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There’s no filter on that photo, the sky was actually that colour.  Views like that are one of the many reasons why people fall in love with Paris.  My recent meal at La Maison got me thinking about my wonderful trip to Paris last year.  Last spring, we had the pleasure of visiting Paris for a long weekend.  I had been many times but on a back-packer’s budget.  My boyfriend had never been, so I was dying to show him around and to see how much he’d adore it, as I knew he would.  We were lucky enough to stay in a gorgeous boutique hotel in the Saint-Germain-des-Pres area, Hotel La Belle Juliette.  It was the perfect place to stay, in a great area, on a street that had plenty of lovely cafes, tabacs, bars and antique shops, perfect for moseying through on a quiet afternoon.

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Our room, Hotel La Belle Juliette

Our room was small but perfectly formed, decorated in a classic French style, with smoky grey and dark purple walls.  They really make the most out of their space in Paris hotels, and our room had plenty of storage, and a slimline console table with an iMac that doubled as a TV.  Our tiny bathroom even had a proper bath squeezed in, complete with very nice toiletries.

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Hotel La Belle Juliette

The hotel itself is fairly big, with a funky bar and lounge downstairs, and a cool spa in the basement.  It’s the kind of hotel I can’t wait to go back to. Breakfast was great, with a good selection of buttery croissants, danishes, pain au chocolat and mini baguettes, along with freshly squeezed juices and good coffee.

It was absolutely freezing for the four days we were in Paris, so we didn’t want to have to travel too far in the evenings for dinner.  After searching online for some popular bistros nearby, I found Chez Dumonet, which happened to be on our street.  By all accounts, it is one of the best restaurants in Paris if you are looking for a traditional French bistro experience.

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Josephine “Chez Dumonet”.   Image credit: Zagat/Markel Redondo

It’s the kind of place you would probably walk straight past, because it was a bit dingy on the outside.  But I am so glad I found this place, as it turned out to be the highlight of our trip.  It was without doubt one of the best meals of my life!  We arrived at around 9pm without a reservation, on a Saturday night.  This was probably a mistake, as the place was packed with locals.  Our waiter was very friendly and told us he couldn’t guarantee us a table, but if we wanted to wait at the bar for 20 or 30 minutes, one might become free then.  He gave us a free glass of very good white wine, and we squeezed ourselves in towards the almost non existent bar.  Luckily a table became available, but it was for 4 people, and we had to share with another couple who had also walked in off the street.  Later we were moved to our own table, but we really didn’t mind either way.  Trust me, this place is worth eating on your lap if need be!

I had the Sole Meuniere and my boyfriend had some sort of paté to start. They were delicious, but the real stars of the show were the mains, especially the Boeuf Bourguignon that my other half ordered.  It came out in its own little pot, and it looked and smelled like it had been cooking away for days.  We later found out that it had!  It was a giant portion, more than enough to share.  And it was incredible, with such depth of flavour.  I ordered the Duck Confit, one of my favourite dishes.  It was servied on a pile of deep golden, crispy potatoes that had been cooked in the duck fat.  It was the most delicious, melt in your mouth duck confit I’ve ever tasted!!  We were in heaven.  So much so that we must have forgotten to take any photos of the main courses.  I’m kicking myself now, but oh well.

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Inside Josephine “Chez Dumonet”. Image credit: Zagat/Markel Redondo

Our waiter suggested a French red wine to accompany our meal, but I can’t remember what it was now.  Whatever it was, it was just right.  Everything about this meal was just right.  If you’ve ever seen the Pixar film Ratatouille, I imagine that the restaurant in this film served food like this.  It was the very best meal of our trip.  You could tell most of the customers were regulars, and had a great rapport with the staff.  I never get this stereotype of the snotty Parisian, because most of the ones I’ve met have been lovely.

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Chocolate Fondant with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce

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Grand Marnier Soufflé

I ordered a chocolate fondant dessert and it was suitably melting in the middle.  My boyfriend ordered an orange soufflé with Grand Marnier, which again could’ve easily served 2 people.  It was served with a glass of Grand Marnier, which our waiter explained could be poured into the souffle or sipped with the dessert.   He couldn’t finish the liqueur though so I was happy to help!   Our waiter also insisted we try a very special  Armagnac, from a gigantic bottle, which was delicious and strong enough to warm me up before we headed back out into the freezing night.

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The huge bottle of Armagnac

By the end if the meal, we were suitably stuffed to the gills, and lucky we only had to walk a few doors down to our lovely hotel.  I cannot emphasise enough how amazing this meal was.  It was as special a meal as you could hope for, and I don’t think you’ll find a more authentic Parisian bistro experience anywhere else.  I’m looking forward to the day when I get to go back to Rue du Cherche-Midi and try some more of their wonderful dishes.

Joséphine “Chez Dumonet”

117 Rue du Cherche-Midi,

75006 Paris

Tel +33 1 45 48 52 40

www.chezdumonet.com

 

Hotel La Belle Juliette

92 rue du Cherche Midi

75006 Paris

Tel +33 1 42 22 97 40

www.hotel-belle-juliette-paris.com

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