Paris Eating Guide

Dining in Paris can be a real treat or it can be surprisingly ordinary, so it’s worth some effort to seekparis food out the former rather than settling for the latter. And although some people recommend French cooking found in little rural restaurants, Paris has long been considered among French cities as second to Lyon for fine dining. Paris consists of more than 30,000 restaurants and cafés, tagged by some as the “Kitchen of the World.”

Here’s our guide to get the most of your Parisian dining experience.

Choices

Do not just get stuck with the stereotypical French fine dining restaurants. Paris has a lot of fantastic gastronomic offerings as well as a traditional bistros catered for the budget conscious. These bistros have terraces at the sidewalks and offer simple choices, usually meat-centered, for reasonable prices.

There are also several places in Paris that offer authentic international cuisine like Italian, Moroccan, Thai, Algerian, Chinese, Jewish, and mezo-American restaurants.

Avoid dining near tourist spots

Many attractions are situated in the upscale areas of town, and that mass tourism attracts price gougers. It is very frequent to hear people complaining of very high Parisian prices and poor service, but it would be much advisable to dine at where the locals eat.

Get a reservation in advance

Trendy restaurants in Paris often require reservations week, if not months, in advance. If you haven’t planned far enough ahead, try to get a reservation for lunch. It is generally easier and less expensive that way.

Be willing to share space

Many restaurants in Paris are tiny and have tables close together to save on sitting space. In some cases, when the restaurant is crowded, you may have to sit besides strangers at the same table. If you are not into shared spaces, go to a more upscale place where you will pay more for increased room.

Open markets

Travelers on a budget would be pleased with the range and quality of products being offered at an open air market like those in Bastille, Rue Mouffetard, Place Buci, Place de la Madeleine, and over at Canal Saint-Martin in the 11th district.

“Pique-nique”

One great way to live the Parisian life is to create your own wine and cheese picnic along the Seine. Buy a decent bottle of French wine costing €3 to €5 (any wine below €3 is not recommended), a baguette (French bread), some cheese (the more varied, the better), and some fruits (like grapes and figs), and you are ready to go. Have a “pique-nique” with the Parisian youth along the Seine (especially on the Île Saint-Louis) or along the Canal Saint-Martin.

Keep in mind that the small épiceries, which open until late are more expensive than the supermarchés like Casino, Monoprix, and Franprix. For wine, the price difference can be up to €2.

Food stores

The finest food stores are Lafayette Gourmet in the Galleries Lafayette or La Grande Épicerie in the luxury department store Le Bon Marché. You would find a large variety of wines there, or you could also check out other wines stores such as Nicolas or Le Relais de Bacchus.

Meat and seafood

Paris is a great place to try out “moules frites” (steamed mussels and French fries), which is great to eat during fall or winter, as well as other sea delicacies like oysters and sea snails. Meat specialties include venison (deer), boar, and other game (especially in the fall and winter hunting season), as well as French favorites like lamb, veal, beef, and pork.

Vegetarian dining

For vegetarians, eating traditional French food will require some improvisation, as it is heavily meat-based. For fast food and snacks, you can always find a vegetarian sandwich or pizza. Even a kebab shop can make you something with just cheese and salad, or perhaps falafel. Paris has several excellent vegetarian restaurants. 

Check out spots like Aquarius and Piccolo teatro in the 4th district, Le Grenier de Notre-Dame in the 5th, and La La Victoire Suprême du Coeur in the 1st just to name a few. You could also find falafel in many Jewish restaurants in Rue des Rosiers in the 4th, as well as on Rue Oberkampf in the 11th. Take away falafel usually goes for €4 or less.

Other vegetarian choices include vegetarian couscous in Moroccan and Algerian restaurants, baba-ganouche (“caviar d’aubergine) in Lebanese food stops around Les Halles and Beaubourg in the 1st and 4th, and the traiteur around Ledru Rollin. Traiteurs are take away food where you can combine a range of different options like “pomme dauphinoise,” dolmas, salads, vegetables, breads, cheeses, and so on.

 
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