Paris Restaurants

A new wave of culinary confidence has been running through one of the world's great food cities and spilling over both banks of the Seine. Whether cooking up grand-mère's roast chicken and riz au lait or placing a whimsical hat of cotton candy atop wild-strawberry-and-rose ice cream, Paris chefs—established and up-and-coming, native and foreign—have been breaking free from the tyranny of tradition and following their passion.

Emblematic of the "bistronomy" movement is the proliferation of "gastrobistros"—often in far-flung or newly chic neighborhoods—helmed by established chefs fleeing the constraints of the star system or passionate young chefs unfettered by overblown expectations. Among the seasoned stars and exciting newcomers to the scene are Yannick Alléno, who left behind two Michelin stars at Le Meurice to open his locavore bistro Terroir Parisien at the Palais Brogniart and earned three stars at the storied Pavillon Ledoyen within his first year at the helm; David Toutain at the exceptional Restaurant David Toutain; Sylvestre Wahid at Brasserie Thoumieux; and Katsuaki Okiyama's Abri.

But self-expression is not the only driving force behind the current trend. A traditional high-end restaurant can be prohibitively expensive to operate. As a result, more casual bistros and cafés, which reflect the growing allure of less formal dining and often have lower operating costs and higher profit margins, have become attractive opportunities for even top chefs.

For tourists, this development can only be good news, because it makes the cooking of geniuses such as Joël Robuchon, Guy Savoy, Eric Frechon, and Pierre Gagnaire a bit more accessible (even if these star chefs rarely cook in their lower-price restaurants) and opens up a vast range of new possibilities for exciting dining.

Like the chefs themselves, Paris diners are breaking away from tradition with renewed enthusiasm. New restaurants, wine bars, and rapidly multiplying épicieries (gourmet grocers) and sandwich shops recognize that not everyone wants a three-course blowout every time they dine out. And because Parisians are more widely traveled than in the past, many ethnic restaurants—notably the best North African, Vietnamese–Laotian, Chinese, Spanish, and Japanese spots—are making fewer concessions to French tastes, resulting in far better food.

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  • 1. Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    Set within the Plaza Athénée hotel, Alain Ducasse's three-star Paris flagship totally redefines French haute cuisine. Arguably the world's most...Read More

  • 2. Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    Tucked away in a quiet garden across from the Petit Palais, Ledoyen—open since 1779—is a study in Empire-style elegance. Star chef Yannick Alléno...Read More

  • 3. Guy Savoy

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    Within the beautifully restored La Monnaie (the old Paris mint), you'll find star chef Guy Savoy's hallowed dining room. The market-fresh menu...Read More

  • 4. Ladurée

    $$$ | Champs-Élysées | Bakery

    With 50-plus locations worldwide, the most opulent branch of the Ladurée tea salon empire is worth the splurge. Reserve a table upstairs or...Read More

  • 5. Le Cinq

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    Christian Le Squer is among the most famous and most respected chefs in Paris, as proved by his turn here at one of the city's most deluxe dining...Read More

  • 6. Le Hide

    $$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    Hide Kobayashi, known as "Koba," is one of several Japanese chefs in Paris who trained with some of the biggest names in French cuisine before...Read More

  • 7. Pierre Gagnaire

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    If you want to venture to the frontier of contemporary cooking—and if money is no object—dinner here is a must. Chef Pierre Gagnaire's work...Read More

  • 8. Café La Belle Férronnière

    $$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    A favorite of Parisians for morning noisettes, business lunches, and after-work apéros , this popular spot is a short walk from the Champs...Read More

  • 9. Chez Savy

    $$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    Just off glitzy Avenue Montaigne, Chez Savy's Art Deco cream-and-burgundy interior is blissfully intact, occupying its own circa-1930s microcosm...Read More

  • 10. Dominique Bouchet

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    To taste the cooking of one of the city's revered chefs, head to Dominique Bouchet's elegant modern bistro, where contemporary art brightens...Read More

  • 11. Epicure

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    One of the more inventive young chefs in Paris, Eric Frechon is now the chef at Le Bristol Hotel's revered restaurant, quickly earning the three...Read More

  • 12. Kifuné

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées | Japanese

    Some Japanese expats say you won't find anything closer to authentic Japanese cooking in Paris than the kitchen in Kifune. Sit at the bar to...Read More

  • 13. L'Arôme

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    Eric Martins ran a popular bistro in the far reaches of the 15e arrondissement before opening this contemporary restaurant off the Champs-Élysées...Read More

  • 14. L'Huîtrier

    $$$ | Champs-Élysées | Seafood

    If you have a single-minded craving for oysters, this is the place for you. The friendly owner will describe the many different kinds available...Read More

  • 15. La Cristal Room

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    The success of this restaurant in the Baccarat museum-boutique stems not only from the stunning decor—mirrors, patches of exposed-brick wall...Read More

  • 16. Le Petit Verdot du 17e

    $$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    Sandwich bars might be threatening the traditional two-hour lunch, but that doesn't stop this old-fashioned neighborhood bistro with its painted...Read More

  • 17. Le Relais Plaza

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    Parisian to its core, the Hotel Plaza Athénée's Art Deco dining room—including a mural that's a registered historic landmark—is a cherished...Read More

  • 18. Mini Palais

    $$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    Inside the Grand Palais, Mini Palais is among Paris's most stylish dining rooms, but the menu is the real draw. The burger de magret et foie...Read More

  • 19. Rech

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées | Seafood

    Having restored the historic Paris bistros Aux Lyonnais and Benoît to their former glory, star chef Alain Ducasse turned his piercing attention...Read More

  • 20. Taillevent

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    Perhaps the most traditional of all Paris luxury restaurants, this grande dame basks in renewed freshness under brilliant chef Alain Solivérès...Read More

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