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. Gaya

    $$$$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    If you can't fathom paying hundreds of euros per person to taste the cooking of Pierre Gagnaire, one of France's foremost chefs, at his eponymous...Read More

  • 2. Guy Savoy

    $$$$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    Within the beautifully restored Monnaie de Paris, you'll find star chef Guy Savoy's hallowed dining room. The market-fresh menu features à la carte classics such...Read More

  • 3. La Boissonnerie

    $$$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    A perennial favorite, this lively, unpretentious bistro is prized by expats and locals for its friendly atmosphere, consistently good food, solid wine list, and English-speaking...Read More

  • 4. Quinsou

    $$$$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    The serious, unpretentious, and mightily creative cuisine here quickly catapulted Quinsou to culinary fame. An emphasis on first-rate growers and suppliers puts vegetables in the...Read More

  • 5. Atelier Roulière

    $$$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    If it's steak you're craving, put your faith in Jean-Luc Roulière, a fifth-generation butcher who opened this long, narrow bistro near St-Sulpice church. Partner Franck...Read More

  • 6. Au Prés

    $$$$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    Young, talented, and now famous chef Cyril Lignac has nabbed three small sites all within a few feet of each other to create a trio...Read More

  • 7. Brasserie Le Comptoir

    $$$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    Run by legendary bistro chef Yves Camdeborde, this small, Art Deco restaurant gets booked up early for its satisfying menu of traditional French cuisine. Favorites...Read More

  • 8. Brasserie Lutetia

    $$$$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    This casual-chic eatery within the Hotel Lutetia is the most relaxed of the hotel’s restaurants. The extensive menu has a respectable oyster and shellfish selection,...Read More

  • 9. Café de Flore

    $$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    Picasso, Chagall, Sartre, and de Beauvoir, attracted by the luxury of a heated café, worked and wrote here in the early 20th century. Today you'll...Read More

  • 10. Café de la Mairie

    $$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    Overlooking the St-Sulpice church, this retro café recalls the Paris of yesteryear, before the proliferation of luxury boutiques and trendy eateries. It is a favorite...Read More

  • 11. Eggs & Co.

    $ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    With a cheerfully bright and tiny, wood-beamed dining room—there's more space in the loftlike upstairs—this spot is devoted to the egg in all its forms....Read More

  • 12. Huîtrerie Régis

    $$$$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    It's all about oysters at this bright 14-seat restaurant with crisp white tablecloths and pleasant service, popular with the area's chic set. If you find...Read More

  • 13. Judy

    $$

    Proving that an organic, vegetarian, lactose- and sugar-free menu can, indeed, be delicious, Judy was founded with the conviction that our well-being is directly connected...Read More

  • 14. KGB

    $$$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    After extravagant success with his Asian-infused cuisine at Ze Kitchen Galerie, master-chef William Ledeuil extended his artistry to annex KGB (Kitchen Galerie Bis) just down...Read More

  • 15. La Ferrandaise

    $$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    Portraits of cows adorn the stone walls of this no-nonsense bistro near the Luxembourg Gardens, hinting at the kitchen's penchant for meaty cooking (Ferrandaise is...Read More

  • 16. La Palette

    $$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    The terrace of this corner café, opened in 1902, is a favorite haunt of local gallery owners and Beaux-Arts students. Light fare is available throughout...Read More

  • 17. Lapérouse

    $$$$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    Self-described as a Maison de Plaisir (House of Pleasure) since 1766, this 17th-century wood-paneled townhouse flaunts its naughty history with a dark, boudoir-style decor; Émile...Read More

  • 18. Le Cinq Mars

    $$ | Eiffel Tower

    This quaint, casual bistro a few blocks from the Musée d'Orsay is open seven days a week and serves its own scrumptious versions of the...Read More

  • 19. Le Pont Traversé

    $ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    What used to be a rare bookshop has been carefully reinvented into a coffee shop and gourmet deli serving casual fare like an egg and...Read More

  • 20. Les Editeurs

    $$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    This lively and popular brasserie is open from 8 am to 2 am seven days a week, serving a copious morning breakfast, brunch on weekends,...Read More

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