Where to eat near Notre Dame? That is a question that has puzzled tourists for decades — perhaps centuries. There are many choices, most of them bad. The prospects get better if you cross the river and put some distance between yourself and the cathedral.
On the right bank, we had a couple of nice dinners at Coude Fou, on Rue Bourg-Tibourg, right near our apartment. Coude Fou, by the way, translates loosely as “crazy elbow,” which suggests energetic drinking. It is a very cheerful place, with pleasant paintings evoking a wry conviviality.
Here’s the dinner carte:
As I recall — it’s been a while, now — I had the asparagus followed by the skate once and the marinated salmon and the lotte with chorizo the other time. I really enjoyed both.
If you don’t want to sit down for a full meal, go a few blocks farther to L’As du Fellafel on Rue de Rosiers. There will be a line, but it moves quickly. An employee moves down the line taking orders (ask for the special) and payment, so that when you get to the window they only ask, “Spicy?” The correct answer is, “Oui.” It isn’t very spicy, so fear not. They hand you a pita packed to the brim with felafel and eggplant covered with a tahini sauce and some julienned vegetables which added a nice texture, all impaled with a fork so that you can manage to eat it with a trace of dignity.
L’As du Felafel is almost certainly recommended in your guidebook, and for once it will be spot-on. You’ll love it, as I did. Nancy did not get one, but held it while I photographed it and was happy to see how pleased I was with it.
Close to Notre Dame, on a Wednesday or Saturday you can fix a picnic from the market at the Place Baudeyer (there’s a pleasant pedestrian walkway by the Elise Saint-Gervais. Go away from the crowds and take the Pont Saint Louis and the Pont Louis Philippe, and you’ll see it.)
Pictured are a slice of country pate, camembert, and bread: a simple and delicious lunch. On Saturdays there is a wide selection of prepared foods there. The paella was very tempting.
We didn’t eat on the left bank this trip, but we’ve had excellent meals at Le Reminet, http://www.lereminet.com, and Allard, http://www.restaurant-allard.fr/en. Le Reminet has gotten pricey since we ate there — I think they had a €45 formula at lunch. Allard has very good traditional foods. I still remember a long lunch of pate, cassoulet, and a plate of cheeses. Allard is now in the very capable hands of Alain Ducasse and, especially with a €34 formule, is a good deal at lunch, especially since you won’t have to eat again for several days.