Paris is at its most relaxed in the summer, when the annual exodus leaves the leaf-shaded streets miraculously traffic-free. The only catch is finding something to eat, since restaurants, markets and food shops traditionally close for the entire month of August and sometimes part of July. Here is a selection of places that will remain open to satisfy the cravings that can strike at any moment in Paris.
Restaurant du Palais Royal
Not only does this chic contemporary restaurant have one of the most peaceful terraces in town, under the arcades of the Palais Royal (photo, right) facing the symmetrical gardens, but its filet de boeuf pommes Pont-Neuf is a cut above your average steak-frites, with thick hand-cut fries stacked into a little tower. Be sure to book ahead for a terrace table.
La Crêperie du Comptoir St-Germain
There is nothing particularly glamorous about this little crêpe stand near Odéon, but it does have the cachet of belonging to Yves Camdeborde, chef at the wildly popular bistro Le Comptoir du Relais St-Germain next door. Order your Nutella-banane and stroll over to the Luxembourg gardens nearby as the hot crêpe drips with chocolate.
3 carrefour de l’Odéon, 6th. 01-44-27-07-97.
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A great baguette
Eric Kayser has established himself as one of the city’s top bakers since opening this boulangerie about 10 years ago. He is especially famed for his baguette Monge, a naturally leavened loaf with a crisp golden crust, open crumb and slightly sour taste. 8 rue Monge, 5th (organic bread at 15 rue Monge). 01-44-07-01-42.
A croque-monsieur on a café terrace
Touristy it might be with its sidewalk terrace just across from Notre Dame, but Café Panis has an authentically Parisian buzz with reliably friendly and professional waiters. Here the croque monsieur comes on pain de campagne (country-style bread) rather than the traditional white bread, making it a substantial snack. 21 quai Montebello, 5th. 01-43-54-19-71.
Lovingly aged cheese
Marie Quatrehomme (photo, right) personally selects her cheeses from French producers before aging them in the cool cellars beneath her shop, bringing them out only when they have reached their peak of ripeness. Summer is the best season for goat cheese, since the animals have been feeding on fresh grass. Don’t miss the 36-month-old comté (made with cow’s milk) from producer Marcel Petite. 62 rue de Sèvres, 7th. 01-47-34-33-45.
World-class ice cream
Legendary ice cream shop Berthillon closes during the summer, though you can still buy its glaces from cafés along rue St-Louis-en-l’Ile. Alternatively, treat yourself to Turin-style gelato at Pozzetto, which thoughtfully remains open in hot weather. 39 rue du Roi-de-Sicile, 4th. 01-42-77-08-64.
Cookbook author and longtime Fodor’s contributor Rosa Jackson is constantly submerged in French culinary currents. Based in Nice, where she runs a Provençal cooking school from her home, Rosa spends several days each month in Paris savoring the city’s food scene. For recipes and other edible adventures, check out Rosa’s brand new blog.