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Why go to Paris? For the romance, culture, shopping, people-watching, and of course the fantastic cuisine. But you don’t have to max out your credit cards to dine well. Parisian bistros are the answer. Here are my top 6 picks for classic French bistro dining (although I could name many more). Bistros, by the way are small, intimate eateries that focus on moderately priced menus typically displayed on chalkboards or hand-written on slates. Most bistros focus on traditional dishes like pâtés, country terrines, small steaks and roasted chicken partnered with pomme frites (French fries) or homey one-pot dishes like boeuf bourguignon and coq au vin. All come with tasty but reasonably priced wines or beer–and of course must-have desserts.
1. Aux Lyonnaise (Right Bank, near the Opera). Alain Ducasse’s charming, traditional Lyonnais-style cuisine served in a Belle-Époque style dining room by aproned staff. Also has a fabulous zinc bar AND car-park service. http://www.auxlyonnais.com/en
2. Chez L’Ami Jean (Left Bank, near Les Invalides and Eiffel Tower). Basque food and traditional French cuisine served at family-style tables in a room with cured hams hanging from the ceiling. Memorable dishes and friendly servers. http://lamijean.fr
3. Bistro L’estrapade (Left Bank, Latin Quarter). Darling bistro famed for 20-euro plates like Magret de canard au melon boule de miel (duck with melon and honey), Suprême de poulet jaune aux écrevisses (supreme chicken with crayfish), and scrumptious desserts like Brioche perdue Chantilly au calvados (brioche with calvados-infused Chantilly cream) and Tarte Tatin (apple tart). http://bistrotlestrapade.fr/en
4. Le Violon d’Ingres (Left Bank on famed restaurant street Rue Saint-Dominique). Sophisticated 7th arrondissement elegance, chocolatier and chef-owner Christian Constant’s polished bistro cuisine does not disappoint but it’s a tad pricey. For even more moderate fare-in-a-pot, try his casual Les Cocotte eatery next door. http://www.maisonconstant.com/violon-ingres/
5. Le Fountaine de Mars (Left Bank also on famed restaurant street Rue Saint-Dominique). This red-checked tablecloth and polished brass Parisian bistro welcomed President Obama and his wife a few years ago. Famed for delicious southwestern France cuisine like cassoulet and foie gras. Great wines at an affordable price. http://www.fontainedemars.com
6. Le Timbre (Left Bank near Luxembourg Gardens). This teeny bistro is rated one of the top 20 in Paris. More like eating at a dinner party than a restaurant, it has fantastic dishes by English chef-owner Chris Wright. So affordable; so delicious. http://www.restaurantletimbre.com/le_timbre/accueil_2.html
Bonus: And don’t miss Le Soufflé on the Right Bank near the Louvre. Serves THE most delicious soufflés for any course you choose, but especially a Grande Marnier dessert that is to die for (and they leave the entire bottle on your table for top ups)! http://www.lesouffle.fr
Guest post by: PJ Adams who is the author of best sellers Intoxicating Paris and Intoxicating Southern France, plus upcoming titles on the French Riviera, Provence, Bordeaux, Loire, and Champagne. www.meanderingtrailmedia.com or on Twitter @PJAdams10.
~Kisses Kitchen Squirrel