Creating crepes outside his restaurant, a chef attracts the attention of passersby. Monique Y. Wells
“Dining out in Paris can be expensive,” says Parisian resident and book author, Tom Reeves. “It can also wreak havoc on your waistline if you are not careful! But you can have a marvelous dining experience each day, with variety and ambiance without breaking the bank or gaining 10 pounds in the process. The key is to eat as the French do, avoiding the consumption of two full sit-down meals a day. And there are so many types of eating establishments in Paris that this is easy to accomplish. Dining Out in Paris highlights different forms of sit-down, stand-up, and take-out dining in the undisputed gourmet capital of the world.”
See Tom Reeves’ Ten Top Tips on “How to Dine Like a Local”.
See details about Tom Reeves’ Paris cuisine scene guidebook, Dining Out in Paris.
Bistros are traditionally small, family-run restaurants that serve up classic French cuisine at reasonable prices. The mark of a good bistro is the presentation of generous helpings of simply prepared, old-fashioned meals made from the freshest of ingredients. Bistro des Gastronomes is one of my 10 Top Restaurants in Paris’s Latin Quarter.
I rate Invitez-vous Chez Nous one of the top ten restaurants in the Latin Quarter. It is unlike any other restaurant in Paris. There is no sign, simply a plain, red façade on whose window the daily menu is posted. The name roughly translating as “make yourself at home with us”, the restaurant offers one starter, five main courses, and four desserts listed on the sheet of paper. With tight seating (only twelve tables) in a handsome bistro-style setting, chatty neighbors, and delicious French cuisine, you can’t get any more authentic than this!
Including the Brazilian restaurant, Botequim, Paris has hundreds of foreign (non-French) restaurants representing cuisines from all over the world. One can literally dine in restaurants from all the inhabited continents of the globe. Countries represented include not only western European lands, but also Africa, Australia, the Middle and Far East, India, the South Pacific, South America, the Caribbean Islands, and the United States.
1.Greet the head waiter with a smile and a “bonjour” at lunch time or “bonsoir” at dinner time.
2.Don’t select the wine until after you have ordered from the food menu.
3.Don’t expect to receive ice with your water.
4.Don’t expect to receive butter with your bread.
5.Take a slice of bread from the bread basket and place it to the left of your plate on the table.
6.Don’t order coffee until after dessert.
7.Relax and enjoy the food and conversation. The waiter won’t rush you from one course to the next.
8.Don’t expect the wait staff to fawn over you.
9.When you’ve finished your course, leave the knife and fork at a 4:00 o’clock position on the plate. The waiter will pick it up after all of your dining companions have finished theirs.
10.Don’t leave a tip unless the service was truly outstanding. See Follow Up Facts below.
A visit to Paris is so much more than eating every meal in a restaurant. Don’t neglect the gourmet food shops, chocolateries (chocolate shops), fromageries (cheese shops), charcuteries (delicatessens), patisseries (pastry shops), boulangeries (bake shops), and wine shops as additional ways to sample the city’s cuisine. After making your purchase, find a park bench or riverside patch of grass and enjoy!
Having at first glance more the facade of a fine jewelry shop, Mococha‘s “jewels” are carefully selected ganaches made by three of France’s top chocolate makers who are among the finest craftsmen in their field.
Vin et Whisky sells wine and whisky by the bottle but toward the middle of the room is a bar with tall tables where one may order from a selection of 25 different wines and 85 different whiskies, all served by the glass.
“The City of Light” is a name Paris owes both to its fame as a center of education and ideas (enlightenment) and to its early adoption of street lighting.
For summer travelers, you should note that dining establishments and gourmet boutiques (like most other small businesses in France) may close for the latter part of July or most/all of August. This is known as the fermeture annuelle, and it is sacred to the French. Particularly if you wish to dine in certain upscale restaurants, investigate their summer schedule before setting your heart on having a meal there.
All Paris restaurants, bars, and cafés are smoke-free. The fine for individuals who break this law is 68 euros. Smoking is permitted on sidewalk terraces.
A service charge of 15% is always included in the bill, so strictly speaking, leaving a tip is unnecessary. But if your server was very attentive or very friendly, feel free to leave an additional sum of money (~5%) on the table or in the folder with your signed credit card slip. (Tips cannot be added to the credit card charge — they must be left in cash.)
Visitors to Paris should consider some of the wide-ranging educational tours offered by Tom Reeves and his wife, Monique Wells, under the company name, Discover Paris!, www.discoverparis.net. These include cooking classes, wine appreciation, walking tours to discover culture and history, and fascinating insights into the profound legacy of Black American culture in Paris’s 20th century and to this day.
Photo caption: Restaurants are required by law to post their menus in clear view for all passing potential diners, so browsing is easy. Outside Les Trois Carafes, the menu is posted on the left and the specials are posted on the right.
Dining Out in Paris
What You Need to Know Before You Get to the City of Light by Tom Reeves
“His guide is as straightforward as it gets, a must for the first-time traveler to Paris. Loaded throughout with French restaurant vocabulary and their translations, he demystifies much of the Paris dining experience.” Katie Schwausch, French Cravings
“What I like so much about this guide is that Tom deconstructs the Parisian dining scene. It can be intimidating for first timers in Paris. He not only lists great places to dine, but also explores French dining culture and expectations.” Heather Tyler, Taste for Travel
Publisher: Discover Paris!, 2nd edition,
May 2016, Paperback, 110 pages. US$14.95. ISBN-13: 978-0981529219
Available in local book stores or from online booksellers such as Amazon.
Tom Reeves has been a confirmed Francophile since he first took an unpaid sabbatical in 1975 to travel to France to learn the language, see the country, and pursue a diploma in French language, literature, and civliization. Returning to California in 1978, he eventually realized that while he had left France, France had never left him. He moved back permanently in 1992. In addition to writing about Paris, he gives guided walking tours of the city. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.