Hi all who helped me suss out a long remembered pleasure: duck with crispy skin, perhaps some sweet sauce, not a leg or confit, in Paris.
Before I get to the duck, I'd just like to mention that I had an overwhelming number of superb meals in restaurants that were run by incredibly talented husband and wife teams: Montee, L'Arcane, LeMazenay, La Condesa, Le Bistrot du Maquis, and Le Cerisaie. Le Cerisaie was originally the place I thought I would find the duck, but it wasn't on the menu when I was there. Instead, there was goose (which I had never eaten, but feel this was definitely the place to try) and a wonderful white fish soup (a special) that the waiter recommended. The place is small, the tables close, and I had a wonderful time there. Just the right balance of delicious food and warm welcome on a cold night. I would go back and eat whatever they were cooking special that night : The scallops that the couple at my elbow were eating looked delish, and when he scooped her leftover mashed potatoes, we exchanged guilty smiles like cats who were definitely getting la crème.
This was a second visit for me to L'Arcane, and it was even better than the first time I had been last summer. Not a single dish was the same, and they were each wonderful, imaginative dishes. Again, I would go eat whatever they were cooking. I was staying in the Marais and went twice to LeMazenay and will be back again. For me, this is the ideal neighborhood place. I ate sweetbreads and lamb chops one night and escargots and a veal roast the other night. Both times food was well-prepared (I would describe the meals as French "homey"...not complicated by "molecular" standards, but very, very tasty), and the restaurant welcoming to this solo diner.
I ate at Montee the night I arrived from NY on the overnight flight, and I was afraid I wouldn't make it through the meal that didn't start until 20:00. I needn't have worried. The food here is more complex than LeMazenay, but also delicious. If you go for dinner, it is many courses. But after the long flight (and a nap), I was up for the feast, and I don't think I left over a single bite. (In fact, I ate the extra cheese course too!) Mme poured me glasses of wine to go with everything I ate, and at the end of the meal, I wondered what else I could possibly find to rival this meal in Paris.
Okay, so for the duck: I found the duck of my dreams (no sweet sauce, but whatever the reduction/gravy served with was perfect) at L'Amarante. I started with an equally satisfying portion of foie gras paté. The waiter here was also welcoming. I was a little shy to let him know that the beets that were coming with the duck would not be eaten by me (have never acquired a taste), but he couldn't have been nicer and offered me carrots instead. I love carrots but had no clue what a great choice this was going to be with the duck. I understood when eating them that he suggested them (to replace beets) because both veggies have a certain sweetness to them that go well with the meaty duck. Anyway, I enjoyed this meal on a rainy night, and topped it off with supernal chocolate mousse and a glass of Banyuls.
Thanks to all Chowhounders for your suggestions. I had a scrumptious time!