The World’s First Paris Cocktail Book by Doni Belau

PARIS--Leave it to Doni Belau, an inveterate Francofile and the brainchild behind the website Girls' Guide to Paris--currently boasting 1.5 million followers a year--to come up with the first quintessential Paris cocktail guidebook "Paris Cocktails." Like all  successful trendspotters, Doni uncovered and tested in the space...

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Great Places in Britain for Afternoon Tea

London, UK. In Britain, they take their tea seriously. Afternoon Tea is a light meal of delicately cut sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, cakes and pastries. It became popular in the 19th century and remains a favourite British ritual. Here, you will find some places...

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Breakfast at La Durée: An Oasis of Parisian Elegance

Today, after beating the Roland Garros rush for tickets and snagging center court tickets for June 6 and June 7 semi-finals and finals, my sales manager and myself treated ourselves to breakfast at the recently redecorated La Durée on the Champs-Elysées. The front room overlooking the...

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Chocolate in France: Past & Present

Although the Swiss or Belgians are probably the most well-known for their chocolate expertise, the French are an up and coming competitor. Not only can the French create delicious cocoa creations, they know how to enjoy them too! Taking a step back into history, chocolate...

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Paris Bistros: Diners Beware

PARIS, France--A few years ago, my husband and I started on a quest for the perfect bistro in Paris, something that I felt obliged to test for both my guests as well as myself. My research project began after having several great meals at L'Affriolé...

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A Quiet Pot of Tea

Places I Love For A Quiet Pot of Tea Are you a tea drinker? Do you long for that cosy place where you can savor a cup of the finest brew with a pastry at the end of a day of shopping or museum-hopping with children...

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Eating Out in Paris: High, Middle and Low

PARIS, France--I am very sorry to tell you this, but it is now easier than ever to get a bad meal in France, particularly in Paris. I didn't believe other expert food connoisseurs, but the evidence has rolled in, and I am afraid they are...

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Stranger than Science Fiction: The Jules Verne Restaurant

There is one restaurant in Paris whose ego will remain even taller than the Eiffel Tower: The Jules Verne, currently run by the Alain Ducasse Group.
Certainly they have a lot to crow about: tables booked months in advance, waiting lists for those unexpected no-shows, and customers from all over the world, clamoring to get in. And when the occasion demands it, a French government ministry wanting to impress foreign visitors will take over the entire restaurant for the price of a small company in Paris. Pourquoi pas?

But for the rest of us, who are working stiffs in search of a good meal at a fair price, we may not buy into this wannabe status symbol, which the French routinely call “piège à touristes” (tourist trap in English).

Like any good red-blooded American, I wanted to impress my husband for his 60th birthday and two years ago, broke down and bought him lunch. We ordered off the menu, and the appetizer was called a “marbré de foie gras”–two postage stamps of foie gras that were layered into two other postage stamps of cold chicken. Not only was the item tasteless, it was also the color of a patient who needed a blood transfusion. That was all that I remember of the meal, apart from a small coterie of waiters standing around gossiping in a corner of the half-empty dining room and ignoring us completely.

The following month I took clients to the Jules Verne for lunch–then we ordered cabillaud à la carte (after all this is only cod fish), and were out within the hour. These are high-rollers who came in a private jet and bought their 16-year-old grand-daughter a Chopard watch for 3500€ in five minutes–but food was not a priority.

Those two experiences led me to believe that if my clients wanted me to book a table at the Jules Verne, I was more than happy to do so, but that I would not go out of my way to recommend this restaurant.

Thoumieux Peut Faire Mieux: Thoumieux Can Do Better

Today, an unfortunate trend has crept into French restaurants, and I would like to signal it to the discerning traveler who is still in search of a good meal. A case in point, is the chain of restaurants created by the Costes brothers, who have managed to snag some of the finest real estate in Paris and serve up mediocre food accompanied by indifferent service.

Case in point: Thoumieux, the latest Costes venture, is a remake of an old address on Rue Saint Dominique. For years, it was known and beloved by locals and tourists along for serving traditional, reasonably priced food. In more recent years, it had fallen off that level of quality, and the decor was both shabby and dirty. In short, the owners were milking the joint for all it was worth.

Along come the Costes, in the form of Thierry Coste, who had the brilliant idea of refurbishing the restaurant and making it into a so-called cutting-edge brasserie. Moreover, there is a new chef in the kitchen: Jean-Françoise Piège, formerly the chef at the Crillon Hotel’s restaurant Les Ambassadeurs. In short this was not going to be standard Costes fare.