As you may have noticed, Paris isn’t by the sea, which sadly means that fine fish in the capital can set you back a pretty penny. In practice, few restaurants bother, either serving unimaginative dishes at inflated prices or simply striking fish off the menu altogether. Which is where this list comes in. We’ve sniffed out the best seafood joints in the city, while keeping an eye out for affordable menus. So dive in, and enjoy. And if there's one we've missed off our list, let us know in the comments box, or tweet us.
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Where to eat fish and seafood in Paris
Atao looks like a dream of a fisherman’s cabin – marine blue on the outside, then wood, white and colourful touches of fresh flowers inside, with an old mariner’s portrait, an anchor and a black and white Gwenn ha Du flag from old Brittany. At night, soft candlelight enhances the atmosphere even further. This pretty place is owned by the daughter of an oyster farmer from Morbihan, who showers her guests with platters of fine oysters – flat native plates and huge Japanese creuses (alive and cooked).
Though the prices at Clamato are relatively high and the portions not all that generous, the quality and freshness of the produce the kitchen uses – all responsibly sourced – make up for it. Depending on the season, expect dishes like wild Belle Corde n°3 oysters with Tabasco, Quiberon barnacles in a punchy lemongrass vinaigrette or a fillet of haddock served with asparagus and a ‘red miso’. Bring up a stool to the industrial-style bar and pair your plates with a glass of dry white wine. Despite the prices, it’s a worthwhile stop.
Following the Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, the Beef Club Ballroom and other frighteningly hip cocktail bars from the Experimental Cocktail group, Olivier Le Bon and his team have moved to a South American angle for their next project, the Fish Club, a speakeasy-style bar and restaurant specialising in fish and seafood lodged in a former butcher’s shop. Leaning on the bar, you can watch the team put together the stunning pisco (Peruvian grape brandy) based cocktails.
With its eye-catching décor of exposed brick walls, blue tiling and fishing nets, Breton-style fish restaurant La Marée Jeanne reels customers in before dinner with sumptuous starters like fried smelt fish and Quiberon bay oysters (especially good with a bottle of white). Mains are expensive but exquisitely fresh and refined, with almost too many brilliant dishes to choose from. We recommend the tart of langoustines, Paris mushrooms and crab mousse, or for something punchier, the grilled octopus with artichokes barigoule, guindilla chillis and a perfectly-cooked red rice risotto.
With its beautiful old model sailing boats, lobsters, shells and bottles of sand everywhere, l’Ecailler du Bistrot feels a little like a fishing boat during the calm after the storm. Decide between, for example, incredible platters of fruits de mer, oyster selections or the lobster set menu – 12 oysters and a half lobster with fries and pudding. Aside from shellfish, there are also things like scallop carpaccio, turbot and sole meunière – but most people will plump for a gargauntuan plate of crustaceans.
Younger seafood sibling of the much-lauded Le Verre Volé, Le Verre Volé sur Mer is nearby on the Rue de Lancry, very much part of the same buzzing Canal Saint-Martin catchment area. The vibe of the tiny space is a little quirkier than the original, with colourful tiles, a communal table and a bar by the open kitchen. Lunch and dinner differ significantly here, with a different team in the kitchen and a different menu. From 1pm, Asian-style bentos and small plates are served, priced from €3 to €14 – all light, bright and fresh. Service is uniformly excellent and a cheerful atmosphere reigns.
At l’Ilot, you don’t have to pay Parisian prices for the best catch of the day. The venue is tiny but beautiful, with big slate menus, earthenware pots and white parquet, a bay window, a few photos on the walls and a terrace for nice days – it all has a solid, comfortable charm. Perch yourself on a stool and order your white wine, then browse the menu: €5 for a serving of taramasalata or tuna or salmon rillettes, €4.50 to €9.50 for pink or grey Madagascan prawns, €6.50 for whelks and €8 for a half crab.
Calling all seafood fans: a canteen specialising in all things fishy has landed in the 9th arrondissement. This blue fronted restaurant-cum-grocery is perched on a street corner and inside, we can almost smell the salty air of the Brittany coast; complete with whitewashed walls, wooden shelves, suspended blackboard menu and a live lobster tank. The menu is truly original, the idea being to take your fill from buckets of whelks, cockles and crab, choose a side (squid-ink pasta or buckwheat salad) and send your fill to the kitchen where it is prepared and returned beautifully.
A non-nonsense oyster restaurant that recalls a charming Breton crêperie; it’s all piles of picnic hampers, paper tablecloths and the jolly bustle and clatter of butter knives, cooking pots and oyster shells as the owner deftly flicks the shellfish open. Certainly not a destination for fine dining, it’s still a brilliant pace for hungry and thirsty groups of friends who want to sit around a table and consume plates of ultra-fresh oysters (in platters at €12.20 or €24).
Established by a Brit and an Aussie, Salt is a charmingly designed dining room with an extraordinary atmosphere. The menu changes seasonally and depends on market availability. On our lunchtime visit, dishes included house linguine, cuttlefish stew, pancetta and lime Pollock fillet with mushrooms and sourdough crumbs and for dessert, a buttermilk cake with honey ice cream. For night owls, the dinnertime menu is more elaborate – and definitely worth a visit.