Baguettes, cheese, wine…even if those were the only elements of your repast in Paris, it would still probably be among the best meals of your life. Paris is known for many things, and food is certainly one of them. Some of the globe’s top chefs study in Paris, and many of them stay in the capital city, offering citizens and visitors the kind of quality and diversity that few other cities can match. Like other metropolitans, many of the gourmet restaurants serve haute French cuisine, though international specialties can also be found.
In addition to posh restaurants, a large number of cafes and bistros line the streets of Paris, providing a casual meal, snack, or glass of wine to shoppers and sightseers. Among the notable bistros and cafes are Les Deux Magots in St. Germain, a local hangout since 1914 and a favourite of Hemingway and Sartre; La Palette on the Left Bank, a bustling café with an extensive menu that includes a drink called Ricard, Picasso’s choice when patronizing La Palette; and Le Procope, which has an elegant atmosphere highlighted by a lovely old library and two floors of dining space where café patrons can mix and mingle.
From croissants to breads to baked treats, Parisian bakeries are an everyday essential. Au 140 in northeast Paris is home to baguettes that were named best in the city in 2001; it also came in second place in the city’s croissant competition. You’ll pay more than you ever have for baked goods at Le Notre, but what you get in return are dense cakes and light, flaky confections that are fit for royalty. Le Grenier à Pain may have a rustic décor, but the chocolate tarts and almond-apricot bread are top-notch. Since 1932, Poilâne has offered customers outstanding sourdough bread and scrumptious butter cookies.
When searching for the best five-star dining in Paris, don’t miss these outstanding examples:
Gordon Ramsay au Trianon
1, boulevard de la Reine - 78000 Versailles - Île-de-France - France
Located in the luxurious Hotel Trianon, Gordon Ramsay’s exquisite two-Michelin-starred restaurant is a superb treat for discriminating diners. With only 10 tables, guests are assured perfect service, as well as astounding menu items such as roasted foie gras with gingerbread and carrot puree, pan-fried Scottish sea scallops with shellfish cream, and Brittany lobster tail.
9, place des Vosges - 75004 Paris - Île-de-France - France
Chef Bernard Pacaud turned L’Ambrosie into a signature Paris restaurant soon after opening, gaining critical acclaim and a loyal following. Ensconced within a 17th-century townhouse, the restaurant oozes charm. It’s almost as famous for its elite—some might even say snobby—attitude as its food, but when the food consists of lobster gazpacho and escargot cannelloni in a creamy star anise broth, a little posturing is easy to overlook.
84, rue de Varenne - 75007 Paris - Île-de-France - France
Helmed by one of the most celebrated chefs in Paris, Alain Passard’s masterful L’Arpege is a stage where the great chef showcases his love affair with vegetables. Though still catering to a meat-eating crowd, Passard—who famously declared himself bored with meat— raises the simplest vegetables to new heights of deliciousness. Salt-roasted beets with aged balsamic vinegar and leeks with black truffles are two fine examples.
4, Rue Beethoven - 75016 Paris - Île-de-France - France
A modern French restaurant created by two former employees of renowned super-chef Alain Passard, L’Astrance features an intimate, thoroughly contemporary vibe. The cuisine is definitely French, though the innovative twists are sure to surprise diners. The turbot flavored with lemon and ginger, for instance, is just one of the dishes that deliver intense, irresistible flavours.
17, avenue Franklin Roosevelt - 75008 Paris - Île-de-France - France
An exceptional restaurant that has captured the best of French food and romance, Lasserre has earned two Michelin stars thanks to the inventive food of chef Jean-Louis Nomicos. The seasonal menus include dishes such as duckling with orange sauce, foie gras, and caramelized chicory. The ambience is refined, and when the roof opens up during warm weather, there’s no more romantic place in the city.
Le Pré Catelan
Route de Suresnes, Bois de Boulogne - 75016 Paris - Île-de-France - France
Earning an extraordinary third Michelin star in 2007, Le Pré Catelan has reached a pinnacle that few others have achieved. Talented chef Frederic Anton works his culinary magic within a gorgeous landmark building, delivering to his enthusiastic customers entrees such as spit-roasted squab in a caramelized sauce. Finish a perfect meal with an equally perfect dessert like roasted pear on a waffle with bergamot ice cream.
10, Place Concorde - 75008 Paris - Île-de-France - France
Inside the Hotel de Crillon is Les Ambassadeurs, a restaurant that blends outstanding service, an elegant atmosphere, classic French dishes with a thoughtful twist, and an award-winning wine steward who always makes the ideal recommendation. Chandeliers and mirrored walls reflect magnificent dishes such as scallops with Alba truffles and crispy potato pancakes with smoked salmon, cream, and caviar.
Restaurant Guy Savoy
Rue Troyon - 17ème Arrondissement - 75017 Paris - Île-de-France - France
Certainly one of the top chefs in Europe, Guy Savoy has created a gem of a restaurant that offers seasonal menus featuring dishes such as artichoke soup with black truffle and stuffed pigeon breast. A relaxed atmosphere is created through dark African wood, rich leather, and sliding partitions that change the shape of the dining room in an instant.