One of the greatest joys of a visit to Paris is the food – whether you want to go all out with a Michelin-starred meal, or lunch on a croque-monsieur and a glass of wine. Like any big, touristy city, you’re best off avoiding the restaurants congregated in the most touirsty areas – head instead to the quieter, more local streets (which in Paris are never too hard to find), and you’ll be rewarded with better service, better prices, and a much more authentic (and tasty) experience.
The following are just a few of our favourites, which we return to time and again.
Robert et Louise 64 rue Veille du Temple
Our absolute favourite, this rustic restaurant dishes out hearty, unpretentious food. Though there’s plenty on the menu to tempt you, come for the côte de boeuf pour deux (side of beef for two; €40), cooked over the open fire at the back of the restaurant and served with melt-in-the-mouth potatoes and a refreshing green salad. Wash it down with a half (or a whole) bottle of Côte du Rhône, and finish (if you’ve got the room) on one of their lovely desserts.
Le Duroc 88 rue de Sèvres
An unpretentious cafe that makes a great lunch stop if you’re in the area (or even if you’re not) – the fact that it’s always packed with local office workers during the week is testament to its good food, even if the decor might look as though it hasn’t been changed since the 70s. The set menu is fantastic value at €14 for two courses – the steak in particular is always beautifully cooked – and they also serve lighter meals like sandwiches and croque-monsieur.
Breizh Café 109 rue Vieille du Temple
Just up the road from Robert et Louise, this great little modern crêperie is an especially popular spot in the Marais for weekend brunch. You can’t go wrong with any of the fabulous galettes and crêpes on offer – my favourite is the complète champignon (ham, cheese, egg and mushrooms), and the salted caramel used in some of the dessert crêpes is absolutely divine. With mains hovering around €7, this is great value, and be sure to try the Breton cider.
Au Père Louis 38 rue Monsieur le Prince
The Latin Quarter and St Germain can be great to explore, but it can be hard to find less touristy places to eat. Head away from the crowds towards the Luxembourg Gardesn to find this great place, usually packed with locals (always a good sign), and it’s simple exterior betraying little of its TARDIS-like interior. Expect a decent choice of fairly typical French dishes from around the country, including a great cassoulet, and come for a lovely long leisurely meal.
L’As du Fallafel 34 rue des Rosiers
This Marais institution serves up arguably the best fallafels in Paris. Join the queues outside – buy a ticket from the guy who works the queue and then hand it over at the hatch – or eat in the unfussy dining room inside. Though they do shawarma, you should only really be ordering the fallafel – even the most devout of carnivores (my husband included) are won over by their delights. The fallafel are served in melt-in-the mouth pita bread that’s also stuffed full with cabbage, roasted aubergine, harissa and yoghurt sauce. Absolutely divine, and best eaten messily on the street.
Strohrer 51 rue Montorgueil
No trip to Paris would be complete without a trip to one of the city’s many excellent patisseries, and it’s hard to go too far in the city without falling over one. Our favourite is Strohrer, crammed so full with sweet (and savoury) treats that it can be hard to know where to start. But if you’re going to try just one, make it the rosier – a large, rose macaroon filled with rose-flavoured cream and raspberries, and topped with a sugar-frosted rose petal. It’s worth every centime of its €4.70 price tag, and even my chocolate loving husband won’t think about ordering anything else. There’s nowhere to sit here, but there’s a small park at Les Halles, practically on the doorstep, so you can buy them and enjoy them in the sun. If you want to enjoy your patisseries in opulent surroundings, head to Ladurée, where the macaroons are deservedly famous.