Tout sur Paris: Les Restaurants
by Marla Norman, TCO Publisher
We’re frequently asked to recommend restaurants in Paris. Since we’re crazy about the city, we’re happy to make suggestions. And with over 44,000 restaurants, cafés and bistros, there’s no shortage of choice!
So, after much deliberation, here are 24 of our favorite spots, arranged by arrondissement — with one significant caveat: Whatever you decide to do in this loveliest of cities, take a moment to be Parisian. Walk into the first café you see, order a glass of wine, take a sip, observe the scene around you. Breathe. Lose yourself in the moment and … Voilà! This may well be one of your fondest memories of Paris.
Île de la Cité – Notre-Dame & Sainte-Chapelle
Le Caveau du Palais
17-19 Place Dauphine
Years ago, in an effort to escape tourists crowded around Notre-Dame, we found ourselves at the western end of Île de la Cité in a pretty tucked-away neighborhood — Place Dauphine. Close to everything, but far away from tourists, Place Dauphine is an oasis within the island. In our wander, we discovered a Pétanque court and, while watching a lively game, we were suddenly distracted by the delicious aromas from Le Caveau du Palais. Long story short, we’ve come back year after year and have always had a marvelous experience. The menu and wine list are excellent. Prices are very reasonable. And the Pétanque is still very entertaining.
1st – Place Vendôme – Tuileries – Musée du Louvre
28 rue du Mont Thabor
This sweet little bistro offers great prix-fixe menus for both lunch and dinner — traditional French food: roasted chicken, pâté en croûte, foie gras & ceps, fillet of beef. Top off your meal with one of the house specialties – lemon meringue tartlet. 30€.
Le Café Marly
93 rue de Rivoli
Looking for a respite from the endless lines of art lovers at the Louvre? Find a quiet table at Café Marly, steps away from the museum, with magnificent views of I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid. Start with an artichoke & truffle salad or caviar & blinis. Move on to grilled salmon, roasted veal or keep it simple with a juicy Marly bacon cheeseburger. Prices aren’t cheap, but considering the setting, they’re not unreasonable either.
2nd – Galerie Vivienne and Passage des Panoramas
8 Passage des Panoramas
Located in one of Paris’ oldest covered passages, dating back to the early 1800s, Racines’ makes full use of the romantic setting. Chef Simone Tondo’s Sardinian heritage is the inspiration for much of the menu. Daily specials include finocchiona (sausage with fennel seeds), lusciously creamy burrata, veal chop alla Milanese, fresh fish and pasta. Not exactly cuisine française, but Parisians love Racines…donc, c’est d’accord.
3rd – Le Marais
6 rue de Jarente
We stumbled on this adorable spot a few years back and have been returning regularly. The name first attracted our attention — “Les Bougresses” — almost impossible to translate, but essentially means “The Simpletons”. And yet, the charming staff is quite sophisticated. The menu, though small, is always stellar. Potage de legumes, house-made raviolis, veal, fresh fish and crème brûlée are a few of the items available regularly. Prices, however, are definitely very basic. A starter, main course and dessert are 26€. Simply extraordinary!
Le Georges – Rooftop Centre Georges Pompidou
19 rue Beaubourg
For a bit of modern art and spectacular views of Paris, dine at the top of the Pompidou Center. Restaurant Le Georges offers a superbly prepared classic French menu with extensive entrees. Out on the terrace, you can opt for a glass of wine and a few appetizers. Le Georges is pricey, but well worth it — one of our favorite spots on a sunny day.
Le Marché des Enfants Rouge – Miam Miam
39 rue de Bretagne
The oldest covered market in Paris is well worth a visit. Le Marché des Enfants Rouges (Market of the Red Children) was established in 1615 and inherited its name from a nearby orphanage where children wore red uniforms.
Here you’ll find the traditional fruit and vegetable stalls along with a dizzying number of small food stands offering cuisines from around the world — Moroccan, Vietnamese, Japanese and plenty of menus à la française as well. One of our favorites, Chez Alain Roussel’s Miam Miam (miam-miam translates yum-yum) produces sandwiches like you’ve never seen. Fresh vegetables and meat topped with Comté or Cantal, then grilled. Exquisite! Of course, there are plenty of wine bars available for a beverage to accompany your meal.
5th – Quartier Latin – Sorbonne Université
La Tour d’Argent
15 Quai de la Tournelle
One of Paris’ oldest and most revered restaurants, dating back to 1582, La Tour d’Argent has magnificent views of Île de la Cité and Notre-Dame. The restaurant also features one of the world’s largest wine cellars, with some 15,000 selections and the superb menu has been awarded a Michelin star. More about this historic site here.
4th – Hôtel de Ville
20 rue Saint-Martin
A Parisian classic, run by Alain Ducasse. Proudly and heartily traditional, Benoît features country produce that is expertly prepared with generous portions. “The menu reads like a turn-of-the-century cookbook, rich in perennial favourites.” (Michelin Guide) We love the Belle Époque decor and elegant service as well.
6th – Saint-Germain-des-Prés
41 rue Saint-André des Arts
This venerable, century-old restaurant is also managed by the Ducasse Group, who has maintained the classic cuisine with a strong bistro influence. The original decor, with red velvet banquettes and wallpaper, has been beautifully restored as well.The menu has all the delectable items you’d expect: duck, roasted chicken, Beef Bourguignon, Pommes Cocotte and for dessert Île Flottante — If you’ve never had one of these dreamy creations (meringue floating atop crème anglaise) go for that alone.
22 rue Guillaume Apollinaire
Skip the always-tourist-filled Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore and opt for a table at Beau Regard. Order foie-gras & figs, mussels, steak & frites. A bottle of Champagne would be appropriate as well. Then, as the name suggests, sit back and enjoy the café views.
9 rue de l’Éperon
Located in the 6th arrondissement, L’Épigramme is almost in the 5th, or Quartier Latin. Purple doors make this bistro easy to find and the color is appropriate, since this cozy little place seems made for romance. Menu offerings might include stuffed suckling pig with turnip choucroute, seared slices of lamb with root vegetables. Prices are heart-warming as well: three courses are 42€, seven courses are 69€.
54 Rue de Seine
Young passionate chefs work to provide a deliciously innovative menu featuring vegetables they procure from exclusive growers. However, the Semilla team does a beautiful job with meat and fish as well. Medium pricing. Great wine list. Be sure to make reservations as the restaurant fills up quickly!
7th – Tour Eiffel
84 rue de Varenne
Within the galaxy of Michelin-Star restaurants in Paris, Arpège, with three stars, is one of the most dazzling. An infinite number of reviews, critiques and even Netflix documentaries attest to the culinary brilliance of Chef Alain Passard, who in 2001 began to feature vegetables over meat on his menus. Today, Passard oversees three large vegetable gardens outside Paris and although meat and fish are offered, “vegetables reign supreme at Arpège,” says Alain Passard. The experience is remarkable — maybe even life changing! $$$$$$
Champ de Mars
For the experience of a lifetime, book one of the many dining options within the Eiffel Tower — all available for either lunch and dinner. The first and second levels offer nicely-prepared buffets and a macaron bar. Also on the first level, Madame Brasserie offers fine dining and an excellent wine list. Or REALLY splurge and book Le Jules Verne. This Michelin star restaurant has served numerous heads of state and is a culinary tour de force to match the iconic tower itself. Finally, at the top of the tower you can toast the City of Lights at the Champagne Bar. All restaurants can be booked on line — the earlier the better!
8th – Champs-Élysées
Mimosa & Café Lapérouse – Hôtel de la Marine
2 Place de la Concorde
Spend an hour or so walking through this treasure of a museum — literally, the former palace used to store the French kings’ crown jewels. Afterwards, have lunch or dinner at one of the two restaurants.
Mimosa is managed by Chef Jean-François Piège, who worked with Alain Ducasse before establishing his own two-star Michelin restaurant. An ode to fine French regional products, the menu takes inspiration from the South of France. The signature dish, Eggs Mimosa, is topped with Bottarga caviar, summer vegetables in tempura and grilled lobster.
Also on site is the more casual Café Lapérouse with two outdoor seating areas — one facing the Place de la Concorde and the other in the inner courtyard. The Café is open from breakfast to early dinner. A wine cellar and chocolate shop designed by Cordelia de Castellane, artistic director of Maison Dior, make your visit complete.
11th – Place de la Bastille
Bistrot Paul Bert
18 rue Paul Bert
Humble and sans prétention, Bistrot Paul Bert is currently one of Paris’ hottest eateries. Originally, a butcher shop, Chef Sylvain Sendra has kept the old interiors intact. And in fact they are a perfect background for his dishes, such as slow-cooked pork with apricots, prunes, and almonds served with fried potatoes. Choux à la Crème pastry with a rich, praline-cream filling is a top dessert. The three-course lunch for 18€ is one of the city’s great dining bargains; evening a very reasonable 36€. Book VERY early!
Qui Plume la Lune
50 true Amelot
Located in the heart of Bastille, Qui Plume la Lune (meaning “Who stole the moon?”) is modest but elegant, with wooden tables and brick walls. A very intimate gastronomic restaurant with no menu. Chefs Jean-Christophe Rizet and Jacky Ribault change the menu daily or even mid-service depending on their moods and inspiration. But no one complains about the innovative cuisine of these two talented men.
12th – Gare de Lyon – Bois de Vincennes
Le Train Bleu
Gare de Lyon
Take a ride back in time at Le Train Bleu, located within the Gare de Lyon. Belle Époque murals and Art Nouveau decor make for one of Paris’ most unique dining experiences at the two-star Michelin restaurant. More about this exceptional dining here.
15th – Paris Expo – Porte de Versailles
Paris Expo – Rooftop – Pavilion 6
If you visit Versailles add this remarkable restaurant to your itinerary. More than a dining option, Le Perchoir (The Perch) is also Europe’s largest urban farm! Over 3 acres are planted with vegetables and fruit trees on a rooftop overlooking the Expo and city. An enormous open terrace provides views of the impressive project and 100% of the produce served at the restaurant is from the farm.
The delicious signature dishes include whole artichoke with gribiche sauce, green and white asparagus with a hazelnut butter emulsion, whole sea bass with vegetables, corn, red and green salsa & tortilla and Angus beef chuck flap with zucchini and tomatoes, potatoes & herb juice. And, if you’d like a first-hand look at the gardens, you’re more than welcome to stroll amongst the vegetables.
16th – Jardins de Trocadéro
La Girafe Restaurant
Palais de Chaillot
1 Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre
For another angle on the ultimate Paris view, book a table at La Girafe. This sumptuously elegant restaurant is located directly across from the Eiffel Tower. Watch the legendary monument light up on the hour while dining on oysters and caviar, an enormous selection of fresh fish or steaks in Béarnaise sauce. Of course, the wine list is exceptional. Wondrous cheese plates, chocolate chouquettes or orange-passion Pavlovas are a perfect finish.
Cristal Room – Musée Baccarat
11 Place des États-Unis
An absolute delight! The Baccarat Museum displays over 1,000 jaw-dropping pieces in just a few rooms, so it’s easy to get through. Afterwards, treat yourself to lunch at the Cristal Room. This tiny restaurant was designed by Philippe Stark with jewel-toned banquettes to match the brilliantly colored crystal. Chandeliers, objets d’art and 576 crystal tiles light up the room. As you’d expect, authentic Baccarat crystal adorns each setting. Diners may chose from several signature Baccarat patterns to enjoy while dining — Harcourt, Mille Nuits, Vega, Mosaic, or the Crystal of Kings.
The menu is superb. Chef Mathieu Mécheri serves up French classics: roast duck with figs or roast chicken with chanterelles and potatoes mousseline. For dessert try a dreamy Grand Marnier soufflé or peach macaron with sorbet. Savor the moment with a few extra Champagne toasts — just be sure to clink gently!
18th – Montmartre – Sacré-Coeur – Moulin Rouge
14 Rue Ferdinand Flocon
This terrific little restaurant sits just behind the Montmartre Hôtel de Ville. Dishes are inventive and beautifully plated at a good value — starter & main course are 29€. Add a dessert for a total of 45€.
35 rue Ramey
Off the Montmartre tourist beat, Polissons (meaning the “Naughty Ones”) offers a superb daily prix-fixe for both lunch and dinner. Selections might include mushroom consommé, scallops and wasabi tartare, veal or rabbit. Desserts could be a decadent chocolate mousse or Millefeuille. Prices are mouth-watering as well. Main courses are around 26€ or treat yourself to a phenomenal six-courses for 65€