The best views in Paris
An enormously popular new bar in Menilmontant, opened on a huge rooftop with a 360 degree view of the capital. Despite ‘speakeasy’ pretentions (the street entrance is unmarked), the place is becoming a victim of its own success, with queues out of the front door to be endured before you take the lift to the 7th floor. But once you do make it up there, you’ll find a vast space surrounding a handsome bar, comfortable sofas strewn with cushions, colourful plants and scented herbs planted in pots around the seats or hung from railings. Watching he sunset over the Sacré-Coeur, glass in hand, under garlands of coloured lights, really is something special. On the menu, you could try the cocktail of the day (€12), a slightly pricy draught beer (€5 a half) or an imported bottled beer from places as far flung as Mexico and the Czech Republic. For wine, it’s cheaper to share a bottle – careful, the bill adds up quickly. Tapas is also on offer. For your best chance of getting a seat, come very early (5.30pm) or quite late (10pm) – or to be certain of that view, reserve a table in the restaurant, on the penultimate floor of the building.
You have to have courage to take on an icon like the Eiffel Tower, but superchef and entrepreneur Alain Ducasse has done just that in taking over the Jules Verne, perched in its spectacular eyrie above the city. He has transformed the cuisine and brought in his favourite designer, Patrick Jouin. Meanwhile, Ducasse protégé Pascal Féraud updates French classics, combining all the grand ingredients you'd expect with light, modern textures and sauces. Try dishes like lamb with artichokes, turbot with champagne zabaglione, and a fabulous ruby grapefruit soufflé. Reserve well ahead, and come for lunch if you want to make the most of the views.
For a fabulous view over the city, take the lift to the 7th and final floor of the Terrass Hotel, set in a magnificent art deco building topped by a panoramic terrace. It’s on top of Montmartre, a stone’s throw from the very touristy Rue Lepic – and between August and September, it’s a great place to enjoy the sunshine with a glass in hand, waited on by penguin-suited staff. The ambiance is a little bling, the drinks a little over-priced, the music a little kitsch, but you have to forgive it for the view over Paris: from the Eiffel Tower to the Montmartre cemetery below, taken in while relaxing on banks of cushions.Though pricy at around €14 a throw, the cocktails are excellent; we like the seasonal mojitos (virgin, Italian, strawberry, raspberry or Royal with champagne). There’s also a wide selection of whisky and a few champagnes (if you want to pay €25 for a glass of Dom Perignon), and finger food (tapas and bruschettas from €17). Get there early if you want to have an evening drink, as reservations are only taken for guests of the hotel, and it’s rammed from around 6pm. Better to come in the afternoon, if you can, to enjoy the place in peace.
This is one of Time Out's 100 best bars in Paris. Click here to see the full list. Museums are usually daytime destinations, places of discovery that welcome their guests then politely expel them well before dusk. However the Saut du Loup, set inside the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, has made a concerted effort to reel in the Parigots after hours with a dapper restaurant, terrace views to die for over the Tuileries gardens, and a bar that’ll knock you up a cocktail or two before bedtime. You can always tell a good joint from the quality of its mojitos, and Le Saut du Loup’s version of the drink passes the test: not too sweet and not too sour; you get an initial slap from the rum and lime, before the fresh mint and sugar settle things down. Lush.
When the Pompidou Centre closes at 9pm, those in the know head to the top floor via the transparent escalators to Georges, the museum’s panoramic French-fusion restaurant. From this privileged perch, you can watch the sun set over the capital’s steely rooftops and contemplate the art you’ve just admired, cocktail in hand. You’ll be fighting for table room with trendy after-work crowds, and the ice-cool service can be slower than an escargot, but it’s a small price to pay for such an unbeatable vantage over the whole sparkling city. The view isn’t the only draw either: architects Dominique Jacob and Brendan McFarlane's quirky industrial-chic interior wouldn’t look amiss in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Make sure you reserve in advance - it's the only way to secure a table.
A beautiful terrace on the roof of the Institut du Monde Arabe, which is remarkably quiet outside of lunch and dinner times. Le Zyriab by Noura isn’t just a high class Lebanese restaurant, it’s also a daytime café open to all. Elegant outdoor tables topped with parasols offer a sublime view over the Seine and the Ile Saint-Louis, with the Notre-Dame cathedral in the background. The staff are very friendly, happy to let you spend an afternoon reading on the cushion-strewn banquettes. Drinks aren’t cheap, and given the price of a Perrier of a coffee (excessive at €6), splash out on something more interesting: the home made lemonade, a rose or jellab date syrup drink, or a strained yoghurt laban aryan. Pastis fans should try the Lebanese version, arak. There’s also a good if expensive selection of whiskies of 12 years and older, plus Lebanese and French wines and champagnes.
The full-on view of the Eiffel Tower at night would be reason enough to come to this glass-and-iron restaurant on the top floor of the Musée du Quai Branly, but new chef Jean-François Oyon's food also demands that you sit up and take notice. Those without bottomless pockets should note that there is a reasonable prix fixe at lunch. Another option is to head to the newly opened terrace lounge bar, which offers a range of swish cocktails (€13) and posh nibbles to consume on one of its delightfully plush sofas. You'll feel like you've strolled into a postcard.
This nod to the pro-vegan philosophy of 12th-century doctor Maimonides (hence Maimonides of Brooklyn) is the perfect place stock up on vegan 'fast food', though we’re still not sure that meatless nuggets were part of 12th-century cuisine. Like its Brooklyn counterpart, spearheaded by Mama Shelter founder Cyril Aouizerate, food and philosophy go hand in hand in this colourful hippie corner of the Quai d'Austerlitz. Try the vegan burger, a crimini mushroom patty on a sweet potato bun, but don’t forget the surprisingly delicious sea salted yucca fries. The 'chicken' nuggets, made with oyster mushrooms and chickpea, are served with homemade honey mustard (non-vegan alert!). Wash it all down with a Fizzy Lizzy, all-natural fruit juice blended with sparkling water, imported from the Big Apple. Seating is limited, so prepare to take it to go, fast-food style, and settle in the nearby Square du Temple for a little vegan picnicking. If you’re going to walk an extra five minutes, you’ll need some extra energy, so it’s best to nab a slice of cheese-less blueberry cheesecake or the chocolate hazelnut torte that makes eating vegan seem downright sinful.
Despite its name, this rooftop terrace bar is best experienced in the blazing sunshine. If its somewhat pedestrian diner-inspired food doesn’t quite justify its own prices – think €12 for a bruschetta, €14 for a less than filling salad – then the comfy outdoor seating and sweeping view of the river do. You come here to sit and snack rather than indulge. Moon Roof isn’t targeting the cocktail crowd so much as the afternoon flâneur: someone looking for a place to lay back and catch some rays in the company of an outsized milkshake (pricey at €10, but delicious). The availability of a range of sheesha pipes says it all.
One evening on the terrace of this bar and you too will be singing ‘Ô Paris, c'est beau Paris!’. Formerly La Mer à Boire, its view takes in the whole city. In one glance you can drink it all in, from the Eiffel Tower to far beyond. High above the whirlpool of humanity below, the terrace of Ô Paris nestles on a little square of land, paved and planted with trees, where you can enjoy some sunshine and calm away from the hum of the city. Largely populated by senior citizens leafing through the papers and local kids running around between the tables, this is a homey and welcoming spot. On cold days or rainy afternoons, the big warm interior is a welcome refuge, complete with books, comics and coffee (€2) served with traditional cassonade brown sugar and macadamia nut syrup. Those in the know come here to eat simply and well: hot sandwiches, cheese or charcuterie boards and delicious classic French dishes (salmon tartare, duck breast). It’s a shame that the prices have gone up under the new management, but the food is good enough to make the hike worthwhile.
Bucolic delights reign at Rosa Bonheur, a bar set in a former guinguette in the heart of the Buttes Chaumont park. Its name loosely translates as ‘pink happiness’ but refers in particular to 19th-century French painter and sculptor ‘Rosa Bonheur’, famous for her depictions of animals and her role in the early feminist movement (alongside George Sand and Sarah Bernhardt). The bar is managed by Michelle Cassaro, aka Mimi, who used to run lesbian club Pulp – and the bar is a popular hangout with the lesbian crowd, especially on Sunday evenings. But the Bonheur is nothing if not relaxed in every sense, and for Parisians of all persuasions its terrace is the place to see and be seen in the summer – an idyllic spot in the park for wine and tapas with just the birds, bees and bobos for company.
Here the feeling of luxury is not in the dazzling cleanliness of the plates, the crisp whiteness of the sheets or the splendour of the gilt décor. Though an undeniable indulgence, dinner on the rooftop of Mama Shelter is a surprisingly homely affair – in no small part thanks to the mellow vibe engendered by the ping-pong table and the array of hammocks and mattresses. That's its charm. The food is fairly straightforward stuff, though invariably prepared carefully, with top-grade ingredients. Make sure you try the excellent house cocktails (prepared with fresh seasonal fruits by the resident mixologist), and one of the range of transcendent desserts. Note that you'll have to make reservations for dinner, as the venue fills up well in advance. They also serve brunch on Sundays, if you'd rather take advantage of the good food and home-away-from-home vibe on a lazy weekend morning.
For something a little different…
Some distance removed from the Arabic-speaking inner-city enclaves of Barbès and Belleville, this vast Hispano-Moorish construct is nevertheless the spiritual heart of France's Algerian-dominated Muslim population. Built from 1922 to 1926 with elements inspired by the Alhambra and the Bou Inania Medersa in Fès, the Paris mosque is dominated by a stunning green-and-white tiled square minaret.In plan and function it divides into three sections: religious (grand patio, prayer room and minaret, all for worshippers and not curious tourists); scholarly (Islamic school and library); and, via rue Geoffroy-St-Hilaire, commercial (café and domed hammam).La Mosquée café (open 9am-midnight daily) is delightful - a modest courtyard with blue-and-white mosaic-topped tables shaded beneath green foliage and scented with the sweet smell of sheesha smoke (€6). Charming waiters distribute thé à la menthe (€2), along with syrupy, nutty North African pastries, sorbets and fruit salads.
A restaurant, bar, café, farm and vegetable garden featuring daily DIY workshops, ethical values and a relaxed, welcoming vibe... all this and more makes up La Recyclerie, located in a former railway station on the Petite Ceinture. The project is organised by a handful of local hospitality associations who cut their teeth on, variously, the Comptoir Général, the Glazart, the Divan du Monde and the Machine du Moulin Rouge. They're specialists in all things second hand, passionate about investing clapped-out spaces with new life. And the result certainly works: the high ceiling soars above a wrought iron framework, with an enormous glass window offering a sweeping view over the old railway tracks, now surrounded by a long terrace, a mobile exterior bar and the local allotments. Inside, the space is done out in vintage furniture and fresh greenery, with colourful chairs, an enormous bar, an open kitchen, big vats of natural wine (sourced from En Vrac), climbing plants – and in a corner behind a glass screen, l'Atelier de René, the in-house handyman, who will repair absolutely anything and, what's more, teach you do your own.The food offering changes week on week; on our visit, it was African and Lebanese-themed. €20 or so covered a meal for two consisting of an excellent mezze platter and a chicken kebab with potatoes and crunchy vegetables, which we ate while watching staff working on the urban farm – soon, drinks will take place between a tethered goat and a plot of tomatoes.
Those in the know are wise to the promise of Le Bistrot des Dames wine bar and restaurant, found underneath a youth hostel. If the interior is welcoming, with its pretty old style bar and retro décor brightened up with old advertisements, this bistro is best known for its little paradise of a garden. Though sadly only open on evenings and weekends, it’s the ideal place to bring your friends on a sunny Sunday morning and affirm that life in Paris isn’t just about tarmac and pollution.The enormous wine list will present you with plenty of difficult choices, though you can always ask for recommendations. For a snack, you can have a lovely salad (around €15). If you want to go the whole hog, the starters (delicious duck carpaccio, artichokes and buffalo mozzarella) and the main dishes are all highly recommended. There’s a big choice of fish (medallions of tuna with a balsamic sauce is worth a go), and excellent desserts to finish up with (pear sorbet with cognac, crème brûlée with ginger). The staff are often overstretched, but very friendly. Full marks.
This listed dining room - with vintage frescoes and big oak benches - exudes a pleasant air of expectation. Don't expect cutting-edge cooking, but rather fine renderings of French classics. Lobster served on walnut oil-dressed salad leaves is a generous, beautifully prepared starter, as is the pistachio-studded saucisson de Lyon with a warm salad of small ratte potatoes. Mains of veal chop topped with a cap of cheese, and sandre (pike-perch) with a 'risotto' of crozettes are also pleasant. A few reasonably priced wines would be welcome.
Still hungry for eye-candy?
Looking for a flamboyantly romantic way to experience the heart of Paris? Dinner cruise options along the Seine have proliferated in recent years, and boat companies now offer everything from whistlestop snack 'n' champers tours of the sights to elaborate, wallet-emptying meals prepared by world-beating chefs…