traditional favorites and interesting alternatives, like corn chowder with Thai curry, roasted pumpkin and ricotta enchiladas with spaghetti squash coleslaw, grilled marinated tuna steak. The three-course menu is €46 and includes coffee or tea. Reserve online or send an email to thanksgiving@joeallenparis.com. Joe Allen, 30 Rue Pierre Lescot, 75001 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 42 36 70 13

Le Saint-MartinJust in case you don’t eat your fill of turkey on Thanksgiving Day, this bistro is offering a traditional menu for €40 per person on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. Reserve your table or order your feast to go via email (lesaintmartin@yahoo.fr) or phone. Le Saint-Martin, 25 Rue Louis Blanc, 75010 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 46 07 73 68

American Church in ParisFor a less expensive option, enjoy turkey and all the trimmings for €25 per adult and €18 per child under 12 in the Thurber Room on Saturday, November 23. The family seating at 5:00 pm features children’s activities and a special movie. The adult seating is at 8:30 pm. Tickets available online. American Church in Paris, 65 quai d’Orsay, 75007 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 40 62 05 00

Meetup’s “The Paris Thanksgiving Dinner”: Mainly for expats who live in Paris, Meetup’s traditional Thanksgiving dinner will be between €37 and €40, including a glass of wine. A short, digestive, slow-paced, post-meal walk to Sacré-Cœur will follow the meal. Join Meetup and reserve online.

Grange aux Dîmes de Wissous: located outside of Paris, this gastronomic restaurant is offering an all inclusive traditional Thanksgiving dinner for €49.90. Included in the menu are pumpkin souffle, corn pancakes, roasted turkey stuffed with chestnuts, cranberry relish, pecan pie, pumpkin pie and more. La Grange aux Dîmes,  3 Rue André Dolimier, 91320 Wissous (approximately 30 minutes from Paris) Tel:+33 (0)1 69 81 70 08

Ideas for a non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner:

Whether you’re on your own or in a group, I highly recommend Le Foodist’s “Cook and Dine”. After a glass of champagne, you’ll hone your cooking skills for two hours and then sit down to a five-course meal while your host shares wine, stories and images to explain how all the dishes relate to the local culture. It’s Thanksgiving with a French twist! The all-inclusive evening is €130. Reserve onlineLe Foodist, 59 Rue Cardinal Lemoine, 75005 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)6 71 70 95 22.

Alternatively, we thoroughly enjoyed stuffing ourselves with delicious Basque food at Chez L’Ami Jean two years ago. Here’s a blog post from the archives with more information.

Make your own Thanksgiving dinner:

You’ll find all the essential ingredients to make your own holiday dinner at the aptly named Thanksgiving and The Real McCoy, two small American grocery stores in Paris.

It’s also possible to order a roasted turkey from your local butcher. Just be sure to plan ahead and order it about three weeks in advance.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  For those of you who will be cooking, take a look at our post on American groceries if you’re missing that special something.  You might be surprised, however, what you can find in Paris without going too far from home.  Supermarket pain de mie works fine for your stuffing (just leave it out on the counter over night to get it good and stale) and markets catering to the West African community almost always have sweet potatoes.  Cook up some potimarron for your pumpkin pie.  Cranberries can also be found in open-air markets but be prepared to pay an arm and a leg for them.  And make sure that turkey you ordered will fit in your oven.  Bon appetit!

Paris Pas Cher

Paris may not be the most expensive place to live as an expat (I think the honors go to Moscow) but it sure ain’t cheap.  But if you are clever and patient, there are bargains to be had.  Here are just a few ideas for enjoying the Parisian lifestyle when you’re counting your centimes.

Vente-Privee.com:  If you’ve got a hankering for designer clothes but not the budget, sign up for e-mail notifications from this on-line site.  You will get e-mails when a promotion is on.  Move quickly to make your purchase before stocks are depleted.   The offers are frequent (sometimes more than one a day) and the range is wide.  For example, this week, you can take advantage of sales on Longchamp bags and Hector & Lola cashmere sweaters.  In addition to clothes, the site also offers deals on shoes, wine, household items, beauty products, and even toys.

La Fourchette:  You can use La Fourchette to make restaurant reservations but the real reason to use it is to take advantage of the special promotions:  up to 50 percent off the bill, a glass of champagne, dessert, etc.   You can sign up to receive the offers in your e-mail or opt out of the e-mails and just use the site when it suits you.    You won’t find the hottest new restaurants here (as they can fill up tables without the extra promotion) but if you cross reference the good buys with restaurant reviews, you can enjoy a good meal at sharply reduced prices.

Groupon:  I haven’t used this site but here’s the information as reported by Ksam, author of Totally Frenched Out

The way it works is they negotiate some pretty great deals with companies all over France and then they publish them on their Web site (or you can choose to receive their daily e-mails). If enough people decide to participate, the “deal” is validated and they e-mail you your gift certificate. There are several ways to pay – I usually use PayPal.  FYI: The payment is only taken from your account if the deal is validated.

Here are a few that I’ve chosen – a massage + foot reflexology for 18€ instead of 50€, a 36€ gift certificate for the Happy Days Diner for 18€, a 15€ gift certificate for Jeff de Bruges chocolate for 7€, etc. Plus a surprise for C for our anniversary, but more about that later….

Groupon is available all over France, not just in Paris, so feel free to check out their site.  And if you do decide to sign up, it’d be great if you could do it through my parrainage link here.

And don’t forget the Web site of the guide book Paris Pas Cher.   While it’s not as extensive as the guide itself (which is available in pretty much every book store in town), it is free!

What are your favorite Paris deals?

French Dining Etiquette: Eating with the Frenchies

Today’s post and pictures are reposted with permission from the HIP Paris  blog.  The author is Erica Berman, an American by birth, who has called Paris home on-and-off for 17 years.  She is also owner of Haven in Paris, a luxury vacation rental company.

by Erica Berman

After over 17 years of Frenchie living, I am largely used to the etiquette of dining chez les Francais – along with all of their implicitly understood rules and regulations.

A brunch with Parisian friends for which the first guest arrived 30 minutes after the announced time, and an 8 pm French dinner party invitation with food finally served at 10 pm, prompted the following list of tips for enjoying error-free dining in the land of berêts, baguettes and smelly cheese.

Les Faux Pas qu’il ne Faut pas faire (errors to avoid), a few pointers for socializing Chez les Francais with hopes of avoiding unnecessary uncomfortable moments.

Rule 1: Never, never, never arrive early. Not even one minute. This is highly unacceptable (and unheard of) behavior in France. Walk around the block a few times, have a café, do some lèche-vitrine (window shop), but do not ring that bell even one minute in advance.

Rule 2: Never arrive right on time either, except for a formal meal, or in a restaurant. Even for a sit- down meal, your host will expect you 5-10 minutes late. For a party, a casual brunch or cocktail, you will be expected 20-45 minutes past the specified time. Arriving on the dot might find your host not only not ready, but also not particularly overjoyed by your presence.

Rule 3: Always bring a little something for the host, be it a bottle of wine, a homemade goodie or a bouquet of flowers. Remember, showing up empty-handed is seriously frowned upon in France. Note: Do not bring gifts of soap or bouquets of mums. Soap makes your hostess feel like you are implying she doesn’t wash, and mums are brought to cemeteries to cover gravestones.

Rule 4: In France, à table (at the table), one does not speak of politics, money, or religion. One does not ask a French person their salary, their religious beliefs or who they voted for. This is the ultimate insult to a Frenchie!

Rule 5: You don’t have to help with dishes. In the U.S. it’s the norm, even rude, not to help your host clean up the mess. In France the logic is that you are the guest and you are there to relax. When you invite your friends over they will expect you to extend the same courtesy and will not offer to help you with any of the clean-up either. The first few times this happened in my apartment I was annoyed at the lack of help. Now, I appreciate being able to relax when dining out and letting my guests relax when they dine chez moi.

Rule 6: Eat what is on your plate. The French have low (up from no) tolerance for finicky eaters. It is very rude to decline what your host has prepared, and even ruder not to finish what is on your plate. NOTE: If you are a vegetarian or have a true food allergy don’t be shy. Your host  just might be sympathetic.

Rule 7: Remain open-minded. Try everything. From blood sausage, steak tartare, pan-fried fois gras, rabbit w/prunes, baked pigeon and deer stew to escargot, raw sea urchins, fried oysters, frogs legs, tripe and andouillette, I have been there and tried that. These dishes are not found in my normal eating repertoire, and there may not be a second time for many of them, but I think my hosts appreciated the effort that went into my sampling of their fare. Not only will the French be impressed by your ability to reach out of your American comfort zone, you may just discover a new favorite.

Where Can I Find……

Don’t pull out your hair.  We’ll keep a running list of those things you may be searching for but just can’t seem to find.  This list will be updated regularly, adding items previously featured on the top right hand side of the site.

Dental floss:  Yes, dental floss exists in France but you won’t find it in the supermarket with the toothbrushes and toothpaste.   Stop by your neighborhood pharmacie.  You will find it there.

Fresh tortillas: Take a trip to the Latin Quarter to stock up at Mexi and Co., 10 rue Dante (5th arrondissement).  These tortillas freeze well.

Rice Krispies:  Kellogg’s products are widely available in Paris and you’ll easily find chocolate flavored rice cereal as well.  But for some reason, only two of the major supermarket chains carry Snap Crackle and Pop:  Auchan and Super U.  Unfortunately neither has a store in the city of Paris.  Check their Web sites for an outlet in a suburban community near you.

Graham crackers for making graham cracker crust: You can probably find graham crackers at one of the markets catering to Americans but for one-quarter of the price, grab a package of Speculoos cookies at your local supermarket. These Belgian treats, nicely spiced with cinnamon and cloves, crumble well and are the perfect foil for cheesecake, Key Lime pie, and pretty much any treat calling for a graham cracker crust.

Bread crumbs:   Take yesterday’s baguette, let it sit out another day until it’s good and hard, and then smash it with a rolling pin or put it in your food processor.  If you don’t have the time or the patience, you can usually find boxes of bread crumbs in the supermarket next to the flour.  Look for the carton marked chapelure.

A decent hamburger: Okay first of all, the beef tastes different in France so it’s never going to be like a burger back home. And second, let’s just say that neither France nor the U.S. can really do each other’s cuisine justice. That being said, there comes a time in the life of every North American expat when a decent burger is just what the doctor ordered. Le Figaro did an article on this awhile back but it’s been so long, you now have to pay to retrieve it from the archives. So take a look at blogger David Lebovitz’s post: Where to Find a Great Hamburger in Paris.

A place to rent a tuxedo:   Two good sources are: www.jjloc.fr and www.lesdeuxorsons.com.  Bear in mind that you cannot rent accessories so be prepared to buy ties, shoes, pocket squares, even shirts.  Thanks to Anne at Fête in France for the info.

Dried sweetened cranberries:   Although you may find them elsewhere, you might be surprised to learn that the ubiquitous urban supermarket Franprix carries dried cranberries.  Look for a display of green or orange plastic packages with various types of nuts, dried fruit, and popcorn.    You can also sometimes find them from the fellow selling nuts, dried fruit, olives, and spices at your local open air market.  And the word in French for cranberries is…….”cranberries.”

Aluminum foil that doesn’t feel like tissue paper:  Look for the package marked papier aluminum renforcée which has roughly the same durability as the regular aluminum foil sold in North America.  Stay away from the regular variety which tears at the slightest provocation.

Aveda hair care products:  Joel Villard at 16, rue de Saint-Simon in the 7th arrrondissement (Metro: Rue de Bac) is the only licensed Aveda salon in France.  Its stylists are trained at the Aveda Institute and familiar products like Rosemary Mint Shampoo, Be Curly, Shampure, and Hand Relief are for sale.  Call 01 45 55 85 69 for hours.

Information about what’s going on in Paris this week:  Pariscope is the definitive source for all things cultural — art shows, theater, concerts, movies, special events.  It comes out every Wednesday and is available for only 40 centimes at every press kiosque.  (And if your French is limited, check out this on-line guide  to how to read Pariscope!) Figaroscope, a weekly supplement to the newspaper Le Figaro. also comes out on Wednesday and includes feature articles as well.

A playground that suits my kids:  There are tons of playgrounds in Paris, ranging from a tiny seesaw and a sandpit in a pocket park to full fledged affairs for older kids.  The city of Paris has a complete list on-line arranged by arrondissement.  Click on the text “toutes les infos” on the right hand side for a detailed listing of the offerings.

Fabric, notions, and everything else for sewing:   Take the metro to Anvers, head up the hill towards Sacre Coeur, hang a right and you’ll find everything you need for sewing whether you’re making clothes or decorating your Parisian apartment.  The two biggest stores are La Reine and the Marché Saint-Pierre but there are also a dozen or more other stores selling material, buttons, trim, and the rest.

Musical instruments and sheet music:   All musical roads lead to Rome, in this case, not the city in Italy but the metro stop on the border of the 17th and 8th arrondissements.   Some of the stores rent musical instruments but get there too late in the school term and you may be out of luck.

Plants, seeds, window boxes and other gardening gear:  Paris is thick with florists and you probably won’t have any trouble buying geraniums, vases, and small pots in your neighborhood.  If your needs go further, check out the stores along the Quai Mégisserie in the 1st arrondissement.  There’s also the Marché aux Fleurs on Place Louis Lepine on Ile de la Cité (Metro: Cité).

A cheap but decent manicure: There’s no equivalent in Paris to the $15 manicure you find in the Vietnamese nail salons in New York or LA. For the most part, a full manicure will set you back 30 to 35 euros. But if you can trim your own nails and deal with your ratty cuticles, you can get nail polish applied expertly for around 6 to 8 euros. Ask for a pose de vernis rather than for a manucure.

Coping with Food Intolerances in France

by Karin Bates Snyder  

Do you have food allergies or other health conditions that prohibit your eating foods with wheat, dairy, nuts, or other ingredients? How easy is it to find food to eat in Paris for a food allergic or intolerant person? Here are some tips for traveling to or living in France from a food-intolerant person trying to find sustenance in the gourmet capital of the world.

After my first year of living in Paris, I developed some health conditions that led me to eliminate gluten and dairy, and reduce my use of cane sugar and some other ingredients in my diet. While this has not always been easy, in the process I have learned a lot about how to find food in Paris that I can eat and which won’t make me feel sick. I have also traveled to the south of France and discovered things I’ve learned in Paris apply there, too.

On scale of one to ten, with ten being the easiest place to travel or live with food intolerances, and one being the most difficult, I would rate Paris and the rest of France at about a 4 to 5 at the moment.  As elsewhere, food allergies and intolerances are on the rise in France, and I have seen improvements in awareness and understanding of food-related health conditions in even the relatively short time I have been dealing with these issues myself.

Culturally and historically, cuisine is very important to French people – maybe the important thing in the culture here. It is taken quite seriously. There is also a kind of cultural understanding that all things are fine for a body in moderation, and so the idea of eliminating something from one’s diet voluntarily is counter to how many people in France approach food and eating.

This is not to say that the French are inflexible about understanding people who have genuine health problems related to food. Since coming to France, I have met several people (French and foreigner alike) diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes destruction to the small intestine when gluten is ingested. I also know lactose intolerant people, and vegetarians and vegans, who may not have a health reason for eating differently than the bulk of the French population, but whose deep personal convictions lead them to eat differently than most. All manage to eat well in Paris, but it does take some creativity, fortitude, and patience.

Here are the key issues.

First, assess your own situation. 

Do you have only one major food intolerance, it’s not that severe, and you have experience handling it elsewhere?

If so, you are probably going to have a good food experience in France. Finding food in stores and restaurants that eliminate a major ingredient such as gluten-based grains or dairy is pretty much a piece of cake. Health food stores carry gluten and dairy-free goods, including baked goods and snacks. The average café will likely have at least one meal you can eat, even if you wind up ordering salade Niçoise each time you go out.   I have and do eat out – it is possible. My favorite restaurants are vegetarian or macrobiotic ones where foods are often organic and made from simple, whole ingredients, and also places like Léon de Bruxelles, a chain that serves mussels and frites (French fries).

There is also good information in phrasebooks (my Lonely Planet French phrase book has an entire section dedicated to food allergies) and on-line about expressions you can use in French to ask about whether a dish has an ingredient to which you are allergic or intolerant, and tips on how to befriend your waiter and finesse the entire dining experience. (See links below for more information about how to eat out in Paris or France.)

On the other hand, do you have multiple food intolerances or severe reactions to certain foods?

If this describes you, I would highly recommend that if you are visiting Paris or other places in France, you find an apartment to rent and cook for yourself instead of trying to eat every meal in a restaurant.

French waiters and chefs do not tolerate a lot of what they consider “finickiness” from diners who require special preparation of dishes. In French cuisine, the prepared dish is seen as a work of art, and is not to be deconstructed into something else.  The idea that the needs and desires of the customer are always first and foremost isn’t part of the cultural milieu here; instead, diners are seen more as guests in a home.  Would you be demanding towards friends if you were visiting their home, insisting that they prepare you a special dish just for you, even after they already prepared an elaborate meal for all the other guests? Probably not. You’d either eat first, bring your own dish to eat, or pick and choose from what is already prepared that seems “safe” and hope for the best.   That’s the kind of attitude you need to dine out in France.

Moreover, if your issues are severe, you won’t want to take the risk.  Some people have such severe gluten intolerance that they experience severe cramping and diarrhea from even the slightest cross-contamination of a few crumbs of bread that got dusted onto their plate, or from the chef using the same pan to cook an item with gluten as the item without.

Plus you do not want to risk being out and about and having an intestinal attack: another thing Paris is infamous for is the lack of easily accessible and free public toilets.  Your visit is not going to be a good one if you are constantly in search of a toilet as you are touring, or holed up in your hotel room.

Second, take action.  There are a number of good Internet resources to help you experience Paris and the rest of France gluten free, dairy-free, or any-other-food-free. The tips can apply to eating vegan and vegetarian as well.

David Lebovitz on Eating and Dining Gluten-Free in Paris.  The information in this post is still very relevant nearly three years after its original posting. Even though it is written for people who need to avoid gluten, it is, hands down, still the best and most complete post I have ever read about eating and dining in Paris with food allergies and/or intolerances. The links at the end of the post are very helpful, and I note that new comments are continually being written on this post, some of which have additional helpful information.

For example, the most recent comment has a link to a gluten-free B&B in Paris – one where the host prepares gluten-free meals: Gluten Free Paris.

Celiac Chicks on gluten-free travel. A Gluten-Free Guide to Paris is another good read about traveling and dining gluten-free in Paris.

Compile a list of the French equivalents for all the ingredients to which you are allergic/intolerant so you can read labels on packaged foods.  Try these resources: 

  • Allergy Translations is a Web site dedicated to helping people find the vocabulary they need to avoid allergens.
  • Select Wisely has food and travel translation cards you can print up and carry with you.
  • Allergy Free Passport has multiple resources to help you out on their website.

Note that labeling of major allergens contained in foods and their possible presence does exist in France. Ingredients that may be problematic for people are clearly labeled, usually just after the ingredient list.  Also look for the catch phrases traces éventuelles de… and présence possible de… followed by the name of the allergen.

Know where to go to shop. Make lists (in French) of foods you can eat as well as those you can’t.

All of the major grocers have at least a section of aisle that is dedicated to organic or eating allergen-free.  Realistically, however, you will probably have to visit more than one store to shop for foods you can eat.

Monoprix is a popular grocery chain carrying soy milk, soy-based yogurts, some gluten-free baking mixes and ready-to-eat foods or snacks as well as nuts, seeds, and fresh fruits and vegetables.  Bring your list for reading labels, though. As with snack and prepared foods in the U.S., filler ingredients containing allergens are in some of these foods. Amidon transformé, for example, is modified wheat starch and is found in many snack foods.

Franprix, Leader Price, and Ed are discount grocers. They also have fresh fruits and vegetables, and the basics for preparing many dishes. Leader Price has its own line of organic products (look for the terms biologique or bio) including soy milks, rice cakes (which contain sesame, however), and jams made with organic cane sugar, among other items. These Leader Price items are sold in Franprix as well.

In the outlying suburbs of Paris, hypermarkets such as Carrefour and Auchan have large aisles of gluten and dairy-free baked goods and other foods.   Many of these stores also have ingredients for grain-free baking such as almond and hazelnut flours, but note that these products are not produced in allergen-free manufacturing plants, and may contain traces of gluten or other allergens.  I have not had much of an opportunity to shop in these stores, but know of people who find plenty of foods at these French equivalents of Wal-Mart.  

Overall, however, your best bet at finding allergen-free foods are at health food stores.  In Paris, there are three major health food store chains: Biocoop, Naturalia, and La Vie Claire.  (Check their Web sites for a location near you.) There are also independent stores in some neighborhoods.  These stores typically have dedicated shelves or areas for gluten-free products. (On the other hand, dairy-free equivalents (such as dairy-free chocolate-hazelnut spread, like the Nutella brand) are often next to their allergen-containing counterparts).  A quick read of the labeling will tell you which products are certified to be gluten-free, dairy-free, or free of other allergens. Much of the labeling is also multilingual, and some have ingredient listings in English, too.

Finally, if the prices at health food stores are too high, go to one of Paris’ districts where Asian communities have set up shop. The Marais (3rd arrondissement), Belleville (20th arrondissement), and the area around Avenue d’Ivry in the 13th have Asian-based markets and grocers where you can find rice flour, bean thread and rice noodles, and tapioca starch for a lot less than at health food stores.

I have yet to find ingredients such as coconut or sorghum flours, but new things are continuously showing up on shelves, and it seems I find something new each time I visit. Different stores carry different products, too, so exploring all of the chains frequently yields new discoveries.

I am fortunate in that my intolerances are fairly mild compared to some. Once in a while, I decide to try something that has an ingredient to which I know I will react, but the trade-off of trying something unique to France’s incredible cuisine is often worth a few of days of feeling unwell. Like anything, it is a choice. I hope, however, that if you have no choice in what you consume because of an allergy or intolerance, that you have found this information helpful.

If you have information to add or other questions, please leave it in the comments below. Or stop by my blog and leave me a note in the Contact Me section.  

Karin Bates Snyder never expected to wind up living in a place like Paris after turning 40. She also developed several food intolerances shortly after moving to the City of Light. These events have contributed to her feeling like a duck out of water, like An Alien Parisienne, the name of the blog where she writes to come to terms with being a stranger in a strange land.

Five a Day

by A.  Letkemann

Paris is a food lover’s paradise, even if you prefer eating a plant rather than an animal based diet. While not as ubiquitous as traditionally French brasseries and bistrots, just about every arrondissement has one or more vegan or vegetarian restaurant providing an array of creatively prepared fare that suits a wide range of budgets. While the list below is by no means exhaustive of the options available, it should serve as a starting point.

3rd Arrondissement

Le Potager du Marais
22, rue Rambuteau
Métro: Rambuteau
Phone: 01 42 74 24 66

This lacto vegetarian restaurant near the Centre Pompidou offers a mainly French menu. All dishes are prepared with organic ingredients. The staff speaks English and they serve alcohol.

Le Vegetarien
65, rue du Faubourg Poissonnière
Métro: Poissonnière
Phone: 06 60 97 16 12

This vegetarian/vegan café is open only for lunch but offers a tantalizing prix fixe menu.

4th Arrondissement

Le Marais
54 rue Ste-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie
Métro: Hôtel de Ville or St-Paul
Phone: 01 48 87 48 71

One of the best-known Parisian vegetarian restaurants, Le Marais offers organic fare (including wine). Vegans should consult the wait staff before ordering to ensure dishes adhere to dietary guidelines.

Grand Appétit
9, rue la Cerisaie
Métro: Bastille

This vegan/macrobiotic restaurant serves a mixture of French and Far Eastern dishes. It is closed on weekends. While you‘re there, check out the macrobiotic store next to the restaurant.

Le Relais De L’Isle
37, rue Saint Louis en l’Ile
Métro: Pont Marie
Phone: 01 39 09 16 02
http://www.lerelaisdelisle.fr

In the center of Ile Saint Louis, this restaurant offers both vegetarian and nonvegetarian menus. Open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sundays, with live jazz in the evening.

Piccolo Teatro
6, rue des Ecouffes
Métro: St-Paul
Phone: 01 42 72 17 79

Great vegetarian food and a romantic ambiance make this a great place for couples. They serve a mix of Italian and Indonesian dishes.  Everything, including the wine, is organic. Reservations are recommended.

5th Arrondissement

Le Grenier de Notre Dame
18, rue de la Bucherie
Métro: Saint Michel
Phone: 01 43 29 98 29

A very pricey choice that, while not completely vegetarian, offers lacto, vegan-friendly, organic, macrobiotic, French, and international dishes.  There is a terrace for summer outdoor dining.

Maoz
8, rue Xavier Privas
Métro: Saint Michel
Phone: 01 43 26 36 00
http://www.maozveg.com/48

If you‘re in a hurry or simply want to eat at home, this take-out vegetarian restaurant in the 5th is for you.  Part of the UK-based Maoz franchise, they serve salads and falafel filled pitas. Fast but healthy food.

La Petite Legume
36, rue des Boulangers
Métro: Cardinal Lemoine
Phone: 01 40 46 06 85

An affordable neighborhood vegetarian restaurant that serves tofu burgers and a whole lot more.

Le Cinq Saveurs D’Anada
72, rue du Cardinal Lemoine
Métro: Cardinal Lemoine
Phone: 01 43 29 58 54

This quaint Latin Quarter vegetarian restaurant also has vegan and macrobiotic options. English is spoken and an English menu is available.

6th Arrondissement

Paradis du Fruit
29, quai des Grands Augustins
Métro: Saint Michel
Phone: 08 26 10 04 08
http://www.leparadisdufruit.fr/

Fruitarians can delight in this chain of juice bars with 17 locations in and around Paris. They offer soy smoothies as well as some vegetarian options. See Web site for other locations.

7th Arrondissement

Poujauran Boulangerie
20, rue Jean-Nicot
Métro: Tour Maubourg
Phone: 01 47 05 08 88

This is not a restaurant per se, but a wildly popular bakery like none other in Paris where people line up daily to get organic and whole grain baked delicacies. They also serve sandwiches made with organic vegetables and will tailor your order to fit vegan sensibilities. Whole grain organic baguettes are a specialty.

Veggie
38, rue de Verneuil
Métro: Rue de Bac or Musée d’Orsay
Phone: 01 42 61 28 61

This small vegetarian/vegan restaurant is located on a small street near Musee D‘Orsay and open only on weekdays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Good for anything from sandwiches to a full, three-course lunch with wine. Everything is organic and vegan options are available.

8th Arrondissement

Al Diwan
30, avenue George V
Métro: George V
Phone: 01 47 23 45 45

Certain ethnic cuisines offer vegetarian options by their very nature. This Lebanese restaurant on an exclusive Parisian street is especially vegetarian and vegan friendly. A bit pricey but the ambiance is cozy and the food fresh and plentiful.

9th Arrondissement

Pousse-Pousse
7, rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette
Métro: Notre-Dame-de-Lorette
Phone: 01 53 16 10 81

World-class raw organic vegetarian cuisine served in a small and friendly setting right in the heart of Paris. This restaurant also has a shop where you can stock up on all of your sprouting needs, from sprouters to seeds, as well as dehydrators and juicers, everything to accommodate a raw lifestyle.

10th Arrondissement

Krishna Bhavan
24, rue Cail, Paris 75010
Métro: La Chappelle
Phone: 01 42 05 78 43

This lacto, vegan-friendly vegetarian Indian restaurant is not only inexpensive, it also serves great food and is accommodating to any dietary restriction that you throw at them. Open Tuesdays to Sundays, 11:00 a.m to 11:00 p.m.  Closed Mondays. Accepts credit cards.

11th Arrondissement

Loving Hut
92, boulevard Beaumarchais
Métro: Saint-Sebastien Froissart
Phone: 01 48 06 43 84
http://www.lovinghut.fr/

Healthy, vegetarian novelle cuisine that‘s also vegan friendly. Closed on Sundays.

Tien Hiang
92, rue du Chemin Vert
Métro: Pére Lachaise or Voltaire
Phone: 01 43 55 83 88

This place is heaven for vegetarians and vegans. Run by Buddhists, it serves an exclusively vegetarian Asian cuisine (offering a variety of Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Thai menu options) so you don’t have to worry about picking something that has a meat base or little flecks of something suspicious floating around. An English menu is available upon request.

13th Arrondissement

Restaurant Green Garden
20, rue Nationale
Métro:  Porte d’Ivry
Phone: 01 45 82 99 54
http://www.greengarden.fr/

This East-Asian vegetarian restaurant in the heart of Chinatown offers fresh organic dishes with flair. Vegan friendly. Closed Mondays.

14th Arrondissement

Aquarius
40, rue de Gergovie
Métro: Pernety
Phone: 01 45 41 36 88

A vegetarian restaurant that serves organic and vegan dishes. Provides an English menu upon request.

18th Arrondissement

Au Grain de Folie
24, rue La Vieuville
Métro: Abbesses
Phone: 01 42 58 15 57

Possibly the smallest and most intimate of Parisian veggie restaurants, Au Grain de Folie is a homey eatery in the Montmartre district, serving wholesome organic fare at reasonable prices. Reservations are recommended to secure one of the elusive tables. Open for lunch and dinner.

Editor’s Note:  You can also check the Paris by Mouth Web site for vegetarian options; these are generally restaurants with a full menu that offer good choices for vegetarians.

Navigating the Restaurant Menu

by Nancy McKeown-Conn

Without a doubt, sitting in a café or restaurant, lingering over a cup of coffee after a delicious French meal is one of the pleasures of living in France.  But, if you’ve ordered daube thinking you were getting fish and were served a rich beef stew instead, you might be somewhat disappointed in your dining experience.

People seem to learn restaurant French pretty quickly, but some ingredients and preparations remain elusive.  For instance, while you might want to avoid eating horsemeat (cheval), you might actually enjoy a hamburger à cheval (served with a fried egg on top).   Caouanne is turtle, but so is tortue.   On the other hand, tourteau is a large crab but tourteau fromage is a kind of cheesecake.   You probably already know to order your steak à point (medium/medium rare), but fruit and cheese may also be à point, that is, perfectly ripe.  Riz is rice, veau is veal and ris de veau are sweetbreads – be careful.  Of course you know that escargots are snails, but so are bulots, cagouilles and petit-gris. Pâte is pastry dough or batter, which is not to be confused with pâtes (pasta), which is certainly not pâté, which is, well, pâté.

You’ll see many dishes prepared à la something, which means in the manner or style of someplace or someone.  Here are some definitions.

If it says à la (in the manner of): The translation is: It means:
Lyonnaise Lyons Served with onions
Meunière “in the manner of the Miller’s wife” Usually refers to fish dusted in flour, sautéed in butter and served with browned butter, lemon juice and parsley.
Grand-mère Grandmother style Prepared with onions, mushrooms, potatoes and bacon
Florentine Florence Served with spinach and mornay sauce
Diable Devil’s style Dishes served or prepared with a sauce of mustard, vinegar and/or other pepper flavorings
Dijonnaise Dijon Served with a mustard sauce
Bourguignonne Burgundy Prepared with red wine, mushrooms, bacon and small onions
Bretonne Brittany Can be a sauce of white wine, carrots, leeks and celery or a dish served with white beans
Bordelaise Bordeaux Prepared or served with a brown sauce of red or white wine, shallots and bone marrow
Arlésienne Arles Prepared with tomatoes, onions, eggplant, potatoes, rice and sometimes olives
Anglaise English style Prepared with little embellishment – can also refer to food dipped in bread crumbs and fried
Ancienne Old style Most often used to describe braised beef and fricassees
Milanaise Milan Describes food that is dipped in egg, then a mixture of bread crumbs and cheese and then fried
Provençale Provence Prepared or served with tomatoes, garlic and sometimes olives, eggplant and anchovies
Parisienne Paris Usually, fish or chicken garnished with mushrooms, asparagus, truffles and a white wine sauce
Alsacienne Alsace Usually garnished with sausage and sauerkraut
Américaine America White wine sauce usually with brandy, shallots, tomatoes and garlic

How to Order Coffee in Paris

Today’s post is reposted with permission from Paris-Wise, the blog of Christopher Back, long-time Paris resident and California native.  A true Renaissance man, Christopher studied French art, architecture, and decorative arts at the Sorbonne and Christie’s France, the world renowned auction house, and trained as a chef at the Cordon Bleu and l’école du Ritz-Escoffier in Paris.  In addition to blogging at Paris Wise, he is also the founder of Paris Private Guides, a travel company offering private museum, city and walking tours with an additional focus on offering tours for people with reduced mobility.

by Christopher Back

It would seem that in the past couple of decades, America, Canada and the United Kingdom (UK) have caught up with the rest of the world, namely Italy and France with their understanding and taste in coffee.  One notable exception seems to have been Australia.  Even when I was living there in the ’80s you could get a good Italian style coffee drink at any corner milk bar or sandwich shop.

Out went the dishwater-bland over perked coffee our parents and grandparents favored for the rich, dark roasted coffee that comes in a dozen forms.  In the US and UK, the point of reference for naming coffee drinks is Italy.  We have all become familiar with the words cappuccino, latte, espresso and the like.  So today, an American or Brit travelling in Italy can order coffee in Italian like a native.  For the same reason, I’ve always felt a certain comfort going to Italian restaurants in countries where I don’t speak the language.  Because, even in the furthest reaches of Anatolia for example, the menu is in “English”.  Well, it’s actually restaurant Italian which simply seems like English.  Who wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing the words  lasagne or spaghetti Bolognaise on a menu in Turkish.  

Well, in France, things aren’t often as easy.  As my good friend J always says “Those French, they’ve got a different word for everything” and this is certainly true for coffee.  So here’s a quick primer on how to get a satisfying cup of joe just like you enjoy on your way to work back home. 

The first thing to forget is the café au lait.  This is what many people seem to associate with coffee in France, but no Frenchmen are ordering this in their local café.  The closest thing is a café crème which comes in two sizes, one called a café crème and the larger a grand crème.  This is a steamy combination of espresso coffee and steamed milk topped with foam – much like a cappuccino.  For those of you that prefer a drip style coffee, there is the café allongé.  This is espresso diluted with hot water.  Sorry, but aside from a few hotels, real drip coffee is only made at home here.  If you like drip coffee with milk, and I’m sure you do, then you have to ask for it.  You’ll say “café allongé avec du lait à coté” – cafe ah-longe-ay ah-veck doo lay ah co-tay.  If these seems too complicated, you’re right.  I say unless you drink your coffee black, stick with a café crème.  

After that, if you only know one French word for coffee you’ll probably order a café and perhaps be disappointed when you are served a tiny espresso.  But here’s where it gets complicated, or for some of you — interesting.  Like nearly everything in this food obsessed culture, there are rules about coffee. Just like the rules for cutting the cheese or what to serve at a dinner party that I’ve written about before.  Okay, these are not really rules, but more like cultural expectations.

The big milky coffees favored by Americans are only drunk in France for breakfast.  At home, morning coffee is usually from a bowl, not a mug.  This makes it easier to dunk the leftover baguette bought for dinner the night before into your coffee.  Yes, besides the idea of ordering café au lait, the idea that Frenchman head out merrily each morning to buy a baguette is also something of a myth.  Sure, people head out to buy croissants on the weekends and perhaps the odd occasion when they want to impress someone new who’s spent the night.

After about 10am, most people have switched to café (espresso) and after a meal they’d never ever order a big milky coffee.  I’m not sure what comparison to make to define the puzzled look sometimes seen on waiters’ faces, but it’s akin to ordering a bowl of cereal for dinner anywhere but a 24-hour diner.  When you think about it, having a big steaming mug of hot milk with a small dose of espresso after a three course French lunch with wine and cheese does seem a bit strange,  if not a bit hard to digest.  But who knows, maybe I’ve just gone native.

“Hey, wait a minute” I hear you saying, “I hate coffee without milk.”  Well so do I.  So here’s a trick to order like a local and still get a really nice mid-day or post-meal coffee.  Order a “noisette”.  In French, noisette (nuh-wah-zet) means hazelnut and might refer to the color of the coffee.  It is also a cooking term used in recipes to describe a small amount of butter.  In the UK they say “add a knob of butter” where in French one says “ajoutez une noisette du beurre” so who knows.  Besides, we need to order a coffee.

A noisette is an espresso, with a dollop of foamed milk and a tiny bit of milk.  Just like a macchiato in Italy or a café cortado in Spain.   In better restaurants and some cafés they bring you an espresso with a tiny pitcher of milk so you can make your own blend – my personal favorite.

That covers the options for what to order, but budget conscious visitors will be interested in one further tip.  When you are in an average neighborhood café in Paris, you have three options where you can order and consume your coffee.  Outside on the terrace, inside at a table or at the counter:  “au bar”.  The prices are different between the bar and the tables.  A simple café is 2.50€  or more when served at a table, but rarely more than 1.20€ at the bar. Often 1€.  So if you want to have a quick coffee break and save money, order and drink at the bar.  It’s also the fastest way to use the restroom without any hassle, if you are having trouble finding one.  This applies to all drinks, so you can have a budget aperitif at the counter as well.  If you are unsure if the café you’ve entered serves at the bar, look for the tell-tale sugar bowls set out on the bar to indicate they serve coffee there.  After all, coffee without sugar is as unthinkable in France as coffee without milk in the states.

One last tip for ordering coffee in a café, if you arrive around lunchtime and only want to have a coffee on the terrace, choose a table that is not set with silverware and glasses.  Those tables are reserved for people eating, not drinking coffee.  So you will likely be shooed away.  The same is true in the evening when you might like to have an aperitif on the terrace.  But if most of the tables are empty, just ask and they will often let you sit there.

Glossary

English / Italian         French                  What to say           Prononced
Espresso                         Café                        Café                         Ca-fay
Cappucino                     Café Crème          Un creme              Uhn khrem
Macchiato                     Noisette                Une noisette       Eywoon  muh-wah-zet

Mother’s Little Helper: Pizza Delivery

So you’re living in Paris, too exhausted to cook, the kids are hungry, what do you do?  Order pizza.   Yes, even in the world’s capital of fine dining, you can get pizza delivery and there’s not need to be embarrassed about it.   The varieties may be different than what you’re used to back home and the pizzas are generally smaller.  But tomato sauce and cheese (although usually a lot more emmental than mozzarella) are the order of the day.   If your French skills are lacking, the key words are “Je voudrais commander…..” (I want to order…..).  Some places even allow you to order on-line.  

There are dozens of tiny pizza joints around Paris.  Here are a few of the big names, many with multiple locations around town.

Domino’s
Domino’s has lots of locations in Ile de France, both in Paris and the suburban communities.   Go to the Web site to find the location nearest you.  You can order on-line or by phone although calling will cost you 15 centimes per minute.

GreenPizz
Phone: 01 48 00 03 29

GreenPizz is a newcomer to the Paris pizza scene, offering all organic, vegetarian pizzas that feature France’s best produce.  Delivery is offered Monday through Saturday from 7:00 p.m. in a zone surrounding GreenPizz’s location in the 9th arrondissement near the Cadet metro stop.  Check out the map on their Web site to see if your address is within their delivery zone.

Pink Flamingo
Phone:  01 42 02 31 70 (Canal St. Martin, 10th arrondissement); 01 42 71 28 20 (Marais, 3rd arrondissement)

This hip pizza joint has been getting great reviews for its imaginative and tasty pies.  Maps for delivery zones are shown on the  Web site.  Delivery is free with a 15 euro purchase; 2 euro charge otherwise.  For pickup, pizzas are 1 euro cheaper.

Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut has multiple locations in the city of Paris and throughout the surrounding communities.  Plug in your address to find the location nearest you and whether they will deliver to your door.

Pronto Ozio
Phone: 01 47 55 05 05

The delivery arm of the popular Ozio restaurant which has locations in  the 16th and 17th arrondissements, Pronto Ozio offers pizza, pastas, and salads.  Delivery is free with a purchase of 12 euros midday and 20 euros in the evening.

Speed Rabbit Pizza
A national chain, Speed Rabbit guarantees delivery in 30 minutes to the locations it serves.  You can order on-line and be sure to check out the specials (les promos) which change from time to time.

Web Pizza
Phone:  01 47 01 08 08 (Garches); 01 47 50 00 00 (Ville d’Avray)

Web Pizza has two locations in the western suburbs:  Garches and Ville d’Avray.  Regrettably, despite the name, you cannot order on-line.  Better deals when you pick up. They claim to speak English too.