Paris Travel Tips from Lindsey Tramuta, Parisian Journalist

Conversations with Locals

Having lived in Paris for more than a decade, ailurophile Lindsey Tramuta is well-versed in the ins and outs of the city and chronicles her Parisian life on her blog. She is a writer for Condé Nast Traveler, Bon Appétit, and The New York Times. Lindsey talks about why you should skip Chartier, where to get the best pastries in Paris, and about the museum you can’t miss. 

about-lindsey

Photo: Lindsey Tramuta

What do you feel defines Parisian cuisine?

Parisian cuisine today isn’t hemmed in by Escoffier, heritage or ethnocentrism but rather an openness to outside influences and cultures. The food scene has never been so refreshingly diverse.

What is the one local dish you feel travellers can’t leave Paris without trying? 

As a pastry fanatic, I’m keen to cite a handful of exquisite desserts or treats. The chocolate and pistachio escargot from Du Pain et Des Idées, the Lily Valley from Carl Marletti, the ricotta cheesecake with seasonal fruit from Acide which is also available at Fou de Pâtisserie, the Ispahan croissant from Pierre Hermé, sablés from Bontemps Pâtisserie. As you can see, it’s impossible to narrow the selection to just one speciality!

What about your favourite restaurants?

Many of them are concentrated on the east side of town – Tannat, Le 52, Anahi, Le Richer, Café Méricourt, La Fontaine de Belleville. But I do have a few favourites elsewhere – Kitchen Ter(re) on the left bank and Balagan near the Tuileries Gardens to name a couple. 

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Café Méricourt. Photo: Lindsey Tramuta

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Kitchen Ter(re). Photo: Lindsey Tramuta

Name one Parisian dining etiquette most travellers miss

Making a concerted effort to speak French, at least greeting restaurant staff in French. It isn’t all that difficult to show them you’re trying your best.

What is one travel tip you would give to travellers heading to Paris?

Go beyond the obvious. My book dives into so many other neighbourhoods that are worth exploring. 

Name one best kept secret of Paris

The Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. It’s in all the guidebooks and yet it never seems to earn the attention it deserves. It’s unusual, for one – it’s the hunting and nature museum. On top of that, it feels like a cabinet of animal curiosities. It’s fascinating! 

What do you feel are the most common misconceptions about Paris?

There are two – that it’s a city that never changes and that Parisians are unfriendly. I’ve had plenty of chilly service in London and New York! 

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Photo: Lindsey Tramuta

Name some tourist traps travellers should avoid in Paris

Please please please stay away from Chartier off the Grands Boulevards. Go to Bouillon Pigalle instead. Chartier has terrible quality food, comically poor service, but because it’s an institution, it still gets traction. 

What’s your favourite day trip to take from the city? 

I love going to Chantilly for the day, walking around the gardens and visiting the Château

What should travellers bring home with them from Paris?

Something French! The new gourmet food hall from Printemps department store, called Printemps Du Goût, offers a selection of 100% French products so you can be sure to take home something, whether it’s caramelised hazelnuts from the south of France or a small jar of regional honey, truly unique. 

 

WHERE TO EAT IN PARIS


Du Pain et Des Idées
Where: 34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris, France
For: Chocolate and pistachio escargots

Acide Macaron
Where: 24 Rue des Moines, 75017 Paris, France
For: Ricotta cheesecakes with seasonal fruit

Carl Marletti
Where: 51 Rue Censier, 75005 Paris, France
For: The Lily Valley cake

Pierre Hermé
Where: 72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris, France (and others) 
For: Ispahan croissants

Bontemps Pâtisserie
Where: 57 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris, France
For: Sablés

Tannat
Where: 119 Avenue Parmentier, 75011 Paris, France
For: French fusion food

Le 52
Where: 52 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010 Paris, France
For: Tradtional french food 

Anahi
Where: 49 Rue Volta, 75003 Paris, France
For: Argentinian food

Le Richer
Where: 2 Rue Richer, 75009 Paris, France
For: Bistro food

Café Méricourt
Where: 22 Rue de la Folie Méricourt, 75011 Paris, France
For: Brunch

La Fontaine de Belleville
Where: 31-33 Rue Juliette Dodu, 75010 Paris, France
For: Breakfast

Kitchen Ter(re)
Where: 26 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75005 Paris, France
For: Set menus

Balagan
Where: 9 Rue d’Alger, 75001 Paris, France
For: Shakshuka

Bouillon Pigalle
Where: 22 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France
For: French food
 

WHERE TO GO IN PARIS


Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
Where: 62 Rue des Archives, 75003 Paris, France
For: Museums

 

Printemps Du Goût
Where: 21-25 Cours de Vincennes, 75020 Paris, France
For: Local French products

The Eating Guide to Matera, Italy

Italy

There’s something about Matera that makes the town an enigma; church bells ringing poetically at the crack of dawn, dusty alleys leading to houses carved into rocks, the haunting silence when the town lights up for the night. Either way, its presence draws outsiders in like a moth to a flame.

Once shut out to the outside world, Matera has been gaining traction as a tourist spot since biblical movies – and one popular film The Passion of the Christ – made the town its setting. Dig deeper into the intricate network of cave dwellings (Sassi) and you’ll see that the town is littered with trattorias and restaurants. Tourists have yet to discover Matera in full, so the food is still steeped in tradition. 

Look forward to: Sausages, lamb and salumi

Kapunto 

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Where: Via Lucana, 178, 75100 Matera MT, Italy
What: Raviolis
For: Affordable lunches

In traditional Matera, Kapunto shines bright in its modern approach to serving fresh pastas. Every morning, pastas and raviolis are handmade and laid out in all shapes and sizes. Pick the pasta that catches your eye, followed by the sauce (butter and sage, bolognese, pomodoro, rapeseed, or black chickpea and octopus cream) to go with it. If you ask the waiter, he would recommend the right sauce for your choice of ravioli. 

Il Cantuccio 

Where: Via delle Beccherie, 33, 75100 Matera MT, Italy
What: Specials of the day
For: Lucanian cuisine

Lucanian food is the bread and butter of Il Cantuccio, a small-scale restaurant holed up in a back alley. The seasonal specials are the ones to watch – minced meat ravioli with senise peppers, chickpeas with porcini mushrooms, or goat’s milk ricotta with fig. One of the restaurant owners tends the tables, and he would gladly share the origins of their seasonal ingredients from the region. 

L’Abbondanza Lucana 

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Where: Via Bruno Buozzi, 11, 75100 Matera MT, Italy
What: Pistachio pasta
For: Smart dinners

You might have to crouch a little to get past the entrance – L’Abbondanza Lucana is housed inside a cave structure. Impeccable service and an exquisite menu reimagined from traditional Lucanian cuisine are what makes this restaurant favoured for corporate dinners and fancy dates. Meals normally start with a glass of prosecco and the chef’s seasonal appetiser, before you indulge in dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. 

I Vizi degli Angeli

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Where: Via Domenico Ridola, 36, 75100 Matera MT, Italy
What: Gelato
For: An ice cream stop

If you have ever stepped onto the main square of Matera, you would have wandered into I Vizi degli Angeli after witnessing the periodic queues. Delightfully rare gelato flavours are what you’ll get at this gelato laboratory – apple and celery, pineapple, avocado and lemon, red wine, and ricotta. The gelato comes in a cup, cone, soaked in coffee syrup, or even wedged between a slice of bread. 

Trattoria I Due Sassi 

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Where: Via Ospedale Vecchio, 1, 75100 Matera MT, Italy
What: Lamb
For: Affordable dinners

Eat well and affordably at Trattoria I Due Sassi, an old-fangled trattoria that does homely Lucanian food that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. A platter of local cheeses, salumi and pickled vegetables (the best way to taste Basilicata’s produce) will set you back €12. For the best lamb, this trattoria’s version falls right off the bone. 

The Eating Guide to the Amalfi Coast, Italy

Italy

The Hollywood guest list at the Amalfi Coast is a never-ending story; the coast is a perennial favourite amongst A-listers for its glamourous Italian beaches, opulent hotels, and of course, divine seafood. The Amalfi Coast is made up of almost 80 km of twisting roads, soaring cliffs, and views that get exceedingly beautiful at every turn. 

In summer, days at the coast are long and languid. Stare into the deep blue ocean and you’ll see fishing boats bring in their catch of the day, which will end up on your plate at dinnertime. While you’re on the Amalfi Drive, you’ll find yourself pulling up at unexpected stops for a photo moment. Just by the side of a curb, a man is selling freshly squeezed lemonade. That’s la dolce vita for you. 

Look forward to: Seafood

La Strada 

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Where: Via Gennaro Capriglione, 178, 84010 Praiano SA, Italy
What: Seafood risotto
For: Romantic dinners

You will find La Strada tucked along the narrow streets of Praiano. There, a staircase at the back hides a surprisingly spacious, panoramic terrace on the second floor. Run by the Gagliano family, most of the menu is dependent on what the family’s trawler brings in from sea. The seafood risotto is outstanding, and other seafood dishes such as prawns and fish come with lemon dressings. 

Casa e Bottega

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Where: Viale Pasitea, 100, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
What: Clean food
For: Breakfasts and mid-day snacks

Casa e Bottega is bringing the clean food trend to Positano by introducing organic ingredients to its menu. You’ll find freshly squeezed juices, smoothie bowls, homemade cakes, natural gelato, and an elaborate breakfast menu. They give a healthy dose of vegetables to each dish, and you’ll even find that the eggs come with cucumbers. The café also doubles up as a shop, and you can buy fish-patterned ceramics and fabrics there. 

Saraceno d’Oro

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Where: Via Pasitea, 254, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
What: Vongole pasta
For: Casual lunches

Have a meal at Saraceno d’Oro, and you’ll feel like you’re family. This family-run restaurant tops the list for reasonable prices and quality in Positano. The atmosphere is casual, and you’re most likely going to enjoy your vongole pasta while the waiter shares with you the history and ownership of the restaurant. 

Franco’s Bar

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Where: Via Cristoforo Colombo, 30, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
What: Steaks
For: Pre-dinner drinks

Franco’s Bar is the bona fide watering hole – no food, just drinks and nibbles to complement. The open space is utterly chic, glamourised by splashes of gold and royal blue. Come before 6 pm (the bar’s opening time) to get a front row view of houses tumbling down Positano’s cliff. It’s insanely photogenic. 

Mimi’s Pizzeria

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Where: Via S. Francesco, 12, 84010 Ravello SA, Italy
What: Pizzas
For: Casual lunches

Despite being hidden from the main square at Ravello, Mimi’s Pizzeria still gets swarms of patrons hungry for pizzas freshly baked in a wood fired oven. You won’t go wrong with the classic margherita – just tomato, mozzarella and basil on fluffy, thin crusts. If the classics bore you, go for the Mimi’s specials such as pizza with ricotta stuffed crust, tomatoes, mozzarella and olive oil. 

La Bonta del Capo

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Where: Via I Maggio, 14, 84010 Conca dei Marini SA, Italy
What: Lemon ravioli
For: Beef

You will need a car to get to La Bonta del Capo, where chef Fiore Oliveto’s lemon ravioli is the star of the menu. Stuffed with lemon zest and ricotta cheese, this ravioli dish is undoubtedly light and works as a sharing dish so you won’t have to miss out on the other seafood dishes. Choose the outdoor seating area that juts out into the ocean, and you’ll know the drive up the narrow road is well worth it. 

Villa Maria

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Where: Via Santa Chiara, 84010 Ravello SA, Italy
What: Vongole pasta with chickpeas
For: Smart dinners

Situated above a garden terrace, the Villa Maria mansion stands out as one of the remaining old world Italian residences in Ravello. The tables in the al fresco restaurant are housed under a canopy, with a view of Ravello’s stunning terraces. The garden is where the chef picks out fresh ingredients. There’s nothing standard about the menu – carbonara with salmon instead of pancetta, vongole paired with chickpeas. Take a walk inside the hotel’s sitting area to marvel at the marble-clad interiors. 

Kasai

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Where: Via Umberto I, 84, 84010 Praiano SA, Italy
What: Seafood
For: Casual dinners

You can’t stay past a day in Praiano without your host whispering to you that Kasai is Praiano’s finest restaurant. The menu is predominantly seafood (well, it is the Amalfi Coast after all), so don’t waste it on a chicken thigh. You can have your fill with the €25 daily set, which includes a starter, first course and main course. 

La Moressa

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Where: Via moressa 1, 84010 Praiano SA, Italy
What: Homemade sausages
For: Breakfast

La Moressa will satisfy your craving for a good ol’ English breakfast. The homemade sausages are very old fashioned – grilled ground pork shaped into irregular patties. Eggs are rare for breakfasts in Italy, but this café does them fried and as sunny side ups. And bacon, well, it comes in the form of grilled pancetta, but we’re definitely not complaining.