Monthly Archives: February 2015

Le Picotin: Great French bistro food in Paris

Le Picotin: Great French bistro food in Paris

I have been in Paris for a week. If you read my last story, you can guess what I have been up to. If you follow French Girl in Seattle on Facebook, merci for tagging along on some of my Parisian adventures.

I need to tell you about a great restaurant I visited today with ma famille. It is hidden in a not-so-touristy area of Paris, near la place de la Nation, in the bustling, and populaire (i.e. “of the people,”) 12th arrondissement.  You may have heard of that giant square. It was once used (under a different name) as an execution place during the French Revolution. The guillotine is long gone, and the square has become a major transportation hub. This is an area most tourists visit only when they are looking for more affordable accommodation, or on their way to another corner of Paris. But locals live here, along one of the wide, airy avenues leading to Place de la République, la Bastille, or neighboring Vincennes; or in smaller streets tucked away behind stately buildings. I was once one of them.

NationArchitecture

Today, I returned to the neighborhood to have lunch at le Picotin, a bistro specializing in fresh, home-made food, and traditional French cooking with a twist. Great name, le Picotin (a horse food ration.) Picotin was also a little donkey featured in a popular comic book series (old copies are featured in the restaurant.)

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A quick peek at online reviews reveals most visitors rave about the excellent bistro fare; friendly, bilingual service; and reasonable prices. An irresistible combination in Paris. I would add that le cadre (the environment,) is welcoming, and authentic. This is a genuine French bistro. The restaurant is managed by chef Romain Pauchet.

Lasalle

Space is tight; with limited seating. Reservations are highly recommended, especially at dinner time. We arrived for lunch at 1:00pm on a Saturday, and the room filled quickly, mostly with [young] locals. This is a good place to practice your French dining etiquette; speaking in hushed tones while ignoring other patrons seating a few inches away from your table.

Picotinsalle

The menu is easy to choose from: The big blackboard on the wall lists 4 entrées (starters,) at 8€ each, 4 plats (main courses,) at 16€ each, and 4 desserts at 7€. I enjoyed a copious beef carpaccio, served with a green salad, parmesan, [exceptional] French fries and a tangy lemon-basil marinade. My guests chose le carré de porcelet à l’aïl (garlic rack of piglet,) served with rosemary mashed potatoes. We gave both dishes enthusiastic thumbs-up.

Porc

For desserts, we shared Baba au rhum filled with applesauce, and a sablé breton cookie served with apples and chocolate ganache.

Baba

Sable

It would not have been a French meal without wine. We ordered one of the house wines, a pleasant Mourvèdre from le Pays d’Oc.

Wine

Le Picotin is getting excellent press across-the-board, and it is not difficult to see why. The French bistro food alone does not explain it. It is a welcoming place, tucked away at the end of a small street – allow plenty of time to find it –  where guests, old and new, French or not, are greeted with a friendly smile. As a French native, I can only approve of a business that brings l’addition (the check,) with a mini Carambar stick instead of the traditional dark chocolate square!

Addition

Give le Picotin a try next time you are in Paris. This restaurant won’t break the bank, and will give you plenty to brag about when you return home.

A bientôt.

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Le Picotin

35 Rue Sibuet, 75012 Paris
Tel.: 01 46 28 99 00

Open Monday-Saturday (Lunch and dinner.) 

26 Responses to Le Picotin: Great French bistro food in Paris

  1. What a sweet, approachable place, just like a small donkey, its namesake. And being bilingual, a boon for visitors who need a language assist.
    Paris seems so much more friendly to me in recent years than in my first travels there as a teen 35 years ago. It’s almost as if they “got the memo”. 😉

    • Good question. I lived in Paris 30 years ago, and always helped tourists when they asked, because as an adopted Parisian, I was proud to show off “my” city. I am guessing many Parisians did the same thing then, and still do. As for globalization, and the fact that English is more widely spoken now, no doubt this benefits international visitors. Le Picotin is definitely a place where everyone feels welcome. Kuddos to the owner for creating such a great bistro!

  2. Sounds delicious and delightful. Excellent timing re a French bistro since we are going to Lynn’s Bistro tonight. I will think of you. I will add this restaurant on my list of places to go next time in Paris, I hope in the near future! Cheers

  3. OMG, ma chère Véro, cela fait une éternité…………but I’m still here and still thinking of you and following your travels. Le Picotin goes in my list. Monsieur Dan and I are hoping to visit Paris in April, as a friend will be running in the Marathon and has insisted that we be there at the finish line. Eh bien, how could we refuse?

    Big bisous to you and the little man in your life,

    Ciao for now, M-T

  4. This is definitely one for my ever growing address book! Welcoming, authentic and sensibly priced sounds good to me. I can’t remember the last time I had a baba au rhum but it was a regular treat when I was living in France. The carambar was a nice touch too! It’s those little details which are memorable and make all the difference.

    • Bonjour Miss b. You’re right, the elusive Baba au rhum is always a welcome sighting on French menus! This one was tasty, and a bit different from the version found in most pâtisseries. I hope life is treating you well at the beginning of the new year. A bientôt !

  5. Quand j’habitais Picpus, cela s’appelait autrement et il y avait un vélo accroché au plafond. Comme j’habitais tout près, j’y mangeait de temps en temps.

  6. This looks like a nice modern place. Last night I was reading a small book of essays on several Paris bistros in the 1960s and 70s. First of all, as you know, “bistro” is just a slang term for a small café, and not a very nice term as that. Usually they had a zing bar in the front where everybody (les habitués…) drank and a tiny room behind for some food. The food was almost always the same dishes, like boeuf bourguignon, tripes à la mode, etc. and the deserts were mousse au chocolat, crème renversée et pudding, that’s about it. I see by your bistro that they certainly have evolved and modernized with the time – “a beef carpaccio” or “porcelet” that is certainly pas trop the style of cuisine menagère je pense. But now that there are so many tourists, I guess Paris is quite different from the Paris I grew up in, and the bistros have to reflect modern times so they can get an international clientèle. By the way, have you looked at some of those ugly love locks while in Paris? I just wrote a post on them – what a tragedy.

    • You are correct, Vagabonde. Times change. The young Chef running le Picotin does some pretty creative things, I have heard, but also puts his own twist on “classics.” Everything tasted fresh and homemade, which was the point. I really enjoyed “le cadre” as well. Will stop by your site now so I can read your post about the dreadful Love Locks.

  7. Bonjour,

    Pour répondre au commentaire d’Alain (même s’il date un peu), “Chez Gudule” existe toujours et n’a rien à voir avec Le Picotin!
    “Chez gudule” se situe à l’angle de la rue Sibuet et il s’agit plutôt d’un bar qui fait également restaurant mais qui ne sert absolument pas le même type de produits qu’au Picotin.
    Avant Le Picotin le restaurant s’appelait “Les galopins”.

    Merci en tous cas French girl in Seattle pour ce bel article.

    Le Picotin

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French expats in Paris: the game

French expats in Paris: the game

What happens when French expats return to Paris on vacation? First, they spend quality time with their relatives, if they are around. Then, they play a game. The name? “Let’s delve into French rituals with unbridled abandon.” The players? This French girl, and, I suspect, other French expats. The rules? Easy to follow. Read on.…

27 Responses to French expats in Paris: the game

  1. Quel beau cadeau d’anniversaire (aujour’dhui!), cette visite de “ma ville”. En lisant, j’y suis à 100%, ce que l’on ressent… En admirant le papier d’emballage du fromage, le garçon de café tenant son plateau en équilibre, pendant qu’il cherche la monaie, et, ah, le Monoprix. Qu’ils sont beaux. Et les pharmacies.. Merci de partager vos émotions et bon séjour !!

  2. Yes, that’s it ! Last time I was in Paris, last May, we went into the same Monoprix, rue St. Antoine. Also, just a bit further there is a Jeff de Bruges chocolate shop with good “bouchées” en vitrine! Yummy! I usually check all the new chocolate bars at the supermarket (and buy some too.) I start the mornings with un café crème et une tartine (de baguette.) True, prices are a bit high, but luckily my bank is just up the street, before you get to Place de la Bastille.

  3. Monique, your post brings wonderful memories of Paris to me. What a well written post you wrote today. Thanks! I can’t believe I have never bought cheese but I do linger at the yogurt isle, and purchase skin care products….by the way, why does the yogurt taste different there? Paris is always on my mind…ha ha…so glad to have visited your country!

  4. What a lovely post about Paris, sigh. I always love reading about Paris. And, yes, the yogurt is better there. Next time, I will buy more pastries, especially the millefeuille et eclair and also les fromages. Smile

  5. Veronique – Comme j’aime cette tour de Paris. In particular I love your use of the 2nd person singular to get those visions right up under your reader’s skin! So powerful! Inoubliable!

    And to Monique – MERCI for this little snippet of easy-to-understand, colloquial french!!: Quel beau cadeau d’anniversaire (aujour’dhui!), cette visite de “ma ville”. En lisant, j’y suis à 100%, ce que l’on ressent… En admirant le papier d’emballage du fromage, le garçon de café tenant son plateau en équilibre, pendant qu’il cherche la monaie, et, ah, le Monoprix. Qu’ils sont beaux. Et les pharmacies.. Merci de partager vos émotions et bon séjour !!

  6. I think 1 and 2 are universal for expats — I do the same when I go back to Olympia. There are some great things to eat and some typically PNW cafés that are just not the same as here in France.

    The others don’t apply in my case because Olympia just isn’t Paris!

  7. Do I sense a summer visit approaching Veronique? 🙂
    It all looks so, well, civilized doesn’t it? No one quite does street culture like the French, and in France, no one quite like Parisian’s.
    Best wishes.

    • Ils font le plein de beurre de cacahuètes, et si j’en crois les blogs des-dits expatriés, ils se précipitent dans leurs restaus mexicains préférés, qui leur manquent beaucoup en France, ou dans les mega grandes surfaces, comme Costco 😉 Et bien sûr, comme tous les expatriés, ils profitent de leur temps en famille et avec des amis. Merci de ta visite, Alain.

  8. welcome back v-that is what Paris was saying in her warm embrace to one of her favorite daughters WECOME BACK-not home because you have a foot firmly planted here and foot firmly planted there! A foot in two worlds for sure!

      • Beautiful pictures that made me want to go back as soon as I can and look for all these places. You should send this blog to Air France or any travel log magazines and you could write an article for them. With pictures like that so many people will want to go.

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