Ideas for gastronomes
Great food and good-value restaurants and cafés in the capital Dining out in the gourmet capital of the world needn't cost the earth. We reveal the best places in Paris for those with big appetites but small budgets. Le Bambou The Vietnamese fare here is a notch above what is normally served in Paris. Seating is elbow to elbow and, should you come on your own, the waiter will draw a line down the middle of the paper tablecloth and seat a stranger on the other side. That stranger might offer pointers on how to eat certain dishes, such as the no.42: grilled marinated pork to be wrapped in lettuce with beansprouts and herbs and eaten by hand, dipped into the accompanying sauce (no.43 is the same thing, but with pre-soaked rice paper wrappers). Le Baratin Star pastry chef Pierre Hermé visits this cheerful little bistro and wine bar high up in Belleville at least every two weeks to fill up on Raquel Carena's homely cooking with the occasional exotic twist. Typical of her style, which draws on her native Argentina, are tuna carpaccio with cherries, roast Basque lamb with new potatoes and spinach, and hazelnut pudding. If the food weren't so fantastic, it would still be worth coming for the mostly organic wines. Le Baratin attracts gourmands from all over Paris - so be sure to book. A la Biche au Bois However crowded it gets here, it doesn't matter because everyone always seems so happy with the food and the convivial atmosphere. It's impossible not to be enthusiastic about the more than generous portions offered with the €25.90 prix fixe menu. Mains might include tasty portions of wild duck in blackcurrant sauce, partridge with cabbage or wild venison stew. If you can still do dessert, go for one of the home-made tarts laden with seasonal fruits. The wine list has a reputation as one of the best-value selections in town. Book in advance, but expect to wait anyway. A la Bière A la Bière looks like one of those nondescript corner brasseries, but what makes it stand out is an amazingly good-value €14.50 prix fixefull of fine bistro favourites. White tablecloths and fine kirs set the tone; starters of thinly sliced pig's cheek with a nice French dressing on the salad, and a home-made rabbit terrine exceed expectations. The mains live up to what's served before: charcoal-grilled entrecôte with hand-cut chips, and juicy Lyonnais sausages with potatoes drenched in olive oil, garlic and parsley. This is one of the few bargains left in Paris. Bistrot Victoires Bistros with vintage decor serving no-nonsense food at generous prices are growing thin on the ground in Paris, so it's no surprise that this gem is packed to the gills with bargain-loving office workers and locals every day. The steak-frites are exemplary, featuring a slab of entrecôte topped with a smoking sprig of thyme, but plats du jour such as blanquette de veau (veal in cream sauce) are equally comforting. The wines by the glass can be rough, but the authentic buzz should make up for any flaws. Breizh Café 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. Cantine Merci The new fairtrade concept store Merci is all about feeling virtuous even as you indulge, and its basement canteen is a perfect example. Fresh and colourful salads, soup and risotto of the day, an organic salmon plate, and the assiette merci (perhaps chicken kefta with two salads) make up the brief, Rose Bakery-esque menu, complete with invigorating teas and juices. Rustic desserts add just the right handmade touch. Chez Hanna By noon on a Sunday there is a queue outside every falafel shop along rue des Rosiers. The long-established L'As du Fallafel, a little further up the street, still reigns supreme, whereas Hanna remains something of a locals' secret, quietly serving up falafel and shawarma sandwiches to rival any in the world. A pitta sandwich bursting with crunchy chickpea-and-herb balls, tahini sauce and vegetables costs €4 if you order from the takeaway window, €8 if you sit at one of the tables in the buzzy dining room overlooking the street. Either way, you really can't lose. Chez Omar The once-fashionable Omar doesn't take reservations, and the queue can stretch the length of the zinc bar and through the door. Everyone is waiting for the same thing: couscous. Prices range from €11 (vegetarian) to €24 (royale); there are no tagines or other traditional Maghreb mains, only a handful of French classics (duck, fish, steak). Overstretched waiters slip through the crowds with mounds of semolina, vats of vegetable-laden broth and steel platters heaving with meat, including the stellar merguez. Even on packed nights, there's an offer of seconds - gratis - to encourage you to stay a little while longer. Dong Huong The excellent food at this Vietnamese noodle joint attracts a buzzy crowd. The delicious bành cuôn, steamed Vietnamese ravioli stuffed with minced meat, mushrooms, bean sprouts, spring onions and deep-fried onion, are served piping hot. Com ga lui, chicken kebabs with tasty lemongrass, though not as delicate, come with tasty rice. Bò bùn chà giò (noodles with beef and small nem topped with onion strips, spring onion and crushed peanuts) makes a meal in itself. For dessert, the mandarin, lychee and mango sorbets are tasty and authentic. Higuma Higuma's no-nonsense food and service makes it one of the area's most popular destinations. On entering, customers are greeted by plumes of aromatic steam emanating from the open kitchen-cum-bar, where a small team of chefs ladle out giant bowls of noodle soup piled with meat, vegetables or seafood. You can slurp at the counter or sit at a plastic-topped table. Le Hide Ever since it opened, this snug bistro has been packed with a happy crowd of bistro-lovers who appreciate Japanese-born chef Hide Kobayashi's superb cooking and good-value prices. Expect dishes such as duck foie gras terrine with pear-and-thyme compôte to start, followed by tender faux-filet steak in a light foie gras sauce or skate wing with a lemon-accented beurre noisette. Desserts are excellent: perfect tarte tatin comes with crème fraîche from Normandy. Good, affordable wines explain the merriment, including a glass of the day for €2. Josselin The star crêperie of the area, and the one with the longest queues, is the prettily decorated Josselin, where the speciality is the Couple - two layers of galette with the filling in the middle. The savoury galette is followed by the dessert Crêpe de Froment, which comes in three varieties: classic (honey and lemon or wonderful caramel beurre salé); flambéed with calvados; or a fantasy creation oozing with chocolate, banana, ice cream and whipped cream. Wash it all down with bowls of cider, of which the brut is far better than the sweet. You'll be surprised how full you feel at the end and the bill should come to no more than €20 a head, a buckwheat bargain by Paris standards. La Madonnina La Madonnina flirts with kitsch so skilfully that it ends up coming off as cool. With its candles, mustard yellow walls and red-checked tablecloths, it's the perfect place for a romantic night out. La Madonnina describes itself as a trattoria napoletana, but most of the dishes are pan-southern Italian. The short menu changes monthly; don't miss the home-made pastas, such as artichoke and ricotta ravioli. The cassata, an extremely sweet Sicilian version of cheesecake, is authentic and unusual to see on menus outside Italy. Pétrelle Jean-Luc André is as inspired a decorator as he is a cook, and the quirky charm of his dining room has made it popular with fashion designers and film stars. But behind the style there's some serious substance. André seeks out the best ingredients from local producers, and the quality shines through. The €29 no-choice menu is very good value for money (marinated sardines with tomato relish, rosemary-scented rabbit with roasted vegetables, deep purple poached figs) - or you can splash out with luxurious à la carte dishes such as tournedos Rossini. Rose Bakery This English-themed café run by a Franco-British couple stands out for the quality of its ingredients - organic or from small producers - as well as the too-good-to-be-true puddings: carrot cake, sticky toffee pudding and, in winter, a chocolate-chestnut tart. The DIY salad plate is crunchily satisfying, but the thin-crusted pizzettes, daily soups and occasional risottos are equally good choices. Don't expect much beyond scones in the morning except at weekends, when brunch is served to a packed-out house. The dining room is minimalist but welcoming. Rouammit & Huong Lan Fans of South-east Asian food eventually learn to seek out Laotian holes-in-the-wall in Paris rather than splurge on flashier Thai restaurants. A perfect example is this Chinatown joint, easy to spot thanks to the queue outside the door. The food is cheap and delicious, and the service friendly. Among the highlights are lap neua, a tongue-tickling, chilli-spiked salad made with slivers of beef and tripe; khao nom kroc, Laotian ravioli filled with shrimp; and sweet, juicy prawns stir-fried with Thai basil. Even the sticky rice is exceptional.
We all known Parisians have a reputation as culinary connoisseurs. In comparison with famously lengthy, languid lunches and ambience-heavy fine-dining in the evening, brunch isn’t a meal you’d immediately associate with French foodie culture. In fact, as a predominantly Anglo-Saxon tradition, it suffers from a less refined, more DIY – okay, let’s just say it: greasy – image. However, in recent years Britain’s favourite portmanteau has proved surprisingly popular in the French capital too, albeit with less of an emphasis on bacon. On weekends you’ll find many of Paris’s restaurants and bars open for business well before midday, and enjoying a brisk brunchtime trade. So, from the Canal Saint-Martin to the banks of the Seine, and from hangover restoratives to haute-cuisine breakfast feasts, dig in to Time Out’s guide to the best brunches in town… Our top three brunches in Paris Chez Casimir Thierry Breton, owner of Chez Michel and of this bistrot next door, takes the idea of generous servings to extremes. Here, this doesn’t mean an American brunch experience – instead Chez Casimir lays on ‘le Traou Mad’ (meaning ‘good things’ in Breton), served continually from 10am to 7pm. You can fill your plate with delicious fare from Brittany and elsewhere, starting in simple fashion, with salted butter on exceptional country bread, and moving on to just about everything else: charcuterie, seafood, boudin, smoked salmon, salads, omelettes… Then come the casseroles of flaked cod, the beef bourguignon or similarly hearty dishes. Still hungry? Head towards the ‘grandmother-style’ dessert buffet. The atmosphere is noisy but convivial and the price (€26) is incredible in light of the quality. Not hard, then, to understand the place’s success. Les Enfants Perdus Les Enfants Perdus is a discreet and really rather chic fine-dining restaurant frequented by the bobos of the Canal Saint-Martin, and overspill from the bars L’Atmosphère and Café Bonnie. The interior is sombre but at the back, a light and airy room has been kitted out with comfortable benches strewn with white cushions – ideal for plonking yourself down on a Saturday or Sunday morning at brunch hour. And the dishes are exceptional. The best approach here is to fast for a day beforehand, in order to take full advantage of the gigantic, delicious brunch prepared by a Michelin-starred chef who is passionate about both style and substance – even when it comes to brunch. The menu is unique, and changes every six months. For €25 no fewer than three platters are brought to you. The first comprises delicious mini-viennoiseries, house orange juice and hot drinks of your choosing; the second features shirred eggs, cake, a beautiful slice of organic salmon on a bed of salad and a cup of cucumbers in white cheese with mint. After loosening your belt you will receive a final, enormous platter with vegetable soup, faisselle au miel, grapes, ham and cheese. Oof (in the best sense possible). Les Bonnes Sœurs This is a tiny, noisy room, which regularly has people queuing down the Place des Vosges on a Sunday morning. It’s worth getting there early on weekends so you’ll be in pole position to sample the succulent scrambled eggs served as part of the legendary brunch. There are no reservations, but they do operate a waiting list – so be prepared to take a long walk around the block before you’re able to enjoy your breakfast. But it’s probably worth it to work up your appetite.The décor is restrained – wooden tables, leather benches and black and white photos of nuns (the titular ‘good sisters’) – but the meals are a merciful blessing for the famished. To kick off, a basket of fresh bread and brioches with chocolate sprinkles arrives with a delicious but meagre fresh fruit juice. Then come the pancakes with maple syrup and scrambled eggs accompanied by crunchy chips, salmon and grilled bacon. And to satisfy really big appetites, for around €4 more gourmands can add the sumptuous eggs Benedict, after which they can take the rest of the day off food – and most of the following one too. Best brunches by category For gourmands For perfect ambience International brunches Brunches for under €20 Bookable brunches For late-risers
Baguettes and brie are all very well, but we think foodies in Paris will also get a kick out of these unmissable gourmet discoveries – everything from Nutella tarts to St Marcellin cheese to honey vinegar. The decision was tough, so we're going to cheat and suggest you also check out La Grand Epicerie de Paris. Fromagerie Quatrehomme Marie Quatrehomme, the first woman to win the coveted Meilleur Ouvrier de France title, runs this charmingly cramped, stone-walled cheese boutique. Justly famous for her beaufort and st-marcellin, she also sells specialities such as goat's cheese with pesto. Unlike many French fromagers, Marie respects the cheese of other countries, including a hard-to-find hit of crumbly English cheddar. Causses Causses, SoPi’s (SouthPigalle) new alimentation general extraordinaire, feels like an urban farm shop, offering a winning formula of simple quality, seasonal, produce (fruit ‘n’ veg, hams and cheeses), gourmet preserves and take-away breads, sandwiches and salads. If you’re into your OJ, there’s a fill your own bottle area next to the orange squeezing machine. You’ll also find an array of interesting seasonings, including smoked salt and ‘sel fou’ (salt mixed with oriental spices and pink peppercorns). For expats in need of a taste of home, Tyrrell’s crisps, Covent Garden soups, HP sauce and quality English biscuits abound. There’s also a tempting array of Italian deli pastas and sauces. If you fancy freeing your inner chef, Causses is affiliated with 'Esprit Cuisine' cooking school, run by Nathaly Nicolas-Ianniello. The principle is easy - you go shopping, then learn how to prepare delicous, wholesome dishes with what you’ve just bought (contact Nathaly by mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). La Tête dans les Olives Tête dans les Olives on place St-Marthe (just north of Canal St-Martin) entices foodies with the promise of fruity olive oil fit for the finest of restaurants. Sicilian owner Cédric knows his oils like a sommelier knows his wines and can recommend types to match what you’re cooking. You’ll also find delicacies like sun-dried tomatoes made from beefy “patataro” Italian tomatoes, top-grade pasta, herbs and deliciously tangy capers. For an all out treat book the table d’hôtes (lunchtime or evening) and dine inside the shop on fresh sun-kissed products. Only six people are permitted at a time, making the experience feel like a well-kept Parisian secret. You only get details of what the menu will include when you book, which is part of the fun too. Bogato If Hansel and Gretel had a cake shop in Paris it might look like Bogato (a name that sounds like ‘ beau gateau’ in French, as in ‘pretty cake’). Everything here is about temptation, from the quaint wooden furniture to pastry chef Anaïs Olmer’s brightly coloured cupcakes, towering under glass bells on the counter like sugary art installations. There are crunchy butter biscuits, smooth Nutella tarts, cherry cheesecakes, chocolate-coated marshmallows, and even Cheshire Cat shortbread biscuits with an edible rice paper smile. Eat in or take out; and if you like what you’ve scoffed, sign up for a baking class where you can learn how to make Bogato’s gooey macaroons, cream filled ‘choux’ or sugary cupcakes. Lessons are available for adults (€58) and children (26€). Call for details. Les Abeilles Honey, beeswax, royal jelly and anything else that has been squeezed out of a bee’s behind takes pride of place in Les Abeilles (literally ‘the bees’). This tiny boutique, in the heart of Butte-aux-Cailles sells everything from candles to honey vinegar, honey mustard and its specialty ‘Miel de Paris’, gathered by owner Jean-Jacques from his hives in nearby Parc Kellerman. There’s also a wonderful selection of honey pots, soaps and bee-keeping gear, should you decide to make your own honey at home. For those into the runny stuff, acacia and chestnut honey apparently stay liquid so you can bring your own jar and buy it by the kilo from the dispensing machines (11.50€/kilo). They are also said to have therapeutic properties: Acacia for digestion and chestnut for circulation.
The best burgers in Paris are a tall order, in a city devoted to fine dining and elite restaurants. But our hunt for perfect patties and fantastic fries turned up more than snooty gourmet versions of the American classic (though a few of those as well). The obsession with fine ingredients that has gripped burger-makers in New York and London for the last few years has caught on in the French capital too, with happy results: Our 'Best burgers in Paris' list includes full-on American diners, signature restaurant versions and even a jolly burger truck, proving that French versions of US cuisines are much more than just a load of old viande hachée.Did we miss you favourite Parisian spot for American-inspired dining? Join the conversation in the comments. La Maison Mère If you somehow managed to miss La Maison Mère throughout the media frenzy around its opening in January 2011, it’s time to get up to speed. First, forget any ideas of a traditional French kitchen: it’s more Mom than Mère. Embrace, instead, the New York-esque décor, with its white tiles, vintage furniture, enamelled mirrors, lamps disguised as bowler hats and a sign declaring: ‘In food we trust’.The menu is much what you’d expect given the setting, but the management has added a few dashing bourgeois touches. Leek vinaigrette, eggs ‘mimosa’, bone marrow sandwiches, grilled cockerel and chocolate mousse all appear alongside a variety of dishes directly imported from the Yankees – crab cake, Brooklyn platters, Long Island platters and so on. The five burgers (which range in price from €15 to €20) will delight enthusiasts, be it a breaded cod burger or the Black Label with its thick-cut Black Angus steak. The cooking is perfect, and if the sides are a little lacklustre, it’s only so as not to distract from the main event.Pride of place is given to T-bone steak and caramelized pork ribs, Bavarian prime rib, Black Angus striploin and Charolais tartare. Phwoar. The house fries could have been better and the whole doesn’t come cheap, but nobody’s perfect. Friendly service, a nice wine selection and top cheesecake all go a long way towards sweetening the bill. Blend Parisians have officially gone burger bonkers: After the Camion qui Fume (a mobile gourmet burger van) and Big Fernand (an über-trendy take-away burger joint in the 10th), Blend has opened its doors, in the bobo quarters of Etienne Marcel. And if the queues are anything to go by, this modern, 24-seater burger bar is going to be relished for a long time. The secret is in the ingredients: Made with hand-cut veal and beef mince, provided by star butcher Yves-Marie le Bourdonnec, burgers are succulent and flavoursome, and marry wonderfully with the fresh toppings (think bacon, bleu d‘Auvergne cheese, spinach leaves, chorizo, mint and cheddar). The bread and fries (both potato and sweet-potato) are also homemade, making the whole affair rather gourmet. Our burgers came wrapped in baking paper (to keep their toppings snug inside the bun until they got to the table), accompanied by delicious, knobbly, golden fries served in a metal basket and sprinkled in salt and fresh parsley. The initial bite of the ‘Sweet’ burger (veal mince, with Chorizo and carrot, mint and pepper relish) was very satisfying, with alternately crisp and squishy layers of cheese, salad, salsa and bun. The toppings on the ‘Signature’ burger (beef mince with blue cheese, apple, bacon and onion chutney) also worked together perfectly; and the fries were some of the best we’d tasted in Paris, with just the right balance of crunch and fluffiness. Desserts (though less exciting) were decent: a moist peanut and caramel cupcake, and a creamy, yet tangy, raspberry cheesecake with a crunchy, buttery base. Indeed, the only downer was the lack of space (only 24 seats for dozens of clients who inevitably have to queue or share with strangers) and an abundance of plastic cups – a problem linked to Blend’s unexpected success. As the manager explained to us, they didn’t anticipate becoming a hit so soon, so haven’t got enough ‘proper’ crockery to go round! Let’s hope they sort it out soon. Low-grade containers are passable in McDo, but when you’re a modern eatery trying to build a reputation, you just can’t serve wine in a bog-standard plastic cup. Vegetarians are catered for too, with two veggie options: the 'Champ', a mushroom and tofu burger in a spinach bun, with aubergine and fresh mint; and the 'Green', an intriguing pea 'steak' in a spinach bun with curried apricot chutney. Big Fernand A brilliant little burger joint, which takes the traditional American burger and gives it the French terroir treatment. Nowhere’s been left out, with regional specialities from all over France wedged between delicious sesame seed buns from the bakery next door. There’s fourme cheese from Ambert, tomme cheese from Savoie, Saint-Nectaire cheese, Charolais and Blonde d’Aquitaine beef and more.The menu lists five house burgers, but you can also build your own. Choose from beef, chicken, lamb and veal and then add cheese, grilled vegetables, streaky bacon, sauces, herbs or spices. You order at the counter and then try and find a seat, which isn’t always easy – but if all else fails you can get it to go. Chips (known here as ‘fernandines’) come with, and the concept even extends to the drinks and desserts, with homemade soda, organic lemonade, and traditional puddings.Quick and friendly service comes from moustachioed men in checked shirts, all part of why Big Fernand has shot to the top of Paris’s burger ranks. The only slight quibble is the price – about €15 without dessert. The quality of the ingredients is high, but the portions aren’t huge and it feels a little much to pay for what is still fast food. Le Camion qui Fume Fancy one of the best burgers in Paris? Forget your posh napkins, tablecloths and seating, the Camion Qui Fume is Paris’s first American-style burger truck, run by Californian Kristin Frederick; and you only have to look at the long lines of salivating bobos to know that the burgers here are good. The secret lies in the ingredients: baker-made bread, top quality meat, hand-cut fries and real cheddar (for just €10). The truck’s nomadic concept is quirky too: driven to a different spot everyday (often place de la Madeleine, Porte Maillot, the Canal St-Martin, MK2 Bibliothèque and in front of the Musée d’Orsay), its whereabouts is confirmed just days before on the website and on the Camion's Twitter and Facebook pages. Breakfast in America Even in Paris, the city of haute cuisine and knock-your-socks-off Brasserie fare, there comes a time when nothing but bacon, fried eggs, juicy burgers and fluffy pancakes drizzled in maple syrup will do. For those moments, Breakfast in America (known lovingly amongst regulars as B.I.A) offers bona fide American diner surroundings, all-day breakfasts and artery clogging delights like sticky pecan pie, washed down with bottomless mugs o’ Joe. Needless to say it’s a hit with the brunch crowd who come in droves so large they queue up outside, rain or shine. Fortunately turn over is quite fast, so you rarely have to wait more than half-an-hour. The €15.95 brunch menu gets you comfort staples like sausages and eggs (over-easy, sunny-side up or scrambled) with toast and fries or a generous Connecticut ham and cheese omelet and a squidgy chocolate muffin. B.I.A won’t take reservations, but there’s a second branch in the Marais, so if Latin Quarter students have hogged all the tables, you can try your luck on the Right Bank. American Kitchen Opposite the Hôpital Saint-Louis, a handful of restaurants cluster in a charming collective that’s well-known to residents and regulars of the 10th. Among the bouquet of enticing smells, the red frontage of the American Kitchen is a favourite with hungry passers-by. On the tables of its vast terrace, pots of ketchup and mustard are the welcome signs of cones of fries to come. Inside, there are no pink faux leather booths, no neon lights and no waitresses on roller skates – of which clichés only the latter might be mourned. A tricolor flag and a few all-American stars integrate well with the industrial décor, mixed with metal lamps and woven bistro chairs.The portion sizes can be eye-popping, so be prepared to share – good thing too, as it’s not cheap (€10 a starter, €15 a burger, €8 a dessert). And don’t expect great things from the house fries – hold out, instead, for the steaks, the brioche buns like small mushrooms, the burgers and the warm bagels. Unusually for a burger joint, vegetables also get star treatment: take the vegetarian crostini, made from thick slices of black bread, mozzarella, peppers, courgettes and aubergines. For dessert, try the creamy carrot cake or the traditional brownies. And to wash it all down: a great Californian wine. Supernature Who said eating healthily was boring? Certainly not the many regulars who flock each afternoon (and on Sunday for brunch) to this tiny canteen in the 9th arrondissement. There’s no overriding organic or vegetarian concept, just well-cooked, daily-changing healthy dishes. There’s at least one delicious vegetarian dish each day, and they often have an ‘Assiette vitalité’ which brings together fresh vegetables goat’s cheese and organic galettes in a wondrous combination. Coffee Parisien When the grand old dames and moody wannabe writers tire of Café de Flore, they head to Coffee Parisien. Just steps from the Mabillon metro, this noisy, busy diner is never empty. Behind the bar, crowded with hurried diners, you can see the chefs at work – coleslaw virtuosos, hash brown geniuses. On the walls, there are portraits of Kennedy and Obama (a burger bears his name as well), Stars and Stripes, frescoes of dollars and clippings from the New York Times, all overlooking battered old red leather banquettes. On the wooden tables, paper placemats list all the U.S. presidents since George Washington. Food-wise, the New York feel continues. Divine cheeseburgers, fluffy pancakes, crisp bagels and delightfully runny eggs benedict: a bit greasy, but in the way that gets plates licked clean. This is a typical American diner with a touch of French refinement – which unfortunately also means that the service is chronically slow and rude.
Red, white or rosé? Shaken, stirred or just plain on the rocks? Whatever your favourite tipple, Paris will be able to provide the best, and surprise you with a few new concoctions along the way... Lavinia Lavinia stocks a broad selection of French alongside many non-French wines; its glassed-in cave has everything from a 1945 Mouton-Rothschild at €22,000 to trendy and 'fragile' wines for under €10.Have fun tasting wine with the dégustation machines on the ground floor, which allow customers to taste a sip of up to ten different wines each week for €10. Les Caves Augé If you want history served with your wine head to Les Caves Augé, which (open since 1850) was where Proust used to go to stock up his cellar. The décor, awash in mouldings and panelling, has little changed since then. Chose between thousands of bottles; the savvy cavistes (wine sellers) will give you titbits about any grape variety or château you see, and there’s an ever-increasing accent on ‘natural’ wines. If you fancy a degustation, Les Caves Augé offer a tasting day one Saturday each month. Le Vin en Tête Great wines, fine wines, organic wines, whiskies and champagnes – thus goes the list of what you’ll find at Le Vin en Tête. If you’re not sure what to buy, tell the 'cavistes' what you’ll be eating and your price range, and they’ll suggest a bottle or two. You can also sign up for wine-tasting lessons. Or if you want to try before you buy, head to the Vin en Tête’s own wine bar, Le Garde-Robe Batignolles (2 rue Lamandé, 17e, 01 44 90 05 04), where you can test the varieties by the glass while tucking into hearty cheese and charcuterie platters. LMDW Three whole floors of this sleek and modern booze shop are filled with wine, whisky, rum, cognac, calvados, Armagnac, tequila, vodka, gin, fruit liqueurs, grappa, vermouths, saké and almost anything else that takes on a liquid form, including teas and coffees. LMDW (La Maison de la Whisky) started life in 1968 as a whisky specialist, but has since branched out into other alcoholic drinks with over 1500 varieties of spirits and wines to choose between. It’s worth visiting the boutique even if you don’t plan to buy as some of the bottles (and their packaging) are veritable works of art. Ryst Dupeyron The Dupeyrons have been selling armagnac for five generations, and still have bottles from the 19th-century. Treasures here include 200 fine Bordeaux wines and an extensive range of vintage port and eaux de vie. The shop itself is one of the most atmospheric in Paris with a beautiful wooden façade and shelves lined with shiny bottles - some of which (though thankfully not all) cost over €2000.
You’ll be hard pushed to find a more insider address than Lunch in the Loft: the exact location is revealed only once you sign up for the party of eight at the home of Claude Cabri (aka Miss Lunch), an artist who loves to cook and who happens to live near one of Paris’s best food markets. The surprise of who you might meet around the table is part of the fun, though it’s worth checking in advance whether most guests speak French or English. And put aside the whole afternoon, as when the wine, food and conversation starts flowing - and it will - 4 hours go by faster than you can say “this dish is délicieux!”. After your appéro, Claude disappears behind the curtain that separates the kitchen from the dining room, popping her head round every now and again to join in the conversation. Menus are seasonal, but run along the lines of homemade figatellu salad, followed by turbans of sole and shellfish, aiguillettes of stuffed foie gras, and dessert of apple and almond fondant with passion fruit coulis. Just when you’re ready to pop, coffee arrives with sweet delights - mignardise - to help you digest! To reserve, email: email@example.com
For some "oh la la" on (and off) the plate... Whether you want to impress, re-light the fire, or simply treat your heart's desire to a meal somewhere intimate, this pick or five romantic restaurants should have you lip-locked by dessert... Taillevent Taillevent’s first room, with its round, evenly spread tables, is gorgeous, but it lacks the intimacy required for a seductive tête-à-tête. We prefer the second dining room, which makes you feel like you’re in a secret club. La Tour d'Argent The views from La Tour d’Argent over Notre-Dame and Montmartre wow your eyes, while the food woos your stomach. This year, patissier Guillaume Caron has created a special Valentine’s dessert, “Mon ange chocolat-passion” (my chocolate passion angel). Delicieux! Restaurant Le Meurice In a sumptuous dining room, inspired by the Château de Versailles and reworked by Philippe Starck, you’re in for a sophisticated meal. Yannick Alléno’s subtle, refined cuisine is utterly inspiring and the setting is enough to make anyone go starry-eyed. Le Moulin de la Galette The Moulin de la Galette is set in one of two remaining windmills in Montmartre - both of which were immortalised by Renoir. After a meal signed chef Antoine Heerah (known for his fresh, minimalist cooking), take a stroll around the Butte’s romantic cobbled lanes. Angelina Angelina tea-room has two ways of inspiring love: A Mont Blanc meringue with chestnut cream and the most velvetine and naughty hot chocolate in Paris.