Thursday, 15 September 2011

Paris - Where to eat on Sundays and Mondays in Paris

It doesn't come much better than spending a long weekend scooting around the streets of Paris on a velib, knowing there's a big, glorious plate of steak frites waiting for you at the end of it. The only problem is that all those restaurants you've been adding to your "must eat at" list are closed because it's a Sunday or a Monday, or because it's August. So here's a list of good places we went this recent long weekend, all (except one) of which are open while the rest of the Paris restaurant scene has its feet up.

If you only have time to read about one of these, skip right on down to Au Passage.

Saturday lunch: Drouant

Pluma de pata negra and pork belly

I have to congratulate TPG for this one, which turns out to be the find of all finds. AND it's open every day - this would be the perfect Sunday lunch in Paris.

The restaurant is in a beautiful, oh so Parisian building with huge, sunlight catching windows looking out through the greenery onto a stone statue and a quiet culdersac near the Opera.

While the mains may be priced for kings (at €30 each generally), they are exquisite, of the "I will never forget you my dear pork belly and will talk about you for years to come" variety. Generous pieces of rich, grilled and juicy pluma de pata negra are only topped by the towering, crispy chunk of pork belly wobbling beside them. This plate is full fat and then some, and so decadently divine you will savour every mouthful. Roast guinea fowl is equally heavenly, bursting with flavour and soaking up the perfect savoury gravy.

Mains come with colourful pots of vegetables - scrumptious, sweet and vinaigry tomato salad, al dente provencal vegetables and potato salad. They're replenished if you Hoover them all up.

Sublime strawberry, pistachio and custard tart

So maxed out were we, that we decided to share the dessert of red berries with vanilla ice cream - until we saw them cut up the strawberry, pistachio and custard tart and decided we had to have some of that too. We ended up with a huge piece which we devoured to the last crumb - head in the clouds good.

If only fine dining restaurants in London could price their wines as well - €7 for each glass of the most luscious whites and reds from Burgundy, Bordeaux and beyond. Service was excellent.

There are no tourists, and the room was only sparsely frequented (so lacking a boisterous atmosphere) at lunch, although apparently booked out for dinner. The room looks quite formal - white table cloths, well spaced tables etc - but the service is friendly and smiley, you feel instantly at ease and able to enjoy the wonderful food with the full merriment and gusto it deserves.

Drouant 16-18, place Gaillon. F-75002 Paris (2nd arrondissement) Tél : +33 1 42 65 15 16,

Saturday dinner: Neva

Poached egg in fried potato

Neva is the new kid on the Parisian restaurant block (and the only restaurant is this post which is not open on Sundays or Mondays). The vibe is modern, relaxed and fun, the crowd is mostly stylish 30 somethings and the food is beautifully presented, a surprise often hidden in one of the many layers of flavour.

My plump little ravioli containing bundles of shrimp were nestled in a gorgeous summery sauce of beetroot and ginger.  A gooey poached egg was shrouded in a finely shredded web of delicate fried potato, which looked like the pastry on a greek dessert ("kataifi"). It spilled onto a creamy potato base. Excellent mains of entrecote with bone marrow and potato rosti, and fleshy fish (I've forgotten which type) with butter beans, diced tomato and chorizo in a sweet, creamy sauce were rich and filling. The fanciful desserts are amazing. Don't miss the melting chocolate sphere surprise (we did - they had sold the last one, but we watched it dissolve at the table next door). There's also a fun strawberry fairy floss and gold leaf number, and a mango, coconut cream, meringue and banana dessert with just the right amount of popping candy to bring a smile to the inside of your mouth.

Ravioli with shrimp, beetroot and ginger

Prices are reasonable too - €36 for the 3 course dinner menu (choose anything from the a la carte list). And the wines by the glass, as is fairly standard for Paris, are well priced (around €7 per glass) and good quality. Service is busy but unfussy and friendly. We had a couple of small errors eg. the wrong wine was served - a dessert wine rather than the Bordeaux to accompany the steak - compounding my gripe that they don't pour it at the table and show you the bottle. But it was quickly replaced and there were no major dramas apart from the lovely ones on the plate.

Neva, 2 rue de Berne (corner of rue de Saint Petersbourg), 8th, Tel. 01-45-22-18-91. Metro: Europe or Liège. Open Monday-Friday for lunch and dinner. Saturday dinner only. Closed Sunday, but open Monday. Closed from August 6-August 22. Prix-fixe lunch menu 29 €, three-course menu 36 €, a la carte approx €50 per head.

Sunday lunch - Boucherie Rouliere

This is a fabulous, old school little bistro with black and white chequered floors and family portraits on the walls - and right in the middle of the trendy cafes and boutiques of St Germaine. It has the history of 5 generations of Rouliere family butchers who know what they're doing when it comes to their steak frites and bone marrow. I had the tender, juicy fillet which was as good as anything I've had at London's posh steak joints at €24, with a decent portion of hot, crispy, thick perfecto chips. TPG's lamb roti with mushrooms was also superb (€18.50). A new favourite place.

We were the only tourists in a place where the regulars are greeted with kisses. Next time I'm trying the ravioli with truffles as well. Thanks to ex-Parisian Londoner, @hamishjcameron (go on, give him a follow), for the tip.

Boucherie Rouliére, 24 rue des Canettes, 6th arrondisement (+33 1 43 26 25 70) Métro Mabillon. Meal for two with wine and service: around €30 per head.

Sunday dinner: Paris Hanoi

The enticing smell of Vietnamese grilled chicken and beef pho wafting down our street had our heads turning to see the long queues forming outside Paris Hanoi each night. After a couple of days of pigging out on rich French fare, some fresh and zingy Vietnamese is just the thing to cut through it and revive the arteries in preparation for the next day of getting back on the horse. And there's a reason they queue outside Paris Hanoi - big, colourful bowls of lovely, fresh chicken salad with coriander and mint at €9 each are devoured by the throngs in a small, dark and funky setting. Sauteed prawns and vegetables are good too, and the crisp spring rolls come with a heaped platter of salad. Don't go out of your way for it, but a really good option if you're reasonably local. (Unfortunately, they don't do banh mi).

Paris Hanoi, 74, rue de Charonne, 75011, Paris (11th arrondissement), open every day 12-2.30pm and 7-10.30pm. Tel: 01 47 00 47 59.

Monday morning coffee and croissant:

Coffee at Pause

Try the gorgeous Maison Karrenbauer and Chez Paul next door. Totally cute. Just up the road, also on Rue du Charonne, Pause is a funky cafe with lots of tables on the pavement for people watching.

Maison Karrenbauer and Chez Paul, 13 rue de Charonne, (11th arrondissement)

Monday lunch: Au Passage

Calamari marinated in citrus and ginger - to die for

Au Passage opened only 2 months ago, with Aussie chef James Henry (formerly of Cumulus Inc in Melbourne and Spring in Paris) at the helm. Just go. Awesome, awesome, awesome.


Beef tartare

It's super casual and easy going, with an eclectic, vintagey, wine bar feel and the lunch time menu is short but wonderful. Select from 1 course for €9.50, 2 courses €13/ €16.50 or 3 for €19.00. On the first mouthful, you know this is bargain of the century - in our case, upon first bite of the luscious soft and creamy calamari marinated in a zingy citrus and ginger dressing. Next up, the best beef tartare I've had, the silky chunks of beef seasoned and garnished with chopped cornichons, radish, salt, onion and lambs lettuce. My lightly seared tuna is equally lush, accompanied by a gorgeous, sweet piperade with just the right hit of chorizo cooked through it to add depth and ensure addiction.

Tuna with piperade

If we were not already James Henry disciples by now, all it would have taken is the roast peach with creme cru a la vanille and slithers of almond to sign us up. The amazing, rare little peaches tasted like the finest pure apricots, and the chef enthusiastically ran downstairs to grab us a fresh one each to taste.

Apricotty tasting peaches with creme cru a la vanille

James Henry is not only an extraordinary, "hot shot" young chef, but it turns out he's also an absolutely lovely, unassuming guy - his first day off since the restaurant opened and he was sitting next to us testing everything the kitchen was up to, and making sure things were fine tuned, in between pouring through recipe books. This guy is totally passionate and does very good things with food.

At night Au Passage gets even more creative with an extensive menu of bargainous small plates to choose from. Wines are biodynamic and about €4 per glass. Bonus. Did I mention you should go?

Au Passage, 22 Cour des Petites Ecouries, 75010, Paris (10th arrondissement), Tel: 014 40 22 07 97, Metro: Chateau D'eau/Bonne Nouvelle. Yes, it's open on Sundays and Mondays.

Others places you could go on Sundays or Mondays in August: Chez Janou (open Mondays, but closed Sundays), the new bar at Frenchies (open Mondays, but close Sundays), Breizh for crepes (open Sundays, closed Mondays), Brasserie Lipp (open on both Sundays and Mondays).

Where to stay:
We stayed at Hi Matic, a reasonably priced, funky, "design" hotel which opened in April 2011 in the 11th arrondissement, right across the road from the restaurant Septime (with some desperation, we could see Septime from our bedroom window, but it was booked out during our stay - it looks super fun).

The hotel has an urban, contempory style following an ecological philosophy and was designed by Matali Crasset, who created the Le Nouvel Odeon cinema in Paris. It won't be for everyone, but it's something a bit creative and different for the cost conscious traveller who doesn't need a concierge but wants to stay in a great area.

Rooms are small but the storage and design are clever [Update: we stayed again in Ocotber 2011 in a different room which was so poky and dark it was frustrating and we decided we couldn't do it again - it's one for budget short stays when you need somewhere to sleep only]. The futon mattress fold ups into wooden structures, there's a well placed desk for your laptop, a flat screen TV, iPod doc, free WiFi and some kind of screen thingie to communicate with other rooms if you want to. The bathroom and shower (complete with REN bath products) do not leave much to your partner's imagination - they're right there in your face - and despite the funky, colourful trappings, there remains something of a hostel-like feel to the place. Perhaps that's the point - there's also self check in and vending machines with extra soaps, maps and travel guides.

Hi Matic is in a really fun neighborhood - on the tres cute Rue de Charonne with lots of nice cafes, restaurants and clothes boutiques. It's a short velib ride to the Marais. An organic breakfast included, from €110 per night.

 Hi Matic hotel, 71 rue de Charonne, 75011, Paris (11th arrondissement), Tel: 01 43 67 56 56.

Here are my previous blog posts about places to eat and things I love to do in Paris: here (Passage 53), here (Le Chateaubriand)here (general) and here (2009 highlights).

Here's some links to some other tips for Sundays and Mondays in Paris:
Sunday and Monday closures:
What to do on Sundays:

Paris by Mouth and David Lebowitz's blog are also excellent resources for all things Paris.


  1. Thanks for the shout out! Glad you enjoyed Rouliere so much, easily one of my faves in Paris.

  2. Great post - we're heading there in November for long weekend, so this is will make perfect reading! Starting to get excited - but 4 days is never enough à Paris!

  3. This post has made me want to go to Paris now! That hotel looks bonkers, but if it's reasonably priced I guess it leaves you more money to spend on food :-)

  4. I like this post very much, and now am eager to try Au Passage when I'm in Paris next week. Thanks!

  5. Super helpful post GD - so I am on my last trip to Paris this weekend (sob!) with parentals in tow - which one besides Au passage is the best? And which most parent friendly (ie not too experimental) ?

  6. Hi GC - Awh, BIG SOB! Have the greatest time! Boucherie Rouliere sounds like the safest bet (it's very cute, very French and fab steaks). My parents LOVED dinner at Chez Janou (great atmosphere late at night - make it a late dinner) and also Bofinger. Chez George and Brasserie Lipp (the latter a bit touristy, but the room is fabulous, and it's fun) are also good parental options.

  7. Brilliant- thank you! Heading back to Paris for my 30th in November. Can't wait to try Au Passage and some of these others... even more excited now (if that was possible)

  8. Diya.. Useful one. to your note, while traveling to Paris, you can have some special offers,unbelievable, on food by booking at Dinner Deals


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