Le Rive Gauche – Fine dining, the goat and yummy tap water

Traipsing around the City of Lights with a French Revolutionary obsessed 12 year old can be somewhat of a daunting task but it is even more of a challenge to try and satisfy the kid’s finicky and extremely limited food preferences.  Having to choose between world famous delicacies such as foie gas, duck a l’orange or soupe a la gratin would be a hardship for any fine gourmet connoisseur to have to contemplate, yet a dining nightmare for a gastronomically challenged pre-teenager.

It goes without saying that the kid was not partial to high-end gourmet fare whatsoever, except for the following (listed in order of preference): Pizza, chicken and French fries.  C’est tout. Oh, and pricey Coca-Cola at six Euros a pop! Unwilling to fork out the exorbitant price of more than five Euros for a soda, considering that a glass of vino costs a little more than one Euro, I insisted that she instead consume yummy tap water, which is free. I oftentimes would convince the kid to bring her own store bought soda (less than one Euro for a one litre bottle) to the restaurant.  Hence, her gigantic knapsack which was not only loaded up with her beloved journals, histories and travel guides, but also with several cans and bottles of pop.  Labelling me the “ultimate cheapo unbelievably mean ol’ Auntie” (yikes!! Here we go again!!), the kid snivelled and complained, horrified and embarrassed at having to bring her own pop to the bistro.  Mean ol’ Auntie Nora” had to once again remind the kid that if it weren’t for her “swell and kind hearted” Auntie, that she would be gallivanting around Europe on her own, sleeping on park benches, scavenging for restaurant leftovers and scrapping with the birds for bathe friendly lukewarm fountain water.

Even to this day, my sister reminds me that upon her return home, her daughter bemoaned about the abject unfairness of having to drink warm tap water in restaurants while her frugal and tight fisted “heartless” Auntie ordered vino after vino (who wouldn’t? A bargain at less than 2 Euros for a small carafe) all the while refusing to fork out a mere 6 Euros for a lousy Coke for her pink-sneakered penniless charge.

So, let this be a lesson for those of you travelling with youngsters, as soda, pop and Coca-Cola are a small fortune in Europe, triple the price of wine and a rare and luxurious treat once in a blue moon.  Pink Sneakers on the Go recommends that you search out bistros and dining establishments that have a “prix fixe” menu where all is included in one price. For an average of 10 to 15 Euros, you have a choice of an appetizer, a main meal, a beverage and a desert.  One of our favourite haunts was Pizzeria Uno which was tucked away amongst the multitude of fast food eateries (Les Halles vicinity) catering to basic tourist appetites and budgets.  Pizza Uno had the standard fare – a small pizza for one with a pop or a ¼ carafe of vino for the incredible price of 11 Euros each. For the considerable savings on the soda alone, we had no choice but to frequent this fabulous budget friendly bistro.  

Another reason that we would dine out every day was due to the fact that I was unable to figure out how to work the fancy smancy French stove.  Mind you, it would have helped had I actually paid attention when the rental agent was explaining the intricacies of the uber modern glass toped stove instead of agonizing over my excruciating headache, which most likely had been brought on by consuming one too many vinos on the overnight transatlantic flight.

In addition to spending almost every mealtime at Pizzeria Uno, the kid and I attempted to branch out in our quest to stumble upon cheap and economical dining venues, discovering a plethora of budget friendly eats along the way in the Latin Quarter on the Rive Gauche or Left Bank.  The labyrinth of twisting and winding alleys were jammed with cafes, bistros and restaurants all catering to budget conscious tourists seeking familiar yet exotic local cuisine on the cheap.  Ambling and meandering along the bustling alleyways, senses overwhelmed with the pungent aromas of garlic infused gyros and souvlaki competing with saffron laced Paella and traditional French ham and cheese “Croque Monsieurs”, my niece and I were in a conundrum, a dilemma of epic proportions of where and what to feast upon.


Then we spied the goat. Standing guard in the entrance to a quaint Parisian brasserie, the life-size animal seemed to literally have scampered away from country life, delving into the hurly-burly whirlwind of the rues and avenues of a bustling metropolis, a curious critter eager to explore big city life.  The kid squealed in glee upon encountering such an oddity on a crowded street, and steadfastly insisted that we dine in the “goat’s restaurant”.  Needless to say,” super mean old Auntie Nora” was not so cruel and wicked as to deny the kid her choice of fine dining establishments and so a pleasant camaraderie was born between the kid and her new found four-legged friend, the stuffed goat.


 Dining on escargots, moule et frites and crème-brulé, the kid seemed oblivious to the fact that she favoured only three food groups and seemed delighted at tasting all of the unique French delicacies found at the “goat’s restaurant”. Sitting by the window, our red-checkered tablecloth peeking out over the ledge, my pink-sneakered niece happily munched away on gourmet fare, all the while throwing the odd frite or two to the stuffed goat, who, after all, was a connoisseur of the finer things in life.

Come drink yummy tap water and dine on moule et frites at the “goat’s restaurant” with the kid and I….culinary adventures extraordinaire....come dine on the cheap with us…

Next week – Montmartre et les artistes…painting a picture of the kid’s unique Parisian escapades.

Pink Sneakers on the Go – Helpful tidbits of info

·         “Prix Fixe” menus offer a great variety of dining options – lunch price includes an appetizer, a main course, a beverage and a desert. From 10 to 15 Euros this is truly a bargain!

·         Pick up some cheese, fruit, sliced meats, soda or vino at your local super marché or outdoor market for a leisurely picnic in Les Jardins du Luxembourg or park bench.  

·        Some dining establishments will often charge you a little bit more to sit outside as opposed to eating your meal inside the brasserie.  For an extra Euro or two, I highly recommend sitting outdoors as you can idle away several hours just watching the world traipse by.

·         Don’t overlook the food section of local department stores, as they have ready-made prepared food of all types; if on a budget, this is a great way to enjoy “take-away”.

·         Try the “plat du jour” (special of the day) as that often is the best bargain going.

·         I cannot stress this enough, but soft drinks such as Coca-Cola and other fizzy sugary beverages of that sort are exorbitantly expensive in Europe, triple the price of a small carafe of wine, so opt for menus that have the price of soda already included.  After all, you don’t want to be labelled a “super meanie cheapo Auntie” now, do you?

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