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. Hiramatsu

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    In this Art Deco dining room near Trocadéro, Takashi Nakagawa continues his variations on the subtly Japanese-inspired French cuisine of restaurant...Read More

  • 4. L'Abeille

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Everything here, from the dove-gray decor to the sparkling silver, speaks of quiet elegance—all the better to savor Christophe Moret's masterful...Read More

  • 5. La Tour d'Argent

    $$$$ | Latin Quarter | French

    You can't deny the splendor of this legendary Michelin-starred restaurant's setting overlooking the Seine; if you don't want to splurge on dinner...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 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. Au Boeuf Couronné

    $$$ | Canal St-Martin | French

    Parc de La Villette once housed the city's meat market, and this brasserie devoted to fine beef (whether French or Irish) soldiers on as if...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. L'Ecrin

    $$$$ | Louvre | French

    An exquisite jewelbox setting and a Michelin star have placed L'Ecrin at Paris's dining forefront. An ethereal, highly refined cuisine highlights...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. LiLi

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | Chinese

    The operatically beautiful LiLi, in the Peninsula Hotel, places sophisticated Cantonese cuisine in its rightful place—the gastronomic center...Read More

  • 13. Macéo

    $$$ | Louvre | French

    With a reasonably priced set menu, this is an ideal spot for a relaxed meal after the Louvre. Natural light streams through the restaurant,...Read More

  • 14. 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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