Crepes stuffed with white chocolate mousse, candy-colour macarons and picture-perfect croissants – from a la carte to ooh-la-la, here’s our guide to the City of Light’s must-eat meals.
Baguettes, omelettes and croquettes – Paris has an unimpeachable reputation for being a food-lover's paradise, with gourmands travelling from far and wide to sample the city’s world-renowned cuisine. The city that invented modern cuisine hasn’t slowed down – today, traditional brasseries serve timeless steak frites, young chefs carve brilliant new culinary paths and evening revelries are filled with feasts. Join us as we follow Paris’s gourmet food trail, showcasing unmissable eats in the City of Light.
Ready to escape? For the ultimate Ultra Lux stay, seek out the iconic Mandarin Oriental, Paris – positioned just a short amble from the Louvre Museum and other famous Paris sights. The hotel’s true draw is the two-Michelin star awarded Sur Mesure par Thierry Marx, a restaurant offering cinematic dining that pushes the limits of modern gastronomy. It’s even better than you can imagine.
Macarons: Pierre Herme or Hotel du Collectionneur
Macarons – petite, colourful meringue-based confectionaries mixed with almond meal and white sugar – are said to have been enjoyed in France since the Middle Ages, when enterprising monks at the historic Saint-Paul de Cormery Abbey fashioned them to resemble their own navels. Today, biting into a perfect macaron is an almost revelatory experience. Try them at Pierre Herme in Paris; the signature flavours ignite the imagination, with favourites including ‘Isfahan’ (rosewater, lychee and raspberry) and ‘Infinitely Caramel’ (an incredibly well-done salted variety). Take a bite and delight in the meringue almost instantly dissolving and starbursts of flavour twinkling on the tongue. Sample as many varieties as you can while admiring views of the Eiffel Tower from a room at Hotel du Collectionneur, which offers some of the best evening views in the city.
Artisan cheese: A La Ville De Rodez
France’s legendary entourage of world-famous fromage is pure temptation, drawing on unpasteurised milk, sacred farmstead traditions and seasonal fluctuations to produce flavours that can be peppery, caramelized or tinged with the notes of roasted hazelnut. Try them all at A La Ville De Rodez, a century-old Parisian delicatessen that prides itself on celebrating France’s dazzling range of small-batch artisanal cheesemakers. Classic French tradition separates cheese into eight distinct categories, we recommend procuring a baguette and sampling them all, starting with a freshly made fromage blanc (white cheese), continuing with an iconic soft-rind camembert and finishing with the spectacularly creamy persille de chevre blue.
Croissants: Laurent Duchene
Admire the humble croissant, so beloved worldwide that there isn’t a legitimate continental breakfast without them. Layers of dough and butter are rolled, folded, and rolled again, resulting in countless ‘laminated’ layers of sumptuous, golden-hued flavour. This beautiful pastry – the result of relentless French-Austrian culinary genius – is best enjoyed slathered with butter, stuffed with cheese and ham or enjoyed plain with your morning coffee. For a taste of one of the country’s best, check out the popular patisserie Laurent Duchene, renowned for its extraordinarily seductive pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant), with each bite offering an earth-shatteringly good mouthful of perfect pastry and caramelised praline confectionary.
Steak frites: Hotel Napoleon Palace or Le Relais de Venise
After afternoons spent admiring the Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees and the Louvre – all within an easy stroll of the five-star Hotel Napoleon Palace – it's almost impossible not to have worked up an appetite. It’s here in Paris that the beloved French brasserie comes to the rescue with steak frites. Freshly hand-cut fries are deep-fried, generously seasoned, topped with an expertly grilled, high-quality cut of beef and smothered in rich gravy; it's a plate that’ll make you exclaim s’il vouz plait. While you can go almost anywhere in France and order steak frites, Le Relais de Venise is considered one of the very best. To dine like a local, all you’ve got to do is ask for your steak saignant (bloody) and tuck in.
Cocktails: Bar Hemingway at The Ritz
France’s sterling culinary reputation has resulted in an abundance of wunderkind mixologists and must-visit bars serving rafty cocktails and French wines round the clock. Ernest Hemingway, a long-time resident of Paris, once famously said, ‘If I had money, I can’t think of any better way to spend it than on champagne,’ and at Bar Hemingway in the Ritz Paris, some of the country’s very best drops can be found. Step into the exquisite mahogany-backed room, fall into a vintage chair and start with bubbles before continuing on to martinis and margaritas. For a truly luxe sip, order the signature Sidecar (EUR1,500) – the first in a series of the world’s most expensive cocktails as crowned by Guinness Book of Records. It’s a spellbinding mix of Cointreau, lemon juice and champagne cognac bottled in 1856, shortly before the phylloxera outbreak changed French wine forever.
Croque-monsieur: Vins Des Pyrénées
There’s no sandwich so quintessentially French as the croque-monsieur. Ham and gruyere cheese are seasoned and placed between two slices of white bread, then topped with more cheese and grilled to heavenly perfection. Every bite is announced by a thunderous crunch and an avalanche of flavour – it's impossible not to take another. For a truly decadent feast, look no further than Vins des Pyrénées. This Paris favourite blends single-muscle Jambon ham, salt-brined gouda cheese and truffle shavings to create a dish unlike any other. For a new spin on the classic, seek out the croque-madam, indulgently topped with a fried or poached egg.
Crepes: Breizh Cafe
Crepes are the ultimate fast food, available almost everywhere and filled with your favourite toppings. Whether you’re feeling salty or sweet, there’s something for everyone. The light, well-rested batter makes for a meal that’s perfect for when you’re on the go during your city explorations; street stands sell crepes on almost every corner. For those looking for the country’s best, Breizh Cafe is the place to go. Locations are plentiful across Paris, Brittany, Bordeaux and Lyon, and each creation is sublime art. Expect crepes flambéed in Grand Marnier, drizzled with yuzu sauce, stuffed with smoked salmon, crème fraiche, roe and dill, or filled with white chocolate mousse and matcha.
Escargot: Chez Fernand
Beloved by ancient Romans and modern epicureans, escargot stands at the top of must-try eats in Paris. Escargot (snails) are quickly fried in a sauce of garlic, white wine and parsley and served typically on a slice of crusty bread. Zingy and zesty, it’s the perfect appetiser before a hearty meal. Seek out Chez Fernand for a taste of some of Paris’s best escargot. Located just around the corner from Notre-Dame de Paris, the restaurant is perfectly positioned for top-notch sightseeing after a memorable taste of one of the country’s most celebrated delicacies.
Featured image: Maison Albar Hotels Le Vendome, home to the world-renowned Yakuza Paris by Olivier restaurant.
After more inspiration? Check out Say Oui: Your Ultimate Guide to Things to Do in Paris.