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Following the Gourmand Trail, Part Deux

Part Deux takes us from the inimitable Pierre Gagnaire just around the corner to the classic Taillevant, and on down the Faubourg St. Honoré past Le Bristol to Alain Senderens and finally, the Pavillion Ledoyen.

Waiting for the guests
Taillevant, 8ème, **
Granted it's first Michelin star in 1948, just 2 years after opening its doors, Taillevant has been the barometer for fine French cuisine since then.  Always classic, the restaurant has moved three times, achieved a three-star status, and currently resides inside an 19th century townhouse on rue Lamennais.  The history of the restaurant is rich; once occupying the former embassy of Paraguay, opening Les Caves Taillevent and L'Angle du Faubourg, and the eventual loss of one star in 2007.  Chef Thomas Keller also spent some time behind the stoves here before moving on to New York in the mid-80's.  Chef Alain Solivérès is the current master of the kitchen, and the cuisine is still considered some of the finest in the city; the experience of a lunch or dinner tasting at Taillevant is unparalleled, and always highly recommended.

The Famous Bakery
You'll then find yourself near the Rue du Faubourg St. Honoré, a perfect excuse to promenade down this famous route, and you can see the gradual transition from sleepy art galleries and antique shops to designer chocolatiers, patisseries, and finally, Hermès (the original saddler opened here in 1880).  You'll also pass by one of the city's most celebrated hotel properties, Le Bristol, where our 6th top restaurant lies.
At 749€ a night, why wouldn't you check in?
Le Bristol, 8ème.  ***
In the decadent hotel that opened in April 1925, right along the Rue Faubourg St. Honoré and Avenue Matignon.  The hotel and it's eponymous restaurant were named for the Count de Bristol, a famous British traveler who was renowned for his splendid taste of all things luxurious and refined.  But it's history as a hotel dates all the way back to 1829, known then as the Vogüé Hôtel, named for the Count Charles de Vogüé.  Today, the hotel is just as resplendent as it most likely was at the turn of the century, in part due to a grand restoration that was just completed in 2011.

Originally founded 1880.
Continuing down the Fbg St. Honoré, you'll pass the grand ateliers that made the this street their home as early as 1880 (Hermès, Lanvin) to the early 20th century pioneers of Parisian haute couture (Chanel, Balenciaga, Pierre Cardin, Rochas, Christian Lacriox).  At Rue Royale, turn left to walk past Gucci up to the Place du Madeleine.  At this picturesque place (and one of my top 3 Places in Paris), you'll see our 7th restaurant on the list.

Alain Senderens, née Lucas Carton.
Alain Senderens, 8ème, **
Formerly the famous Lucas Carton restaurant, Chef Alain Senderens, a founding father of 'Nouvelle Cuisine', took over ownership in 2005 where he renamed it, and kept the cuisine as hot as it was when he began cooking there in 1985.  Famously, he claims to have returned the three stars the restaurant earned as Lucas Carton when it was relaunched, claiming that he "could not charge an affordable price for meals while keeping up the standards Michelin required." He has apparently not lost his magic touch, as the restaurant now boasts two stars.  Even if the prix fixe menu of 100€ is too much, there is the fantastic Bar Passage du Senderens, the entrance inside an adjacent arcade, and a dining room above the main restaurant with a lovely leafy view of the Place du Madeleine.  The tasting menu, although smaller, is just as carefully designed and presented as I would assume it's done downstairs. Flavors pop, and reflect the seasons perfectly.  A great way to experience the great cuisine of Chef Senderens, at an even smaller fraction of the price of his already modestly priced menu.

Dejeuner à la Passage Senderens
Heading down towards the Place de la Concorde and the Seine, along the rue Royale, you'll pass the splendid façade of Maxim's, with the heavy burgundy-colored velvet drapes and intricate gilded Belle Epoque details. I've only been in to enjoy a Kir Royale at Le Petit Maxim's next door, but hope to return someday for the full show.  Head to the right of the Concorde, to pass in front of the grand Hôtel Crillion, to the left of the Espace Pierre Cardin, and across the Champs-Elysées.  You'll discover the last stop on the Gourmand Trail, Ledoyen.

Maxim's:  The Gift Shop
Christofle, rue Royale
Ledoyen, 8éme, ***
Established in 1791, this is Paris's oldest restaurant.  The history and impact of this restaurant on French cuisine through the centuries is palpable the minute you come face to face with the Pavilion.  With the ornate gilded and crystal-encrusted decor, lush landscaping, and million-dollar view of the Jardins des Champs-Elysées and the Place de la Concorde, it is no wonder why the nobility and the royalty of France came to this spot to dine (as well as artists and literary luminaries).  But at the same time, it does not overpower or intimidate you.  It seems you have been invited to a fabulous dinner party at a friend's estate in the countryside (who happens to be the Emperor).

The magnificent Ledoyen
Although I can imagine the interior to be just as 'contemporary' for the 18th century as the façade, I'm sure the dishes have undergone some sort of wonderful transformations in their time.  And although not the 'Nouvelle Cuisine' that seems to be de régulier at most of the top restaurants in Paris, the Guy Savoy's and Alain Senderens and Pierre Gagnaire's of France had to gain inspiration from somewhere.  Perhaps this is one of the places.

Est. 1792
It's a perfect way to end the tour of some of Paris's cherished gastronomic palaces.  And now, for my reward:  off to Eric Kayser bakery for a café, a galette du citron, and a fresh baguette for the morning.  Some chefs claim it's the best bread in Paris (for others, it's Pôlaine...more on that debate later), but at 4,40€, this is one of the 'Best Of's' that I can actually afford!

Mmmmm...Eric Kayser pastries.  And the Galettes du Roi!

Bon appétit, et a la prochaine!

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