In mid May I will be traveling to France for my wedding in Lanouaille. After much debate and research, my fiancee and I have finally determined our honeymoon itinerary and Paris and Menton are the first two stops (then to Tuscany- Castiglione della Pescaia and Rome and London before heading home). For the past 6-9 months, I've been monitoring this board and any other resource available for advice and recommendations for places in Paris and feel that I've identified some places will be good choices. We will be in Paris for 5 nights and Menton for 3 nights. We are staying in 18th arrondissment, but are willing to travel anywhere in Paris to eat well.
I've intentionally left out the 3* places even though financially it is a possibility. I want to learn more about French culture/restaurants before I head straight to the pinnacle as I want to have the context and experience to really enjoy the meal. I'd be afraid of paying the high cost and not seeing the value. I'm fine with expensive meals, but I want to make sure I walk out of the place feeling that it was worth it.
Here's where I'm planning for Paris:
La Regelade (Dinner)
Chez l'Ami Jean (lunch before setting aside the remainder of the day for the Louvre)
Chez Denise (Dinner)- This is the most open night as the place I'd really like to go to is Spring, but I'm not counting on that being available.
Violon d"Ingres (Dinner)- I've heard that this place is good, but not great. This will be our last night in Paris and I'm looking for a place a little more refined and comfortable than the previous places, but within a 60-75 euro pp budget. I really want this night to be a longer dining experience with a polished atmosphere. If my budget is unrealistic for this, please let me know.
First, how far in advance does one need to make reservations at these locations to get prime dinner reservation times?
Second, feel free to offer any recommendations and new ideas to my list-especially for Chez Denise and Violon d'Ingres. I'm fairly certain I want to try Ami Jean and La Regelade. My budget for most meals is 50-60 euros pp, but this could be adjusted.
Third, what are the dress codes for places like Ami Jean and La Regelade? I know they are fairly casual, but I want to respect the restaurant and dress appropriately.
Finally, are there any good markets/cheap cafes in the 18th that one would recommend?
Now, moving to Menton and the riviera, we definitely going to Mirazur as that is the primary reason we are staying in Menton. Are there any other good local places near Menton? I'm looking for very casual, but fresh, local ingredient inspired places (budget 30-40 euros pp).
I would be curious to hear any detailed reviews of Mirazur. I've repeatedly found people recommending it, but few have offered a detailed review with pictures from the past 6-9 months (I've found some decent reviews from 2007, but few in 2008).
This is a lot of questions and to digest, but I'd appreciate everyone's thoughts. I'm very particular about where I choose to dine out and try to make informed decisions in my selections. This is my first trip to Europe and I want to make the most of it.