Follow Philippe on Twitter @pcousteau
They say that our sense of smell is one of the strongest triggers of memories. Of course, our sense of smell is integral to our sense of taste so it is no surprise then that in a life full of moving and traveling, food has always been a source of familiar comfort for me. In particular, one meal from one restaurant stands out above the rest and still stirs precious memories whenever I think about it.
When I was young, Paris was a frequent summer destination for my family, and while I don’t get there very often anymore, whenever I land at Charles DeGaulle airport my mouth starts to water at the very thought that I am only a few miles away from my own personal culinary heaven.
My love for this gastronomic paradise goes back for as long as I can remember. In fact, it has been a favorite of my family’s for three generations. My grandfather Jacques Cousteau would frequent it and his son, my father, started going as a young man. My mother told me that when she arrived in Paris for the first time to visit my father (they were not yet married) he took her to the restaurant straight from the airport before they even went home for the first time...and I have been going since before I can remember. Clearly, this place had been a Cousteau favorite for decades.
Now, one might expect that such adulation would be reserved for the Grand Dames of the French culinary tradition, Parisian restaurants like La Tour D’Argent, Taillevent, or Jules Verne, but not so for us. Our epicurean mecca is a small restaurant in a region of Paris called Porte Maillot, not far from the Champs Elysee. Here stands a restaurant that takes no reservations and only serves one dish - steak and frites or French fries as they are known elsewhere.
Indeed, that is the nickname we gave this restaurant when we were little, ‘steak frites’ which was easier to say than its formal name Le Relais de Venise son Entrecôte (entrecôte is the cut of beef known as rib-eye in the United States). They are open for lunch and dinner every night of the year except a few holidays and the month of July. And yes, that is all they serve, steak and frites - at least for the main course. Dessert features a full menu headlined by their famous and delicious profiteroles, as well as cheese plates, tarts, fresh fruit and more.
It was founded in 1959 by a Frenchmen who had little experience in restaurants. He purchased an Italian restaurant called Le Relais de Venise, left the name and the Italian décor as it was, added the word Entrecôte and decided to keep the meal simple and straightforward.
Steak frites takes no reservations, and is packed every night, thus there is always a line, but it’s one everyone is willing to tolerate. Standing under the faded red awning is like the beginning of a ritual and only adds to the experience. After about 10-20 minutes a table comes available and upon being seated at the table, the waitress asks simply “how would you like your meat cooked?”
That’s it, no choice of cut or sauce or anything, just the same perfect steak and frites they have been serving for over 50 years. The decoration, the chairs, the uniforms - everything is as it always has been. We always order the house wine and then wait for a simple green salad followed by the most heavenly, melt-in-your-mouth, steak and crispy-perfect fries in the world.
Now the key to the whole deal is the sauce; a secret for decades that many have tried to replicate but none have been able to. Impossible to do justice to in words, there is most certainly a dash of mustard, some herbs, butter, cream and more that combines into a perfect sauce.
I admit this is lofty praise and no doubt much of this adoration is linked to my happy memories of dinners with friends and family; sitting with my mother, sister and grandfather under the faded paintings of venetian canals that adorn the walls, talking about life, my grandfather’s countless adventures, our mutual love of wine (when I got older) and of course global conservation.
There is some irony I will admit that one of the conservation actions I now advocate is to limit the consumption of meat. I, for one, strive to be a weekday vegetarian and avoid meat most of the time; however, my French heritage encourages the occasional indulgence as well as a blissful stroll down memory lane.
Based on your article, when I was in Paris early September I had to go. Thiis place was awesome. The food was magnificant. We got there at 6:30 and they opened up at 7:00 and there was already a line. We did get right in and had a wonderful meal. It was probably the best meal we had in Paris. I will definitely go back when I go again. So glad I saw your article.
Going to have to add this to my list of places to visit in Paris. :)
We must understand that everyone has a right to choose whatever diet they desire. I am a vegan and my wife is an omnivore. I have no problem cooking what she likes to eat while maintaining my vegan diet at the same meals. When I invite people to dinner I prepare any food which my guests will enjoy. I observe whatever dietary restrictions or choices they may have without imposing my preferences on them. As a lifelong cook, I also have many gourmet vegan specialties which are suitable for any taste. My vegan diet is not an ethical choice, but purely a dietary one which I feel may be better for my health.
The way you write, you are really a professional blogger....
Very nice post, but I'm disturbed that every time Philippe writes about his "family" memories he never mentions the rest of the clan. His Aunt actually lives right in Paris in the 8th district and his Uncle still maintains his French citizenship. His cousins spent much of their upbringing in France as they were both raised by French parents. His step-uncle lives in Paris and works for the Cousteau Society and his late grandfather's wife is there as well. When you read this post, he makes know mention of any of them. Cousins Fabien and Celine and his Uncle, Jean-Michele Cousteau, always bring up the good work that Philippe is doing, so it would be appropriate if he did the same.
The geek in me thinks it's singularly cool to be Jacques Cousteau's grandson. But also, I respect your (talking to the author here) efforts to clean up the oceans and your continuing conservation work. It's something I wish I had the funds and time to actually go out and do.
Food and memories, I think, go hand in hand. You may hate a food your whole life simply because of one bad childhood experience. But fortunately, the good stuff sticks with you forever as well. For me the unique smell of my grandmother's Italian kitchen brings back some wonderful memories. I have yet to find that same smell just going to a restaurant – or the same quality food. It really takes me back when I make the food (to the best of my ability) the way she did, especially if it's in the spring when I can open the kitchen windows and get the sounds and smells from outside to add to the atmosphere. I think many people can identify.
Back to the subject of smells triggering emotions and memories ( the "madeleine effect"), for me it's toast. The smell of an American coffee shp in the morning is one of my favorite things. Toast, coffee, onions and poatoes on the griddle, bacon (I know...I don't eat it, but it does smell good), all mingled together. But mostly toast.
So you will eat onion and potatoes cooked on the griddle that was used to cook the bacon and eggs?? Just curious, not judging... I eat meat, but like the author I try to eat less of it but I don't call it a "weekday vegetarian", more like meatless Monday's, etc.).
I just reread my post and yours. Sorry for overreacting. i thought you were being snide, but I see you weren't. In answer to your question, I live in a place where breakfast places offer things like tofu-and-veg scramble, cooked in a skillet away from the carnivore food. If I'm traveling and I'm unsure of the kitchen, I stick to oatmeal or granola, or other starchy stuff.
Now see how easy it is to be nice? When you said onions and potatoes on the griddle and that they serve bacon and eggs, I just wanted to know if that would bother you. Again, not judging, just curious. As you explained now, that you have food cooked in a skillet way from the meat food, that makes total sense. And yes, I can read quite well thank you.
Jingles (a good name for you), can you read? I was writing about SMELL, and memories. I grew up eating meat. I went out for breakfast after mass with my family on Sundays. I have fond memories of coffee shops.
You are clearly an illiterate. Do you not know hat the madeleine effect refers to?
Fiona = A real Vegetarian, btw
Will you beat my meat?
feed me bifteck frites, my favorit
I'm glad that the Cousteau clan also appreciates the value of steak and French fries. It's legit one of the best food combos ever. Just good thick-cut french fries and a nice juicy steak, medium rare. Lightly seasoned for both, probably seasoning salt and maybe a dash of garlic salt and pepper. And a good beer to wash it all down, a good dark stout to go well with the beef.
Wow, I love Paris; will have to try this the next time I go!
Vegetarian means vegetables...eggs, for example are embryonic, about the same as meat. If you were not raised a vegetarian, its usually difficult to change, as it was for me. My last hamburger was in 1970. If you have a general respect for living things its usually easier to become a vegetarian. Consider the oneness of our universe, and how all things are somehow connected.
I was brought up in a "meat-and-potatoes" family, but giving up eggs was not difficult for me. When I stopped eating meat, I soon began to find eggs repulsive and flesh-like. Dairy is more difficult for me.
It's true that if you have no respect for creatures who aren't you, the core philosophy of vegetarianism (motivated by compassion rather than concern for health) is incomprehensible, and always will be.
I have to respectfully take issue with that statement. You can care deeply for animals and still eat meat. It's all about conscience and logical reasoning. If your conscience says you can't eat meat, that's fine. If mine says I can, that's fine too. It does not mean you care any more about animals than I do, just that we understand them differently.
As someone who works a lot with animals, I care about them and about their treatment. But I'm not a vegetarian. I do try to eat locally raised meat that I can verify is being treated well. It's really because I work so closely with them that I'm able to not idealize them. I see them for the wonders that they are, but I do understand that they are different than us. They don't have the same thinking process, emotions, etc. So my conscience says that eating meat is good for me to do.
I do, actually understand why people don't eat meat for ethical reasons, even if I don't necessarily agree. I have no complaint, and fully support it. But I don't think it's fair to imply that anyone who is not a vegetarian for ethical reasons just doesn't care about animals as much as you do.
There is no such thing as "a weekday vegetarian," any more than there is a weekday marriage. Either you are, or you aren't. I have no respect for people who can't commit. Waffling is a sign of weakness.
Who give a flying foo what you think, holierthanthou?! Sounds like a weekday vegetarian is shorthand for consuming less meat. Bully for him/her if it's working.
Being judgmental & negative are also signs of weakness. Weakness of character and of the mind. Stick that in your smipe and poke it.
Read what you posted. Does it make you proud? Do you feel all big and smart?
Conan is always big & proud!
Conan speaks the truth.
once you have had the parisian experience there is nothing that can replace or match up to it. i lived in paris for 1 1/2 years, and after all these years of marriage, divorce, raising 2 sons, and now a grandmother; my mind always goes back to many french restaurants frequented and their creative, inviting and ingenious decor.
Please stop eating beef. It is very unhealthy, and causes much unnecessary suffering in the world.
Yes, but so does the consumption of pork, poultry, goat, lamb, mutton and...seafood. In fact, in many ways, the harvesting of seafood is more destructive to the environment than is the farming of mammals for food.
Banks stop sniffing the poop it is warping your feable brain.
Get an education and learn to spell, moron. You come across like a buffoon. Apparently meat caused your "feable" brain.
"Banks: soil that has been antibacterialized"
I was unaware we are putting our soil through anti-bacetrialization process? Is that where we strip all the soil from the earth and boil it?
You are whacky.
There is a sterilization process for soil that uses extremely toxic methyl bromide. It's used on strawberry fields and on fields where wine grapes are to be planted. Don't know what other crops it's used for.
– I'm assuming you meant to say, "If you think NON-meat eaters poo doesn't stink" since what I said is the meat-eaters poo is stinky. I didn't mean to imply there is NO smell when it is a non-meat eater, but there is a significant difference.
– My point in saying "correct facts" is that many people believe things to be factual when they are not. Such as people needing to eat animal products to survive.
– Thanks for your suggestion on becoming better educated in regards to the digestive system. I'll make sure to call you if I need a gastroenterologist.
I was skeptical for a long time about adopting a plant-based diet. My grandmother became a vegetarian in the 60s and the whole family (myself included) always thought she was a weirdo. I've done my research as I still do daily and I became a vegetarian long before Forks Over Knives. It's proved to be beneficial for my health and I try to encourage people to have an open mind. You can sit anonymously behind your computer and write hurtful, unproductive comments along with everyone else. Just remember there is an actual person reading your response.
I'm just trying to encourage good health!
Did I hurt your widdle feewings by stating facts and posting counter to your views? Good! Learn not post biased drivel. Unproductive? I made two points: that you have alot to learn about the human digestive system and that there's more than one biased way to get educated about it.
You posted, "Also, carnivores intestines are extremely short to aid in quick digestion while ours are not. It takes 8 hours or more for flesh to move through our system which is why your poo stinks." My post highlighted that that is NOT why poo stinks.
After reading the many of these supposedly educated insights of the more ignorant posters on this blog, it doesn't take a rocket scientist, or a gastroenterologist, to recognize a the content of a poo-like post regarding eating meat. Get over yourself.
Congrats on finding an eating plan that works for you. Encourage good health from both sides of the fence.
Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote secret sauce recipe - Béarnaise recipe made with Green Venetian Butter - spinach, tarragon, watercress, anchovy, butter, etc.?
Thank You for Philippe, 1 for the work you do and 2 for this lovely stroll down memory lane. There is usually a place in one's memory that invokes just such joy and you've helped re-awaken that here. Thank you again, or as they say in French, merci.
OMG – this is the best restaurant! My family have been going there since the '70's and it hasn't changed a bit since then! Funny that many Parisians don't even know it's there, but those of us in the know enjoy it tremendously! I hope your post doesn't make the long queues even longer! Fabulous!
Thanks for sharing the memories. Gotta get to France someday!-Besides the Epcot version ;)....
One of my fondest memories as a high school student in the mid 70's was visiting your grandfather on the Calypso while he was in Galveston, Texas. Such an incredible man!
He signed my copies of his books, and they're still here on my bookcase all the years later!
I'll treasure them forever, along with his great smile.
There is one in New York...same food, same recipes. Lexington and E 52nd St. Check out their website.
Ya might wanna try swinging a bit higher. NYC Foodie already posted that.
For those wanting to try Mr. Cousteau's restaurant, they recently opened one in New York City – on 52nd and Lexington...same great food and pretty cheap (http://www.relaisdevenise.com/newyork/).
The NY Times gave it a poor review.
This place is one of my favorites in Paris! It was recommended by a friend, and now I recommend it to anyone who goes there. I can't wait to go back there.
Nice memory – but this place is the Tad's Steaks of Paris.
I was fortunate enough to celebrate my 18th birthday in Paris. Unfortunately, I was unaware of "steak frites". Had I have been, I definitely would have taken my place in line.
I thought their eating tradition would involve seafood from the ocean depths.
LOL! I would have guessed that too. Maybe if it had been Jacques' restaurant .... ;)
The above picture looks delish. I love eating doo doo.
As the saying goes, you are what you eat.
I sailed with your grandfather in South America in 1979, and ironically enough, my favorite "restaurant" memories come from the dining area on Calypso. Our chef's name was...what else...Pierre and his assistant was a fellow we picked up in Martinique named Jojo. I still remember the smells coming out of that galley and my Pavlov reaction. No matter how bad the weather was or how difficult the day, we all could count on a fabulous meal, even if we had to peg our plates down.
Same here. I was there too. It was awesome.
I live in Dallas, Texas. The French and the Texans have a lot in common. Both "countries" think they're the center of the universe and that their steak is the best in it. I found it somewhat amusing when a company I worked for invited its French employees to Dallas – they were typically French – they scoffed at the food, the clothing, the shelter and nearly everything else because it wasn't French. Oddly enough native Texans do the same thing. Now that I've insulted everyone enough I'll go back to thinking of Mackinac Island, my favorite place, a former – you guessed it – French outpost in the "wilderness".
I'm French and that is a funny post! No offense taken, because I can picture exactly what you're saying!
I was seriously bummed by the steaks in Texas. I grew up in Kansas which actually raises more beef than Texas and I grew up on a ranch that raised grass fed angus/hereford cross. And the favorite way to cook was flouring a tough cheap slice after tenderizing, and make a gravy out of the flour/grease combo after cooking the meat until it was gray. I had to move to California to get good steaks. I will give texas dibs on their beef rib BBQ though.
Grass fed beef is just friggin' AWFUL! I puked the first time I ate that garbage! Corn fed beef is the only way to go!
I can think of a lot of places to go get a killer steak that doesn't require me to mingle w/ French scum. I hate French people. I would't piss on France if they were all on fire. I don't even go to French Canadian provinces because I hate them so much. The French are cowardly, arrogant, ungrateful, and unsavory people....And they don't shower, to boot. Being dirty is the most disgusting human trait there is.....I heard France used to be inhabited by a herd pigs. One day the pigs offended a warlock who in turn cursed them all and turned them into French people.
"Being dirty is the most disgusting human trait there is....."
Really? I believe stupidity to be a much more heinous trait in humans.
So I'm guessing there will be no April in Paris for you?
Patrick, you must have learned everything you know about France from someone who hates as much as you do. Hate is such an easy emotion. You don't have to know anything to hate. In fact, it's usually much harder to hate when you do know take the time to learn. there is usually something to like.You don't have to like a country's politics to appreciate other things it has to offer, whether its art, cuisine, or any number of other things. Like people everywhere, i did find rude people in France, especially in Paris, but when I tried to speak the language ( and I did so very badly) people usually appreciated the effort and their attitudes changed.
Stop listening to your local politicians and your truck stop buddies and try getting out into the world. If you went to France for just 1 day you'd see how stupid what you're saying is
Kevin...very funny and very true. I think New Yorkers can be the same way. People are silly the world over.
I remember this place when we were n Paris in the early 70's, I also remember a place we ate at in Paris that housed a Panther on one side of the eatery and a leopard on the other. I don't remember the name of it, for a kid...that was pretty cool. The highlight of my life was going through Richmond, VA during the ealy 80's and stopping to see the Calypso docked there, a crewmember was still onboard and with my mom being French, we managed to get a private tour. I will always treasure my visits to Paris, Brittany, Monaco, & Dreux, maybe one day I will go back again.
How was a ship docked in Richmond? On the river? Seems odd.
On the James River, coming up from the Chesapeake Bay. The bigger question is exactly what happened with Jacques and Time Bandit's mom on that 'private' tour?? I bet he French Bakery'd her.
Great article! Steak frites is the best. I too have a lot of memories and nostalgia!
I'm originally from Monaco...and visited Musée Océanographique many time. I always think of your grand father's accomplishments when I go.
Thanks for sharing!
Bravo for being a "weekday vegetarian," but please consider that one (eating) individual's heritage is another (eaten) individual's horror. Savor your memories but let the animals live in peace.
"... and away we go!"
Amen. Obviously written by someone who doesn't realize these animals were bred for food consumption and that it is a documented fact that consuming animal protein was a key factor in the development of human intelligence.
I knew there would be some veggies causing an uproar about someone eating meat.
Thank you Ingrid E. Newkirk....
Did you know the human body cannot survive without B12 which is ONLY found in animal products. Hmmmm, seems like eating animal products is required by humans to survive. Have fun with your suppliments. It's called the food chain.
Eric.............try vitamins and mineral tablets...........you DON'T have to eat MEAT.......that is a cop out! You read too much and absorb very little........probably eat too much also! Are you fat by the way Mr Red Meat Houligan?
Moron....Cavemen didn't have a CVS around the corner where they could buy B12 supplements. If they had not eaten meat, mankind would be extinct. We are machines made for eating meat. We have teeth made especially for tearing and chewing flesh, and our digestive system is designed to break it down thoroughly. Now get of your vegetable truck and get me a bison steak. The only reason you friggin VAGI-tarians are so angry is because you're not getting the proper nutrition. You're chemicals are all discombobulated.
Actually B12 comes from a bacteria found in soil. The animals have B12 because they directly eat plants grown in soil. Crops grown for human consumption are in soil that has been antibacterialized and is full of pesticides so we don't get the B12 from plants the way that animals do. In other words, if we had just left the dirt the way it was we would be getting plenty of B12 from plants – humans are not made for eating meat.
@Edsr – Is that typical vegetarian behavior? Don't agree with someone's opinion, so you to resort insults and name calling. Shame!!
Really? Last time I checked, Incisors, cuspids, and bi-cuspids are designed to tearing and chewing meat. I don't think we'd be equipped w/ those tools just to tear into some lettuce, my friend. We are not carnivores or herbivores, we are omnivores. We are designed more like an opportunistic scavenger. We're designed to eat whatever we can find. we're not equipped w/ predatory tools to hunt, such as claws, and cat speed, but we are equipped w/ the capacity to reason and plan.
You're right, Patrick, we are designed to have the ability to eat meat only when crops are scarce (we are lucky enough to live in a time where plants are always available) which does in a way make us technically herbivores. However, our teeth are not designed as true meat eaters are. You would never be able to tear off flesh of a living animal with your teeth. Also, carnivores intestines are extremely short to aid in quick digestion while ours are not. It takes 8 hours or more for flesh to move through our system which is why your poo stinks. It is sitting for hours in a 98 degree cavity, rotting. I think it is clear with the health epidemics in our country that the standard american diet is not working. I invite you to watch Forks Over Knives (might be playing in a theater near you). You can take or leave the information, but it is a nice way to learn facts and statistics about how diet plays the largest role in our health. Obviously you have an opinion about how humans should eat and it is important to be armed with correct facts. Best of luck.
It would be interesting to know how many people who use the caveman, teeth structure, and B12 argument to show vegetarianism as unnatural are in monogamous relationships and/or marriages under an organized religion. How many of them got their wisdom teeth removed, get their hair cut regularly, or have gotten vaccines and taken antibiotics?
I eat meat, but saying to not eat meat is unnatural is illogical and ignorant to what human evolution is.
I take exception to your explanation of the human digestion system. All poo stinks – no matter what animal you're talking about. It stinks partly because of the necessary bacteria that develops when food is broken down. That bacteria aids digestion and builds up the immune system. But I digress. If you think meat eaters poo doesn't smell, you aren't standing close enough to them.
You are correct about getting "armed with the correct facts" (redundancy anyone?), and I offer that you become better educated in how & why the human digestive system operates. The extremely biased film your touting doesn't come close to covering all the facts.
Banks, if you want to talk technically, then we are called "omnivores", meaning that are capable of digesting both plants and animals.
Banks, i would just let the argument go. you are digging a deeper hole for yourself. We evolved as carnivores and later developed the ability to plant crops as a way to supplement our hunter and gatherer days. We are not technically herbivores. We are Omnivores. Stop it.
I prefer animals living in pieces- on my plate! Cooked to perfection. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!
And I'm a PETA Member! People for the Eating of Tasty Animals!
What a strange philosophy. In nature, everything eats everything else. Every death means life for something, every life means death for something. Energy travels in circles, leaving suffering beings in its wake. You are implicated in that from cradle to grave unless you've figure out how to live on fresh air and sand.
It's not the consumption of other living things that causes problems – it's the unwise, inhumane, industrial methods we use to raise or capture them. For example, it's not wrong to catch and eat fish. The only reason fish don't eat YOU is that you don't live in the water. But it is wrong to catch fish using gigantic factory ships and dredges that destroy entire ecosystems through physical damage and bycatch. Ask the Canadians what happened to the Grand Banks cod fishery. Insane.
The first sane remark I've heard here.
We eat mainly vegetarian but we don't need folks telling us to never eat animals. Look around the planet -animals are eating each other everywhere.
This was the only part of my trip to France (3 years ago) that was enjoyable. This restaurant was excellent. the food was well prepared, the atomosphere was pleasant, which was a stark change from the rest of my visit in Paris. If you have to be in France then I will highly recommend this restaurant to everyone.
To TwM- Sorry you had a bad time in Paris. You must have gone to all the wrong places. I have been three times. spent lots of time in many great art museums. Just walked around and found lots of lovely small parks/gardens.
Read Rick Steve's great book on Paris. Tips on avoiding Expensive hotels and restaurants and frequenting great little places where the natives dine. Learned the bus system which give a great and cheap tour of the city. The boat bus was cheap and hit all of the highlights. The best time is when we rented a small appartment and lived with the natives. The local boulangerie and vegitable stand owners got to know us and gave us a genuine cheerie "bon jour" each visit.
So forgoe the tourist traps and go native. You won't regret
i did exactly that and regret every second of it. Terrible. Go to Brussels, Berlin (or anywhere in Germany) or Italy, but I'll avoid France for the rest of my life. Awful people, awful sites, awful food, awful cities. awful, just awful.
@parissux– I'm not overly fond of Paris myself, but I love France. The atmosphere is calmer and more welcoming away from the capital. Even Paris is better during the "off" season–the locals aren't flooded with tourists and tend to be a bit more patient and friendly. I lived in the south of France for a year, which I loved, but you should know that Parisians have a reputation for being rude even among other French people. There's beautiful countryside to visit, nice small and medium sized towns and cities, and lots of good food at reasonable prices. If you ever go back, I hope you have a better time.
Exactly. Just recognize that these people are overrun every tourist season with jerks and try very hard not to be a jerk yourself. Stay away from all the high priced hotels, restaurants, and shops where they think it is their duty to hone rudeness to a sharp point. When a Parisian put on airs and displayed the rudeness they have a reputation for, we actually found it quite funny that they fell right into that hackneyed stereotype and laughed a lot at their expense (in a polite way, of course). As others have said, even French laugh at the airs and rudeness of Parisians, so just eat from the markets, stay in a pensione, and you will find the people much friendlier while you enjoy the unmatched beauty of one of Europe's greatest cities..
I agree with you I haven't had one unpleasant experience while visiting Paris. Just walking the streets bordering the Champs Elysees and Jardin Des Tuileries is magical to me. However, many people place stress upon themselves when traveling (overpacking, adhering to unrealistic schedules for sight-seeing etc). Upon reflection they might find it wasn't actually the place they visited that gave the bad experience. I'm a true Francophille and love the French and their culture and would like to one day live in Paris at least a for a few years. I highly recommend the Book"The discovery of France" written by Graham Robb, (Picador 2007) also a Francophile.
I love visiting France. I've stayed in Paris a dozen times or more. However, it must be said the the French are masters of the subtle insult. I remember having a waiter in a corner cafe pointedly use the very improper familiar tense with me many years ago - just not done. My spoken French is not so good, but I understand French very well and I'm very familiar with the formalities. I wonder how many of you "Francophiles" miss the anti-American, anti-tourist messages those jovial Parisians are slipping to you. I suppose it's better that you do.
@Vegetarian– I actually speak French quite well, and certainly did and do catch the subtle and not so subtle insults from some Parisians. But watch carefully– they are even more subtle and barbed when they insult each other. I try not to act the ugly American, and stay away from Paris during the high season. The French are proud nationalists and chauvenists about their food and culture. Understand that and just go with the flow. I've encountered rudeness in every country in Europe, but have also encountered great kindness and generosity in every country. Turkey is another good example– Turks are seriously nationalistic, but once you show some appreciation for their culture and achievements they are some of the most generous people on the planet. The French can be the same way.
Maybe you should go to Quebec.
People can have a bad time anywhere. My family just came back from Italy (Venice) and they were quite rude to Engish tourists, saying "speak italian" and "yankee go home" quite often. And the restaurants were attrocious. You can have a bad time anywhere, as Italy just prooved to me.
Venetians are known for being insular and snobbish. The city has lived off tourism since the days of the Grand Tour, and they are jaded. Go off the beaten track in Italy. Visit the small towns. Italy is one of the friendliest places I've travelled. I lived there for a year. I'd live there now if I could. It's wonderful.
I went to France last year. Spent a week in Paris. Had a great time walking around, watching people, places, just took it easy and enjoyed the sites and sounds, smells and tastes. The only rude person was in the Louvre. Most people were polite, friendly, helpful. Sorry I missed this restaurant. But I did visit many cafe's. You have to have an open mind when traveling abroad. I am sure when people come to the US they run into the same issues as we do traveling abroad. Pick up Rick Steves guide for France (as well as his others) and read it before you go and take it with you. Great resource.
I had just read about a scam in it and wouldn't you know, it happened to me... and I just walked away and laughed at the person because I was informed. Also take the time to learn basic phrases and carry a small pocket phrase book. I looked up many things before venturing out and was able to communicate much easier because I took the time to do this. The second week I was with a group in the south of France, and they kept asking me what things were on menus and signs because I seemed to know. Its all about your state of mind and approach to things.
Be adventurous and leave you chips on your shoulder at home where they belong.
This is one of my favorite restaurants, too, from when I lived in Paris several years ago!!! It's one of the addresses I give to all of my friends who go to visit, and everyone raves about it. It has an unusually communal feel for Paris– you sit cheek to jowl with strangers and often actually exchange a few words with them!! A couple of words for would-be visitors (assuming nothing has changed)– don't be deterred by the line, don't be put off by the fact that they ask you nothing except how you want your meat cooked, get the cheap house wine, and remember that there is a second round of steak and fries for everyone!! Finally, there is an impostor chain with a similar name– make sure you don't go there, it's not nearly as good!! I have an 8-year-old son and we've started planning his first trip to Paris– this is most definitely on the agenda!! I am going to be dreaming of that sauce all day now....
If the chain you mention is the one that has restaurants in Toulouse, Nantes... called L'Entrecôte then it is not an impostor. It was created by Paul Gineste de Saurs as well and is run by one of his children. It has the same menu, same recipe, same amazing profiteroles... so you can enjoy steak frites like at le relais de Venise in other places to not just in Paris.
... except at L'Entrecôte, at least the one in Toulouse, they stopped bringing the second round of steak some time in 2004 or 2005. Still all the frites you care to eat.
I also appreciate the fact that they have half bottles of the wines as I usually dine there alone.
bravo! i am anxious to try it!
When you do, take a pic, put it on YummyWar
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