Paris: dining in the great outdoors

By Natasha Edwards, a Travel Professional

Read more on Paris.

Overall rating:4.0 out of 5 (based on 1 vote)
Recommended for:
Business, Food and Drink, Romance, Budget, Expensive, Mid-range

In summer, every Paris restaurant sprouts an outdoor table or two – but some have turned al fresco eating into an art. For a spot of people-watching in gardens and on terraces, here are my top five

Best for power dining:
LAURENT, Champs-Elysées

At this grand-occasion restaurant, in one of the pleasure pavilions put up for King Louis-Philippe in the 1840s, the entire establishment moves into the garden in summer, where tables, set around a fountain, are carefully screened by a hedge from the hoi-polloi on the Champs-Elysées beyond. As it’s close to the Elysée Palace, Président Sarkozy is a regular – always choosing the lobster salad, apparently.
Who goes?
Power brokers at lunch, amorous couples by night.
What to eat
Beautifully presented haute cuisine, given modern lightness and a touch of the south by chef Alain Pégouret, from Cannes. Try the john dory with razor clams.
41 avenue Gabriel (+33 1 42 25 00 39,
How much?
€150; menu €80. Open lunch and dinner Mon-Fri, dinner Sat.
Where to stay
For a luxurious, romantic hideaway with chinoiserie rooms, try Hôtel Daniel; doubles from €420.

Best for seafood:
LA CAGOUILLE, Montparnasse

This redeveloped corner of Montparnasse is a curious 1980s throwback, but you soon forget about the uninspiring architecture for the fabulous fish, courteous service and agreeably peaceful terrace, sheltered from a paved square by bushes and pot plants. Chef Gérard Allemandou is a purist and you may initially be surprised by the minimalism of the dishes – but the essence here is top-quality fish and shellfish and nothing but, simply prepared and perfectly timed.
Who goes?
Businessmen for weekday lunch, an eclectic range of Parisians at night and weekends.
What to eat
Buttery baby sole, red mullet with herbs and the Paris-Brest for two (a ring-shaped choux pastry dessert); the selection of Cognacs is also renowned.
Place Constantin Brancusi (+33 1 43 00 09 01,
How much?
Set menus €26, €42; average €40. Open lunch and dinner daily.
Where to stay
The black and white abba Montparnasse Hôtel, the most stylish on the rue de la Gaîté theatre strip. Doubles from €132.

Best for peace and quiet:

Concealed from the street behind a porte cochère archway, the paved courtyard garden provides an unexpectedly bucolic interlude in a heavily built-up part of town. Well-spaced tables are ideal for quiet conversation shaded by elegant parasols and impressive trees.
Who goes?
Business suits at lunch, hotel guests and smart local residents by night, when the path is illuminated by a trail of candles.
What to eat
Young Alain Ducasse protogée Alexandre Nicolas, fresh from the Paris and London Spoons, puts a chic, modern take on French regional cooking, using ethically sourced ingredients. Try the Parisian-style cured salmon and tender baby lamb sautéed with spring vegetables.
57 avenue Raymond-Poincaré (+33 1 44 05 66 10,
How much?
Average €45; set menu €37 (lunch), €47 (dinner). Open lunch and dinner Mon-Fri, dinner Sat.
Where to stay
The adjoining Renaissance Paris Hôtel Le Parc Trocadéro; doubles from €220.

Best for arty types:

This arty hotel has an equally buzzing restaurant with neo-70s dining room and a real walled garden at the rear, where you sit at tiny round tables surrounded by cascading ivy. It is candlelit by night and conveniently heated should it be a little chilly. The all-day service and flexible menu allow you to eat light or a full-scale meal but what makes it stand out for such a hip place are the friendly waitresses and unpretentious attitude.
Who goes?
A relaxed international bunch of young trendies.
What to eat
Simple dishes using quality ingredients range from chicken Caesar salad to hamburgers and free-range chicken with chips.
8 rue Navarin (+33 1 48 78 31 80,
How much?
Average €28. Open lunch and dinner daily.
Where to stay
Upstairs, the Hôtel Amour offers arty boho chic, with black corridors and artist-designed rooms; doubles from €140.

Best for fashionistas:

Ever since Georges landed on top of the Centre Pompidou in 2000, it has been one of the most prized dining spots in town, whether you opt for avant-garde metal pods inside or the outdoor roof terrace. You are torn between observing the fashionable fauna at table and the magical panorama of Paris below. Part of the Costes empire (Hôtel Costes, L'Avenue, Café Beaubourg), it employs staff who are predictably young, lithe and offhand – but you’re here for the people-watching and the view.
Who goes?
Art lovers by day, beautiful fashion people by night.
What to eat
Food is easygoing if overpriced; go for the Tigre qui Pleure (beef marinated in cognac and flame grilled) and the raspberry macaroon.
Where? Centre Pompidou, rue Rambuteau (+33 1 44 78 47 99,
How much?
Average €60. Open lunch and dinner Wed-Mon.
Where to stay
For suave contemporary design in two old Marais buildings, try Hôtel Duo; doubles from €200.

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More information on Paris: dining in the great outdoors:

Natasha Edwards
Traveller type:
Travel Professional
Guide rating:
Average: 4 (1 vote)
Total views:
First uploaded:
15 June 2009
Last updated:
6 years 2 weeks 20 hours 30 min 35 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Trip types:
Business, Food and Drink, Romance
Budget level:
Budget, Mid-range, Expensive
Free tags / Keywords:
gardens, restaurants, outdoors, summer

Natasha recommends


Price from Rating
(out of 5)
1. Hôtel Amour
2. Hotel Duo
3. Hotel Daniel
4. Abba Montparnasse Hotel
5. Renaissance Paris Hotel Le Parc Trocadero

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Community comments (1)

0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

This guide picks an excellent 'theme' for a new slant on Paris. Outside restaurants are often difficult to locate, especially if the area used is a concealled courtyard or roof space, so getting 5 great al fresco locations in one guide is extremely helpful. The idea of twinning each restaurant with a hotel in the same price band is also relevant and imaginative.

While the pictures are great, it would be much better to have at least one for each of the venues mentioned - outside spaces can be particularly tricky to imagine without some guidance. It would also be helpful to get some idea of whether/when each restaurant is even vaguely likely to be accessible, with or without a booking - at least one that is mentioned is pretty hard to get into without good connections, and it would reduce disappointment to provide a bit of information on this topic, and related 'tipping' requirements...

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