The very definition of decadence is a weekend in Paris when you have already seen all the sights. On previous trips to the City of Lights I had ticked off the major museums and “must see” cultural activities leaving this weekend entirely free to indulge in eating, drinking and enjoying life. In the process I may just have discovered the perfect foodie itinerary for 48 hours in Paris. Here it is…
|Pavement dining at Cafe Charlot|
1. Friday 9pm: Arrive on the Eurostar and drop bags at the hotel before heading out for late night sustenance.
Go straight to L’Avant Comptoir. Like they say in Monopoly, do not pass go and do not collect £200, seriously go straight there. It is the perfect place for a post Eurostar nibble and drink. The tiny tapas bar from Yves Camdeborde of Le Comptoir Relais fame has room for only 20 people. Of course you are not allowed to call the food tapas – it is “French hors d’oeuvres” according to Cambdeborde. It is literally standing room only with no seats which operates as a clever anti tourist measure as anyone who has been sight-seeing all day will not relish a night on their feet. If you can squeeze in and don’t mind standing you will be rewarded with fantastic boards of charcuterie (€10), tubs of salty cornichons, a serious wine list and more involved dishes such as the deep-fried pig’s-foot croquettes and chipolata confit in goose fat.
|Charcuterie and wine at L’Avant Comptoir|
Details: L’Avant Comptoir, 9 carrefour de l’Odéon, 6th arrondissement, Paris, France. No reservations, open every day. Metro: Odéon.
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve. Our bill came to €25 for wine and charcuterie.
Saturday 1pm: Spend the morning playing petanque along the banks of the Seine on courts set up for August’s Paris Plage before wandering through the Marais to a long lunch at Le Petit Marche.
Le Petit Marché
Imagine a classic French bistro tucked away on a back street of the Marais and you have got Le Petit Marché. An ecelectic selection of portraits line the wood panelled walls while wooden tables sit cheek by jowl. The look is old school but the food is actually quite modern as it offers French cuisine with an Asian influence. The best example, is the so-good-it-should-be-compulsory Chinoise salad (€9.50) an inspired mix of cabbage, shredded chicken and fried won ton wrappers drizzled with a sharp citrus dressing. It’s generous enough to share as a starter if you can bear to give any away.
|The Chinoise Salad|
Main courses were fairly plain but hearty. Thick pork fillet (€19) was sliced into medallions and doused with Sichuan spices alongside some sweet, caramalised apples while tender roasted lamb (€20) was teamed with a sweet basil sauce.
Details: Le Petit Marché, 9 Rue Bearn, Paris 75003, France. Reservations required for dinner but you should be safe at lunch.
Damage: Pricey. Our bill came to €75 with wine and no dessert.
|Pork medallions with roasted apple at Le Petit Marche|
Saturday 8pm: Track down one museum you haven’t actually been to before (we discovered the Museum Carnavalet in Le Marais on this trip) before heading to Le Dauphin for dinner and drinks.
Salvation is at hand for those who wanted to sample Inaki Aizpitarte’s amazing cooking at Chateaubriand but shied away from the no choice menu or were daunted by the long wait for a table. Aizpitarte has now opened a small plates style restaurant a few doors down. It’s a buzzy, modern place with the room decked out from head to toe in white marble and dominated by a central bar which walk in diners can perch at to eat. Everything we tried was brilliant. Highlights included the sweet, sharp heritage tomato salad (€9), smoky slices of almost rare wagyu beef (€15), creamy squid ink risotto (€11) and piping hot matcha flavoured madeleines (€6).
|The heritage tomato salad at Le Dauphin|
Details: 31 Avenue Parmentier, 75011 Paris (Ph 01 48 06 58 41) Métro: Goncourt. Bookings required but there are about 15 seats at the central bar which are walk in only.
Damage: Pricey. Our bill came to €132 with wine.
|Grilled octopus at Le Dauphin|
Sunday 1pm: Spend the morning at a market. We went to the flea market, Les Puches, at at Porte de Cligancourt for a more food focused itinerary a wander through Marché les Enfants Rouges would also be a brilliant start to the day to work up an appetite for another long lunch.
Seats line the pavement outside Cafe Charlot, all facing out for indulgence in the ultimate Parisian sport of people watching. Inside, Cafe Charlot has designer good looks with white tiled walls, salvaged fixtures and soft yellow lighting. There is a great brunch menu of juice, coffee or tea, fruit salad, scrambled eggs and salmon and brioche all for (€19) and Cafe Charlot’s signature burger (€15) but for our final meal in Paris we could not go past the Chateaubriand (€29.50). It was tender but with a thick char and came with green beans and a moreish brown pepper sauce. It was everything you could ever want from a piece of meat. Unfortunately the service at Cafe Charlot was pretty abysmal on our visit with our waiter forgetting our frites order, then charging us for them when he eventually remembered to bring us our bill.
|Chateaubriand at Cafe Charlot|
Details: Cafe Charlot, 38 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris, France (Ph 33 1 44 54 03 03). Reservations not necessary for lunch.
Damage: Reasonable. Our bill came to €80 for two with wine but we did order the most expensive thing on the menu.
6/10 (Would be higher except for the poor service).
Finally, Eurostar home….
|Our hotel room (photo taken from outside the door!)|
Gourmet Travel Tips
- My itinerary ignores breakfast as we ate it at the hotel each day. If you are going out for breakfast I recommend Le Loir dans la Théiére in the Marais.
- For this trip I relied on tips from my friend Rachel who spent last year studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and blogs at Devour, alongside the excellent resources Hip Paris and Paris by Mouth. All great reading for Parisian trip planning or just a virtual trip to Paris.
- We stayed at Hôtel Serotel Lutèce. This was possibly the smallest hotel room I have ever stayed in (I took this photograph standing outside the room) and the breakfast buffet was limited to continental style offerings. However it was modern and clean with a good shower and free wifi. The location was pretty central with the Jardin Luxembourg less than a 10 minute walk away but I think for the price you can get a better hotel in Paris. From €230 a night. Details: 2 rue Berthollet, 75005 Paris, France (Ph +33 1 43 36 26 30) Métro: Luxembourg.