I absolutely love French pastries. Every time I head to France, the thing that I am most excited for is stuffing myself silly with French pastries. My favourite carb is bread, and there is nothing like crusty, rustic, fresh French bread. I used to buy a baguette before leaving the country, and finish the whole stick in one or two sittings. I know, I’m crazy.
Paris is the city that I visited the most number of times when I was studying in the U.K. I have been there four times now, and I have taken a photo with the Eiffel tower in almost every season. Food in Paris can be a hit or a miss. Based on my experience, popping into random, unknown restaurants more often than not yielded bad meals for me. Nevertheless, I have tasted some amazing food in Paris, so this post is about my favourite places to eat at in the City of Love. In fact, I visited my first Michelin-starred restaurant there, which started my journey of becoming a full-fledged food lover!
Restaurant David Toutain (1 Michelin Star)
The food presentation was unique and beautiful. For example, I really liked the amuse bouche, which is the smoked/roasted salsify shown in the first photo above. I also found the course shown in the third photo to be very interesting! It looked like pappardelle, but it was actually a type of vegetable (unfortunately, I no longer remember the ingredient) made to look like pasta. Everything was cooked well and the flavour combinations were great. If you could only pick one fine dining restaurant from this list, I would definitely recommend this restaurant!
There is only a single option of the 5-course tasting menu. We opted for the ‘surprise menu’, which basically meant that we would only know what we would be served when the dish arrived at our table. It was so exciting! Overall, the food tasted delicious, except for the scallop course which was sadly overcooked. The lemon dessert (fourth photo) was one of the best desserts that I have ever had. It tasted like the most amazing frozen cheesecake, with the perfect balance of sweet and sour, and it was so delightfully fresh! I would go back to the restaurant just to have that dessert again.
Le Chateaubriand (No. 93, World’s 50 Best Restaurants)
This restaurant also only serves a 5-course tasting menu. Once again, we chose to be surprised. It was really fun to wait in anticipation as the servers brought us our food. One of the highlights was the dish shown in the second photo, which looked unassuming and way too green to taste impressive. It was a fish course with lots of vegetables/herbs on top. Surprisingly, we really enjoyed the fresh, light and ‘green’ taste that the dish offered, and it tasted very pleasant on the palate. The star of the night was definitely the candied raw egg yolk on a meringue pictured in the last photo. We popped it into our mouths and the egg yolk burst to coat our tongues with sweet, creamy goodness. Some courses wow-ed more than others (we were baffled as to why they would end the meal with something as mediocre as a slice of nectarine with some liquorice sprinkles), but overall, this restaurant is still worth a visit.
Restaurant Itinéraires (1 Michelin Star)
This is the first Michelin-starred restaurant that I have ever visited. Back then, precise food plating and interesting flavour combinations were all very new to me. Throughout this meal, I was so amazed by how much flavour a dish could have and this opened the doors to a whole new world of food for me. In fact, the course that I remember clearly until this day is actually…the amuse bouche. It was a small and simple cucumber starter, but a single bite of it packed sweet, sour, spicy and fresh flavours. I was mind-boggled by how something so small could provide such big flavour explosions. Since then, I discovered a love for a different genre of food and have travelled around the world in search of the best food experiences. (This photo collage was actually taken from my Instagram. The restaurant did not allow photos but I sneakily took some with my phone.)
Classic Parisian Bistros
La Petite Périgourdine
As it was cold and rainy in Paris, we huddled away in this neighbourhood bistro for lunch. There is nothing as comforting as perfectly-seared medium rare steak on a bed of aligot (cheesy mashed potatoes) on a dreary day. You know a neighbourhood bistro is legit when they have a ceiling to floor pigeonhole shelf filled with special napkins for the regulars.
This is another neighbourhood bistro with its menu handwritten on a chalkboard. As this quaint restaurant is a little away from the tourist attractions, it seemed to be filled with locals when we were there. If you want a reasonably-priced and classic French bistro experience in Paris, this place is a safe bet.
Clown Bar is the little sister of Michelin-starred Saturne. The restaurant is quirkily decorated with clowns painted on ceramic tiles (don’t worry, they’re not the scary type like Pennywise from IT), and the food is exciting and adventurous (veal brain, anyone?). The pithivier (pictured above) consisted of medium-rare duck and foie gras housed in a thin flaky pastry. The date jam added a fragrant sweetness and the freshness from the yuzu cut through the heaviness of the dish. Even my mum, who is very difficult to be pleased with her Asian palate, agreed that this was a winner.
Bakeries and Desserts
To be honest, I have never had bad pastry or bread from any bakery in France. Even random bakeries had, at the very least, decent baked goods. The pastry that I will always get from boulangeries is éclair!
Du Pain des et Idées
This bakery is most famous for their Pain des Amis and escargots. A charming traditional boulangerie, this place is worth crossing the town to get your dose of buttery delicious carbs.
This bakery made it to the list because it is open in August, when most of the bakeries in Paris are closed for their annual summer vacation. You cannot imagine how sad I was when I discovered that boulangeries like Du Pain et des Idées, Blé Sucré and Aux Péchés Normands were all closed. So kudos to Liberté for staying open and satisfying my cravings with delicious sweet treats!
Eric Kayser is a chain bakery that you can find all over Paris, but the quality of their products is actually pretty good!
L’éclair de Génie
This place makes éclairs in various unique flavours. The éclairs almost look too beautiful to be eaten!
This chocolatier makes the most luscious hot chocolate. It is not overpoweringly rich and has just the right balance of bittersweet fragrance from the chocolate and creaminess from the milk. As if this pot of hot chocolate is not chocolatey enough, we were also served four pieces of exquisite chocolate to go with it. I have tried the hot chocolate from the popular Café de Flore but this one wins hands down. Jacques Genin is also known for serving one of the best made-to-order millefeuille in Paris.
I know you can get Pierre Hermé macarons outside of Paris but it just feels different when I munch on these while walking down the streets of Paris. I always buy a few of these sugary treats whenever I am in town.
Who would have thought that I would find a Melbourne-style cafe that I really liked in Paris? This hipster-ish cafe had nice brunch vibes and there was a long queue forming even though it was an early Sunday morning. The savoury stack was excellent! Fluffy pancakes topped with bacon and sunny side ups, drizzled with Bourbon butter and maple syrup – this is what makes waking up for brunch worth it.
If you are going to Paris for a food trip, try to avoid heading there during the French summer holiday period, which starts around the end of July until most of August. The majority of the restaurants and bakeries will be closed during this time.
I am obsessed with these dinosaur-shaped chocolate biscuits. I have only ever seen them in France, so I always bring boxes of these back to the U.K. with me.
Until next time, stay hungry and keep exploring!