100 best restaurants: French cuisine

The best French dishes in the capital

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Le Coq Rico - © Anthony de Anfrasio & Patricia Westermann

Want to eat like the locals? These are the restaurants for you. French cuisine can be flashy and sophisticated, but it can also be nice and simple, as the hearty, no-frills dishes served here attest. Slabs of beef, juicy duck confits, crispy potato galettes – this is the food of the countryside, the ABC of French cuisine; it's also irresistably tasty, and impossibly filling. Read on for our selection of the best spots in the capital in which to get your serving of meat and veg...

Le Coq Rico

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Perched atop the Montmartre butte, Le Coq Rico welcomes its breathless customers with all the warmth of a mountain chalet. If the wood-pannelled walls, plush seats and a pervasive scent of roasting chicken don't put you in the mood, nothing will – for chicken is the order of the day here, served up with a homely assortment of amuse-bouches. Our meal begins with an egg, boiled to perfection and accompanied by crispy soldiers spread with truffle butter. Lest we start worrying that the kitchen's confused breakfast with dinner, a selection of appetisers soon follows; we're treated to the constituent parts... Read more

  1. 98 rue Lepic, 18e
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La Pulpéria

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The Meat at La Pulpéria comes with a capital M, served in a noisy, welcoming little dining room and whipped up in white-tiled kitchen by talented Argentinean chef Fernando Di Tomaso and his South American team. The menu changes daily, but on our visit it all began with crunchy calf’s sweetbreads accompanied by a few girolles mushrooms and a cep sauce, and a pretty cod ceviche surrounded with fine slices of sweet potato, avocado purée and a splash of lemon juice. Each flavour sung out, while perfectly complementing the others on the plate. Then the mains (vegetarians look away now)... Read more

  1. 11 rue Richard Lenoir, 11e
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Le Garde-Temps

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Le Garde-Temps isn’t exactly the ideal address for a romantic dinner, with tables lined up closely on either side of the small single dining room with its fashionable New York décor. But if it doesn’t bother you to shout over your neighbours to be heard, then ambiance suits the venue, with polite, unfussy service and dishes firmly oriented towards the southwest without being slaves to tradition. The menu starts with things like mullet tartare marinated in Espelette pepper with a chorizo and mustard sprout sauce, or parsnip mousseline with carrots, Chioggia beetroot and chunks of parmesan. Then the mains... Read more

  1. 19 bis rue Fontaine, 9e
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Ribouldingue

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

This bistro facing St-Julien-le-Pauvre church is the creation of Nadège Varigny, who spent ten years working with Yves Camdeborde before opening a restaurant inspired by the food of her childhood in Grenoble. It's usually full of people, including critics and chefs, who love simple, honest bistro fare, such as daube de boeuf or seared tuna on a bed of melting aubergine. And if you have an appetite for offal, go for the gently sautéed brains with new potatoes or veal kidneys with a perfectly prepared potato gratin. For dessert, try the fresh ewe's cheese with bitter honey.

  1. 10 rue Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, 5e
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Bistro Volnay

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

The art deco-inspired Bistro Volnay, situated between Opera Garnier and Madeleine, has been so successful that owners Delphine Alcover and Magali Marian have opened another, Les Jalles, at the end of the road. Popular with businessmen at lunch, Volnay's little dining room comes into its own in the evening. There are Parisians in their element, and tourists who seem a bit overwhelmed at having found the perfect bistro. And it does seem as if Volnay has everything to please: a welcoming dining room done out in big mirrors, glowing lamps and a gorgeous 1930s bar, smiling efficient waiters, a well-stocked cellar... Read more

  1. 8 rue Volney, 2e
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Chez L'Ami Jean

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This long-running Basque address is an ongoing hit thanks to chef Stéphane Jégo. Excellent bread from baker Jean-Luc Poujauran is a perfect nibble when slathered with a tangy, herby fromage blanc - as are starters of sautéed baby squid on a bed of ratatouille. Tender veal shank comes de-boned with a lovely side of baby onions and broad beans with tiny cubes of ham, and house-salted cod is soaked, sautéed and doused with an elegant vinaigrette. There's a great wine list, and some lovely Brana eau de vie should you decide to linger.

  1. 27 rue Malar, 7e
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Le Boeuf Volant

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The beef here really does have wings – it’s flown in from the US, Bavaria, Australia and Spain, and its labels read ‘Black Angus’ or ‘Simmenthal’. In a little corner of Batignolles, you’ll find a doorway crowned with a pair of horns that opens onto a pretty, chic little restaurant, all hanging lamps, stained glass, vintage crockery and plain wooden furniture, hinting strongly at a modern New York steak house. The cosy feel is only emphasised by the small number of seats and the open kitchen (luckily the extractor fan is fully functional) – a dimly-lit, welcoming place. And the beef, the first class foreign cuts? Some of the versions are unusual... Read more

  1. 4 rue Mariotte, 17e
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Les Papilles

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

In the Latin Quarter, down the street from the Jardin du Luxembourg, this quaint little bistro is a safe bet for lunch or dinner in an otherwise touristy neighbourhood. It has a playful yet old-world ambiance, with colourful mosaic floors, wooden curios and a zinc bar. The 38 tables crammed between the bar and a wall of wine are filled with English-speakers early on in the evening, but that doesn’t detract overly from the experience. Unpretentious, jean and T-shirt-clad servers rattle off the menu, then invite you to choose your bottle of wine from the wall. Wine aficionados will have a field day... Read more

  1. 30 rue Gay-Lussac, 5e
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Le Flamboire

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Lovers of barbecues and long-braised meats, Le Flamboire is for you. Located on Pigalle’s Rue Blanche, it’s no New-York-style trendy new opening, but a straightforward meat lover’s paradise with kitsch flames painted on the walls and a no-nonsense carnivorous menu that really delivers. We began with daily special starter of sweet pepper soup with goat’s cheese (€12) and a simple but high quality crottin de chèvre – both lovely, but the grills are the main thing – you can watch turning over the flames above the huge open fire. It’s a difficult choice: a kilo côte de boeuf to share (€38), a faux-filet of Chateaubriand beef (€31)... Read more

  1. 54 rue Blanche, 9e
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Breizh Café

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

With its modern interior of pale wood and its choice of 15 artisanal ciders, this outpost of a restaurant in Cancale, Brittany, is a world away from the average crêperie. For the complete faux-seaside experience, you might start with a plate of creuse oysters from Cancale before indulging in an inventive buckwheat galette such as the Cancalaise, made with potato, smoked herring from Brittany and herring roe. The choice of fillings is fairly limited, but the ingredients are of high quality - including the use of Valrhona chocolate with 70% cocoa solids in the dessert crêpes.

  1. 109 rue Vieille du Temple, 3e
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