The key to a successful city break is always planning, and that is particularly true when choosing places to eat.
You want to know that you are eating out somewhere good when you are travelling for short breaks, and online recommendations are a fantastic way to do this…and it saves you lots of wasted time spent wandering looking for something we fancied, that may or may not have been any good.
So, here I am sharing with you some of the fruits of my labour; recommendations that I found online or in pocket guides. I thoroughly recommend them all, every single meal we had in Paris was utterly delicious.
I should pre-warn you that Paris was a little too chic for photos of my food all the time, but I squeezed them in where I could…
aux charpentiers (located in the luxembourg quarter)
When we arrived in Paris it teemed it down with rain, and after an hour or so of wandering around we were getting more than a little damp. And more than a little grouchy, despite our protestations that we couldn’t do anything about the weather.
We needed something to pick us up a bit, and food is my usual go-to. So we fumbled around in our pocket guidebook for some restaurant recommendations near where we were.
It described Aux Charpentiers as an archetypal Bistro, which was just what we were looking for. We were greeted by super friendly staff. I should say here that one of our worries about Paris was that we had heard reports of ‘off-hand’ service. I can 100% say we did not experience that anywhere we went, neither of us speak French at all but everyone was so helpful.
The food at Aux Charpentiers was hearty, plentiful and delicious. As it was only lunch I settled for a simple tagliatelle and the boy had a burger. Both seemingly simple dishes that were so tasty – the secret? The French sure can do good sauce. The burgers were topped with a rich and tasty cheesy sauce, and the pasta was covered in a flavoursome garlic based sauce. We left thoroughly satisfied and ready to face whatever the weather had to throw at us, which luckily was no more rain!
le chardenoux (located near place de la nation)
When we arrived at our hotel, Grand Hotel Francais, they gave us a really helpful list of recommended places to eat in the area. One of those was Bistro Paul Bert, which was on my must visit list after seeing incredible reviews of it throughout my research, so we decided to give it a go on our first night. Unfortunately we missed out on a table (but bonus, they booked us in for the last night of our holiday, so you do get a review of that little delight too) so we were left to wander the streets looking for an alternative.
I noticed Le Chardenoux and remembered that the hotel had mentioned it was owned by a famous french chef Cyril Lignac. I might not have recognised the name, but I thought anywhere that heralded a famous chef was worth a try so we tried our luck again. The front of house team couldn’t do enough to accommodate us and squeezed us in at the last minute, despite initially thinking they wouldn’t have a table for us.
We indulged in a three course set menu, that saw us devour Foie Gras, caprese salad, melt in the mouth steak, with the most amazing béarnaise sauce I have ever tasted – it was fluffy and fragrant.
Not to mention the pudding… (ok, so I am going to mention the pudding). Parisian desserts are every bit as heavenly as you would imagine. Creme Brûlée was a favourite throughout the holiday, and the french brioche toast here with Raspberries was totally ravishing.
It had the perfect bistro vibe, intimate yet bustling. Highly recommended whether you are staying in the area or not!
bistro paul bert (LOCATED NEAR PLACE DE LA NATION)
We actually ate at Bistro Paul Bert on our last night, but while we are talking about local favourites I couldn’t leave you hanging on this one. I had read a lot about Bistro Paul Bert, which seems to be renowned by tourists and locals alike for its authentic french food.
Despite the wait from the first night to the last, we certainly weren’t disappointed. You choose your meal from a chalkboard list, rather than a menu, and the staff were incredibly friendly and happy to help with your fledgling French.
It’s pretty renowned for its cote de beouff, which the boy sampled and spoke very highly of (I snuck a sneaky piece and can confirm that I concur. I had the veal which was perfectly cooked and so tasty. The starters and pudd are highly recommended too, we both sampled crispy pigeon to start and then I wrapped up with a huge macaroon and the boy checked to make sure the Grand Marnier soufflé was up to scratch.
It was a fixed price menu again, choosing from a small selection of options, but I could so easily have chosen all of them they sounded so great. It’s definitely worth the hype!
les ombres (located in the eiffel tower quarter)
Les Ombres is located in Musee du Quai Branly and was the only meal that we booked in advance before travelling. The boy found it through some online research, and discovered that it boasted the best views of the Eiffel Tower…and that it was the last Sunday it would be offering Brunch for the season.
Now, I have experienced Brunch Abu Dhabi style, and they are epic. Not your standard breakfast fodder that you might find here, but instead a delicious buffet with an array of treats that you can just keep eating until you are stuffed full.
Les Ombres was exactly that, with oodles of class. We dined on delicate canapé style dishes, with views of the infamous tower. But it didn’t stop there, Parisian brunch starts with eggs – poached or scrambled with an array of accompaniment options. You are then free to roam the savoury buffet before your main course arrives. A decadent and chic duck dish, in my case, and more beef for the boy!
Then it was on to the dessert buffet.
It was one of our favourite treats of the holiday, so indulgent but so so good. The restaurant is worth a visit for the view alone, but if you can bag yourself a brunch into the bargain as well you really must!
le relais de l’entrecote (several locations in paris)
This was another much anticipated eatery of our trip. I had read about it on so many blogs, and it came recommended from people I know that had visited Paris.
The brief: it’s not fancy, just totally yummy food. And there is no menu. You start with a simple walnut salad that is super tasty thanks to a delicious dressing, and then the one question to answer is how you like your steak. I went for medium. The steak comes with frites and THE most delicious steak sauce you have ever had in your life (I told you the French did sauce right). The recipe is meant to be a closely guarded secret, and I am not going to describe it to you. I am just going to tell you that if you are in Paris you need to go.
There are no reservations so generally you have to queue. We queued from 6.35 to get a table when it opened at 7 (we needed to make sure we were prompt as it was the night we headed to the cabaret at the Lido) but there was a queue all the way up the side of the restaurant the whole time we were there.
It’s another one that is totally worth the effort though.
brasserie bofinger (located in the marais area)
I’ve harped on quite a bit about planning ahead, but this one was actually a bit of a spontaneous find (with the help of our trusty pocket guide) when we couldn’t find anywhere for lunch on our last day.
Bofinger is Paris’ oldest brasserie. Outside it looks quite unimposing, but inside it is absolutely exquisite with a beautiful glass domed centre to the restaurant that just allows the light to flood in.
We had now come to expect supremely friendly service and we were not disappointed here. As it was our last meal we decided to go particularly French and I sampled the snails, whilst the boy had a French Onion soup. Snails wouldn’t normally be my thing, and really all you can taste of them is garlic, but when in Paris and all that…
We followed it starters up with our standard favourites – beef and duck, but chose not to indulge in a pudding so that we didn’t have to waddle all the way to the Eurostar.
Everything was also as perfect as we had come to expect from Parisian cuisine. Simple but powerful flavours. Bofinger is certainly worth a visit for the history ,the beautiful surroundings and the stonking food.
So that’s our yummy selection for you. I should probably say that, aside from our brunch, we didn’t book a table in advance throughout our stay in Paris and we got by remarkably well – in fact we wouldn’t have chosen anywhere differently. But if you have somewhere specific that you really want to go I would advise either turning up early (around 7 when most restaurants open) or booking in advance.
And if five recommendations isn’t enough for you; amongst the other blog recommendations that we found, this was certainly the most useful on the food front – a wealth of recommendations for breakfast, lunch and dinner from Aspiring Kennedy. I want to go back just to tick the rest off the list.
Anyone else have any Paris foodie recommendations? Pop them in the comments box below.
DK EYEWITNESS PCOKET MAP AND GUIDE: PARIS // GRAND HOTEL FRANCAIS // AUX CHARPENTIERS // LE CARDENOUX // BISTRO PAUL BERT // LES OMBRES // LE RELAIS DE L’ENTRECOTE // BOFINGER