You probably already knew it, but Paris is the culinary capital of Europe. French cuisine has been on the UNESCO list of the “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” since 2010. That says it all: it can’t just stay with a croissant. At the end of April I took the Thalys train to Paris for a 2-day adventure full of culinary delights. I share 3 affordable top locations!
Champeaux by Alain Ducasse
Another great address is Alain Ducasse’s brand new “ Champeaux ” brasserie. This brasserie can be found in the completely renovated Les Halles shopping center (reopened on April 5, 2016). Ducasse is best known for its international chain of Benoit Bistros in cities like Paris, Tokyo and New York. He became the first chef to own restaurants with three Michelin stars in three different world cities. The Champeaux restaurant uses a new concept, namely the “21st century brasserie”. The building certainly looks modern, clad in a retro-like style, which I would describe as “industrial chic”.
My personal favorites are the pâté en croûte and pistachio soufflé with warm caramel. When I had lunch there, chef Bruno Brangea was standing in the kitchen. Luckily he didn’t mind posing for my camera.
An extensive meal of several courses can quickly add up to a nice amount, but the prices can be adjusted to your budget. Starters cost between 6 and 18 euros, main courses between 16 and 32 euros and desserts between 6 and 12 euros. Nice bonus: they make their own chocolates.
Les Caves du Louvre
A real Parisian meal is not complete without a glass of wine. Les Caves du Louvre is a newly opened wine tasting and wine bar about 6 minutes from the Louvre. The company is located in the 18th century cellars where the sommelier (wine waiter) of Louis XV once worked. The innovative concept behind Les Caves du Louvre is that in addition to tasting workshops, you can also take an interactive tour.
For the tour they have developed a free app that corresponds to 5 different rooms. The rooms each belong to a sense: touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight. The scent room is a game room where you have to guess the right scent for different herbs. The taste room is a kind of laboratory where you can taste all the ingredients. This way you will find out exactly how wine is made.
The entrance fee for adults is €11. Visitors under the age of 18 can enter for free. You can also compose your own wine ‘from scratch’, but the student rate starts at €70. For €30 you have a better deal: you do the tour, drink 3 glasses of wine and take home a bottle of wine with a label that you have designed yourself.
Les Fables de La Fontaine
Les Fables de La Fontaine is a revamped restaurant in the chic 7th arrondissement, which is also home to the Eiffel Tower and Musée d’Orsay. The restaurant has long been known for its outstanding fish dishes. Today, the establishment is also stirring things up with a new chef: Julia Sedefdjian. Sedefdjian is not only one of the few women with a star to her name, she is also the youngest Michelin chef in all of France at 21 years (1994).
Don’t be alarmed by the star; prices have recently been cut by almost 50%. For example, during working days a lunch menu costs €25 (starter and main course). I can confirm the reputation for fish dishes, but especially the shortbread with lemon was actually much too beautiful to eat.
In a short conversation after lunch, Sedefdjian mentioned that she was initially only interested in crêpes (understandable), but that she went to cookery school from the age of 14. Then she really got the hang of it. When asked if she had to overcome many obstacles as a professional woman in the kitchen, she answered “no”: “I’ve never had any problems, it’s a new generation.”