By Sophie Gayot
Desirous to relax a little bit and enjoy Paris after one of those tense world leaders meetings, Bill Clinton asked former French President Jacques Chirac where he could have a nice, cool, simple dinner in a Parisian bistro. Chirac, who is known for his robust appetite and his love for calf’s head, can be considered among other things as a reliable source of information for restaurants. So he sent Bill to L’Ami Louis, known for being a fortress of bistro fare with generous portions. Records say Bill was happy.
Last week, when President Obama visited France and its new President Nicolas Sarkozy on the occasion of the anniversary of D-Day, after all the razzledazzle of the official receptions and functions, he was in the same mood as his predecessor. He chose to skip the proposed traditional—and probably boring—banquet at the Palais de l’Elysée and take his Saturday night off. He, too, wanted a bistro as bistroish as possible with no frills and just plain food. Who tipped him off about La Fontaine de Mars where he ended up was not disclosed. Probably not Sarkozy, who rather digs for the upper end of French gastronomy such as chef Eric Fréchon‘s offerings at Le Bristol close to l’Elysée or the very “people-oriented” Champs-Elysées Fouquet’s.
Was La Fontaine de Mars really a good choice? This somewhat trendy eatery in the 7th arrondissement serves basic bistro fare to chic people on checked tablecloths at relatively affordable prices, at least for this posh part of the town. There’s not much more to say about its culinary merits. The place belongs to a family from the Southwest. Albert Boudon and family also own three other bistros in Paris, responding astutely to the contemporary public quest for simplicity. However, they also run the more sophisticated Café de l’Alma.
For a leg of lamb and île flottante for dessert, the President’s tab amounted to €300. That’s $105 per person (including 15% service charge). OK, but a tad high for a bistro. You can find better deals on our Paris site, especially at our value restaurants.
Mister President, with all due respect, may we suggest you to ask Michelle to check our website prior to your next trip to Paris and pick the right restaurant for you?