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. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Jacques Genin Salon de Thé

    $ | Bastille | French

    Master chocolatier-pâtissier Jacques Genin deserves the Legion d'honneur for his efforts to restore great traditional French pastries to their...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. La Table d'Aki

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Set in a quiet, aristocratic quartier near the Musée Rodin, La Table d'Akihiro might just be the most perfect little-gem restaurant in all...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Restaurant David Toutain

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Although chef David's Toutain's approach may be exasperatingly conceptual for some, others find his earthy, surprising, and inspired concoctions...Read More

  • 16. 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

  • 17. Au Bon Accueil

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    To see what well-heeled Parisians like to eat these days, book a table at this chic little bistro run by Jacques Lacipière as soon as you get...Read More

  • 18. Au Trou Gascon

    $$$$ | Bastille | French

    This elegant establishment off Place Daumesnil—off the beaten tourist track but worth the trip—offers a refined take on the cuisine of Gascony...Read More

  • 19. Carette

    $$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Serving chic Parisians since 1927, this Art Deco tea salon on Place du Trocadéro is a hot spot for lunch or afternoon tea. ...Read More

  • 20. 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

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