Hi. You'll have to forgive the somewhat incongruous subtitle; it was chosen in an attempt to garner more attention for this thread with the promise of excitement and nubile college debauchery. I realize that I'm highjacking another recent thread in a way, but my requests are somewhat different.
Unfortunately, that's not really the case. But I will be going to Paris for the first time over my spring break in mid-March. I'm looking for all sorts of recommendations. I've read the threads and have collected a good deal of information, but I'm trusting you all to help me out with the (numerous) particulars. I'm not much of a participant on the France board, but it's not for want of enthusiasm.
As an aside, I don't speak any French. This is also my first time to Europe. Is this going to be a problem? But I will eat absolutely anything.
Anyway, here's what I'm looking for, in order of importance.
1) One or two, two-three star Michelin lunches. So far I'm looking at Taillevent, Le Cinq, Ledoyen on the low (read: realistic) end of the price scale. In other words, I know these places have lunches from around 70 Euro (lunch special at Taillevent) to slightly north of 100 Euro ("light" tasting menu at Le Cinq). But there's always the appeal of the big boys at Ambroisie, Arpege, Guy Savoy, Gagnaire, etc. I am particularly interested in Gagnaire's lunch prices, as I can't find any details online. Can I get a nice lunch there for around 100-120 Euro? If you're not familiar with my tastes and work from other threads, I'm very interested in modern food* and would love to go to Michel Bras but simply cannot logistically. Is Pierre Gagnaire a reality? I know Savoy has an "internet only" 100 Euro lunch, but the way they make it sound it seems so gauche. Does anyone know if it's worth it? I'd really prefer a three-star restaurant (though I've read the rumors that both Le Cinc and Taillevent are losing a star each) but am okay with a two-star with modern, super compelling food. I also realized I'm only booking reservations about five weeks out. Will this be a problem, should I reserve via email?
2) A couple quintessentially Parisian dinners are also in order. I'm looking to keep prices in the less than 70 Euro range after taxes and gratuity. I don't need to drink much at all and would rather spend the majority of my money (or all of it) on food. Is it contrived to say I'm looking for a really awesome brasserie or bistro? Probably, but that's what I'm looking for. I'm more interested in super old-school, classical cooking or a modern-inflection. I'm not one for moderation.
3) Any sort of food shops really worth seeking out would be great. Cheese shops, notable bakeries, charcuterie, markets stuff like that. I know there's so much there that I'll just be overwhelmed and want to focus my efforts during my limited time. Just give me the best of each category, or perhaps a place where there's a nice concentration of things and I'll be golden.
4) Where should I stay? Any cheap hotel recommendations or general cool places I should try to locate myself? Something centrally located sounds good, but I really don't want the Parisian equivalent of Times Square (I know, I'm sorry, please don't be offended by the comparison). Although my Michelin dining aspirations may suggest otherwise, I'm a student and need to save money where I can.
453,308,375) I've heard there's like art and like museums and like cultural stuff and this big metal tower. Does that stuff actually exist? Is it worth seeking out in between otherwise perpetual eating?
Thank you so much for all your help. If any of you ever need recs in NYC, I'll save you some time and say Eleven Madison Park under Chef Humm, Jean-Georges for lunch, Katz's Deli and wd~50 back-to-back, Momofuku Ssam, Pegu Club, Death and Company, Milk and Honey (but watch out for the bridge and tunnel crowd on Wednesday(is-the-new-Thursday)-Sunday evenings). You're friends will be impressed with your foodie knowledge.
*For reference, I will be trying to visit the Fat Duck and Alkimia in England and Spain as other notable meals.