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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
For desserts, we shared Baba au rhum filled with applesauce, and a sablé breton cookie served with apples and chocolate ganache.
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.
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!
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.
35 Rue Sibuet, 75012 Paris
Tel.: 01 46 28 99 00
Open Monday-Saturday (Lunch and dinner.)
Spring 2018 update: Le Picotin is currently undergoing a major remodel and will be re-opening in June 2018. These photos were taken pre-remodel.
Leave a Comment
Join la Mailing List
Be the first to read stories and travel tips I don’t share anywhere else!
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!
It sounds wonderful and the food looks delicious too. I can’t wait to find out own treasures in Paris in May!
Of course you will. Paris always rewards curious – and open – minds! 🙂
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
Love Lynn’s Bistro. If only I could step outside after a delicious meal there, and be on a Paris sidewalk, life would be grand. A bientôt, Cherie.
Looks like a real “find” Veronique. Especially as it’s reasonably priced. The food looks delicious. Glad to read that you are in France.
Bonjour Craig. I am back in France for a few days indeed. Do visit le Picotin if you make it across that stretch of water known as “la Manche!” 😉
Not a meat-eater but the Baba au rhum and wine + atmosphere looks inviting! Glad you’re having a wonderful visit with your family, Veronique!
Thank you Suzanne. It was a wonderful visit, with plenty of time shared with my family… and Paris.
What a wonderful description and photos. Wish I was there right now!!!
“Wish I were back there right now myself,” French Girl in Seattle declares, while contemplating her meager sandwich for lunch… 😉
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
Bonjour Véro ,
Enfin trouvé la possibilité de vous répondre .
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 !
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.
Cela s’appelait “Chez Gudule”, j’avais fait un message dans mon blog PICPUSSE
“Chez Gudule” Ca lui va très bien, vu le cadre! La jeune femme qui travaille maintenant en salle au restaurant m’avait effectivement indiqué que d’autres propriétaires avaient précédé Romain Pauchet. Merci de votre visite, et de la petite histoire, Alain !
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.
AH…. YUM SCRUMDELISHIOUS!! The atmosphere the food the décor-love love and love!!
Indeed. A good address in Paris.
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.
Je vous en prie, et avec plaisir! Je reviendrai vous voir en décembre prochain. A bientôt!