Best Food Finds of 2012


There is a lot of buzz when a new restaurant opens in Paris—and then a year later, attention shifts to the new hotspot. Sure I love discovering new places, but I’m most interested in value and staying power.

Each time I go back to a favorite Paris eatery, I deepen my appreciation of food culture, note the changes, and if all is well, pass on the name.

Here’s a look back at last year’s food finds that continue to satisfy:

Le Buisson Ardent. Excellent food, and lovely atmosphere make this a place to linger.

Le Rubis. Going strong since 1946.

Creperie Beaubourg. A treat for any age, and fabulous on a sunny day.

Le Grand Pan. Out of the way, but worth the travel, especially for meat eaters.

Pipos Wine Bar. Imagine my surprise when this local hangout played a starring role in the quirky HBO movie Picture Paris!

Have you eaten at these eateries? Let us know what you thought!

Three Free, Fun Activities for Kids

The area around Centre Pompidou offers a trio of activities for kids, all of them are free. Plus, family friendly food at good prices.

First is the public space around Centre Pompidou. On nice days, Place Georges Pompidou, the sloped plaza in front of the national modern art museum, is filled with street performers—artists, musicians, mimes and more.

It’s a great place to relax while surrounded by young people of many nationalities. And the building’s inside-out architecture (the building is basically a huge glass box, punctuated by brightly painted pipes and tubes) appeals to kids of all ages.

Beside the museum, at one end of the plaza is Atelier Brancusi. Sculptor Constantin Brancusi arrived in Paris in 1904 after attending the Bucharest School of Fine Arts, and created most of his work in two Montparnasse studios. His second studio has been recreated down to the last detail—with Brancusi’s sculptures, photographs, and tools in place. Panels identify the objects, and admission is free for students and adults. Its size and layout make Atelier Brancusi fun and manageable for young artists.

On the other side of Centre Pompidou is the delightful fountain at Place Stravinsky, with its whimsical sculptures by Nicki de St Phalle and metal mobiles by Jean Tinguely. The fountain is a great backdrop for photos, and there are always a lot of happy kids running around, cooling off beside the sprays of water.

Hungry? Street vendors sell sandwiches and drinks; at the far end of the fountain is Crêperie Beaubourg. They make so many different sweet and savory crêpes that the menu fills a huge blackboard. (Click on the link above to see a video of crêpes being made there.)