Eating in Paris

6/30/2013 Sunday 12:10 pm

Food was easily one of the most inspiring parts of our Paris trip.  Food figures into my earlier blogs about our first day in Paris (markets and picnics), the people we visited (our dinner cruise on the Seine), and of course cooking in Paris (our hands-on class with Chef Frederick).

But for sure, our many trips to cafes and restaurants were big highlights.  Not only were the experiences great, and the food and drink tasty, but for a novice French speaker like myself, these were the moments I most-prepared for in my studies. They were at once scary and exhilarating opportunities to practice asking for a table, ordering form the menu, saying thanks and how great everything tasted, indicating I’m a vegetarian, and more.

So before I get right to it, I’d like to mention that I thoroughly enjoyed studying French with the free CoffeeBreak French Podcast.  Teacher Mark and his student Anna (who learns along with you) are from Scotland, and listening to their Scottish accents was as fun as learning the French itself for me.  I cannot recommend these bite-sized conversational French audio mini-courses enough!

OK.  I’ve one other thing to say, and that is that our service was terrific.  I don’t know if we just got lucky day after day… but this whole business of getting lousy service in Paris was absolutely not our experience.  The people we met were talkative, delightful, helpful, forthcoming and welcoming.

It IS another culture, and one helpful tip Glenda read–that we abided by carefully–was to approach shops like you’re going into someone’s home: speak French as well as you can, say hello to the owner, ask before touching things and taking pictures, say goodbye when you leave, etc.  As a result, we had a wonderful time with the many shopkeepers and waiters we met on our journey.

Here’s my sister, Sarina, in one of the countless Cafés we visited.  It seems every street has a café… or five!  And the amazing thing is that they are almost always bustling with activity!


1 Cafe Sarina


Ooo.  The other myth I’d like to debunk is that Paris is a difficult place for vegetarians.  Nope.  It’s a breeze.  My sister and I are both vegetarian, and it was easy to find things to eat on almost every menu.  Like many US menus, in fact, there were often vegetarian sections with even little carrot or leaf icons next to the veggie selections!


2 Vegetarian


The Seine is a marvelous place to pop a squat and have a picnic (or beer, or bottle of wine).  Many do this at night.  Here is Sarina and I enjoying baked open-faced sandwiches (Tartines) that we picked up from a place “to go” (a emporter)–we’re sitting right across from Notre Dame!


3 Sandwiches Seine


So, you may know this, Notre Dame is on one of two little islands in the middle of the Seine.  They are Ile de la Cite (where Notre Dame is) and Ile Saint-Louis where Johnny Depp has a house… and where we ate crepes!  Crepes are, of course, a mainstay, and they come both savory and sweet.  Here’s Dad with a crepe!


4 Crepe Dad


And here’s a closer look at Dad’s crepe.  If you look carefully, you’ll see it’s actually on fire!  It was some tasty, sweet alcoholic flambé crepe.  Mmmmm.


5 Crepe Dad Close Up


Several times in my writings about Paris (and London too, really) I’ve made claims about how there are eateries everywhere, and that it seems everywhere you go there are special shops just for cheese, or wine, or bread, or pastries, or fish, or meat, etc.  Here’s proof: Rue Mouffetard!


6 Rue Mouffetard


We had a particularly good time at the cafe of the Grand Mosque.  We had mint tea, tasty couscous platters, and sat at these fabulous brass tables.  I’ll take this opportunity to also mention that, in retrospect (now that we’ve gotten the Visa bills), the cost of eating in Paris (and London) was really not that bad.  We had many wonderful meals and, overall, we’d say the prices are comparable to what we’d pay in Austin.


7 Mosque


Ah raclette!  What could be better than a giant hunk of cheese melting right in front of you so that you may scoop it off and spread it on bread and potatoes to your heart’s content?  This was a raclette restaurant we visited in Montmartre–one we’ll not soon forget!


8 Raclette Glenda


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