Monday, 19 December 2016

Where to eat in Paris

Illustration by @marialyngdk

With allegedly 40,000 restaurants and probably twice as many cafés, Paris is a foodie's heaven and an indecisive person's hell. A maze as complicated as its beautiful stone-paved streets, Paris needs to be navigated with an open mind as well as with *some* apprehension; much like in a computer game, there are tourist traps at every corner, just waiting to take a ridiculous amount of your gold coins for an underwhelming onion soup.

As a general rule of thumb though, you are sure to land a pretty good restaurant or bistro or café wherever you are. Prices tend to go up towards the centre of Paris, between the 1st and the 8th arrondissements and keep in mind that this is a city that considers "budget" eats to be just about less than 20€. While this is a real student life nightmare, it meant that I became a part-time food critic and general scourer for good restaurants with a less astringent bill.

My advice to anyone coming to Paris would be to skip the hotel Continental breakfast made of sad jam out of a nail-sized bottle cap on dry toast and go out wondering the streets, guided by the smell of all-butter freshly baked croissants. Usually, boulangeries will do a 'menu' where they offer you a coffee with your morning pastry, so you have all your bases covered at once. For the rest of the day, you have two options depending on your budget and eating habits: you could eat out at restaurants for lunch and take advantage of the reduced noon menus and have a lighter dinner or do the opposite and grab a fresh sandwich or crêpe for lunch and make reservations to eat out for dinner.

18 Rue Rambuteau | 10 Place d'Italie | 150 Avenue Victor Hugo | 1 Rue d'Arcole

My favorite place in Paris, this bakery has it all: fresh pastries, seasonal goodies like gingerbread loaf
(to die for)cakes, baguettes and sandwiches. You will be spoilt for choice and I'd recommend
making it your mission to try something new every day. Just keep in mind some, if not all, might be
closed on Sundays.

Eric Kayser
17 locations in Paris, find them HERE

Surprisingly, whereas one can find about 15 Prêt à mangers on any given street in London, there are only a few in Paris. The Parisians have replaced it with something more upmarket and tastier, clever them. This place sells everything breakfast and even light-lunch related.

54 Rue de Saintonge

A truly tiny place, Ob-La-Di fills up very quickly in the morning so don't say you haven't been warned. It does serve delicious homemade treats that vary daily and some pretty good coffee. If a bit overpriced, it's still a chill place to grab a bite or stay longer and read your morning paper. Extra points for the very Instagram-friendly interior.

14 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau

A much more expensive place, this is if you want to treat yourself to a chic brunch in the very heart of Paris. The place is quite minimalistic and fresh but still very welcoming and the food is what I describe European healthy - granola, fruits, some mini pastries, juices etc etc you get the drift. But it's perfect if you want to start your day in style before doing some  (window) shopping on Rue Faubourg Saint Honoré.

Shakespeare & Co
37 Rue de Bûcherie

This ended up being one of my favorite haunts in Paris. Not only is the neighbouring bookshop a jewel of a place where you can loose yourself for hours perusing new titles or discussing classics with a complete stranger, but so is their café. It's a really cool space with a relaxed urban vibe without being too try hard. It has big windows, perfect for people watching and on a sunny day you will be rewarded with hair-raising views of the Notre Dame. In winter they make the best homemade Chai Latte but otherwise their Mocha is one of the best I've ever tasted. Their secret: they pour the espresso coffee over chocolate buttons...

Terres de Café
40 Rue des Blancs Manteaux | 33 Rue des Batignolles 

Sitting in the hanging chairs in the window of this coffee shop is possibly the most relaxing experience ever. A place for true coffee aficionados and connoisseurs, Terres de Café offer some pretty good blends that they themselves put together and test out. It's always full of cool people and it has a very friendly buzz to it. 

Pain du Sucre
14 Rue Rambuteau

French haute patisserie with a slight Japanese twist is how I would describe this place. A little on the
pricey side, I would save this one for a special occasion but boy is it worth it! The creams and mousses
are all luxuriously soft like silk and they have some pretty daring flavour combinations if you're up for
challenging your taste buds. 

29 Rue Debelleyme | 44 Rue des Martyrs

I discovered this place completely by accident and ended up leaving with a box of 14 of these little
mushroom cap sized choux that sadly did not make it to the next morning. I have rarely tasted
something as explosively good as them - the crunchy macaron shell holds these incredibly fine creams,
the best of which probably was the Orange blossom, and are topped with a thick white chocolate-like
beret. It's unlike anything you have ever had!

Pierre Hermé
numerous shops throughout Paris, addresses HERE

Skip the insane queues at the Ladurée shops and go try Pierre Hermé macarons. Infinitely creamier and in a variety of unusual and special flavours, these macarons will make you understand the hype. My favorite? In September to November you need to try the Ispahan ones, then the Mandarin and more recently, their winter collection had me at their White Truffle & Hazelnut and Chocolate & Foie Gras combinations.

La fourmi ailée
8 Rue du Fouarre

A stone throw away from the Notre Dame, this charming small restaurant serves very tasty French dishes at surprisingly low prices, usually under 15€. I particularly like the eclectic decor which makes you feel like you're dining in a bourgeois living room from the late 19th century. It might not be the norm but the service was very slow the night we went so maybe keep that in mind.

Cour du Commerce St-André

One of my go-to places, this restaurant ticks all the boxes. Whenever I had people coming over for the
weekend, this is where I would take them for the complete Parisian chic experience. Their lunch menus
with starters + main come at around 12€ which is very reasonable and they are super tasty with all the
classic dishes you would want. My particular favorite is this poached egg with cèpe sauce - thankfully
they bring you a bread basket so none of that sauce is wasted! The location is also a big big +: it's on a
beautiful old cobbled street tucked away from the main road that leads to the Luxembourg gardens, in
a passageway that hasn't changed much since the 17th century.

Au pied de Fouet
3 Rue Saint-Benoît

If you were looking for a tiny taverna, you are in luck. This place is no bigger than your average living room but somehow they managed to build a second floor with old creaky stairs which really add to the atmosphere of which there is already plentiful. Their menus are also very affordable and the food tasty.

Le Loir dans La Théière 
3 Rue des Rosiers

Don't be put off by the queue stretching outside this Marais restaurant, the waiters are very efficient and you will be seated to your table in no time. They do simple meals in typical French bistro style with filling savoury pies and tarts but why people go here is not because of the main course but because of what comes afterwards. There is a whole table full to the brim with all the cakes your soon-to-be-diabetic heart could desire, the most famous being the Lemon Merengue that comes with a towering pyramid of squidgy merengue as one would expect.

Le Petit Cler 
29, Rue Cler

If you've just finished a tour of the Palais de Tokyo or have come down from the Eiffel Tower, Le Petit Cler can solve any petit creux that you may justifiably have. You can opt for any of their salads or sandwiches made with Pôilane bread and a healthy serving of toppings or you can go for their daily specials. Their duck breast with seasonal mashed potatoes was divine and very filling and only 15€ which is quite hard to find in Paris. The ambiance is very traditional too in this old-school restaurant.

So there you have it, a pretty comprehensive guide of the best places I've tried in my 4 months in Paris. It's by no means a list set in stone but I've done my best to try as many restaurants as possible, apart from those that every travel site recommends, which is what I think you should do too. Your experience of Paris, culinary or otherwise, should be yours' only so find your own favorite bakeries, cafés and restaurants to add to the list! Only 39, 986 to go...

No comments:

Post a Comment

blogger template by lovebird