Top Tips Paris

Restaurants

  • All-time favourites:
    • La Famille, 18ème. Small restaurant/bar on the way to Sacre Coeur from Abesses. Molecular cocktails for €9, 2 courses for €36. Delicious scallops.
    • Derrière, 3ème. In the trendy Marais district. Ping-pong tables, beds and secret Narnia-style smoking room make for a very bobo vibe.
    • Pirouette, 1er. Modern conservatory setting. Food second to none. Very central location. 3 courses for €40.
    • Paul Bert, 10ème. Possibly the best bistrot in Paris. Authentic French food, great service and atmosphere. Must-go even if only in Paris for a weekend.
    • Le Petit Vatel, 6ème. Tiny little gem in St Germain. Family run for over 100 years. Fresh ingredients, very French.
    • Bistrot du 1er, 1er. Typical bistrot style but very original menu, serving Basque and Pyrenéen specialities. Try the foie gras burger if you’re feeling naughty.
    • Les Cocottes, 7ème. Owned by Christian Constant. Everything served in cast iron pots and plates. Langoustine ravioli is to die for.
    • Café Constant, 7ème. Two doors down from Les Cocottes, also owned by Constant. A wonderfully French brasserie, good for lunch and dinner.
    • L’Office, 9ème. Modern, dimly-lit, French cuisine. Eat au comptoir surrounded by true Frenchies.
    • La Truffière, 5ème. Fancy food where the lunch menu is the only affordable chance to sample some of the best food in Paris. 3 courses for €35, but portion sizes quite small.
    • Hotel du Nord, 10ème. On the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin. Cosy décor inside, good food, great service.
    • La Pharmacie, 10ème. Refurbished pharmacy, now decorate like an English pub. Very good food, good brunch on Sundays.
    • L’As du Fallafel, 4ème. The only place to eat fallafel in Paris. Wonderfully authentic and very good value (€5.50 to take away).
    • Hoki Sushi, 5ème. All-you can eat sushi. €12.80 at lunch, €16.80 at dinner.
    • Le Denicheur, 2ème. Home-cooked dishes such as lasagne, pies, quiches, soups and stews.
    • La Cigale Récamier, 7ème. Specialises in soufflés both savoury and sweet. Don’t miss the salted caramel flavour for pudding.
    • Ma Cocotte, Saint-Ouen. Eat here if you find yourself in Paris’s largest flea market, on the northern outskirts of the city. Very fresh fish and great burger.
  • Best Parisian bistros
    • La Palette, 7e. The archetypal Parisian bistro in every way; beautiful terrace (warmed by heaters), zinc bar inside, waiters dressed impeccably. Due to its perfect location expanding onto a small side street, its a remarkably peaceful place to people watch
    • Bistrot Paul Bert, see favourites above.
    • Le Bistrot Vivienne, 2e. Located at the entrance to the Galerie Vivienne (one of Paris’s true hidden gems, a covered passageway with stunning tiling underfoot), the tables set up for diners make for a typically French scenario. Traditional bistro cuisine.
    • Le Pantruche, 9e. A charming and well-reputed bistro just south of Pigalle which offers extremely sophisticated cooking for very reasonable prices. The waiters know their trade, the dishes are pure and, perched on a red leather banquette, you’ll reflect on how perfectly Parisian this restaurant is – indeed, pantruche is old French slang for Parisian.
    • Le Relais du Comptoir, 5e. Le Comptoir has shot to gastronomic fame with celebrity chef Yves Camdeborde at its helm. He has been dubbed the king of ‘bistronomy’ – a portmanteau of the words bistro and gastronomy – and is credited with bringing the French bistro gracefully into the modern era. He’s written countless books on French cuisine and is a judge on the French version of MasterChef. Expected to queue for at least half an hour.
  • Best for steak
    • Ma Bourgogne, 4ème. Prime location under the arches on Places des Vosges. Unbeatable steak, if a little on the expensive side.
    • Robert et Louise, 3ème. On Rue Vieille du Temple, my favourite street in Paris. Red and white checked curtains, rustic wooden tables and an open wood stove where they cook your steaks in front of you.
    • Beef Club, 1er. Central location, great cuts of meat. Don’t miss the ‘ballroom’ downstairs which is a bar owned by the Experimental Cocktail Club. There’s also the Fish Club just next door.
  • Best for burgers
    • Big Fernand, 2e. Hands down the best burger in Paris.
    • Razowski, 1e. Between €11-€16 for burger, side and salad. On the Place du Marché Saint-Honoré.
    • Ferdi, 1er. Wonderfully juicy burger with a secret sauce, but a little expensive at €18 without chips.
    • Bistrot du 1er, see above. Foie gras burger; need I say more?!
  • For a very special occasion:
    • Chateaubriand, 10ème. A true restaurant in every sense of the word. No menu, no choice. You are brought 6 or 7 small dishes throughout the evening in a tasting menu format. €60.
    • Hotel Costes, 1er. A favourite for the celebs, the restaurant is draped in red velvet with tables sprawled across drawing-room like spaces and in and around a candlelit courtyard. The food is astronomically expensive but so worth it for the experience.
    • Chez Julien, 10ème. Red leather banquettes and marble pillars make this restaurant seem like a film set. The food is very expensive but you’re paying for the experience.
  • Breakfast/brunch
    • Holybelly, 10e. The crowd is ‘young hipster’ which comes hand in hand with an address just off the Canal Saint-Martin in the not so grungy part of the 10ème arrondissement. Beanies, leather skirts and skinny jeans are only outnumbered by oversized, horn-rimmed glasses. The staff are predominantly English speaking and extremely friendly; everything is ‘no problem’ and once you’ve actually sat down – expect half an hour queues at the weekend – the service is pretty speedy. Great coffee and cooked breakfasts.
    • Eggs and Co
    • La Palette, see favourites.
  • For sandwiches
    • Verjus, 1e. Hidden beneath its older brother of a restaurant upstairs which serves up a tasting menu for €60, the sandwich bar doubles up as a wine bar in the evening, maximising domination of this little corner of the 1st arrondissement just behind the Palais Royal.
    • Frenchie To Go, 2e. Choose from 3 meaty sandwiches, hot dog, lobster roll, fish and chips, burrata and soup. An ecclectic little mix of options so I’m sure you’ll find something to tickle the taste buds.
    • Bagelstein, various location. Instagram here.
    • Le Cosi Family
Cafés and bars
  • Best coffee
    • Kooka Boora, 18e. Hardly a newbie on the Parisian block, Kooka Boora Café has long served up distinctly un-French coffee. On the corner of Rue des Martyrs and Avenue Trudaine, it offers a wide variety of teas, juices and culinary delights too.
    • Coutume Café, 7e. Owned by the two gurus of the Paris coffee revolution, Antoine Netlen and his Australian partner Tom Clarke, their creations fill a gap in the market for expats craving the coffee they are used to. The observant coffee drinker will notice that they supply their coffee to tons of cafés, restaurants and hotels around Paris – more often than you realise, you’ll be drinking coffee brewed from Coutume roasted beans.
    • Merci Used Book Café, 3e. Sit and enjoy delicious, albeit slightly pricey coffee surrounded by the literary greats. Sit in the extremely comfy armchairs, and try to take in every drop of the very cool atmosphere. Even the water is trendy here.
    • Merci Ciné Café, 3e. Right next door, the walls of this establishment are adorned with old French movie posters and mute projections of black and white films.
    • Fragments
    • Telescope
  • Best bars
    • Le Perchoir
    • La Famille
    • Experimental Cocktail Club
    • La Perle
    • Andy Wahloo
    • Hotel Costes
    • Les Etages
    • Le Brebant
    • Cafe Delaville
    • Chez Jeanete
  • Going out
    • La Bellevilleoise
    • Chez Georges
    • Le Carmen
    • Alimentation Générale
    • Social Club
Hotels

Museums

  • The Louvre
  • Musée Rodin
  • The Pompidou Centre
  • Musée d’Orsay
  • Gustave Moreau museum
  • Musée Jacquemart André
  • Museum of the history of medicine
  • Musée Carnavalet
  • Palais de Tokyo

Sights/places to walk

  • Ile St Louis – Ile de la Cité – Notre Dame
  • Canal St Martin
  • Promenade Plantée – disused railway track stretching above street level from Bastille to the Bois des Vincennes.
  • Rue de Veille du Temple
  • Montmartre – Abbesses – Rue des Martyrs
  • Palais Royal
  • Parks/gardens
    • Jardin du Luxembourg
    • Tuileries
    • The Bois de Boulogne
    • Jardin de Cluny
    • Parc Montsouris
    • Buttes Chaumont
    • Parc Monceau

Day trips