Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Une question: How to celebrate your 40th birthday in Paris

Hi Amy, 
I will be traveling to Paris in March for my 40th Bday.  I have been there a couple of times and have stayed in the Latin Quarter.  My partner is coming with me and he has never been to Paris. (I’m so excited for him since he is a chef-he is going to love it.) Do you have any recommendations on where to stay? We are planning on renting an apartment but I don’t know which arrondissements to stay in. Also, if you have any recommendations on where to eat that would be great too!


If there are two things I love, and two things I love to lavish in, they’re birthdays and Paris. I’m thrilled to share some ideas!

First, where to stay. My top arrondissement picks would be the second, third and ninth, on the Right Bank and the fifth and sixth on the Left Bank. Any of these (indeed, any in city center) will make you feel right in the heart of everything. And you will be. In the heart of the city. Plus you’ll feel that inexplicable giddiness any time you leave and come “home” in these residential neighborhoods that are also conveniently close to so many landmarks, museums, restaurants, chocolatiers (essential) and transportation options. My friend Erica runs a wonderful company for short-term rentals called Haven in Paris.

Where to eat…where to eat? Where to begin?!

I would definitely consider a pricey but worth every centime lunch at Le Grand Vefour. It’s an experience I’ll never forget. The cheese cart alone is decadence of the highest caliber. But every gesture from the attentive staff, every brush against the historic red velvet banquettes, every delightful bite is a reminder of why the French have a reputation for indulging in true pleasures.

Similarly, I’d visit at least one of the grand hotels: maybe Four Seasons for breakfast, Le Meurice for a mid-day club sandwich, Le Royal Monceau for cocktails (or a bespoke Pierre Hermé millefeuille), the Mandarin Oriental for a spa treatment. Heck, why not do them all—you only turn 40 once!

I’ve never been, but I do hear great things about Le Jules Verne, up on the second level of the Eiffel Tower. If you want a memorable birthday dinner, that could be it. L’Astrance would be my other decadent pick.

As for the rest of your visit (i.e. coming back down to earth), here is a random (but bona fide delicious) assortment of restaurant ideas.

La Régalade Saint-Honoré (1e) is simply wonderful. Delicious food and a great value.

Au Vieux au Comptoir (1e) is a local favorite. No frills atmosphere. Warm staff. Heavy on the meats.

Chez Georges (2eme) is a cozy, old-timey bistro with a classic menu and atmosphere.

It would be fun for you to go to Verjus (1e) which is a cool little wine bar/restaurant founded by an American couple who started HiddenKitchen in Paris years ago. Though Braden didn’t go to cooking school, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone having as much fun and doing as impressive things as he is in the kitchen. (And his wife, Laura, is a doll.)

Le Verre Volé – this has been a happening little wine bar for many years now. Great cooking, situated right on the canal, which is a very trendy neighborhood. Not far away, you’ll find Le Chateaubriand, the bistro darling of international food disciples.

Chef Christian Constant has three very accessible and lovely restaurants over near the Eiffel Tower: Café Constant, Les Cocottes de Christian Constant and Le Violon d’Ingres. You’re guaranteed to have a great meal at any of them.

Of course it’s a must to pass some time at a café. Café Flore, Les Deux Magots, Café Palette, Chez Prune and Le Café de la Paix are all classics. You can also find a pedestrian street like rue Montorgueil, rue Cler or rue Buci, spattered with cute cafes, and just pick the spot that calls your name loudest.

Don't miss the markets for food inspiration and if you want to get your hands on some raw ingredients, check out La Cuisine for really fun cooking classes.
I feel like I could go on and on but I think this is a good place to begin. So is Meg Zimbeck's Paris by Mouth.

 Bon anniversaire! I'm very excited for your upcoming adventure!



  1. I celebrated my 40th birthday in Paris in December with a sumptuous luncheon at the Jules Verne (a lot more affordable than dinner!) Every dish and wine was absolute perfection, and the service was impeccable! They even moved us to a window table for dessert when one became available! They brought us complimentary macarons, home-made truffles and violet-flavoured marshmallows with dessert, and even gave us two bags of scrumptious Jules Verne madeleines to go (a special attention usually reserved to the ladies:)

    This was my husband's first visit to the Eiffel tower and he got to enjoy the views from the second floor without having to wait in line for hours thanks to the private elevator:)

    It was a wonderful experience and I highly recommend it!

  2. Such a good guide, Amy! I hope you'll swing by Paris for my 40th (or even, 30th!)

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  4. I am glad that you shared about this wonderful party here. I will be turning 40n in December and very excited about that. Even have started planning and thinking to book an event space NYC to host a grand party.

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