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First time ever in France!

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First time ever in France!

colleenw | Sep 30, 2009 01:54 PM

Dear Chowhounds,

My husband is doing a 6-week, 6-city tour of France with a play he was in during grad school (we're both actors). He is working in Orleans, Creteil (suburban Paris), Evreux (another suburb of Paris), Clermont-Ferrand in the Massif Centrale, back up to Paris for a few days rest, then Reims in Champagne, and Lorient in Brittany.

The cast members (and spouses etc.) are staying in Paris for the Creteil and Evreux stints, at a business-style apartment hotel between the Marais and the Bastille. I'm joining him from Oct 15 through Nov 4, for the last bit of Orleans through Clermont-Ferrand and a couple days back in Paris after that.

Our 1-year anniversary is going to be on October 18th, the first night everybody will be in Paris.

I would be incredibly grateful for cool, wonderful, and delightful suggestions for strolling, gawking, chomping, chic dining, bummy dining, etc. in any of the places I mentioned above. I LOVE cheese, and heard the Fromagerie Quatre'homme is a great place to go, along with places like Laduree for macarons and Poilane for wondeful breads etc.

We are pretty broke-ish artists, so its highly unlikely we could splurge on a super-fancy place like a Taillevent or an Alain Ducasse or similar place (I got a Zagat Paris and was cowed by the astronomical costs of the top recs), so if there are places that are like little jewels on the cheapo side, that would be great. We live in Manhattan, so are blessed with lots of unique food experiences here anyway, so recs that are "only in France, only in X" are more valuable to us than, say, a recommendation to hit a global chain, or a falafel stand, 'cause we can do that here. Unless the falafel is somehow uniquely Parisian or French?... You get my meaning I'm sure.

QUESTIONS:
I would love to sample some haute classic French cuisine but is that even possible for less than 50 euros per person anywhere in Paris? (let alone including wine?)

I saw some show on the Travel Channel that I think mentioned either "Le Fooding" or "bistronomy" (?) or gastro-something else (??) but I don't really get what it is. I know there's a kind of movement toward less expensive, more innovative food in Paris -- I.e. these are restaurant that are sposta be cool, non-stuffy, and super-great value with innovative cuisine? can anyone enlighten me, or is this some sort of hype?

Is there anything that is crappy/overrated/bogus that you'd encourage us to avoid

Is the Rungis market worth the trek? Heard it is in the suburbs -- is it hard to get to by Metro?

Are the fancy department stores worth checking out? (for the food areas)

For our honeymoon we lucked out with a free week's stay at a 14th c. medeival villa in the hills above Cortona. We toured some Chianti wineries, ate gelato, in side streets, and made a pilgrimage to Dario Cecchini's butcher shop in Panzano, the guy with whom who Bill Buford apprenticed in the book HEAT. Went to tons of cheese stores and got huge amounts of wild boar head cheese for snacking. We have AJ Liebling hearts, but Hubert Selby wallets, and we hope to squeeze as much as we can out of the experience.

Thank you kindly for reading this prolly way too long missive. -- C

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