Obviously it depends upon your budget, but the finest way of
dining in Paris is with Haute cuisine, which literally means 'high cooking' in
French. This type of meal is characterised by elaborate preparations and
presentations of the food in some of the finest hotels
and restaurants, which are always accompanied by extensive wine cellars and efficient
silver service waiters and waitresses, although the actual type of food will vary from the
classic regional delicacies to the contemporary fusion cuisine.
However, most restaurants in Paris do have
a 'Menu du Jour' and this normally means the most reasonably priced meals, yet you will
often find that food prepared from this menu will be what is available locally at the time
and therefore changes regularly, yet is the freshest produce available.
Different sauces usually accompany French food and often there are particular sauces that
are regarded as a speciality in certain restaurants and if you get a chance you should
consider experimenting with these.
If you want to eat breakfast out, then it is highly unlikely to be in a restaurant, but at
a Patisserie where you can get croissants, bread, fillings such as cold meats and cheeses,
pastries and a cup of coffee. However, do bear in mind that you will usually be
served black coffee that is very strong, unless you ask for café au lait, which literally
means coffee with milk.
You will be able to find numerous different cafés and bistros whilst walking around Paris but it
is worth noting that they often add an additional charge to your bill if you decide to sit
outside rather than at the bar or a table inside.
When it comes to your lunch, although many restaurants are now providing a Brunch type
service, do bear in mind that for a lot of the French their main meal is at a lunch time,
and is usually served between a two hour period, which can be Noon to 2pm or 12.30pm
through to 2.30pm and it is at this time of day that many of the shops will shut.
As for the evening, meals are usually served from around 7.30pm. But if you get
peckish earlier, then you would need to go to a Brasserie, which is like a café and
restaurant mixed into one and they are usually open all day serving food from the same
Obviously depending upon where you are dining, depends upon the drinks that are served,
yet in most restaurants you will find that it is almost expected to have a glass of wine with your meal as it is a way of French life. In
the UK, asking for a table wine, is like getting the worst possible on the wine menu,
whereas in Paris and in fact virtually all of France you will find that the table wines
can be just as expensive and in a lot of cases far more so than others and yet they are of
excellent quality, as they wish you to have a pleasant meal, but they also make more of a
profit on these in comparison to their vintages.
But yes, if you know what you like, then of course you can go for some of the other wines
or the even more expensive wines that are
available, however, if dining at a plush restaurant, then it is customary to order a
different wine to accompany each different dish served. A great place to go for a
meal and experience different wines and learn more about the wines and wine making is the Musee du Vin in Paris and you can certainly come
away knowing more than when you went in.
If you are still not sure about where to go for your next evening out dining in Paris,
then it may be an idea to pick up Le Carnet Gourmand, which is a guide to restaurants in
Paris that are registered with the Tourism office.
This guide is produced in both French and English and has over 200 different restaurants
listed by the Arrondissement of Paris, with what type of cuisine they supply, their
opening hours and what types of payment they accept. The guide also covers
additional facilities on offer, such as if they are accessible to the handicapped, have
parking, wine cellars, etc and important to many, they also include a guide to the price
for each one as well.
You can get your copy of Le Carnet Gourmand completely free at any branch of the Office de
Tourisme or it can be found in the restaurants that are listed as well as numerous
different hotels in Paris.
Now there is one last point we would like to make. The Parisians do tend to dress up
for an evening meal, so it is highly recommended to check with restaurant as to what the
dress code will be, because if you turn up in Jeans and they require a jacket and tie, or
even a dinner suit, you will not be allowed in, even if you have booked!