The typical restaurant that we’ve found in Paris is small and intimate and doesn’t open until 7:30 or 8. People seem to spend the entire evening over their meal. There isn’t any pressure from the wait staff to “turn the table over”. It’s not unusual to see people still lingering over wine or coffee close to midnight.
Thursday night we had a different experience. We went to a restaurant recommended by a friend of Max’s. Nos Ancêtres Les Gaulois. It has atmosphere with a capital A. We were led through several small rooms with irregular stone floors on different levels. A boar’s head and swords adorn the thick stone walls and animal skins are attached to the open beams of the ceiling. The tables are small and only a few inches apart. They were set with red and white checked napkins, cutlery, and an empty pottery pitcher.
The pitcher is to fill with red wine from kegs at the end of the room. There was a steady stream of diners passing our table for refills. There’s a small “starter’s bar” with an assortment of pickles and olives, paté, and an assortment of sausages. The salad comes in the form of a large basket containing an astonishing bouquet of vegetables. Each table has a small bottle of vinegarette but the task of preparing the food is up to the diner.

Salad basket

Our basket was shared with a table of Russians in town for a convention. They showed us how to pull what we wanted, slice with the steak knives that come on each table and assemble our own salad.
The main course, le plat in French was a choice of beef, lamb, or duck served with a baked potato and sour cream. This was followed by a cheese platter and then a choice of four desserts. We chose lemon sorbet frozen into a lemon.
A guitar player arrived eventually, roving the room and playing lively music. The room was filled with, I’m guessing, mainly tourists. As the wine flowed, the music encouraged much singing and applause. It wasn’t the best food in Paris but fun and a different experience for us.