Lunch in Paris

In Paris there are a few types of places to eat.

There is the cafe, which usually does not serve much food, but you can get a cup of coffee and a small plate, more of a "snack menu".

A bistro, which usually serves French fare like cassoulet, duck confit, or steak frites and can be also higher end.

Then there is the brasserie, which means "brewery", where you can get a nice croque monsieur or quiche and salad for lunch or dinner with a glass of Kronenborg.
A brasserie serves food all day, so if you are hungry at 3 pm, you can get a meal, unlike NYC, where it's tough to find a late lunch.

And of course there is the restaurant.

A more formal evening, where you will take your dinner indoors w/ a bottle of wine and spend a few hours.
However, there are restaurants that have cafes outside with heat lamps in the winter that you can sit and have your coffee.

Are you totally confused yet?
I am.

Just look at the menu outside before you commit.

I remember years ago, we walked into a restaurant, and all I wanted was some champagne and an appetizer, sort of like I would order at home.

When I asked the server if that was possible, his reply was "Madame, thees is a restAURANT!".


I was young, and too scared to get up and leave (which we should have done right then and there), so I stayed and took my beating, but I did not make that mistake again.

We tend to eat at brasseries or restaurants for lunch, since I need to have a slice of quiche daily and my husband loves a croque madame or monsieur.
They always comes w/ a salade and are reasonably priced.

But what I really want to know is, why do all the chalkboard menus have the same beautiful handwriting?
Do they teach you in school how to write menus with chalk?

Bon Appetit!


I've wondered the same thing about the French's handwriting. And it's so true about French restaurants in the evening - we ordered a salade tomates that we'd had for lunch earlier in the week at dinner once and were quickly and with formal French efficiently "put in our place" about what was and was not served for dinner. As good as their food was, somehow we never went back and that was probably 15 years ago. Funny, we walked by that same restaurant when we were there in the spring and still didn't go in.
Natalia said…
You can't get better quiche and croque monsieur than in France - I've learned that! Love your photos and travel info and glad you are having fun Stacey!
Anonymous said…
HI Stacey,

I'm loving your Paris posts, and am curious about the etiquette around restaurants in Paris.

In a cafe (or any restaurant with outdoor seating), are you typically supposed to seat yourself? Or do you check-in indoors with a maitre d?

In restaurants, bistros, etc - are you making advance reservations, or just dropping in?

We've been to Paris, but found ourselves unsure of the "rules", and with no-so-great French, just felt a little awkward around the whole situation. Ended up eating a lot of street food in order to avoid the discomfort.

Thanks for your insight!
marie r said…
i just returned from Paris where I rented an apartment in the St. Germain area, my favorite. I had 5 croques in 4 days…..Try the smoked salmon croque at Le Comptoir for lunch….Bon Appetiti
On my last trip to Paris, we dined at an upscale restaurant, about 1/4 mile past the Arc (can't remember the name). The food was wonderful, and the waiter had a large sense of humor, mostly at our expense. Oh well, so what, we were in Paris!!!