"Restaurants: Know How" Paris Favorite Tip by thinking

Paris General: 1,809 reviews and 2,160 photos

Favorite thing: MEALTIMES:
Paris restaurants are open from noon to 14h00 and from 20h00 to about 22h00.
Brasseries have longer hours and often serve all day and late into the evening.
The wine bars do as they wish,until a late-afternoon or early-evening close.

Coffee bars are the best breakfast option.

The hip Belgian chain Le Pain Quotidien is more imaginative, serving a variety of breads plus egg dishes or yogurt if you want something more filling.

If you have the means, you can always take the plunge on two soft-boiled eggs with caviar (EUR48) at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée -- luxury hotels are the places to indulge your breakfast fantasies.
July and August are the most common months for annual closings for stores as well as restaurants.

All establishments must post menus outside, so they're available for a look-over before you enter.
Most restaurants have two basic types of menu: à la carte and fixed price (prix-fixe, un menu, or la formule).

The prix-fixe menu is usually the best value, though choices are more limited.
Most menus begin with a first course (une entrée), often subdivided into cold and hot starters, followed by fish and poultry, then meat; it's rare today that anyone orders something from all three.

If you feel like indulging more than usual, the menu dégustation (tasting menu), consisting of numerous small courses, allows for a wide sampling of a chef's offerings. In general, consider the season when ordering; daily specials are usually based on what's freshest in the market that day.

Fondest memory: WINE

No matter what restaurant you're heading to, try to enjoy a taste of the grape along the way, whether vin ordinaire (table wine) or a Romanée-Conti. As the French say, a day without wine is like a day without sunshine. The wine that suits your meal is the wine you like. The traditional rule of white with fish and red with meat no longer applies.

If the restaurant has a sommelier, let him (yes, it's usually a man) help you.
Pourriez-vous nous conseiller un vin? (could you suggest a wine?) and
je vous fais confiance (I put myself in your competent hands) are two polite ways to ask for advice.

Most sommeliers are knowledgeable about their lists and will suggest what is appropriate after you've made your tastes and budget known. In addition to the wine list, informal restaurants will have a vin maison (house wine) that is less expensive. Simpler spots will have wines en carafe (in a carafe) or en pichet (in a pitcher).

Many restaurants now sell wine by the glass, but beware the price -- you might save money by ordering a bottle or half-bottle. If you'd like something before the meal, consider ordering your wine for the meal ahead of time, or sample a typical French aperitif, such as a KIR, which is chilled white wine with black-currant liqueur.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Aug 14, 2006
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