Photo: Gonçalo Silva
As you can imagine, there are beaucoup de good restaurants in Paris. When I visit with my husband, we tend to go to a handful of favorites, but sometimes we discover a place or two that we haven’t tried before. We stay in a darling apartment in the Marais, which is on the right bank and in the middle of Paris. Most of our usual spots are a short, scenic walk or cab ride away. Here is a non-exhaustive list of those places.
Café de Flore This iconic café in St. Germain is literally our first stop whenever we visit. It’s a great spot to people watch, the food is traditional, tasty French fare, and the service is usually good by Parisian standards. I love the old school vibe – the waiters all wear waistcoats, bowties and long white aprons, and the indoor seating is on red leather banquettes that have probably been there since before Hemingway and F. Scott sat on them.
Le St. Regis This was a discovery for us on this trip, and basically became our go-to for delicious, casual lunches. It is on the Île St. Louis, which is easily one of the most charming areas in Paris. What we loved about the place was that despite the bustle, the waiters and (one) waitress could not have been more friendly and animated.
Chez Janou We love this gem in the Marais, which is about a five minute walk from the apartment. It can get a bit touristy, especially in the summer months when it offers outdoor seating in a lovely courtyard, but the tradeoff is that it is always lively. The restaurant serves hearty mediterranean dishes that are especially satisfying in the cold winter months.
La Durée St. Germain (Le Salon Bleu) There are a couple of La Durée tea salons in Paris, but the one in St. Germain is my favorite. I especially love the upstairs room, which is intimate and cozy – perfect for lunch or tea and gâteaux. The food, by the way, is as good as those desserts.
Ralph’s This is one of the fancier spots we hit for lunch. In the summer months, outdoor seating is available in a gorgeous inner courtyard, but the indoor option is impressive for the decor, including a massive fireplace and other carefully placed details, that summon a very exclusive English clubhouse or aristocratic manor.
Hôtel Costes / L’Avenue / La Société The three restaurants above are different iterations of the Costes dining establishments. Each has it’s own style, ranging from exotic and extravagant at the Costes, to minimal and modern at La Société. The thing that they all have in common (besides the menu) is the level of cool that they attract in terms of guests. These are by far our favorite places to go for sublime people watching (and really good food).
Le Cinq This restaurant, located in the Four Seasons Hotel in one of the most posh neighborhoods in Paris, definitely befits a very special occasion. We have been there only twice – once on our first wedding anniversary and this past year for Christmas Eve dinner. Suffice it to say that you get what you pay for. The setting is by far one of the most awe-inspiring in the city, the food is mind-blowing, and the service is impeccable. It is the kind of experience you will remember long after you have finished paying off your credit card for the meal.
Bar 228 at l’Hôtel Meurice If you’re going to do a nightcap in Paris, you may as well do it in a palace. There are several in the city, but Le Meurice, as it is known to Parisians, is a favorite among locals, discriminating foreigners, and celebrities alike. The bar is cozy and intimate, in contrast to the awe-inspiring lobby/dining area (if you can even call it that), that looks something like the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. There is usually live jazz music until about midnight, and the bar stays open until well after 2 am.
The Bar Hemingway at the Ritz So here is the other must-see Parisian palace. They finally finished the remodeling, although I’m not sure exactly how they could make it any better than it already was. It’s a bit of a trek from the entry to the hotel to the bar, but well worth it, if you’re like me, for no other reason than that it’s named after one of your favorite authors. Also, a fashion icon (Coco Chanel) lived there and walked those halls, so you know…”following in the footsteps” and all.