People travel to Paris for a variety of reasons, ranging from business trips to summer vacation. Whatever your reason for making the trip, you will find your visit to the City of Light much more enjoyable if you take advantage of your presence there to dine on the fine French cuisine that hundreds of Parisian restaurants offer.
By fine French cuisine, I don’t mean the standard steak-and-French-fries fare that is served up in the city’s myriad cafés. Nor do I mean the exquisite haute cuisine that is served in exclusive restaurants. To me, fine French cuisine is served in mid-range restaurants where the price for a three-course meal ranges from around 28€ to 35€, excluding beverage.
The following are some ideas on how to prepare for your fine-dining experience in Paris:
Determine in which quarters you will spend most of your time while in Paris
Do you plan just to hit the major sightseeing spots and then quickly move on to Belgium? If so, this will limit the areas in which you will find good restaurants. Many fine restaurants can be found off the tourist circuit with only a little extra effort.
Determine whether you are truly ready to try French cuisine
Many travelers aren’t open to new dining experiences and abhor the idea of eating foreign food. I once dined in a Parisian restaurant with an American woman who ordered a chicken dish baked in brick pastry. When it was served, she raised the plate high and studied the food for the longest time. Finally, she lowered the plate and, with great reluctance, began eating it.
Determine how far you are willing to travel from your hotel to get to the restaurant
After a day of sightseeing or shopping, you generally return to your hotel and prepare to go out for dinner. How far are you willing to travel to get to the restaurant that was recommended by a friend or whose name you found on the Internet? Use the Paris metro service Web site to learn precisely where the restaurant is located, the closest metro or bus stop, and the amount of time it will take to get there.
And finally, here is my method for choosing a restaurant for my wife’s and my weekly foray into the marvelous world of French restaurant dining. I begin by consulting The Fork, an on-line restaurant reservation service. There, I look at restaurants that have garnered at least an overall score of 8 out of 10. Then, I look at the rating that these restaurants have garnered on Trip Advisor, an on-line restaurant rating service.
With up to an hour or so of careful research, I usually find a restaurant whose food, service, and ambiance are above reproach.
Tom Reeves is the author of a recent e-book entitled Dining Out in Paris – What You Need to Know before You Get to the City of Light.