I’m surprising my girlfriend with a trip to Paris (and a marriage proposal) in two weeks.
Will be arriving early Saturday morning and staying until Tuesday afternoon. We’re mid-20’s, pretty much broke (but I’ve been saving!), and this is going to be more of a “romantic” trip (in the loose, free-spirited sense) than a luxury trip. We’re staying at a "budget" but charming hotel in the 12th (Hotel de la Porte Doree). We’re not foodies per se but we know enough to recognize quality ingredients and thoughtful preparation, and we both love the experience of enjoying a throughtfully-done meal for a few hours. We’re looking for casual, comfortable but good-quality dining, at up to ~E50-60/person (including wine) a night. Lunches, lets say ~E15-25/person. We simply cannot afford Cinq, Taillevent, etc. Since we’re only in town a few days, we’ll stick with traditional French – provincial is fine. She does not eat red meat.
I plan on proposing in Jardin du Luxembourg under a tree on Saturday afternoon. I’d love to get a picnic lunch for this purpose. Any preferred Saturday markets between the 12th and 5th/6th? I see Maubert is open Saturdays. Thoughts?
I plan to dine near the Eiffel Tower that night, just to give her the stereotypical fairy tale experience (she's never been to Paris). I have a Zagats from 09 which recommended Bon Accueil; it has a totally magical location but seems it has gone downhill since their old chef left. I’d love Coccettes, but the stools just don’t seem fitting for a day of this magnitude. Any comfortable but charming places you could recommend in the 7th in that price range? My brother recommended La Fontaine de Mars.
Sunday, I plan on doing some touristy stuff – Notre Dame, St. Chapelle and probably Orsay for a bit. Any recommended bistros around the Louvre, Orsay for lunch?
At night, I’d love to sit on the steps of Sacre Coeur with a bottle of champagne and overlook the city for a while. Afterwards, we could grab a late dinner in Montemarte or even down in the 1st/2nd/3rd/4th. Any preferences? Obviously, I’d love to get in some place like Frenchie (if its even open Sundays) but its just not going to happen. I had thought about L’Ardoise in the 1st, but again, based on an old Zagats. I’ve also considered Au Vieux Comptoir.
Monday, we’d do a quick jaunt to the Arc / down Champs-Elysses in the morning (pop into Laduree) and then run through Pompidou after lunch. I have had a lot of trouble finding a good spot in the 11th that’s open for Monday dinner; currently leaning toward Chez Paul.
Thanks in advance!