Well, as some of you know, I went to Paris for my honeymoon after marriage to the esteemed Jrafgirl who has never posted here because I do enough Chowhounding for the two of us, but that's a tangent so let's move on.
Now, brace yourselves. We spent a week in Paris and didn't go to Lucas Carton or anything started by Ducasse, or Jules Verne, or any of that sort of restaurant. In fact, the most uppity place we went to was the full-service restaurant in the Louvre.
It never ceases to amaze me how well one can eat for so little money in Paris. That's not to say that you're going to have a three-course dinner for 7, but compared to the cost of a similar dinner in America, it's quite cheap.
We ate in a lot of little, unknown brasseries, the kind where you get the "formule" of either a starter and a main dish, or a main dish and a dessert, for a fixed price which includes service and tax (which, together, come to 34.8% of the cost of the food - uff da!). They were, almost without fail, excellent.
On to the recommendations.
Les Nymphéas, near Monet's house, Giverny, Normandy - very good regional cooking, indifferent service. I had a wonderful "bar sauce oseille" (cod in sorrel sauce). The price for three courses, an aperitif, a coffee, a glass of white wine, and a nip of Calvados afterwards, was 40.
Le Sergent Recruteur, on the Ile Saint-Louis. It starts with a basket of sausages, a basket of vegetables (you cut them yourself), a board of pate de campagne with cornichons, and some white bean soup. Then you choose your meal. Afterwards is cheese and a dessert buffet. Coffee is included, decent wine is included. Price is 36 per person.
Grand Louvre, lower (ticket-buying) level of the Louvre. We went here on Mother's Day. It was quite good, though not exceptional. We each had three courses, I had wine, she had water, and I had coffee. The salmon was delicately flavoured and quite delicious, and the ratatouille was well-spiced. 23 each.
Le Bierstub, in the 4 Temps mall at La Défense. Yes, I hear it now. "You ate in a MALL? What the hell were you THINKING?!" I wanted choucroute garni and there was an Alsatian restaurant in the mall. Imagine our surprise when it was really, really tasty... the choucroute had that peppery, caraway taste that we can't seem to duplicate.
Of course, we went to Fauchon... how does a food lover go to Paris and not end up in the Place de la Madeleine... but I escaped after spending only 70, which is more than I can say about Dean & Deluca in New York.
So, in conclusion to this rambling tome, I encourage you to eschew the ridiculous prices of Carton and Ducasse (even if they ARE worth it) and spend your time wandering. Avoid eating right next to large tourist traps (Notre-Dame comes to mind), settle down at a brasserie, order a Kronenbourg, and eat like the Parisians do.
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