I just returned from an incredible week in Paris over Christmastime. It is a magical time to visit the city with all of the lights and excitement. My friend and I walked miles and miles each day to explore the sights, visit the monuments, and to really get a good feel for the city. We visited museums, shopped, and ate and drank our way throughout Paris in a way that makes me proud. Below is a list of our favorite meals and restaurants that we visited during our time in Paris:
- L’Avenue: This restaurant was recommended to us by the aunt of a friend of mine who has lived in Paris for years. This was our favorite spot in Paris throughout our trip. It’s located on a fancy shopping strip on Avenue Montaigne and is definitely a place to “see and be seen”. L’Avenue is super swanky and chic with purple velvet couches and beautiful people all throughout. The food is contemporary and I fell in love with the pasta dish with morels and cream. My friend Holly died over the bibb lettuce salad with king crab, lime, and olive oil. The apple tart dessert was so thin and crisp, and served with hot caramel on the side. It was amazing. L’Avenue is a must. It’s just steps from the Champs-Élyssés so it is a great place to grab lunch when in the area. 41 Avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris, France.
- Les fines Gueules: I read about this wine bar in The Guardian where they had named it one of the top 10 wine bars in Paris. We arrived to a tiny stone house on a quiet street and I immediately knew this was going to be a great little spot. The menu is presented in French (no English menus here) on a large black chalkboard. We enjoyed delicious wine, an incredible vegetable cake with eggplant and smoked mozzarella, and I loved the turbot over spinach in a white wine sauce. For dessert, we splurged for the hot molten chocolate cake which was one of the best desserts we had all week. Les fines Gueules is simple and lovely. A nice spot for dinner. 43 Rue Croix des Petits Champs, 75001 Paris, France.
- Ladurée: It’s the most famous macaron shop in all of Paris and it really is worth the trip. It is such a beautiful and intricate space that is decorated with absolute class. The pastries and desserts are made with care, and they appear as works of art. There are multiple locations throughout Paris, but I recommend visiting the one on the Champs-Élyssés. 75, Avenue des Champs-Elysées, 75008 Paris, France.
- Angelina: This tea room and dessert mecca offers some of the finest chocolates and pastries one can dream of. I splurged and enjoyed an ice cream sundae with coffee ice cream, chocolates and whipped cream. I also enjoyed a lovely cappuccino and purchased some chocolates as gifts to take home with me. It’s a bit packed and crazy, but it’s a nice afternoon treat. 226 Rue Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France.
- Le Grand Colbert: You might remember this restaurant from the movie Something’s Gotta Give. Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, and Keanu Reeves dine here during the movie and she names it her favorite restaurant in Paris. We decided to pick this spot for Christmas Eve dinner as we knew it would be festive and lively. It is a classic French brasserie that does not disappoint. I started with a lovely hot crusty goat cheese salad and then went for the sole meunière which was divine: dredged in flour and served in a brown butter sauce with lemon. For dessert we decided to order the french toast with caramel which was hot and had been soaked for hours. It was a wonderful meal with an authentic feel. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting Paris. 2 Rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris, France.
- Brasserie Thomieux: I read about this lovely spot on a blog called Paris in Four Months. Carin Olsson moved to Paris for a few months and has documented her meals and her way throughout the city. Before I left I stumbled upon her post about Brasserie Thomieux and immediately added it to my list. Holly and I decided to visit for a late lunch on Christmas Day and we were so glad that we did. Again, the menu is only in French but the friendly waiter offered to translate for us so we could order something appealing. We each had a wonderful glass of Pinot Noir, and I ended up ordering one of the best salads I have ever had in my life. It was fresh greens, seared scallops, potatoes, shaved Parmesan, and truffles in a light vinaigrette. This salad was divine– light, yet so satisfying. I am now on the quest to find a restaurant in the Washington area that makes something similar… or I am on the quest to have someone add it to their menu! The atmosphere here was also so nice and pleasant. One of my favorite places we visited during our time in Paris. 79 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 Paris, France.
- La Société: Because of our love for L’Avenue, our concierge recommended that we check out their sister restaurant located in the Saint Germain area of Paris on the Left Bank. It is located right in the square across from the church but there is no sign. In fact it appears to be an office or apartment building, but when you walk inside there is a hostess stand which then brings you inside this completely beautiful and modern space. The menu is almost the same as L’Avenue with light dishes, pastas, fish, meats, and salads, but it provides a totally different atmosphere. It’s a sexy space and makes for an awesome leisurely lunch or dinner. 4 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006 Paris, France.
- Les Cocottes: I read a lot about Chef Christian Constant before I got to Paris. I will liken him to José Andrés of D.C. because he owns multiple restaurants throughout the city, all of which are highly regarded. Les Cocottes is a very small restaurant with only bar stools. The restaurant does not take reservations therefore it is often common to have long lines out of the front door. I recommend getting there on the earlier side around 7 or 7:30 to avoid the mass of people. We were able to walk right in and snag two seats at the bar, but by the time we left the place was bursting at the seams. The menu is quite small at Les Cocotte and everything is served in a cocotte or a cast iron pan. I had read about the beef shoulder on multiple reviews before I arrived at the restaurant so I knew this was what I was going to order. The beef shoulder came with potatoes and was served in a red wine sauce. This dish was to die for. The meat pulled apart so easily, it was incredibly tender, and the sauce had a hint of sweetness. Perhaps one of my favorite dishes on the whole trip, and Les Cocottes is totally worth the wait. Just be prepared that it will not be a leisurely meal like the rest of your meals in Paris– because they are trying to get so many people in and out, our food was served very quickly and we did not linger for long after the meal. 135 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 Paris, France.
- Le Villaret: For our last night in Paris we decided to enlist the help of the concierge for a classic Parisian spot. He highly recommended a small authentic bistro called Le Villaret on a quiet side street. There is nothing fancy or upscale about the restaurant, but we loved the vibe as soon as we walked in. Comfortable, casual, lively. The waiter happened to speak beautiful English and helped us translate the options on the menu. We both ordered the roast chicken with chanterelles for our main course and we were in heaven! The chicken was beautiful and moist and the sauce was creamy with all different sized mushrooms and potatoes. If you go to Paris, you must go to Le Villaret and order this dish. What a perfect ending to an exquisite trip. To top things off Holly ordered the brownie for dessert and I had the crepes caramel which were lovely.
Other highly recommended restaurants in Paris that I’ve read about include:
- Spring Restaurant: Highly regarded in the U.S., difficult for Parisians to get in. Beware of lots of Americans, but food is still said to be great.
- Le Comptoir du Relais: Books up 6 months in advance. Make reservations!
- Frenchie: Similar situation to Spring Restaurant. Great wine bar.
- Les Relais de l’Entrecote: A famous place in Paris with multiple locations. They only serve steak and fries, but it is supposed to be the best.
- La Fontaine de Mars: We really wanted to go here but time got away. This is supposed to be a classic and wonderful restaurant on Rue Saint-Dominique. Great for lunch or dinner.
- Le Chateaubriand: A high-end gastronomic restaurant.