With this location (a stone’s throw from the Rue de la Paix), you’d expect a smart address. So it’s a pleasant surprise to find Le Petit Vendôme on the Rue des Capucines, with its colourful frontage, neon signs, handwritten menu on chalk boards over the bar and hams strung from the ceiling.
A huge queue stretches out of the door, putting off the casually curious. The waiting faithful are hypnotised by the promise of a rapide croute auvergnat (a speedy Auvergne snack), watching the generous layering of ingredients – Bleu d’Auvergne cheese? Garlic sausage? Country ham? Behind the bar, backchat and good humour come as standard. Stomachs rumble to the subtle scents of the good regional, and hands patiently wait to get hold of what critics call the best ham sandwich in Paris – and it’s true. Baguettes from Boulangerie Julien (best baguette in Paris, 1995) are filled with tender and scented Brittany ham and creamy, salty butter – an antidote to all tasteless, odourless pink supermarket slices. Expect to pay between €4 and €6 for the sandwich, but don’t expect to fit in a pudding.
If the sandwiches really aren’t your thing, have a seat on one of the large cerise banquettes for a sit-down meal. Ultra-fine Normandy veal escalope covered with with sautéed potatoes (€17), farm chicken with hand-made chips (€16.50), veal fricot with ceps. Definitely one not to miss if you’re in the neighbourhood.
This restaurant serves one of Time Out's 50 best dishes in Paris. Click here to see the full list.