Subject: Re: Travel Planning Question / France
Hi Lidia,

Gee, I'm concerned about making such suggestions after some people's expectations not being met (Just teasing Megan. As a fellow Aussie, I'm allowed. Actually I enjoyed reading your likes and dislikes - loved your descriptions).

So Lidia here I go bravely opening my big mouth again. Remember these are cheap eats, high cuisine they're not.

You'll probably be in the vicinity of the Pompidou centre - over the road to this museum is an outlet of the chain of cafeteria style restaurants called Flunch. I was going to compare it with CircusCircus meals in Las Vegas but not nearly the choice. However the word cafeteria is probably doing it an injustice. Let's see if I can remember a sample meal; Penelope had a pasta meal while I had a large seafood salad set in a basket made from Taco shells. We both had dessert and shared a carafe of house wine. Cost for both of us 16 euros. Penelope just called our to say, Think Sizzler as far as choice was concerned.

The family restaurant is near the metro station; Oberkampf. It is called Au Trou Normand at 9 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud. (We found it from Lonely Planet). Also on this street is a small supermarket;Franprix. It doesn't have a large range of prepared salads never-the-less we found it great for picnic ingredients.

Back to the restaurant. Think small. Think crowded. I recommend it as a place for dinner party conversation when you get home. Imagine a small shop and fill it with basic tables and chairs. Exit the door and challenge your partner to double the furniture. Okay, but remember they've also somehow fitted a bar and kitchen. Now when you enter the restaurant, even if half the tables are empty you'll be asked to share a table with another couple. Protests are ignored in the nicest possible way - a smile and an ignore. It all was made obvious later because every chair was eventually filled while other people waited outdoors.

Our French is...(I'm trying to put us in a better light) Um! well actually,it's pretty non existent. We're getting the hang of some of the written words after 12 weeks touring the country but let's face it, we're slow learners. And so to the menu. Well I usually go for what ever is the special but we looked through the list and looked at the food on tables around us. It became obvious to the others that here's a hopeless case and so we began to get suggestions from others. (The two girls who were sharing our table were too busy smoking the full packet they demolished during the meal and their conversation was an amazing experience. We were spell bound that they could both shout and gesticulate wildly at each in between gales of laughter over a 2 hour period). But I digress. No, the people with the wolf hound on the other side insisted that this and this were the best items to choose from.

The food was great, I think, but to be honest we were too distracted from all the people watching to be had. This was truly rubbing shoulders with the locals and we would have loved to have listened in to some of this fascinating gossip. The people behind us heard us mention Australia and they came over to suggest that we shouldn't get that dessert but try this instead.

The wine list was mostly ignored by everyone else so, we too chose the house wine in a carafe.

Now a word of warning. I say this because my sister in law lives in California too. She is trying to qualify for Health and Safety Fascist of the Year (Hello Ellen). Smoke must not come near her body or all hell breaks loose. (You can see we have this close relationship). I'm a non smoker so I too have the occasional problem in chimney smoking countries like Turkey. With restaurants like this you have to go with the flow. You're only there for a short time and what a joy it is to see a country that is not obsessed with political correctness. The above dig is not just at California but we here in Australia would never allow dogs into a food establishment let alone anyone with a cigerette in their hand.

There was another restaurant close by that I can't remember the name of however if you pop into Hotel de Nevers on rue de Malte (just around the corner) my mate behind the counter will give you his local list of suggestions - an keep you entertained for an hour or two trying to figure his current best value establishment.

Lidia, have fun and enjoy yourself.

James.