It's easy to work up an appetite strolling around the alluring city of Paris, but difficult to know where to eat. Read my guide to my favourite quaint and quirky eateries
Paris is a paradise for food lovers. Bursting at the seams with all types of foodie experiences designed to tempt and tantalise, from sweet-smelling decadent patisseries, to earthy traditional brasseries and cosy cafes, you certainly won't go hungry. Ok, tempted as you might be by every aroma and inviting restaurant front, how do you know where to eat? I have selected my absolute favourites that always tempt me back and have never let me down.
Allard - best ambience
If you want to walk in the footsteps of Jackie O and other chic celebrities from a bygone era, head to this legendary Parisian haunt decorated in 1950’s Art Deco style. Do as the Parisiens do and spend a (really) long evening lingering over really good food and equally good wine. The best foie gras in Paris (in my opinion), and delicious Sole Meunière. Set dinner menus from a reasonable € 35. Overall, always a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
(1, rue de l'Eperon, 6th Arrondissement (St-Germain/Luxembourg); + 33 1 4326 4823; www.allard.abemadi.com)
Métro: St-Michel or Odéon
Best for: Romantic suppers, intimate get togethers
Chez Julien - best bistro
This quaint little bistro with its inviting and attractive exterior, and equally warm cosy interior is best for whiling away a rainy afternoon in the vibrant Latin Quarter. Try the assiette de charcuterie (big enough to share) accompanied by some doughy country bread. The fantastic prawn risotto, strong in herbs, rich in flavour never fails to please. Lunch will only set you back about €30 - €35.
(16 Rue mabillon, 6th Arrondissement (St-Germain/Luxembourg); +33 1 4354 5608; www.bistro-dhenri.com)
Best for: Early cosy dinners, late post-theatre suppers
Les Olivades- best for French classics
This stylish left-bank eatery makes for an enjoyable dining experience. Its interior reeks of class and quality, but yet is warm without being stuffy in any way. Popular with locals, you’ll need to book. Mouth-watering classics such as croustillant de chèvre fermierr (crunchy country goat’s cheese) with fruity fig chutney, and desserts to die for such as the irresistible Grand Marnier souffle. Go for the set menu which won't break the bank at a very reasonable €28.
(41, Avenue de Ségur, 7th Arrondissement; +33 1 4783 7009; www.deligne-lesolivades.fr.tc)
Best for: Post-shopping pitstop, relaxing dinner with a food-lover
La Cordienniere - best traditional French food
One of my more recent discoveries and this gets my tops vote on all counts. This amazing tiny eatery is tucked away in a very unassuming side-street, with an even more unimpressive front. In fact I had walked past it twice, and even peered in the window to make sure it was in fact a bona-fide restaurant!
We were not greeted by the owner, or even a waitress, but a rather large dog! Part of the family we were informed. With barely 20 seats, some centre-stage beside the miniscule cramped open kitchen where you can watch, and chat with the very personable chef owner, Hugo. The menu is short but varied, Hugo even took the time to explain all of the specials to us in advance of ordering. The food was simply delicious, from rich foie gras with deep flavours, hearty Provencal rich casseroles, to crispy pan-fried duck in a wild berry jus. A very intimate and insightful experience to French cuisine, and one I will always go back to when I am in Paris.
(20 Rue Saint-Roch, 1st Arrondissement; + 33 01 4260 1742; www.restaurantlacordonnerie.com)
Metro: Pyramides / Tuileries
Best for : Dog-lovers (yes really), chilled-out dinner with friends
Comptoir de la Gastronomie - best rustic cuisine
To sum it up - a food-lover's paradise. For a true experience to sample true gastronomic French food at its finest, this is simply a must. Generous steaming pots of cassolout and foie gras (of course) are the mainstay in this old rustic restaurant.
(34 Rue Montmartre, 1st Arrondissement; +33 01 4233 3132; www.comptoir-gastronomie.com)
Metro: Les Halles
Best for : Meat lovers, lovers of typical French ambience and style
Vaudeville - best brasserie
This brasserie bistro, lit by gigantic chandeliers, retains its marble walls and original Art Deco carvings from the early 20th century. Noisy, boisterous and informal, service is friendly, food is good, but it's most definitely the welcoming atmosphere and warm ambience that is the big draw. The best dishes include any of the house platters such as crayfish and asparagus and a selection of grilled meats. The escalope of warm foie gras with a seasonal fruit compote, and fresh pasta with morels are perfect for a late-night supper.
(29 Rue Vivienne, 2nd Arrondissement; + 33 01 4020 0462; www.vaudevilleparis.com)
Best for: Late night suppers with a group of friends
Chartier - best budget restaurant
This converted station house, now a Paris institution, has to be experienced at least once on any trip to Paris. On a budget? No problem. A meal will set you back about €20 for two courses, including wine – as long as you don’t mind sharing your table.
(7 rue du Faubourg Montmatre, 9th Arrondissement; + 33 01 4770 8629; www.restaurant-chartier.com)
Metro: Richelieu Druout or Grands Boulevards
Best for: Those on a budget seeking a cheap and cheerful French dining experience
Where to stay
Hotel du Bois (11, rue du Dôme; +33 1 4500 3196; www.hoteldubois.com) is a charming boutique hotel in a quiet cobbled street just a couple of minutes from the Arc de Triomphe, which makes this a great base. Rooms are petite, and typically Parisian but perfectly formed. Rooms around €200, although it is worth upgrading to a prestige room for €275.
Hotel Luxembourg Parc (42 rue de Vaugirard; + 33 1 5310 3650; www.luxembourg-paris-hotel.com) is a luxury boutique hotel, perfectly placed to explore the culinary delights of the Left Bank, and within walking distance of the area’s main sights, the metro and a good selection of cafés and restaurants. Good continental breakfast and staff were very friendly and helpful. As the hotel is on a busy street, try to get a room overlooking the Luxembourg Gardens or the enclosed courtyard. Rooms from €230 - €250.
Melia Colbert Boutique Hotel (7 Rue Hotel Colbert; + 33 1 56811900; www.solmelia.com) is a small luxurious hotel in a central location beside Notre Dame. Down a little narrow street, the area around the hotel is lively, and there are plenty of cafés and brasseries nearby. This is Parisian hospitality at a reasonable price. Rooms are average in size, but elegant and well appointed. Room prices vary between €190 and €230.