Paris pleasures – old or new?

Any of my readers probably know I spend more time thinking about where to eat than probably any other decision pertaining to our trips. I’ve read of studies that show people find it easier to choose, and are more satisfied with their decisions, when they have fewer options. So what to do then, when my options for one dinner in Paris include the sites of some of the best meals of my life, as well as a surfeit of other choices? There are more than 20,000 restaurants in Paris (according to food writer Rosa Jackson).

So here’s the story. We’re spending the night in Paris the night before we fly home from our next trip — we’re taking the TGV up from Provence and will have one evening to savor in Paris. There’s no sightseeing pressure, thankfully, we’ve visited Paris 3 ½ times now. I’m free to focus on the culinary pleasures of the city, maybe swing by La grande épicerie to stock up on my herbs and spices and other gastronomical treasures. The hundred euro question for this visit to Paris is where to dine.

Flora in ParisDo we return to E Marty, where we enjoyed the most delectable escargots ever on our August 2004 trip? What about L’Epi Dupin to have another go at the Endive Tatin we raved about after our fall 2006 trip? Maybe if we eat it once again we’ll have more success the next time we try to prepare it at home. Or we could return to heavenly Flora, the only Michelin-starred restaurant we’ve ever experienced.

We could even try to track down the little seafood restaurant where we spent our four-year wedding anniversary in back in 2001 on our first trip. Our palates were not, shall we say, as developed then as they are becoming now. The coins I clandestinely swiped from Brian’s waiter’s apron nightly for a year paid for this extravagant dinner which neither of us ended up liking. We cringed together at the waitress’ withering and pointed interrogation as to why we were not eating our meals, but later laughed — and still do any time we remember the dinner.

So the true question then is not so much where to dine, but whether to relive an old memory or make a new one. As this is the Great Ten-Year Anniversary Trip I (naturally) want everything to be très magnifique. On this, the last night of the trip — customarily our splash-out night — I can be reasonably sure of requisite magnificence by returning to a known pleasure.

But! What might we be missing by not trying something new? And if we go back to L’Epi Dupin, for example, and it’s not as good as last time it’s doubly a let-down.

I think we have to sample new delights, create a memory unique to this trip. Au revoir then … I must be off to explore the Paris cuisine scene.

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