Paris cafés are fascinating, as is the renowned French cuisine, so Paris restaurants have become a beautiful landscape for anyone remotely interested in good food in convivial surroundings.
There are different types of restaurants in Paris and each type has its own name.
A bistro is a small restaurant serving in a modest setting, serving moderately priced simple meals such as French home-style cooking, and slow-cooked foods like cassoulet, a bean stew. A bistro should certainly be your first choice to taste French home-style cooking in a home-like environment while in Paris.
Le Bistrot du Peintre
Le Bistrot du Peintre is a two-story Art Nouveau eatery that’s been around since 1902. It’s located in the 11th arrondissement, a short walk from the Bastille and the Marais.
The bistro features tarnished Art Nouveau-style mirrors and a polished mahogany bar. The hastily scribbled menu boards display the day’s plat du jour and the vin du moment.
Tables and chairs sprawl onto the street.
Moulin de la Galette
The Moulin de la Galette bistro is part of a windmill of the same name situated near the top of the district of Montmartre in Paris. Nineteenth century owners and millers, the Debray family, made a brown bread, galette, which became popular.
The windmill also included a famous guinguette, a dance hall and entertainment venue for Renoir, Van Gogh, Lautrec and Picasso. Renoir’s festive painting, Bal du moulin de la Galette, has immortalized the guinguette.
Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Le Moulin de la Galette’ has also immortalized the windmill.
Le Cochon à l’Oreille
Le Cochon à l’Oreille is a discreet little restaurant located in the bustling Montorgueil area and comes straight out of the Belle Époque. It is decorated with period ceramic tiles on the walls depicting scenes from the life of Les Halles in the vicinity of Baltard pavilions, which makes you feel like you’ve travelled 100 years back in time.
A brasserie is a type of French restaurant with a relaxed setting, which serves single dishes and other meals. A brasserie can be expected to have professional service, printed menus, and, traditionally, white linen—unlike a bistro which may have none of these. Typically, a brasserie is open every day of the week and serves the same menu all day. A classic brasserie dish would be steak frites.
A brasserie should be your second choice to taste authentic French cuisine in a casual French restaurant while in Paris.
Le Café Marly
The Café Marly is a contemporary brasserie located under the arcades of the Louvre museum in the Richelieu wing.
Le Café Marly offers an intimate setting with its Napoleon III dining rooms, padded banquettes and striking gold gilded woodwork.
Its terrace looks directly onto the Louvre glass pyramid and the Cour Napoléon is only around 50 metres away, which makes it perfect for a late evening drink at sunset when the pyramid is all lit up.
The nearest Métro station is the Palais Royal.
A bouillon is a traditional, spacious restaurant that usually serves traditional French cuisine, in particular a Bouillon, a broth or soup usually made by the simmering of mirepoix and aromatic herbs with beef, veal, or poultry bones and/or with shrimp, or vegetables in boiling water. The concept was to serve good quality food fast and at affordable prices.
Nowadays, only a few authentic bouillons remain; therefore, don’t forget to try one during your stay in Paris.
Bouillon Racine, which has the most baroque style of Art Nouveau, is in the rue Racine in the 6th arrondissement.
Bevelled mirrors, painted opalines, stained glass, carved woodworks, marble mosaics, and gold-leaf lettering provide an opulent dining experience by its beauty as much as its conviviality.
Bouillon Chartier is a bouillon restaurant in Paris founded in 1896, located in the 9th arrondissement.
The long Belle Époque dining room has a high ceiling supported by large columns which allows for a mezzanine.
The table service is provided by waiting staff dressed in the traditional rondin, a tight-fitting black waistcoat with multiple pockets and a long white apron.
The traditional Auberge restaurants are an excellent and pleasant combination of French gastronomy and art de vivre.
Generally situated in rural areas or at least in remote, peaceful surroundings, such venues are run by independent professional caterers and chefs who want to promote and highlight the products of their regions. Authenticity, simplicity and quality are the Auberge raison d’être.
The other plus of auberges is that the owners are generally extremely friendly, coming to speak with their guests and sharing their local knowledge. Make sure you don’t miss out the rare auberge you may find while in Paris.
Auberge de la Bonne Franquette
Auberge de la Bonne Franquette is a cozy old house in existence for several centuries in the heart of Montmartre, Place du Tertre, just east of Sacré-Cœur. It has two spacious sidewalk terraces.
La Bonne Franquette was the meeting point of artists Renoir, Monet, Zola, and Van Gogh. Its charming little garden inspired Van Gogh to paint his famous ‘La Guinguette’ displayed in the Musée d’Orsay today.
The Jules Verne is a gourmet restaurant, located on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower at 125m above the ground in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. The decor consists of gray tones such as iron, and highlights the metal structures of the Tower.
The Jules Verne restaurant is a one of a kind experience that boasts beautiful views through the non-reflective bay windows on the Eiffel Tower, and is accompanied with an intimate yet contemporary and inviting dining experience that plays with the natural light of the day or the city lights at night.
The Blue Train
The Blue Train is a gourmet restaurant style neo-Baroque and Belle Époque of the 1900s located in the lobby of the station Paris-Gare de Lyon in the 12th arrondissement of Paris.
The interior of the Blue Train is full of sculptures, gilding, moldings, chandeliers, ceremonial furniture, large armchairs and 41 large decorative paintings on the walls and ceilings painted by some of the most fashionable Belle Époque painters.
The huge dining rooms still have their original features, polished floors, wood paneling, leather banquettes, mahogany furniture, luxurious gilded stucco, numerous sculptures and murals and ceilings depicting scenes from around France.
I recommend that you taste authentic French cuisine in at least one bistro, one brasserie, one bouillon, and the auberge mentioned above. Savor their signature cassoulet, steak frites, bouillon… Eat like a Parisian, talk to the owner, while letting your imagination take you back centuries in time.