First and foremost thanks to all who take the time to post here of their travel food experiences and share their expertise and sensibilities with the rest of us. It is so much more a reliable way to choose restaurants and to find one's way around in a foreign (and home) city!
Also thanks for all of the encouragement about being in Paris from Christmas to New Years. It was an unequaled experience. I had forgotten how beautiful, fresh, and elegant Paris is as a city. It has been about 6 years since I was last there.
Although the dollar has suffered mightily in recent months we did manage to have lovely food and other experiences.
We had the good fortune to have the use of an apartment in the 14th arondissement. While others have commented about the "long" subway ride or taxi ride to the area I must disagree. As a New Yorker accustomed to extremely long subway/bus/commuting rides the half hour it took to get to the Louvre or St. Germain for example was a cinch. We were totally bowled over by the bakery across the street on rue des Plantes. It was totally a neighborhood place but the breads -- particularly the "Retro" (sourdough I think and/or part whole wheat) was spectacular as were the small brioche tetes, the viennois, and the croissant "ordinaire". The nearby shopping street at rue Daguerre just bowled us over with their butchers (who instructed us on how to properly cook the leg of lamb we bought and stuffed pintade forestiere), fish monger, cheese shops, wine shops, and other traiteurs (caterers/prepared food shops). We never even got to any of the open air markets since the choices there were so very exceptional.
We did get out a bit as well cooking in on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve (not wanting to find an open place and/or pay the high prices being exacted) and we had leftovers for the nights we went out to concerts at the Bastille Opera, Eglise St. Germain du Pre and Eglise St. Ephrem.
Our first night in we were lucky to go to a neighborhood "dive" 'Rendezvous des Camionneurs'. A simple bistro right next door to our apt. on rue des Plantes. The husband and wife team who ran it were friendly and helpful, they were filled with neighborhood regulars who came for dinner, a glass of wine, or simply to chat and wish them bonnes fetes. (They were unfortunately closed the balance of the duration of our stay.) The tomato and cheese starter as well as the beet salad and my rillettes were excellent and the steak and stewed venison and a fish dish my husband had were terriffic. The house wine was fine. The only thing that failed was a cherry clafoutis that I ordered. All this for 52 euros for the 3 of us. We could have used this on other nights!
We also went to Bistro du Dome (near rue Vavin)- disappointing and bland blah food. The prices were ok but just that. The preparations were all fresh -- scallop main course for two of us and a skate in a vinegar sauce for me -- but the sauces just didn't work and they were pretty well both all white meals. A little color contrast goes a long way! The mussel soup was delicious tho and the pot de chocolat was a delicious dessert.
We were very pleased with Monsieur Lapin and Bistrot d'Henri and we had an excellent Vietnamese meal at Kim Anh. In most cases we made our reservations on the same day. I was able to make a reservation at L'os et Moelle but they were having 2 seatings and the 8:00 felt it would be rushed and the 9:30 was just too late for us. It was pretty well hopeless to get a reservation a L'Epi Dupin. Many places were closed for the week as well but enough were open that we had choices.
Well jet lag is catching up so it's time for sleep....thanks once more to all!