Where are you going?
Or, let us surprise youSpin the Globe ®

Legendary Parisian Cuisine

Let Them Eat Cake
Legendary Parisian Cuisine
When the rest of the world was simply drinking wine, the French figured out how to elevate the grape to its finest form: champagne. Raw milk cheeses, snails, goose liver, preserved duck—Parisians are happy to eat just about anything, as long as it promises to be delicious.
By Sylvia Sabes, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Sylvia Sabes
  • 1 / 10
    Let Them Eat Cake
    Let Them Eat Cake
    When France ran out of bread, Marie Antoinette suggested that the people eat brioche instead. Famous chef Guy Savoy honors her request with sweet and savory options at Goût de Brioche. The three Poilâne bakeries are popular for remarkable pain de campagne (country loaves), and the baguettes at La Gambette à Pain, Aux Délices du Palais, and Du Pain et des Idées are widely sought. Gérard Mulot and Blé Sucré are famous for breakfast viennoiseries. Patisseries like Hugo & Victor, Sébastien Gaudard, Pâtisserie des Rêves, and Boulangerie Joséphine display traditional éclairs, tarts, and macarons that look almost too pretty to eat. (Almost.) Chockablock with shops selling everything from honey to ice cream, Rue du Bac and Rue des Martyrs vie for the title of sweetest street in Paris.
    Photo by Sylvia Sabes
  • 2 / 10
    The New Neo-Bistros
    The New Neo-Bistros
    Refreshingly modern "neo-bistros" serve classic French dishes created with international seasoning. Young, well-traveled, and accomplished chefs in the kitchen turn out carefully prepared delicacies for a reasonable price and in a casual environment. The notable ones opened their doors expecting simply to be neighborhood hangouts, but have become so popular that getting reservations now requires infinite patience. Septime is ranked on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, while Porte 12, Le Chateaubriand, Zébulon, Le Pantruche, Clown Bar, Le Bon Saint Pourçain, and Clover lead the vanguard in the latest evolution of Parisian culinary traditions.
    Photo by Sylvia Sabes
  • 3 / 10
    Dining with Paris at Your Feet
    Dining with Paris at Your Feet
    There is nothing quite like savoring a sparkling sip of champagne then looking out the window to view all of Paris spread out below. Le Jules Verne is a remarkable Michelin two-star restaurant that gives diners such a sensation from the second level of the Eiffel Tower. A stupendous view of the tower enchants customers at Les Ombres at the Musée du Quai Branly. Near the Seine, the über-trendy Monsieur Bleu at the Palais de Tokyo has a view that thrills even the blasé jet-setters who fill the seats on the outdoor terrace. For a different perspective, Ciel de Paris—at an ear-popping 689 feet above the city on the Tour Montparnasse—serves inventive, modern cuisine as Paris glitters like a treasure chest of jewels below.
    Photo by age fotostock
  • 4 / 10
    <em>Le Chocolat</em>
    Le Chocolat
    In 1615, Louis XIII’s Spanish bride introduced the French court to chocolate. Over a century later, Marie Antoinette’s pharmacist and chocolatier, Debauve & Gallais, prescribed the chocolates (a kind that it still sells today) to the queen to mask the taste of medicine. Nowadays, Angelina serves a hot chocolate so rich the spoon nearly stands in its porcelain cup. The modern chocolate revolution is led by La Manufacture de Chocolat, the city’s first beans-to-bar chocolate maker, with some competition from Chocolat Chapon, the first boutique selling specialty chocolate mousse to go. Patrick Roger sculpts stunning chocolate forms that taste as exceptional as they look. Jacques Genin on the Rue du Bac and Jean-Charles Rochoux are among those chocolatiers creating the most tempting chocolates in Paris.
    Photo by age fotostock
  • 5 / 10
    Michelin-Starred Dining
    Michelin-Starred Dining
    It is hard to imagine an evening more decadently French than dinner in a Michelin three-star restaurant. While extremely formal, requiring a suit and tie, these temples to haute cuisine are dedicated to sensual pleasure; they make guests feel welcome as they perform a carefully choreographed evening, serving meals of ingenious culinary treats and surprises. There are several in Paris, all of them exceptional, making it a difficult choice. L’Ambroisie is the most romantic; L'Arpège is famous for its vegetables; L’Astrance does modern; and nobody who has dined at the Restaurant Guy Savoy forgets his foie gras pops, still being served at the chef’s chic new Rive Gauche address. Dinners are expensive, but lunches can be more accessible. Hexagone may have just one Michelin star, but its modern sophistication—visible both in the cuisine and in the striking design of the room—is thrilling. Patricia Wells calls the food here "breathtakingly beautiful."
    Photo courtesy of L’Ambroisie
  • 6 / 10
    French Cooking Classes
    French Cooking Classes
    French cuisine is a serious subject that is fun to study. Try a cooking class with the charming Paule Caillat of Promenades Gourmandes, or study molecular cooking at Cook’n with Class. Hands-on classes, taught in French, can be taken at the popular L’Atelier des Chefs or L’Atelier des Sens. Entertaining yet informative winetasting lessons are available for visitors at Ô Chateau and Le Foodist, while Paris by the Glass can also offer private tastings and vineyard tours. Passionate Parisians regularly attend tastings, dinners, and meet-the-winemaker events at Lavinia wine shop. (A walk down Rue des Martyrs, past food shops and purveyors of edible souvenirs, may be enough to inspire enrollment in a class!)
    Photo by Javier Larrea/age fotostock
  • 7 / 10
    More Than Coffee at the Café
    More Than Coffee at the Café
    Cafés are the cornerstone of Parisian life. Locals start the morning standing at the bar where the daily express is cheaper and is paired with a fresh croissant. At lunch, coworkers claim tables for a fast and filling croque monsieur, steak tartare, fresh salad, or special of the day. In the afternoons, it’s back to the bar for a drink with the neighbors or a quick dinner. The literary Café de Flore and the famous Café des Deux Moulins (featured in the film Amélie) are worthy destination cafés. Ten Belles, off the Canal St.-Martin, is less historic but draws a crowd serious about its coffee (though the comforting food and desserts are pretty great too). When entering a café, it’s best to ask where to sit; at mealtimes, waiters may refuse to serve just drinks. At any other time of the day, the table is yours and you can sit there for hours watching Paris pass you by.
    Photo by Sylvia Sabes
  • 8 / 10
    Casual Wine Bars
    Casual Wine Bars
    The casual wine bar, or bar à vins, is a French institution. There are gritty old favorites in even the poshest quartiers, places where locals hang out with friends over a glass of pouilly-fumé or côtes du rhône. Wine takes a backseat here, merely acting as a social lubricant to keep the conversation flowing. Au Sauvignon, Le Sancerre, Le Rubis, and Le Baron Rouge are some of the best examples of these traditional strongholds that serve light snacks and plenty of goodwill. There is a new trend on the wine bar scene, caves à manger, where connoisseurs go for excellent artisanal wines paired with refined dishes. Freddy's, Le Vingt 2, Le Baratin, Juveniles, Le Verre Volé, and Café Trama are popular places to practice this new concept.
    Photo by Mattias/unsplash
  • 9 / 10
    Classic French Cuisine
    Classic French Cuisine
    People think of French cuisine as rich and heavy; fortunately, that is just a stereotype. The savory crepes, called galettes, at Ty Breiz dispel this folly at first bite, and Le Soufflé serves soufflés light as air. Visiting the classic Parisian bistros is like visiting your friends—Joséphine Chez Dumonet, Chez René, Chez Georges, Chez Marie Louise—and their polished staff and tables reserved for regulars are the first sign that this is old-school cooking. Classic dishes like boeuf bourguignon, confit de canard, and calf kidneys are so good you’ll wonder why they invented nouvelle cuisine. Le Dôme serves the traditional Parisian seafood platter from a dining room that has hardly changed since Hemingway ate there.
    Photo by Sylvia Sabes
  • 10 / 10
    Historic Dining
    Historic Dining
    La Petite Chaise was already serving diners during the reign of Louis XIV, which makes it the oldest restaurant in Paris. During the French Revolution, the popular piano bar at La Closerie des Lilas was an inn, and Joséphine plotted away with Napoleon from the sumptuous Le Grand Véfour. During the Belle Epoque, the stained-glass-domed Bofinger and shiny, brass-trimmed Le Train Bleu restaurants dazzled guests with their opulent splendor. Beer-brewing Alsatians fleeing the Franco-Prussian War opened the beautiful Brasserie Lipp and Les Petites Ecuries. Peace settled in—as did the 20th century and the art nouveau dining rooms of Julien and the Michelin-starred Les Climats, as well as the art deco decor of La Coupole and Prunier.
    Photo by Sylvia Sabes