Gastronomy is always an important part of travels. But it is even more so for Paris due to the quality of the cuisine known worldwide. Did you prepare a list of best French dishes to try during your trip to Paris ?
Here you will find a group of suggestions about not only dishes you could try in Paris but also certain types and concepts. Specific products like chocolate or types of stores like "boulangeries" are particularly touched upon.
Furthermore, there are also a few tips to find a better place while traveling in Paris. Some additional info will be in answers for the most frequent questions.
Here we start the virtual French food tour !
1. Traditional French Cuisine
Food is seen as an art in France as the kitchens are the stage and the restaurants are the theaters. This is why the decoration and style is also important. The landmarks like Le Comptoir de Relais at Saint-Germain or Les Philosophes at Marais are two perfect examples to feel the genuine Paris with their setting and menu. For the travelers looking for more rustic taste, Robert et Louise cooks quality meat on wood fire in a medieval ambiance.
Making your choices according to the products is also a good way of finding the best places. Au Pied de Cochon is a classic specified on pork and established just next to Les Halles that was the big main market of Paris for a long time. If you like duck confit, the locals' recommendation would be Josephine Chez Dumonet, which feels like frozen in time in terms of the look and taste.
There are different ways to discover the authentic French dishes other than the bistros and restaurants in Paris. There are authentic delis packing all the charcuterie and cheese you may combine with the baguette from the corner bakery. As a very chic example Arnaud Nicolas and the multiple stores of Maison Verot stand out and are worth to check out.
2. Always go for Wine !
Everybody knows that wine is an essential part of the French Cuisine. The best places to improve yourself about oenology are called “Bar à Vin” or "La Cave” in France. The Cave stores are all about wine but with a variety of types and regions. The “Bar A Vin” venues serves other drinks but first and foremost focusing on wine. These bars are usually serving small but tasty small plates with local food resembling to Spanish tapas in style. Parisians are always having a full charcuterie or cheese platter.
Fancy or humble, there are many choices in this city. So, you may pick considering their locations. For example, Le Barav, in-between Marais and Republique Square, is a favorite of locals if you are looking somewhere on the Right Bank.
Across the river, in Saint-Germain area in the Left Bank, Bar Etna is a boutique wine bar serving in a tailor-made manner according your preferences. Their seafood plates are particularly recommended. Nearby the river, Le 5e Cru has a fantastic atmosphere and great selection of vines and cheese.
3. Look for Chocolate in Paris
“Chocolatiere” is the French label for the shops mastering on chocolate. The parisians are fond of the high quality chocolate that should be crunchy but melting in the mouth without getting grainy. Moreover, the smell tells a lot about a good piece of chocolate.
Around the tourist attractions, the franchises of globally known brands are dominantly visible. Among those, two brands feel a bit more authentic. Maybe you have already heard about the legendary Chef Alain Ducasse, who presents his craft for chocolate under his brand in Paris. The shop nearby Bastille Square displays the production process for chocolate as well. Patrick Roger is another fancy brand that you can find easily at multiple location.
For more boutique styles, Debauve & Gallais has represented a true classic for more than two centuries. This place was really a favorite of Napoleon Bonaparte in Paris! Shop Pralus on Avenue Rambuteau is a hidden gem with its praline rosé. Another specialty is the Chocolate Mousse of Chocolat Chapon nearby Boulevard Saint-Germain.
4. Chase history while eating
Le Procope was founded by a Sicilian chef in 1680s and since then has been a monument in Paris. Attached to La Comédie Française (still name of the street), it has been the meeting point of artists, intellectuals and statesmen in Paris.
Many historical figures were among frequenters of this place such as Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin or Robespierre. As the history surrounds you with the originality at every corner, you may just feel the former centuries of Paris.
Let's not forget about the food ! The quality of ingredients are obvious and their optional menus are presenting satisfactory combinations. Particularly, the fixed menu prices for the 2 or 3 pieces combos are quite reasonable for such a reputable place.
In case you might increase the budget, Le Grand Véfour has been serving at the Palais Royal near the Louvre Museum for 200 years. This Two-Michelin-Starred restaurant is where Napoleon Bonaparte had proposed his wife Josephine.
5. Simple & Tasty bites through Paris' Streets
Paris visitors are not supposed to eat at places with tablecloths all the time. The streets are filled with open windows, kiosks or corner shops extending delicious pieces. Besides, such options can definitely help the travelers to keep the expenses lower.
The most common type of quick takeaway food in Paris is called Crêpe. It is a thinner version of pancakes. You will see them in parks, around the monuments, on the streets... in short everywhere. The though is turning into a perfect large wrapping in a minute after being poured onto a hot plate.
It could be served with sweet or salty combinations according to your choice at the moment. The salty versions are also called galette, which are a bit darker in color because of the buckwheat. Cheese and ham is the most common duo for this kind of a quick lunch. If you go sweet, the optional ingredients are usually fruits, chocolate, nuts etc. All in all, you may see their menus around the window to find your potential favorite.
For a possible alternative, Felafel should be kept in mind ! In particular, if you are nearby Marais, it is impossible to miss the lines waiting for falafel. L'As is especially the famous one in the neighborhood.
6. Catch the Variety with Tasting Menus
There are several restaurants in Paris offering a package of delicious plates for a fixed price. Some of these places are really good from gastronomical aspects and they have a very nice ambiance at the same time. Different menus can bundle 4, 5, 6 or even up to 10 dishes for fixed prices between 45 to 80 Euros. And the rest is a rollercoaster with food in Paris !
The variety of food is great. The styles could range from most traditional French bites to a fusion of worldwide kitchens. Among all good alternatives, some make a little more difference. For example, the Michelin-level plates of Eels satisfy every sophisticated food lover in its hip neighborhood. Otherwise, if you are looking somewhere near major attractions, L'Ami Jean proves to be a sound choice.
7. Try a Michelin Starred Restaurant in Paris
Probably, it is not breaking news that France has the biggest numbers of Michelin-starred restaurants and the biggest portion is in Paris. So Paris is the best to discover the peaks of fine-dining. Some kitchens are run by globally famous chefs, while some others are proven to be very promising young stars of the gastro-world.
Some of the restaurants are even centuries-old historical monuments like Le Grand Véfour or Le Tour D'Argent, which is famous for its great view over the river and the old town. Its name ironically translates as "the tower of money"!
The good news is that some of such restaurants do not necessarily cost a fortune. Considering the average, there are a few places where the figures are modest. For instance, La Truffiere around the Quartier Latin, Benoit nearby the central island or Le Table du 11 at Versailles presents more affordable menus.
Here you can find our full page about the Michelin Starred Restaurants in Paris!
8. Paris is a City of Bakeries
Thousands of chic "Boulangerie" signs are hard to miss while discovering the streets of Paris. They are a very essential part of the local life as a part of breakfasts, lunches and dinners. "Baguette" is the renowned classic but it is also highly recommended to check the variety.
In the green parks of Paris, you can always see people having their sandwiches with a drink while chatting with a friend or reading a book. If you would like to join, just pick your favorite bread and fill it with what you want. Cheese, ham, tomatoes, olives... Bon Appétit!
Obviously, the cakes are legendary as well as the bread as Marie Antoinette mentioned (actually she never did) ! Eclairs, millefeuille, pies, financiers... they are all perfect for a sweet guilty pleasure.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
People do not necessarily tip in Paris. But if you are happy with the food and service 5% would show your gratitude. 10% of the check means you really loved the experience.
Opening for certain hours, having a daily menu, locals' interest are usually the good signs.
Most of the time, yes. Parisians call it "formule" that means you can pick the starter, main course and/or dessert from the daily options. Dinners are always a little bit cheaper.
In the bistros, the cooking and service are meant to take shorter time while in the restaurants the guests are staying for longer.
Not all are open all day long, especially the good ones! If you want to eat at a popular place, you better check their lunch and dinner hours and reserve a table.
Now that you are hungry, you might want to check the top rooftop bars and restaurants of Paris for a night out in one of the most popular places of town, with great food and cocktails !