I must admit that I love to eat so it’s fortunate that I’m heading for Paris this weekend where food is taken very, very seriously. I’m hoping to taste my way through the best that the city can offer as well as enjoy the Paris lights and Christmas spirit. We’re flying Air France from my local airport of Bristol and in just a short hop we’ll be arriving at the Hotel Pullman in Montparnasse, which I gather has great views of the Eiffel Tower. To help me get the best from our long weekend I’ve been asking blogging friends and Paris locals for their food recommendations. Here are some ideas for markets, cool cafes and grand restaurants as well as fun food experiences that I’m hoping to try when I’m in Paris;
Easy and affordable eating
1. Le Puits de Légumes vegetarian restaurant recommended by Barbara Weibel at Hole in the Donut
Vegetarian food is catching on in Paris, but the selections are still few and far between. One of the best is Le Puits de Légumes, a cozy cafe with seating for 30, located between Cardinal Lemoine and the Quais de Seine in the 5th Arrondissement. The smiling owner doubles as waitress and cook and pulls out all the stops to make sure customers are happy and well-fed. The portions were huge and I loved the tray of condiments and spices that allowed everyone to season their food individually. Best of all, the price is very affordable, with a three course meal that included coffee and dessert for less than 20 Euros
2. Le Relais Gascon in Montmartre recommended by Michael Schuermann from Easyhiker
In Montmartre (where we lived for 20 years), we generally took friends and visitors to Le Relais Gascon on Rue des Abbesses (50m away from Metro Abesses): young, student-ish, a little bohemian perhaps. Order one of their full-meal-sized salads.
3. Opium Oyster bar recommended by Doni Belau from Girls’ Guide to Paris
There is a fairly new place on rue de Seine that offers just oysters (and a few other shellfish) and has only four tables, called Opium. It’s reminiscent of a small oyster cabin that you might find in Cap Ferrat on the Atlantic coast of France. The owner is extremely friendly and the oysters are to die for, perfect for a holiday celebration. After filling up on oysters you can go down the street for a Spanish Jamon sampling at da rosa. A roaming tapas style evening and a fun way to eat.
4. Rue du Faubourg St Denis recommended by Michael Schuermann from Easyhiker
Best place for a “food journey around the world”: Rue du Faubourg St Denis in the 10th. Start at the Gare de l’Est end, with a sandwich from the Mauritian fast food stall, continue with a Kurdish pizza (or something from the new-ish Syrian restaurant at the very end) and finish with some baclava from one of the North African patissiers.
5.Parisian Crepes recommended by Chantal Dewolf from The Wolf Will Travel
For authentic Parisian crepes, head over to the Montparnasse district to La Creperie de Josselin (67 Rue du Montparnasse, 75014 Paris). It’s a little (literally), family-run business – hence no website- but the crepes are to die for! On weekends, the lines for the creperie are spilling out onto the street, but the wait is totally worth it. Large sarrasin crepes (savory) are served with pichets of cider, and for dessert why not try a flaming sweet crepe?
6. Grillades Au Feu Du Bois recommended by Michael Schuermann from Easyhiker
For Couscous, we loved to go to a place on 92 Rue du Faubourg du Temple in the 11th, simply called Grillades Au Feu Du Bois – very Algerian, with men in kaftans on benches, serving huge portions (best as take away: one portion of the Couscous Royale feeds 2). In general, we always feel that Couscous is best when it is treated as every day working man’s food, not as some chi-chi novelty food waiting to be “fused” with the chef’s latest whim.
7. Le Bal Café is recommended by Ludovic Yken from Paris Offbeat
If you want to try an amazing brunch on sunday morning, just go the Bal Café where you will find the best English food in Paris. And in the same time, you can visit the exhibition of Le Bal, a very small museum of Photographers (it’s the place of Magnum agency)
8. L’orillon Bar is recommended by Ludovic Yken from Paris Offbeat
L’orillon Bar is the new bar in town ! and a secret : Top quality products at the bar and in the kitchen. There are classic beers as well as monthly featured brew. Plus a selection of excellent wine ! And you can order a cheese or charcuterie broad , really good with an excellent quality/ price ratio. Check out this review from Le Fooding
9. Raclette at Chalet Savoyard recommended by Chantal Dewolf from The Wolf Will Travel
For fondue/raclette, ideal for a winter visit, I’d recommend a restaurant in the 11th arrondisement called the Chalet Savoyard . What makes this place stand out is the fact that the raclette is served with a hulking 1/2 wheel of cheese, placed on a raclette grilling aparatus right on your table. A huge part of the experience is watching the cheese grill, scraping it off, and serving yourself. Be prepared to leave STUFFED! (Booking essential)
10. Le galopin is recommended by Ludovic Yken from Paris Offbeat
Le Galopin is a little restaurant set in the pretty Saint-Marthe square, the menu changes according to the mood of the chef ( Romain Tischenko) and the fresh products available on the markets. The chef is a real magician and his fusion cuisine is a delight!
Dining in grand surroundings
11. Le Restaurant at Musée d’Orsay recommended by Mark Heers at Travel Wonders of the World
When visual exhaustion finally sets in after gazing over one too many Monets, van Goghs, Cezannes, Gaughins or Renoirs in the grand ex-railway station which is now the Impressionist Mecca, Musée d’Orsay, make your way to le premier étage for an aristocratic afternoon tea in Le Restaurant. With vibrant ceiling frescoes lined with gold leaf, glittering chandeliers and elegant service, take your time savouring every mouthful of decadently tangy and velvety lemon and meringue tart as your eyes soak in a visual feast of original artworks and a panoramic vista along the Seine.
12. Le Train Bleu is recommended by Vera Marie Badertscher from A Traveler’s Library
Big Ben Bar, at Le Train Bleu in the Gare de Lyon was as close as we came to a splurge on our visit to Paris. I wanted to eat at Le Train Bleu, or at least to see the gilded age glory of this train station restaurant from the late 1800′s. We inadvertently did it right. Because we did not have reservations and were there an hour before they opened for dinner (at 7:00 p.m.) we were served dinner in the bar–really just an extension of the dining room. So we got the great view of the decor, ate fabulous food, and paid much less. Read Vera Marie’s other Paris eating suggestions
13. Restaurant at top of Tour Montparnasse – recommended by Abigail King of Inside the Travel Lab
Forget the Eiffel Tower. The best place to have dinner in Paris if you’re looking for iconic views is at the restaurant in Tour Montparnasse – where you can see the Eiffel Tower. Arrive early to grab one of the coveted window seats and time your trip with the seasons to make sure you’re in position as the sun sets. Food is fresh, French and earns its high price tag but as you might expect from a position like this, it doesn’t attract a local crowd.
14. Cafe Marly at the Louvre recommended by Ana Silva O’Reilly from Mrs O around the world
For dinner and a glass of champagne, we booked a table at the Louvre, no less. I loved the intimite ambiance of Cafe Marly, with views of the Louvre pyramid. The food was delicious and I couldn’t help noticing the waitresses, clad in Lancel handbags and Christian Louboutin heels. So French and so chic! (and not very touristy)
Sweet and delicious in Paris
15. L’Eclair de Génie recommended by Lindsey Tramuta from Lost in Cheeseland
Eclairs aren’t just indulgent, they are the quintessential French pastry and often the first the French bite into as children. It’s easy to eat on the go, celestially creamy and eminently giftable. Now, it’s also fashionable – at L’Eclair de Génie, renowned pastry chef (and éclair authority) Christophe Adam crafts some 30 flavors as original as the designs themselves. I’d take a lemon Yuzu or Vanilla-Maple-Pecan éclair over a staid chocolate one any day. Pick up a small box to-go and I guarantee you’ll be back for more. Read about the new wave of eclairs in Paris
16. Mariage Freres is recommended by Vera Marie Badertscher from A Traveler’s Library
At Mariage Freres, tea can count as a meal if it is high tea and if you are not extremely hungry. At our landlord’s suggestion, we visited this tea room near our apartment. Turns out that in this country where not very many people drink tea, Mariage Freres produces the absolute best. The brothers Mariage started trading back in the 17th century, and are still at it. The building is quaint, the service impeccable and the varieties of tea astounding. Price for two pots of tea and one complete plate of snacks: €20.00. This was absolutely one of the high points of Paris for me.
Wonderful food markets to wander
17. Rue Montorgeuil is recommended by Jenny Freedman of A Taste of Travel
Rue Montorgeuil is one of the oldest market streets in central Paris. Fabulous food shops line both sides of this pedestrian street near to where the Les Halles market once stood. Don’t miss being tempted by the fabulous pastries at Stohrer or the incredible selection of cheeses at La Fermette. Fish shops surprise, the fruit shop is called a palace and here the butcher will cook dinner for you! Of course stopping at one of the local cafes is a must! Read about Jenny’s visit to Rue Montorgeuil
18. Marche d’Aligre Food tour with My Genie in Paris recommended by Ana Silva O’Reilly from Mrs O around the world
I really enjoyed my morning with My Genie in Paris on its Bastille market and food tour in and around Marche d’Aligre. I love markets as they tell a lot about the city; the smells, the different foods and flavours, and of course the people. The places we went to were pretty unique, with some wine, charcuterie and an incredible cheese selection. I will never forget the Baron Rouge wine bar where we ended with oysters and a glass of Sancerre at 11.30 in the morning. Read more about Mrs O’s weekend in Paris
PS I’m also going to be enjoying a food tour of Marche d’Aligre with Viator – look out for my reports on that later
19. Rue Montorgeuil is also recommended by Kathryn Burrington from Travel with Kat
We took a guided tour of the delightful food shops on rue Montorgueil, moving from shop to shop along this lovely cobbled, pedestrian-only street, delighting our eyes and our taste buds. I particularly enjoyed visiting the oldest pâtisserie in Paris, Maison Stohrer, which had the most tempting of sweet treats you can imagine. The fromagerie, La Fermette, had a wonderful range to choose from and the service was as good as the cheeses – superb! Read more about Kat’s food tour on Rue Montorgueil
20. Rue Mouffetard recommended by Chantal Dewolf from The Wolf Will Travel
There are several food markets in Paris, but for me, the best market can be found on Rue Mouffetard. Not a traditional food market, as the street itself is home to several restaurants and boutiques, but there are open-air fresh produce stalls tempting you with juicy strawberries and grapes, amongst others. There is a wonderful flowershop, a fromagerie, a poissoniere, a charcuteriere and of course several boulangeries. The street is packed on a Sunday. Very often, live music fills the air and its not uncommon to see shoppers join the dancers on the street. Be sure to try the obligatory rose shaped ice cream concoctions from Gelati d’Alberto.
Un verre de vin?
21. O Chateau for wine tasting is recommended by Linda Bibb from As We Saw It
No visit to Paris is complete without enjoying a bit of French wine. Sure, you can order a glass of the house red at dinner, but why not go one step further and enjoy quality wines at a real wine tasting? We splurged on a 1½-hour wine tasting at O Château. The sommelier who led our class took all the mystery out of tasting and enjoying wine. He explained the differences between French wines and how to evaluate them. We learned so much and had so much fun!
For those with limited time or cash there’s a wine bar with 40 varieties available by the glass. Or if you prefer, you can enjoy a gourmet dinner in their restaurant afterward. You can pop in to the wine bar whenever you want, but they recommend that you book meals and wine tastings ahead of time on their website.
22. Un verre de vin chaud recommended by Anne Ditmeyer of Prêt à Voyager
If you’re visiting in winter, a vin chaud or mulled wine is the perfect beverage. It’s nice to have an adult friendly warm drink on cold days. It’s something you should be able to find at any of the Christmas markets around the city, however those have lost a lot of their charm over the years in my option – at least the ones along the Champs Elysées and near the Eiffel Tower. But you can still get a cup to go as you stroll around the neighborhoods. I’d recommend Abbesses – the holiday lights around Montmarte are particularly charming. You should also be able to order a vin chaud at most French cafes – try Cafe des Deux Moulins (from Amèlie) at 15 rue Lepic in the 18th. Check out Anne’s design tours of Paris through Vayable.
Cooking and dining with locals
23. La Cuisine Paris cookery school recommended by Lindsey Tramuta from Lost in Cheeseland
A view of the Seine, a state of the art kitchen and French chefs ready and willing to show you how to make the best croissant or most flavorful coq au vin. At La Cuisine Paris, a cooking school a mere few blocks from the city hall (Hôtel de Ville), you’re guaranteed all three and heaps more. I’ve taken cooking and pastry classes at this school numerous times and have found the experience immensely enjoyable. If pastry or cooking isn’t your thing, consider their cheese class which covers everything from the history and production to the differences between types of cheeses, with copious tastings throughout the class.
24. Dining with locals at Voulez Vous Diner recommended by Doni Belau from Girls’ Guide to Paris
The best way that I know of for a visitor to meet and have dinner with a local (and the safest) is to check out Voulez Vous Diner. For a set fee, one can look up the various hosts available on the appropriate night that works for you and you can also check out the hosts interests and then book a table to meet and eat with a vrai Parisian. My husband and I did this one night, and truly enjoyed meeting our host who happened to be the gentleman who started a well known program of philosophy discussion nights around Paris. Needless to say our host and his son were both fascinating and the food wasn’t bad either. Read A Girls’ Guide to Paris review of Voulez Vous Diner
25. Dining with locals at Cookening recommended by Cedric Georgi from Cookening.com
I met Cedric recently at a travel blogger’s conference and he kindly offered me the opportunity to try out a night eating with a local Parisian through Cookening, the organisation that Cedric helped found. Guy and I are really looking to our evening sampling some Cordon Bleu French Creole cuisine with Adelia who lives not far from Hotel Pullman where we are staying in Montparnasse. The examples of dishes on the website such as crab salad with lime and panfried tuna with lemon and capers look delicious, so we are looking forward to seeing what’s on the menu and I’ll be giving a full report when I get back.
More delicious Paris posts
Our hotel room with a view – Review of Hotel Pullman Paris Montparnasse with video
A Postcard from Notre Dame de Paris
The fresh taste of Paris – our tour of Marche d’Aligre with Viator
Dine with the locals in Paris (via Guadaloupe) – with Cookening
Our winter weekend in Paris – the food, the sights, the video
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