10 best French restaurants in Paris
Down-market food trucks and pop-up restaurants are invading Paris.
To find the most memorable Paris dining experiences, we turned to Meg Zimbeck, brainchild behind the extensive online food guide Paris by Mouth.
Zimbeck and her colleagues lead walking tours in the French capital, and have been seeking out the best tables in the city for years.
With her help, we compiled a list of 10 best French restaurants in the City of Light.
Bistrot Paul Bert
“This is one of the restaurants that I always recommend when people ask for a classic bistro experience,” says Zimbeck.
Located in the east section of the city, the bistro has a lively atmosphere and serves delicious steak frites and apple tart.
Also worth checking out: the owner recently opened up a modern version, Le 6 Paul Bert, just down the street.
€35-50 (US$40-66); 18 rue Paul Bert, 75011; +33 1 43 72 24 01; Open Tuesday-Saturday 12:30 p.m.-2 p.m., 7:30 p.m.-11 p.m.; parisbymouth.com/bistrot-paul-bert
Eastern Paris is where a lot of the more inventive cooking is happening, and Septime helped set this trend.
A beautiful dining room and open kitchen form the backdrop for carefully perfected innovative cuisine. It can be tricky to get a table -- not surprising for one of the best French restaurants in Paris -- but it’s worth the time and patience.
“Septime's the place where you can go and depend on having beautiful service that makes you feel special and welcomed,” says Zimbeck.
€35-50 (US$46-66); 80 rue de Charonne, Paris; +33 1 43 67 38 29; Monday 7:30 p.m.-10 p.m., Tues-Fri 12:30 p.m.-2 p.m., 7:30 p.m.-10 p.m.; septime-charonne.fr
The little brother of renowned Chez Michel, Chez Casimir shares a kitchen with the pricier counterpart, though it serves more affordable fare.
Located near Gare du Nord, it's particularly convenient for Eurostar riders or those looking for affordable dining, and what Zimbeck calls the best cheese plate in the city.
“It’s where the locals go for high-caliber bistro food,” she says.
€20-30 (US$26-40); 6 rue de Belzunce, Paris; +33 1 48 78 28 80; Monday-Friday noon-2:30 p.m., 7 p.m.-11 p.m., Saturday-Sunday open 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; parisbymouth.com/our-guide-to-paris-chez-casimir
For charm, ease and no-frills food, this no-reservations restaurant offers you one choice: steak frites. Though touristy, it never fails to deliver, with its brasserie-style décor and attentive servers.
Served with secret sauce and crispy fries, the portions seem scant until the wait staff comes around with the much-welcomed second helping.
Families with picky eaters or those looking to avoid reservations will appreciate the restaurant’s three locations.
Price €25-30 (US$33-40); 20 rue Saint-Benoit, Paris; +33 1 45 49 16 00; Monday-Friday noon-2:30 p.m., 7 p.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday noon-3 p.m., 7 p.m.-11 p.m.; www.relaisentrecote.fr
Hipster gastronomes will love the daring and innovative dishes that come with this no-choice menu.
“They take the ingredients that morning and put them together in interesting ways,” says Zimbeck.
Reserve a table, if you can, but unless you plan far in advance, you’ll have to join the crowd on the sidewalk waiting for a spot in line. The small room and portions don’t make for a relaxed meal, but one that will surprise and excite.
At least a contender for one of Paris' best French restaurants.
€60 prix-fixe menu (US$80); 129 Avenue de Parmentier, Paris; +33 1 43 57 45 95; Tuesday-Saturday 7:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. with reservation, 9:30 p.m. and on without reservation; www.lechateaubriand.net
Opened by the innovative American couple behind the now-closed private dining club Hidden Kitchen, this romantic restaurant is exclusive without being pretentious.
Tucked away behind the Palais-Royal, the top-notch food features fresh, seasonal flavors, not to mention one of the best fried chicken dishes in the city, available at the wine bar.
This winter, they opened a sandwich table at their wine bar for lunch.
“There's a lot of engagement and conversation,” says Zimbeck.
€60 tasting menu (US$80); 52 rue de Richelieu, Paris; +33 1 42 97 54 40; Monday-Friday 6 p.m.-11 p.m.; sandwich station hours: Monday-Friday 12:30 p.m.-2 p.m.; www.verjusparis.com
A relative newcomer in the tourist-laden roads of St-Germain, this modern eatery features an open kitchen with a distinguished M.O.F. chef, the highest French honor for craftsmen.
With wine sourced from the nearby Dernière Goutte wine shop, Semilla offers small production vintages alongside a large selection of full or half-sized plates.
You can get out of the three-course meal rut, says Zimbeck, with “comforting, healthy, bright flavors.”
€35-50 (US$46-66); 54 rue de Seine, Paris; +33 1 43 54 34 50; 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m., 7 p.m.-11 p.m. (until 10 p.m. on Sunday); parisbymouth.com/our-guide-to-paris-semilla
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L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
If you're looking for the best French restaurants in Paris and haven't yet come here, do so.
Legendary French chef and restauranteur Joel Robuchon operates two restaurants in Paris, and if Michelin stars are on your itinerary but you never got around to making a booking, this is the best bet for a last-minute table.
The food is better than the ambiance. Small delectable plates of suckled pig or caviar with smoked eel potatoes won’t break the bank. Or splurge for the nine-course tasting menu. At €199, it’s no bargain, but it’s good value.
“It’s relatively affordable for a Michelin star restaurant,” says Zimbeck.
€199 tasting menu (US$265); 5 rue de Montalembert, Paris; +33 1 42 22 56 56; closed Christmas Eve, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.-midnight; www.joel-robuchon.net
This wine shop doubles as one of the city’s most charming restaurants launched by Bertrand Bluy, who gave up a three-Michelin-star post for something more casual in the Latin Quarter.
A copious four-course fixed menu features a main dish served family-style out of a copper pot and usually a plate of cheese. The plates change daily.
“A lot of chefs like to go there on their day off because they don’t have to think about it,” says Zimbeck. Call ahead for reservations or go around 7 p.m. to get a seat for an early dinner.
€33 (US$44) fixed menu, €7 (US$9) corkage fee, wines €20-60 (US$27-80); 30 rue Gay Lussac, Paris; +33 1 43 25 20 79; Tuesday-Sun noon-2:30 p.m., 7 p.m.-10 p.m.; www.lespapillesparis.fr
No French culinary experience is complete without the mighty crêpe.
With subtle Japanese touches in the decoration and plate presentation (think salted butter caramel with yuzu), this authentic Breton sit-down crêperie is the authority in Paris.
Try any of their overly stuffed buckwheat galettes made using Bordier butter and wash it down with one of their many artisanal ciders. According to Zimbeck, they’re a world apart from what you’ll find at most street side crêpe stands.
Reservations are required, as ususal, for the best French restaurants in Paris.
€14-25 (US$19-33); 109 rue Vieille du Temple, Paris; +33 1 42 72 13 77; Wednesday-Saturday noon-10 p.m., Sunday noon-11 p.m.; www.breizhcafe.com
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