A romantic dinner in Paris doesn’t have to cost as much as your plane ticket to the City of Love.
As the capital of food-centric France, a romantic getaway to Paris wouldn’t be complete without at least one special dining experience. That said, you don’t have to fork out a fortune at one of its top gastronomic restaurants in order to achieve this. From jaw-droppingly beautiful historic bistros to hip contemporary hotspots, these alluring eateries pull all the right heartstrings without leading to a heart attack when l’addition arrives.
A favorite haunt of Edith Piaf and her lover, world champion boxer Marcel Cerdan, this once glamorous restaurant was given a new life in 2018. The Belle Epoque establishment was reopened as a bouillon, a type of restaurant popularized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that serves simple French classics at low prices. Luckily, the revamp only extended to the kitchen–its lavish dining room, with gigantic mirrors, sensual Mucha-inspired painted tiles, and soaring stained glass ceilings was preserved.
INSIDER TIPImpress your date by reserving table number 24–the preferred table of Piaf and Cerdan.
Petit Bouillon Pharamond
Another recent historic restaurant to hop on the revived bouillon bandwagon, this legendary Les Halles institution dates back to 1832. With a new pas cher menu, you can feast your eyes on its sumptuous Art Nouveau decor while feasting on the likes of mousse de foie gras, Boeuf Bourguignon, and crème brûlée–all for around the price of a Paris museum ticket.
INSIDER TIPIf it’s an extra special occasion, you can increase the romantic ambiance of your evening by booking one of the restaurant’s private dining rooms. Although these come at an additional fee, it’s still much cheaper than those available at other restaurants.
Located in the up-and-coming 10th arrondissement, this new wave brasserie skillfully marries a classic bistro look with a high-quality yet low priced menu. Its passionate young owners personally scoured the French countryside in search of the best local producers, from small-batch Breton butter to unfiltered craft beer brewed in the greater Paris area. So you can settle down at one of their classic café tables and savor your romantic evening without worrying about the bill (or where the goodness on your plate came from).
The second-floor dining room of this trendy venue on the edge of Montmartre woos diners with its Art-Deco style lighting, candle-lit tables, and enchanting panorama over the elevated Métro tracks. It has extra appeal for budget conscious romantics thanks to its very reasonably priced creative dishes ranging from smoked magret de canard to vegan black rice risotto.
INSIDER TIPThe top floor often hosts live music and club nights so pop upstairs if you’re looking to extend your date past dinner.
Tucked away in one of Paris’s oldest covered passageways is one of the city’s hottest new neo-bistros. With massive windows looking onto le passage, a sleek central bar, and chic orange banquette seating, the swank restaurant adeptly pays homage to its stylish namesake: iconic American actor and dancer Fred Astaire. Equally impressive is the menu, which, despite being designed by a three-Michelin starred chef, offers modern takes on French classics at a fraction of regular Michelin prices.
INSIDER TIPAmplify the romantic medley of your date night by coming on one of their live Jazz evenings, usually held two Thursdays a month.
This attractive restaurant behind the Palais Royal is an excellent choice for a posh romantic dinner date without a palatial price tag. If your date isn’t won over by Macéo’s monumental windows, large wispy plants, and crisp white tablecloths, then they will certainly be enamored by its beautifully plated contemporary cuisine, available in three-course menus at 35 euros for lunch and 40 euros for dinner.
Opened in 1896, the historic bistro of the recently restored Chatelet Theater, decked out in red velour drapery, gilded lamps, and elaborate stucco walls, immaculately embodies the sensuality of the Belle Epoque. With set menus at under 25 euros, you don’t have to pay a king’s ransom to treat yourself and your sweetheart to some glitz and glamor.
The epitome of the classic Parisian bistro, complete with a zinc bar, classic wooden tables, and a chalkboard menu, the Bistrot Victoires’ prices seem as frozen in time as its vintage decor. Escargots, duck confit, beef tartare, and profiteroles drenched in thick chocolate sauce–the restaurant serves hearty French favorites at their best, without heartache costs.
INSIDER TIPDespite being staunchly traditional, the menu does include several vegetarian-friendly options, including a veggie burger.
Slang for “Parisians,” Les Parigots is perfect for couples seeking an authentic neighborhood café experience without the hype or prices of other trendier venues. Nestled on a quiet side street near Place de la République, the cozy bistro, brimming with locals and boasting a menu with a great price-to-quality ratio, sets the right tone for a bankrupt-free romantic evening.
INSIDER TIPFor a more intimate tête-à-tête, request a table in the quieter section lined with bookcases, located behind the bar.
Take a break from French food at this South Pigalle outpost of the wildly popular Big Mamma group of Italian restaurants. The four-story temple to Italian cuisine has a sublimely romantic decor of marble countertops, cascading greenery, vintage photos, and dim lighting. Be warned, you won’t be alone in your quest to sample the venue’s superb Italian dishes at super prices. Nevertheless, you can put your name down on the list and get your date started over a cocktail in their secret bar hidden in the basement.