I fell in love with Paris as a college junior studying at the Sorbonne many years ago, and have been going back to the City of Light ever since.
I spend close to two months of every year there, and never miss an opportunity to try the city’s amazing restaurants, sip tea in their fabulous tea rooms, or do what every female visitor does in Paris—shop.
These are my current favorites in the capital— restaurants and bistros, patisseries and more . . . and of course, shops for clothing and shoes.
Chez l’Ami Jean
27, rue Malar
Metro: Invalides or La Tour Maubourg
Book ahead for the hearty, inventive dishes from the southwest of France served in a rustic ambience. It’s always crowded, but service is good and prices too. We ate there recently on a Saturday night and saw Catherine Deneuve at a table in the corner.
Le Bon Saint Pourçain
10 bis, rue Servandoni
01 42 01 78 24
Metro: Mabillon, Saint-Sulpice
Located near the Place Saint-Sulpice, this "bistro ancien" has recently come into the hands of talented young chef, Mathieu Techer. The restaurant is petite but the dishes, which are classics done up with fresh innovative touches, are big winners. A three-course meal on my visit came to around 50 euros and was definitely worth the price. Book ahead as it’s very popular.
17, rue Gregoire de Tours
Opened in early 2016, this small Left Bank restaurant in the St Germain area, serves only one 5-course prix fixe menu in the evening. Meticulously prepared and presented, this menu is one of the best values in Paris. I am still dreaming about the scallops atop creamy risotto surrounded by foam and filet of duck with shiitakes and Grenailles potatoes—both delicous.
Le Casse Noix
56, rue de la Fédération
Métro: Bir-Hakein or Dupleix
This bistro, located near the Eiffel Tower, is one I visit on every trip to Paris. The chef, an alum of the celebrated La Régalade in the 14th, turns out exceptionally creative dishes all prepared with fresh seasonal ingredients. The ambience is warm and cozy and the prix fixemenu a real bargain.
6, rue Bailleul
Spring is definitely on my short list of best Paris restaurants. Recently relocated near the Louvre in the first arrondissement, Spring is the creation of chef/owner, Daniel Rose, an American from Chicago. From the moment you step through the door into the modern interior where an open kitchen is abuzz with young chefs, you’ll feel welcome. The food is inventive and beautifully prepared. Both lunch and dinner can be pricey-- a definite splurge but worth every euro! Reserve well in advance.
54, rue de Seine
Original market-based cooking, a friendly staff, and a warm welcome are the reasons that this popular Left Bank restaurant is always full. The menu changes daily with many dishes available as an appetizer or a main. For dessert a golden choux pastry shell filled with an ethereally light caramel cream is always on the menu and a must. Dinner appetizers run 6 to15 euros, mains 22 to 30, and desserts 10 to 12. Another bonus is that Semilla is open every day (including Sunday!) for lunch and dinner.
2, rue Berne
Metro: Europe or Liège
Located in a far corner of the 8th arrondissement north of Gare St. Lazare, this restaurant opened in 2011. The food is exceptionally creative and presented in intricate arrangements, and the ambience simple yet stylish. Menus at dinner run around 38 to 45 euros with supplements for some dishes.
12, rue de l’Hôtel Colbert
Metro: Cluny-La Sorbonne or Maubert Mutualité
On the Left Bank, not far from Notre Dame, this restaurant, housed in a 17th-century building, features exquisite dishes which I’d describe as French with subtle Asian accents courtesy of Chef Hiroki Yoshitake. There are two dining rooms—La Salle Française on the main floor with its striking beamed ceilings, and Les Salons Japonais below in the vaulted cave with its stone walls and Japanese-style tables and benches. Lunch prix fixes are 35 and 50 euros, and evening ones run 55 and 75 euros. If you’re going to Paris and want an exceptional meal at an affordable price, this is the table to reserve.
5, rue Mondetour
Métro: Etienne Marcel
The contemporary setting, with its soaring ceiling and huge windows looking out on a small square, invites you to relax, but it's the inventive food that makes this place shine. The prix fixe is about 40 to 45 euros for three courses at dinner and 20 euros for two at lunch—a veritable bargain in Paris.
Le 6 Paul Bert
6 ,rue Paul Bert, 75011
01 43 79 14 32
Métro: Charonne or Faidherbe-Chaligny
The sibling restaurant of Le Bistro Paul Bert just down the same street, this restaurant is one of my favorites. The food is incredibly inventive and prepared with seasonal ingredients. Service is warm and friendly and price range from 40 to 60 euros for dinner.
Tomy & Company
22 rue Surcouf
01 45 51 46 93
Metro: La Tour-Maubourg
I’ve been a long-time fan of Tomy Gousset, who was the talented chef at Pirouette on the Right Bank for several years. Now he has his own restaurant on the Left Bank in the 7th and is serving incredibly creative dishes. Near the Invalides, this stylish, neo-bistro is open for lunch and dinner. Lunch was around 60 euros per person for several courses and wine. Count on more for dinner.
136, rue du Faubourg Poissonnière
Metro: Rochechouart, Poissonnière or Gare du Nord.
Les Arlots (no, as food critic John Talbott says ,it's not an abbreviation of harlots but of harlequins), is closed Sundays and Mondays, but try to get there the other days of the week. Creative dishes prepared simply with excellent seasonal ingredients are the draw. And the prices are quite reasonable hovering around 45 euros for 3 courses. Book ahead as it's a small bistro.
Some Other Places of Interest
I enjoy the following restaurants because they have a special feature—some are open on Sunday nights, one serves soufflés as a specialty, and a few just offer well-priced, good traditional fare.
4, rue Récamier (across from the Hotel Lutétia)
If you love soufflés, this is the place to go. They make exquisite ones—both savory and sweet. My husband and I usually order a savory soufflé and a salad for our main course, then finish with a sweet airy creation. It’s a decadent, but fabulous experience.
14 Rue Dauphine
Metro: Mabillon or Odéon
This contemporary Indian in the 6th arrondissement has become a new favorite of mine when I want to venture away from French food in Paris. The dishes are expertly spiced and artfully presented on the plate. I loved the thali choices, samplers that include several curries, raita, nan, and rice pudding for dessert. Dinner is around 35 to 40 euros with beer and lassis and lunch slightly less.
17, rue Oudinot
Metro: Vaneau or Duroc
This is a fairly unknown and unpretentious place with consistently good but not fancy food at good prices. We use it as our neighborhood bistro. The 7-hour lamb is their best dish.
72, rue Bonaparte (at Place St. Sulpice)
I have NEVER had anything from this petite patisserie that I didn’t love. Not only are the pastries to die for, they are true works of art. It’s a small shop so you may have to wait in line to get inside.
La Grande Epicerie at the Bon Marché
38, rue de Sèvres
This is Paris’ answer to London’s Harrods, and in my opinion, the French grocery is more interesting and definitely more user-friendly. Don’t go home without walking through it and buying a treat to enjoy!
Favorite Tea Room
13, rue des Grands Augustins
Metro: Odéon or St. Michel
30, rue Bourg Tiborg
Metro: St. Paul
250, rue Faubourg St. Honoré
There are 3 locations, but I visit the one on rue des Grands Augustins in the sixth most often. Another is in the Marais on rue Bourg Tibourg, and a third is in the 8th. If it is rainy or if you’re tired of sightseeing, go to one of these lovely places and order one of the 200 teas brewed to perfection. You might like to add some of their scones offered with thés gelées (tea jellies). It’s a little pricy, but so civilized and relaxing. Their packaged teas make great gifts to take home.
17 rue de Sèvres
Hermès’ new store located on the Left Bank is definitely worth a visit. The goods are pricey as expected, but you can certainly enjoy looking without pulling out your credit card. The interior architecture is exquisite, almost sculptural. The site was once an indoor swimming pool back in the 1930s, and the architects saved the tiled mosaics!
In the 6th, the rue du Cherche Midi between Boulevard Raspail and the intersection of rue de Sèvres is one of Paris’ best blocks for shoes. (The celebrated Poilâne Bakery is right in the center of this block, so you can eat and shop at the same time.) The shoes in Paris are far more sophisticated than those on this side of the Atlantic. Also on the same street there are shops for clothing, costume jewelry, and handbags, all very chic.
On the Left Bank (where I hang out), Le Bon Marché on rue de Sèvres has fabulous clothing and shoes. Handbags and scarves are on the ground floor (called in French the rez de chaussée) of the first building; shoes and boutique and designer clothing is on the next (actually the second floor for Americans, but called the first in France.) The grocery (La Grande Epicerie) is in the second store and the floor above it houses great bridge lines of clothing.
The rue des Saints-Pères, rue du Vieux Colombier, rue du Four, and rue de Rennes, all in the 6th arrondissement, are all good shopping streets.
Although the Marché Cligancourt in the 18th and on the northern edge of Paris is the best known, I am a devotee of the Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves down in the 14th on the city’s southern edge. It’s open from about 8:45 AM until 1 PM on Saturdays and Sundays and worth a visit. You never know what you’ll find. I’ve bought prints, rugs, silver, dishes, picture frames, and more. I never miss a chance to go when I’m in the city.
Hungry for Paris
This is a terrific blog written by Alexander Lobrano, an American who has lived in Paris since 1986. His book, Hungry for Paris, is a must for food lovers who want to discover memorable restaurants in France’s capital.
John Talbot’s Paris
I find this blog written by an American living in Paris to be very useful. This ex-pat seems to eat out nonstop in the City of Light and offers up-to-date reviews of restaurants in all parts of the city.
David Lebovitz- Living the Sweet Life in Paris
A former pastry chef at Chez Panisse, David lives in Paris full time. I find his blog filled with interesting culinary musings. His recent book, My Sweet Life in Paris, is a food-based memoir.
Paris By Mouth
This is a site I have used over and over again. A group of very talented reviewers, both American and French, offer their opinions of restaurants, wine bars, pastry and bakery shops, and much more. You can even sign up for their food-related tours.
Kristin Espinasse, an American married to a French wine-maker in the South of France, recounts her daily life with her husband and two teenagers. In each of her three weekly posts, she includes French words and expressions in touching stories. At the end of each narrative, she lists the vocabulary words with definitions and an audio for pronunciation. I love her honest, direct style and have become one of more than 30,000 people reading her tales of French life.
Where to Stay in Paris
If you have enough time, try renting an apartment in Paris and live like the Parisians. One of the nicest and most responsive agencies in the city is I Love Paris Apartment Rentals. They have a wide selection and will answer you find just the right place.
Delicious Connections--If you're interested in a culinary tour of Paris or France, check out Patti Ravenscroft's Delicious Connections. This bilingual guide lives in Paris half of the year and plans food-focused visits to the City of Light and throughout France and beyond.