Last post I told you that Debbie and I would concentrate on the 6th arrondissement for your first trip to Paris or, for that matter, on most Paris trips, where you will be encamping in the historic St. Germain-des-Pres literary café district. How great for you. Historic bistros like Brasserie Lipp, Café de Flore, Les Deux Magots and Le Select are each pieces of its former bohemian history. It’s almost mandatory to while away an afternoon at a sidewalk café that is, if you can escape the cigarette smoke with a glass or two of Cotes du Rhone (rouge) or Sancerre (blanc) and watch the world parade by. Don’t go near what is usually abominable French coffee or the generally roadhouse fare that has become the norm at the chain-owned bistros.
One exceptional bistro is the Nemrod located on Rue du Cherche-Midi, one of our favorite streets on the Rive Gauche. At the “Rod”, you’ll find Salers beef, great salads, and Pommes Frits, along with all 10 of the Crus Beaujolais. I am familiar with no other bistro or high-end restaurant in America or France where you regularly find all 10 of the Crus Beaujolais. As my favorite Sommelier, Rajat Parr, writes (Read: Secrets of the Sommeliers), “A special bottling of Domaine Jean Foillard Morgon the Cuevee Corcelette comes from sandy soils, not the granite schist of the more commonly seen Morgan Cote du Py. It is a must buy if you see it on a wine list.” So the casual Nemrod is not to be missed. Debbie and I were introduced to the Nemrod by our friend David Lebovitz, who runs some of the best small group food and wine tours in France. More on David in coming posts.
Away from bistros, book all of your restaurant reservations, on line where possible, at least a month in advance. Plan to book at 8:00 or later for dinner and remember that the majority of high-end Paris restaurants are closed on Sunday and often on Saturday as well. In coming posts, I’ll be giving you loads of food and wine intelligence from not only the 6th arrondissement, but also from other Paris arrondissements that Debbie and I know well. And I would remind you of my archived What I Learned in Paris posts from the last few years. You can print out the entire series for a virtual mini-bible on visiting Paris and beyond (especially Provence and Normandy, both must visits).
In advance of my next post, I want to give you a tip on a tiny and sometimes impossible bistro to get into. Like so many of our favorites, I would book (a must) for lunch when the produce is freshest, the crowds the thinnest, and the prices the best you will find (such as that can be). Try for the table by the front window at Le Timbre. This stamp-size bistro (20 or so seats) is on a quiet side street off Blvd. Raspail, at 3 rue Sainte-Beuve (closed Sunday and Monday).
Finally, to put you in just the right Parisian frame of mind order the CD “CAFÉ DE FLORE PARIS.” Debbie and I listen to it a couple of times a week.