Paris with Anthony Bourdain

December 05, 2013

“My plan is this: I’m gonna eat some f*ing cheese and I’m gonna get drunk and…you are always guaranteed to have a really good time.”

When I heard the intro to this episode of The Layover with Anthony Bourdain, I knew it was going to be good. If you can overlook a few erroneous factoids and Bourdain’s less-than-perfect French accent, he is absolutely spot on.

Layover A Bourdain

How many videos of Paris’s tourist sites and landmarks have we seen? I am sure there are 10s of thousands out there. But Bourdain has the guts to tell the truth about Paris, essentially: “It’s entirely possible to have a bad time.” He continues to plead, “Please don’t do that….Please make the most of it by doing as little as possible.”

What Bourdain is saying is don’t think you have to pack every last site into your visit. “Forget Notre Dame,” he says. If you want to cram it all in, aim to cram in lots of food and drink, interspersed with lots of walking, but not landmarks. Or at least minimize the dedicated landmark time (Bourdain reluctantly allots 7 minutes to Notre Dame in the end).

And don’t just hit up the touristy restaurants and cafés. Venture out to some of the up and coming neighborhoods–which generally have the added benefit of being cheaper.

A number of Bourdain’s favorites are also some of my favorites:

  • Rue Montorgueil and its market in the 2nd arrondissement
  • The Marché des Enfants Rouges in the 3rd arrondissement, he oldest covered market in Paris
  • Au Passage, a newer restaurant in the 11th arrondissement
  • Petit Fer à Cheval, a 120-year old bar/restaurant in the 4th arrondissement
  • E. Dehillerin and its amazing array of kitchen gadgets (1st arrondissement)
  • La Palette for drinks in the 6th arrondissement

He mentioned a few spots I’d love to try:

  • Bistrot Paul Bert in the 11th arrondissement
  • Septime in the 11th arrondissement
  • Du Pain et des Idées (bakery) in the 10th arrondissement (and in particular their escargot–a bread product, don’t worry–with cherries and pistachios)
  • The Cantine California food truck (though clearly Bourdain has never been to Anahuacalli in the 5th arrondissement if he thinks this food truck serves “the only decent Mexican food in Paris.”)
  • Le Dome‘s seafood platter (14th arrondissement)–who wouldn’t want to try it after seeing his pure delight in devouring it despite his PTMD (post traumatic mime disorder)?
  • Urfa Dürüm, a Kurdish sandwich shop in the 10th arrondissement
  • Le Baratin restaurant in Belleville (19th arrondissement)

Though Bourdain’s beloved blood sausage macaroons I’m happy to skip….

I highly recommend this video, particularly for the foodies among you. You can practically taste the food along with Bourdain. I would go as far as to say it’s required viewing for anyone planning a trip to Paris in the near future, and certainly for anyone planning a shorter or first visit to the city. His no-nonsense style (for example, his description of the “obligatory must-have if-you-don’t-order-it-you’re-f*ing-nuts cheese plate”) is refreshing and allows for one of the few honest Paris accounts I’ve seen.

So go ahead. On your next trip to Paris, try planning your visit around your food and drink goals. Map out your daily itineraries based on where you want to eat and drink, and you won’t be disappointed. And if you walk from one stop to another, you are guaranteed to have a fantastic stay.

“Food fads will come and go but hearty, delicious foods, rooted in the classics–one can only hope–is timeless.”


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