Tag Archives: restaurants in Paris

Birthday Lunch at Carre des Feuillants

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Every year on my birthday, Relationnel takes me to a surprise venue.  In 2010, it was La Cascade in the Bois de Boulogne and last year it was the Ritz, no less! It was a perfect spring day and we were able to sit outside in the inner courtyard. I am embarrassed to say that I don’t remember what I ate but I know it was delicious and that the service was impeccable. The Ritz is currently closed for Renovation.

This year, I had suggested we have lunch at Les Ombres, the restaurant on top of the Quai Branly ethnic museum because I’ve seen photos  of the stunning views of the Eiffel Tower but with a temperature of 12°C, uncertain skies and disappointing reports about the food, we decided to change venue. What an excellent idea!  Because Relationnel chose  Michelin 2-star chef Alain Dutournier’s Carré des Feuillants just off Place Vendôme. Not exactly in the same league.

Discreet but warm welcome into a very modern and spacious dining room. We both chose the all-inclusive “Idées de la Saison” menu including drinks, starting with champagne to accompany the mouth-watering mises en bouche. Then the starters: fresh wild salmon on a bed of boletus mushrooms, smoked salmon with horseradish and blue lobster with tiny fried spring rolls, followed by melt-in-the-mouth suckling lamb from the Pyrenées with cress and aubergine lasagna. The cheese was a strong Roquefort with a dried fruit centre.

We had a glass of Montée de Tonnère chablis 2010 from Château de Maligny with our starters, followed by a Domaine Gauby côtes de Roussillon 2002 with the lamb and a Château de Carles 2008 fronsac with the cheese. Relationnel asked if he could try a demi-sec white instead which proved to be a much better combination. The wine did not seem to be limited.

Only the desserts , based on vacherin and raspberries, were disappointing. Either  Alain Dutournier isn’t interested in sweet food or he’s chosen the wrong pâtissier! I’m not a big fan of desserts but when I have them, I like to remember them! The petits fours with the coffee were good though. In any case, the service was perfect throughout, attentive without being obsequious and all was well orchestrated. When I was reading the menu, the print was too small so the waiter went and got me some glasses!

Alain Dutournier, who comes from the southwest of France, has three other restaurants : Au Trou Gascon (his first address) in the 12th arrondissement, Pinxo in the 1st and Caves Marly in Versailles. Pinxo sounds very interesting from the blurb on the DVD that you get when you leave : “Original concept conceived and created by Alain Dutournier – contemporary french (sic) restaurant – dishes executed in an open kitchen – surprising combinations, creative and authentic cuisine that focuses on the products – instantaneity of preparation and quick sampling are key words – all the dishes presented by three parts can be easily shared. Wide choice of authentic wines by open price levels (NOT MY TRANSLATION, by the way!). Might just try it sometime.

Carré des Feuillants, 14 rue de Castiglione, 75001 Paris
01 42 86 82 82 carredesfeuillants@orange.fr – www.carredesfeuillants.fr

Five Places to Lunch near the Louvre in Paris

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Visiting the Louvre can be tiring particularly when you try and take in too much at a time. When your feet are aching and you’re hungry, you want to find a place to relax that’s hassle-free and has friendly service. As a rule, it’s always best to have your main meal in France at midday because many of the restaurants offer excellent specials that are no longer on the menu in the evening as they cater to local businesses.

Café Diane in the Tuileries Gardens

My all-time favourite in good weather is in the Tuileries Gardens. I used to imagine it would be expensive and full of tourists. Not so. There are tourists, of course, but a lot of business people and office workers as well. I prefer Café Diane, the first outdoor restaurant you come to on the right when you walk from the Louvre towards Concorde because the waiters are very friendly. On a hot day it’s wonderful to sit under the trees and take in the splendid and unrestricted view of the Louvre and gardens. There’s quite a big turnover so you never have a problem getting a table but you can still stay as long you want. There’s  a choice of salads, quiches and a hot dish of the day all for around 11 to 13  euros. The food is cooked on-site and even when it’s very busy, the service is fast. Great too if you have a baby in a stroller or someone in a wheelchair. There are some sparkling clean public  toilets (50 euro cents) over towards Rue de Rivoli. Open every day, same openings hours as the gardens.

Café Louise on Rue Croix de Petits Champs

However, if the weather isn’t too  wonderful, you might prefer to be indoors or on a covered terrace. Put your back to the river and go towards the Palais Royal. Turn right into rue Saint Honoré and walk past the strange building on your left covered with a silver metal net (Minister of Culture) and then left into rue Croix des Petits Champs (not to be confused with rue des Petits Champs). On the next corner on your right, you’ll find Café Louise. This is a little restaurant mainly used by people working at the Ministry but Louise, her daughter Lilie and the Indian waiter all speak English and the service is warm and friendly. A bit more expensive than the Tuileries Gardens but good value for money and the food is always very fresh. We prefer the lobster salad and souris d’agneau (lamb shank). Excellent desserts made by Lilie. This is our local restaurant. Open from 12 to 10 pm weekdays. Closed in August. NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH LOUISE JUST OPPOSITE THE LOUVRE.

Véro Dodat in the Galérie Véro Dodat

A little further down on your right is the Galerie Véro Dodat, one of the first galleries in Paris to have gas lighting. There is a little restaurant called the Véro Dodat about halfway down (not to be confused with the Belle Epoque at the entrance). It’s an excellent compromise if it’s raining or cold but you don’t want to eat indoors. They have a set menu at € 16.50 or € 13 for a main course. French cooking, fresh produce and good value for money. It’s worth going to the Ladies or Gents upstairs to have a closer look at the top of the arcade and the frescoes. Friendly service once again. Midday weekdays only. Closed in August.

Royal Valois in Rue de Valois

Another possibility is the Royal Valois, which also caters to people working at the Ministry. With your back to the Louvre and the Conseil Constitutionnel in front of you, you take the street on your right, Rue de Valois. The Royal Valois is on the next corner. It has a heated terrace and two rooms inside. Very fresh products and friendly service. Excellent value for money with the day’s special at 14 to 16 euros, salads at 14 to 15 euros and hot dishes at 15 and 16. Open from 7 am to midnight weekdays. They speak English. Closed in August.

Café de L’imprimerie, just off Rue du Louvre

If it’s the weekend, however, Louise, the Véro Dodat and the Royal Valois will be closed so you can try Café de l’Imprimerie. From the Véro Dodat gallery, you continue walking down Rue du Bouloi, then cross Colonel Driant ; Café de l’Imprimerie is on the left on the next corner. It has a heated partly-closed-in terrace on one side and an open terrace on the other. They have an interesting range of salads including a good stir-fry vegetable dish (wok de légumes)  and vegetarian lasagna, both for about 13 euros. The food is good and the service is friendly and helpful.  Very popular with the locals. Open from 12 to midnight on weekdays and weekends with brunch on weekends.

Café Diane, Jardins des Tuileries, 75001 Paris – every day, same opening hours as garden
Café Louise, 8 rue Croix des Petits Champs, 75001 Paris – weekdays, 12 noon to 10 pm
Royal Valois, 1 Place Valois, 75001 Paris – weekdays, 7 am to midnight
Véro Dodat, 19 galérie Véro Dodat, 75001 Paris – weekdays at lunchtime
Café de l’imprimerie, 29 Rue Coquillière, 75001 Paris – every day, midday to midnight
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