I must say part of this discussion offends me during this moment in history consumed by intolerance. As on of those "pesky Americans (Yankees)" I cannot deny my heritage or suddenly become adept in conversational French. At 65 years old, if 9 years of French language classes couldn't achieve their purpose, I'm not going to become proficient now. However, I love Paris, enjoy eating at restaurants, and know I am louder then most people. I'm a short, bombastic, former New Yorker with a big mouth. However, when in foreign countries, I attempt to tone down and adapt to the culture around me. Twenty years ago I was not a "loud American" in Paris. My attempt to speak French was met with laughter and appreciation. My attempt at phoning for reservations was rewarded with restaurants that welcomed me in and thanked me for my patronage. I was able to dine at dozens of restaurants where not a word of English was heard. My arrondissement's of choice were the upper 6th or 7th, and during the winter a tourist sighting was rare.
Now, I choose to stay in the 14th, near Rue Daguerre - hopefully less tourists. Finding a restaurant that is exclusively French and "local" is next to impossible. I have found a handful of eating establishments not mentioned somewhere on the Internet, and they are probably not worth going to. There is just too much information out there and it's too easy to find. (I actually miss the "Reader's Guide to Periodicals" and doing research in the "stacks.") American people, culture, and capitalism have invaded successfully and technology is the new blitzkrieg. I remember being so shocked and appalled the first time I heard American pop music in a Parisian wine bar. I demanded French music from the proprietor, and he shrugged his shoulders and told me American tunes is what his patrons want. This is the Paris of today and I am sad, but it is not the fault of us "pesky Yankees." The Internet, restaurant reviewers, and capitalism defeated any French cultural Maginot Line. Paris, New York, (not Brooklyn yet) London, San Francisco have become international cities, and in many ways have no identity with the city they were twenty-five years ago. They're gone. American capitalism has altered the travel landscape. Authenticity is almost impossible to find and reading Chowhound made me realize that "my Paris" no longer exists. As a "pesky Yankee," I can still eat good food, but because of my language skills and heritage, I will be thwarted in my attempt to "discover" an authentic Parisian boîte, unless I want to eat at 7:30 PM with the rest of us "peskies."
I told my wife that perhaps we should cancel this trip to Paris and go to Istanbul, where last winter we were invited into restaurants, hugged, danced, and met only Turkish people happy to introduce their culture to us. We had an amazing time. It seems futile spending a holiday trying to avoid people like me. There are just too many of me now - an unabashed pesky Yankee.