From curry d'agneau at La Coupole to pink macaroons at La Durée, Simon Hopkinson celebrates his favourite Parisian restaurants

My initiation to Paris, as a gourmet young man, occurred in February 1981. My employer at the time was the late Christopher Selmes, who had taken me on as his private chef nine months earlier. "Now then, Simon, it's time you discovered some of the finer restaurants of Paris. Here's 1,000 francs and a list of restaurants you should probably go to when you are there. And, as it is February, here's a further 2,000 francs to spend at La Maison de la Truffe, a specialist shop in the Madeleine that will allow you to purchase some of their finest black truffles. Go there on your last day and spend it all!"

My initiation to Paris, as a gourmet young man, occurred in February 1981. My employer at the time was the late Christopher Selmes, who had taken me on as his private chef nine months earlier. "Now then, Simon, it's time you discovered some of the finer restaurants of Paris. Here's 1,000 francs and a list of restaurants you should probably go to when you are there. And, as it is February, here's a further 2,000 francs to spend at La Maison de la Truffe, a specialist shop in the Madeleine that will allow you to purchase some of their finest black truffles. Go there on your last day and spend it all!"

So I duly blew the whole 2,000 francs on truffles, together with every last centime of my 1,000 franc incentive in his recommended restaurants. And, as it was nearly 20 years ago, when there were very nearly 12.5 francs to the pound, Selmes's generous boost to my meagre savings afforded me rare - nay, unique - tastes of several Parisian chefs, then at their peak of creativity. It is a measure of both time and experience that the only one that now survives from Selmes's list, to mine, is Taillevent.

Inevitably, therefore, over the years, I have managed to create personal favourites of my own, ending up with nine establishments which I make it my business to eat in at every possible opportunity when in Paris. I rarely feel moved to try new places (the same applies to London, as it happens), not wishing to feel disappointed, waste a good lunch or dinner, or deprive myself of a dish that I know well and look forward to eating incessantly. For me, this is one of the main reasons for going to a restaurant in the first place - curious as this may seem to those endlessly searching for the latest nouvelle vague. Taillevent, not surprisingly, fits my mildly obtuse bill exactly.

Taillevent, 15 rue Lamennais, 75008 (0033 1 44 95 15 01) expensive; Le Tour d'Argent, 15 Quai de la Tournelle, 75005 (0033 1 43 54 23 31) expensive; Chez l'Ami Louis, 32 rue du Vertbois, 75003 (0033 1 48 87 77 48) expensive; Cartet, 62 rue de Malte, 75011 (0033 1 48 05 17 65) reasonable; Chez Georges, 1 rue du Mail, 75002 (0033 1 42 60 07 11) moderate; Brasserie Lipp, 151 boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 (0033 1 45 48 53 91) moderate; La Coupole, 102 boulevard Montparnasse, 75014 (0033 1 43 20 14 20) reasonable; Angelina, 226 rue de Rivoli, 7500I (0033 1 42 60 82 00) reasonable; La Durée, 16 rue Royale, 75008 (0033 1 42 60 21 79) reasonable.

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