Mireille's Musings - May 31, 2024

Paris Restaurant Update Summer 2024

Where to Eat in Paris

One view from La Tour d'Argent
One view from La Tour d’Argent

Tourists are a constant in Paris, which remains the most-visited city in the world with more than forty million annual tourists, all of whom need to eat. Me too. This year in our semi-hometown, there’s this thing called the Olympics, of course, which, for its three weeks of events, is expected to attract more than fifteen million people. My friends have long asked me for more restaurant tips, and there’s no better time for a refresh than now. So, here’s my idiosyncratic list based on good-to-great meals I’ve experienced in the past six months. But first, let me share that if you plan a trip to Paris, especially in the summer or holiday period, and want to visit any famous museums and sites, book ahead. Top restaurants as well.

Since I wrote comprehensively about Paris restaurants in 2017 (much of what I said still valid), a new generation of innovative chefs trained in top kitchens in France and beyond have invigorated the restaurant scene. Think about bistro fare and more international cuisine, especially Asian cuisine. Think menus not as much à la carte and think about lunch rather than dinner if you are looking for a best buy. Most of my favorite places are in our neighborhood–a very common Parisian way of living and dining. There’s something good to be said about walking home or to one’s hotel after a satisfying meal. Still, one ventures all over the City of Light to walk, discover new streets, see beauty, and test the trendy, top-quality new bistros (and the above-average and affordable ones as well). Thanks to so many talentueux, the young and less young talented chefs with increasingly broad experiences, the dining choices today are better than ever.

There will be a few spots revisited from my previous lists, but mostly new post-Covid French as well as Italian, more and more Japanese, and some more, including the oh-so-successful American spot of fashion designer Ralph Lauren, which we all like in St Germain des Prés, “the quintessential place to be.”


(41 Rue Saint-andré des Arts, 6th) French bistro

Yes, it’s been an old-school charming bistro since 1932. I vividly remember my first dinner there while I was in graduate school teaching English to a bunch of young male banking executives and being invited there as I was living in the neighborhood and had been eyeing it but could not afford it. What a treat it was, and what a treat it still is, especially since it belongs to the Ducasse group and shrewd Alain Ducasse has appointed a woman chef (not enough of them in Paris, but the ratio is improving) turning out the classic snails, frog-legs and turbot in 21st version of ‘lightness,” and do save a place for dessert to share the yummy profiteroles.


(9 Place des Vosges, 4th) French haute-cuisine


Special. Unique. Magical. I’ve always loved this temple of great cuisine served in an understated, elegant setting. When I worked for Veuve Clicquot, I had the privilege to entertain top press or VIPs here, and each time felt like a first love affair: mysterious, exciting, and not wanting to end it. Beauty was everywhere, and the dishes were exquisitely prepared first and for decades by the father, then father and son (a not always serene period), and now mostly the father with an astonishing executive chef from Japan. Fish, langoustine, lobster, veal, and lamb are from top producers who provide the place exclusively. Extremely expensive, so find a lover or spouse who might take you so you won’t need to look at the bill…or perhaps an expense account. They have had three Michelin stars for a lifetime, so you can be sure they know what they are doing to mesmerize and satisfy you. The daughter is now the pastry chef. Her tarte au cacao with vanilla cream sent me straight to heaven. And to start, the “kugelhopf” amuse looked like it was made with buckwheat flour, but no: the black truffle gave it its color, and superb comté cheese was added. What a combination. Addictive.


(10 Rue de Richelieu,1st) Refined French

Pear Dessert at L'Aube
Pear Dessert at L’Aube

The place is so serene with its soft tones and beautiful materials and textures. The chef is a wiz, specializing in sauces but working with his instinct and with a creativity that knows no boundary. Everything works to elevate each dish. Young people surround him with a real (too much fake in so many places) passion, and it shows. From the moment one enters the dining room, one is treated so gently, politely, and with a happy smile that one doesn’t want to leave. The sommelier, Loic, comes from Britany and is a breath of fresh air as he knows how to talk about wine like a poet (he is a musician, which helps) as opposed to listening to the boring technical jargon of too many sommeliers around the world.

After a range of astonishing amuse that could almost make for a light meal, the artichoke en poivrade, the lobster quenelle, or the Easter lamb, and all the little goodies in between were just so, so good that we lacked words after a while to tell the staff how greater and greater everything tasted. The refreshing pear dish served with vanilla ice cream was perfect to end a seven-course menu that gives a good taste of the extraordinary repertoire. There is also a lunch two-course menu for 39 euros or three courses for 49 euros, which needs to be applauded. Young working people in the area splurge for a business lunch of that kind. It’s also, rather surprisingly, a no-Michelin star restaurant (??? it should have one or two). It is a restaurant with amazing value and a rarity at that level to allow people to savor this type of food with à la carte options for lunch. A meal here is worth a detour on your next visit to Paris. Amen.


(25 Rue Mazarine, 6th) Caviarteria

If you love champagne and caviar and are in love, this is a place to go.

Again, if you choose carefully, it’s an affordable treat, and you can tease your palate with a blind tasting of different caviars. The upstairs room is quieter and more private. It’s a small place, so reservation is a must.

Restaurant Charbon Kunitoraya

(5 Rue Villedo, 1st) Japanese

Charbon Kunitoraya
Charbon Kunitoraya

What a welcoming surprise. The great Chez Pauline, a tiny bistro of the old days, is now the home of a very talented Japanese chef and his team. All around the Japanese quarter, there are long lines of people eager to try various little places that are fine, but when you hit that quiet little street and Charbon, you enter Japan with its exquisite outlook on life, food, and respect for all that surrounds us. A marvel of little gem bathed in simplicity everywhere except on the plate. On a late Saturday lunch, we savored every morsel of a six-course unique menu for 80 euros. Dinner is more elaborate and higher priced, but the French love the restaurant for its meat dishes and cooking methods. The chef has a few places more “bistrot/cafe” in the city. The kitchen is filled with young women chefs who take their responsibilities seriously. In my book, this place easily deserves a Michelin star.


(27/29 rue de Beaune, 7th) Modern French

It’s understated. It’s elegant. And the lunch à la carte is a great way to discover this little pearl (small eateries seem to be popping up everywhere, but the settings are all one of a kind) near the Seine. Breads and pastries are for sale to continue a home tasting, but here, the fish dishes such as the langoustine bretonne or the lobster with kiwi leave you speechless. Parisian chef Cyril Choisne must have been from Britany in another life.

Auberge Nicolas Flamel

(51 Rue de Montmorency, 3rd) Modern French

Go figure. This restaurant, with roots going back to the building’s coaching inn days in 1407 and so is considered the oldest eatery in Paris, lost its Michelin star just when we were thinking how good a one-star restaurant it is. What an interesting story. A very modern restaurant located in an old house. A thing of beauty. Try the three-course lunch menu, which is a steal at 58 euros. A steal. We went in early spring for fresh white asparagus and peas and enjoyed every morsel of another wonderful meal served by a highly caring team. Wow…France is changing for the better.


(44 rue d’Assas, 6th) Bistro French

A traditional little place with a delightful terrace that all the locals love. And many single people enjoy the appetizer and main course for lunch (yes, many of us still like to have the main meal at lunch) at 25 euros. Considering NYC prices, one must admire the level of good home cooking at such prices.


(120 Bd Raspail, 6th) Italian Sweets

It is a story of a family from Umbria. More for a sweet lunch or goûter, although there are some panini offerings. The setting is great to meet friends and enjoy Italian products at their best, especially pastries and ice cream, and of course one can stop there just for an espresso, the best in the neighborhood.

La Gorgée

(22 rue de Fleurus, 6th) Bistro French

It is a small place near the Luxembourg Garden where many more abound, but this is really good food with a nice selection of wine by the bottle. Great for vegetarians, and my pollock with lentils, sweet potatoes and mixed veggies was all I needed to sustain me for my long afternoon walk.


(10 Rue de l’Odéon, 6th) Italian

Another sign of the Italians invading the 6th…the area is called by some locals, la petite Italie, and young people left their native Italy to come and feed the French. The menu is short but everything again is top, and the pasta dishes simply savory. Don’t miss the tiramisu.


(33 Rue de l’Abbé Grégoire, 6th) French

We love Quinsou. Located on a quiet street, it is hard to get a table at this small restaurant packed with repeaters from the neighborhood as the chef changes the menus with the seasons and always surprises us. Again, the lunch menu is a bargain. Many love dinner on the sidewalk as it is so quiet, one forgets being in Paris. The risotto with sea scallops from Erquy brings tears to my eyes. If you are a cheese eater, don’t skip the brie de Meaux with truffles and pistachios… the Brillat Savarin alternative ain’t bad either. 

Ralph’s Restaurant

(173 Bd Saint-Germain, 6th). American

One doesn’t go there for the food only, although some dishes are quite good. When he sees it, Mr. Lauren knows a good place, and buying the stately building at his flagship store is a win. Hard to get a table, even for lunch. Tourists abound, especially the weekend, but a late lunch or early dinner during the week is heavenly in the patio, a delight in good weather and the surrounding dining room as cozy and timeless as his clothes. You can’t go wrong with the crab cake and a few of his specialties, but our guest kids love the burgers while their dads splurge on the filet mignon. There are plenty of nice soups and salads, and if you like French fries, order the side dish, ranch-style fries, but beware, you may have to order a second one and more!


(16 Rue Saint-Augustin, 2ème). Italian


A French entrepreneur who came up with a gold mine. We need more of them. Chef Arthur went to Roma years ago, speaking no Italian, and later, he met his amore Italiana and watched, learned, and discovered the intransigence of Italians for top-quality products, no matter the restaurant’s prices. They came to Paris to open Sugo, a restaurant as simple and unpretentious as Italian trattorias where pasta is made fresh with wheat semolina and no eggs or flour, accompanied by amazingly tasting sauces. Don’t miss the polpette (veal meatballs) with the Sugo sauce maison Sardaigne style, the cacio e pepe is as good as at Roscioli of Roma, and the pesto ragu is delish. Need help deciding which dessert: tiramisu or hazelnut cake with pistachio mousse. Stupendo. 

Table, Bruno Verjus

(3 rue de Prague,12th) French haute-cuisine

Wonderful memory of a lunch outside in a lovely little block. Serious eating from a peripatetic chef who now has his own place (the dream of many). There are too many standouts from someone who cooks with the utmost respect for every ingredient. He was named among the world’s 50 best restaurants in 2023, and his execution as a self-taught chef is breathtaking. It is a truly exceptional spot with top service and a sense of hospitality…and the chef is a character.

La Tour d’Argent

(15 Quai de la Tournelle, 15th) French haute-cuisine

A duck course at La Tour d'Argent
A duck course at La Tour d’Argent

We were all anxious to see the new place after over a year of deprivation because of its extended closing time for renovations. It was not overdue, but wow, what an amazing transformation. Dazzling. The view is the same, and so is the service and the food: perfection if perfection exists. Why it’s not a 3 Michelin star stuns us all, but does it matter as it’s always full?

The open kitchen adds to the best show on earth. Where else can you have such views of Paris (ok, the Eiffel Tower, maybe, but not around such dishes and intimacy in the grandeur and height of the dining room)? To add to the spectacular, André Terrail has added a bar on the roof. And if this wasn’t enough, there is a private table for a tête-à-tête meal. This must be the ultimate love meal. For those who want to share a meal with a few friends in privacy and stay overnight, Grandma’s apartment is on the 5th floor. And on the main floor is now the possibility for breakfast (his bakery is across the street) and a simplified but more than delicious lunch. The chef has sublimated the classics like the quenelle and the duck dishes while adding modern dishes that always surprise and delight your tastebuds. Plus, it’s my husband’s favorite restaurant in the world.

Le Train Bleu

(Gare de Lyon, 12th) Classic French

Train bleu
Le Train Bleu

A memorable evening. We’ve been to Gare de Lyon so many times over the years to catch the TGV to Avignon and always admired the Train bleu staircase from the inside of the station. After Easter week in Provence, we came back and our little gamin aged 6 asked what it was. Un train bleu, qu’est-ce que c’est? Hard to explain; it was not a train but a restaurant. But he got it and claimed he was “affamé,” starving, so he piqued our curiosity and since it was dinner time why not? We would just see if we could get a table and eat one course. Luckily, over the weekend at 7ish pm it was quiet, and we landed a wonderful table in this lavish place open seven days a week and serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is also a lounge for light snacks and a place to rest while waiting for your train. The staff is absolutely fantastic. No waiter with attitude in this joint. Trust the owners, the Rostang daughters, who have been raised with values and dedication to please customers.

Here, one comes for the classics such as foie gras, steak tartare (admirable tabletop service), leg of lamb, and omelette norvégienne. The gratin dauphinois, if you like creamy potatoes, is a tour de force in mastering not too much milk and cream with perfectly mandoline sliced potatoes, and the best gruyère grated. It is one of my childhood favorites, bringing me back to grandma’s farm.

Here is another example of not finding another decor/setting/view for a restaurant close to this one. It was built in 1901 as the train of the rich and famous. The 40-something paintings from another era are fitting. The name, many think, refers to the train hitting the south of France and the blue sea when, indeed, it refers to the color of the sleeping cars of that famous train. The public is part of the show, and as we were leaving, I overheard a foreign lady who lives in Paris explaining to her bewildered guests why people love France and Paris is the most beautiful city in the world. I beg not to differ.

Paris is a feast for all our senses.