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. Café de la Paix

    $$$$ | Grands Boulevards | French

    Once described as the "center of the civilized world," this grand café was a meeting place for the Belle Époque's glitterati. It's an elegant...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. L'Arpège

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Breton-born Alain Passard, one of the most respected chefs in Paris, famously shocked the French culinary world by declaring that he was bored...Read More

  • 5. L'Astrance

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Pascal Barbot rose to fame thanks to his restaurant's reasonable prices and casual atmosphere, but after the passage of several years, Astrance...Read More

  • 6. Le Grand Véfour

    $$$$ | Louvre | French

    Originally built in 1784, Le Grand Véfour has welcomed everyone from Napoléon to Colette to Jean Cocteau under its mirrored ceiling, and is...Read More

  • 7. Le Pré Catelan

    $$$$ | Western Paris | French

    Live a Belle Époque fantasy by dining beneath the chestnut trees on the terrace of this fanciful landmark pavillon in the Bois de Boulogne...Read More

  • 8. Ze Kitchen Galerie

    $$$$ | Latin Quarter | French

    The name of this contemporary bistro might not be inspired, but the cooking shows creativity and a sense of fun. From a deliberately deconstructed...Read More

  • 9. Au Rocher de Cancale

    $ | Louvre | French

    As its impressive facade attests, this café has a special history. It opened in 1846, when Balzac was a regular and Rue Montorgueil was the...Read More

  • 10. Boucherie Roulière

    $$ | St-Germain-des-Prés | French

    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...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. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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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