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DINING IN PARIS: TERMINOLOGY OF EATERIES

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One might find oneself sitting in a café, assuming it’s a bistro, across the street from a brasserie, while folks at the next table are discussing the Beaujolais sampled at a bistro-a-vins (wine bar) the previous evening.
What does it all mean? Just like in America, where one can choose between coffee shops, delicatessens and restaurants, eateries in Paris have distinctive qualities. Knowing them can act as a guide towards more satisfying gastronomic experiences.

Cafes Of Paris
There are thousands of them in the city. They beckon, inviting one to sit and read a book while enjoying a coffee or a pot of hot chocolate, a salad or a tartine (open-faced sandwich). Friends meet here, locals read the paper.

In decent weather, seats may be taken outside, great for people-watching ,and the atmosphere is casual and leisurely. Tired feet come to rest awhile.

Cafes are a great place to stop and take stock of your morning, your day, your life. They are woven into the fabric of Paris. No reservations or fancy dress required. Just take a seat and enjoy.

Bistros And Wine Bars (Bars Au Vins) Of Paris
Bistros serve homey food paired with limited production wines generally in an atmosphere that is intimate and informal.

Whereas a café is a place you drop yourself to rest and linger, a bistro offers interesting selections of regional wines and dishes prepared to go specifically with them. A cheese plate, charcuterie, perhaps a fragrant beef stew or fruit pie hot from the oven. Bistros can be found in chic, trendy neighborhoods, or on the bustling side streets of working-class Paris.

Get a local’s recommendation and you won’t be disappointed.

Brasseries of Paris
Brasseries are traditionally representative of the region of Alsace.

Beer and sausages? A Baba Rhum dessert at Le Train Bleu? Large, ornate, open very late for post-cinema dinners, festive and flamboyant.

When most restaurants are closing, the brasseries are just getting started. .

Brasserie energy is kicked-up while the décor is delectably Old Paris.

Restaurants of Paris
Restaurants vary in size and sophistication. Many require reservations, and a smattering of the most popular, are best booked way in advance. Some are small, family-owned establishments taking great pride in the menu, service and ambiance.

Others are decadent, aristocratic bastions of nouvelle cuisine. Restaurants are showcases for the talented chef and vie for the coveted Michelin star.

They are serious business and can cost a small fortune, although great meals can be found in more humble surroundings at a reasonable price, if you know where to go. The hotel concierge usually has a favorite restaurant or two up his sleeve. Or ask a local for a recommendation. Restaurants are generally formal, serious dining experiences, while bistros and cafes are more relaxed and less intimidating.



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