If you are a foodie then Paris is undoubtedly on your radar for a visit. It has so much to offer and it’s not only about dining in the best Michelin starred restaurants either. The Paris foodie guide is a bit self-indulgent, but I hope that you will enjoy my choices as much as I do.
Gourmet Paris for me is about sampling bits and pieces from markets, boulangeries (bakeries), fromageries (cheese shops) and charcuteries (specialist meat shops). It is about finding the unexpected and being delighted by the discoveries.
The Paris Foodie Guide: My top 10
Michelin starred restaurants
You have to have some way of measuring quality and a Michelin star is a coveted award in France. There are currently around 70 restaurants in Paris that have stars. They offer the ultimate dining experience. It is not for everyone’s pocket, but it is a special treat.
We had a spectacular dinner at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon Etoile, Paris – Champs-Elysee. The restaurant has an open kitchen so you can watch the chefs prepare your meal. It was fascinating to watch them work. The dishes are beautifully presented and dinner was superb. The suggestions the sommelier made were a perfect match for the individual courses. We had a wonderful meal that we often still talk about.
Tip: It is usually cheaper to eat in a Michelin starred restaurant at lunchtime so if you are on a budget do a bit of research and you will be surprised what you can find.
If you don’t have the time to head to the wine regions then you can explore some great wines at a wine tasting right in the city. We had a superb tasting at Wine Tasting in Paris. Thierry guided us through a selection of wines. He is very knowledgeable so any questions that you may have he will be able to answer. It is a fun way to spend a couple of hours, learn a bit and enjoy delicious wines as well.
You have to visit at least one bistro when you are in Paris. I have been to L’Entrecôte de Paris just off the Champs-Elysées many times over the years. The food is simple, unpretentious and delicious. I might be boring, but I always have the same meal as well. I love the simple l’entrecôte and French fries with a salad. I have tried many times to make a similar salad dressing, but sadly it is never quite the same. There always seems to be a je ne sais quoi missing.
Another find tucked away on the Ile de la Cité is Les Fous de l’Île. It is a Michelin rated restaurant for “good cooking” and has affordable set menus. It is a laid-back environment and not at all touristy. Naturally, the food is delicious as well.
The fresh food in Paris is outstanding. If you buy seasonal produce you just can’t go wrong. Everyone has their favourite market and mine is in the Rue Montorgueil. This road is a foodie’s paradise. There are butchers, fishmongers, flower sellers, rotisseries, cheese shops and bakers. Look out for Stohrer (the oldest pastry shop in Paris) as you make your way along the road. There are loads of café’s to stop at while you decide what to try next. I could spend a day just eating my way along this street!
If you are in Paris for Christmas then there is a special market on the Champs-Elysées. You can find out more in my post about what to do in Paris over Christmas.
This is another minefield. Where do you begin? I think that the easiest way is not to go to a shop with a specific cheese in mind. Be adventurous and ask the fromager what they suggest and listen to their advice. They know what cheese is at its peak on that day so you will be buying it at its best. In the same way, if you want to take it home with you, they can advise on how to package it, store it, and then when to eat it. When I think of the choice in France I go weak at the knees. My perfect snack, at any time of the day or night, is cheese, maybe with a glass of wine as well.
Paris is the home of macarons, but oddly enough this was not always the case. They originated in Venice in the 8th century. When Catherine de Medici married Henry II the Italian pastry chefs she brought with made them. This was the start of a creation which centuries later still has its devotees. There is something so special about the little taste explosions of sugary delight that just keeps me hooked.
You may be wondering why I am including food halls in this post, but I have to visit at least one when I am in Paris. I love looking at what’s on the shelves and it is a great place to buy gifts for your foodie friends and naturally a couple of take-home treats as well. Many items are beautifully packaged and very tempting. You can find everything that you can think of as well as a whole lot of items that you didn’t know that you couldn’t live without.
Not quite a food hall, but another favourite shop to visit is Fauchon. I want to buy everything that I see and I have great difficulty restraining myself.
Pastries and Baguettes
This is another problem to choose a favourite because so much of what is available has to be good or else they will not survive the discerning clientele in Paris. When I am in Montmartre Le Grenier à Pain is my bakery of choice. They won the 17th Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Française de la Ville de Paris. Along with the prize was a contract to supply the French president with bread for a year. The baguette just about makes it out of the door before my husband needs to “test” it!
The street that the bakery is in is also a fabulous spot to wander along and enjoy as it is lined with foodie shops. We bought a lovely artisanal cheese platter and some pate to join the baguette that almost didn’t make it home. Accompanied by a good wine it was perfection.
It is strange, but at home, I don’t normally drink hot chocolate. In Paris, this changes and I have to have my fix. The hot chocolate is decadent and often so thick that you can almost stand your spoon up in it. There are three candidates to choose from that have been around for years and have their devotees.
Ladurée’s 19th century-style interior to me adds to the opulence and indulgence. The hot chocolate is slightly bitter but rich and velvety. It is perfect on a cold day.
Next, on my list is Angelina known for its spectacular desserts. It is really close to the Louvre so it’s a perfect spot to stop and charge your batteries after a visit. The African chocolate is more like a dessert than a drink, but oh, so delicious!
If you are visiting the market in Rue Montorgueil then you just have to stop at Charles Chocolatier to indulge. It is a family run concern that has been around since 1910. Their chocolate is served from a copper cauldron and has slightly bitter taste, but strangely also a hint of sweetness. They naturally make beautiful artisanal chocolates as well.
Moules Frites and Oysters
When they are in season you will see signs all over the city advertising moules frites or mussels and French fries. I love mussels and I have yet to have a dish that has not lived up to expectation. It is best when it is simply prepared and you can taste the brininess of the ocean with each bite. Moules à la marinière is the go-to choice of mussels prepared in white wine, garlic and shallots and served with chunks of baguette to mop up the sauce. There are other variations, but this classic is usually my choice.
If you happen to be in Paris over Christmas don’t miss the oysters. I wrote about some of the best places to enjoy them in a previous post.
It really is impossible to define the top 10 must eats in Paris because everyone has favourites and they are going to differ. I haven’t even mentioned classic French dishes that you could try like duck confit, steak tartare and boeuf bourguignon and many others. I do hope that you will use the Paris Foodie Guide as a starting point to begin your journey of exploration in Paris and maybe find some new indulgences that will become your favourites as well.
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