Le Comptoir du Relais
9 Carrefour de l’Odéon
Tel: 01 44 27 07 50
This little 40-seater in the heart of bustling Saint-Germain district is a favourite amongst celebrity chefs such as Anthony Bourdain and Thomas Keller. The charming little bistro-like restaurant is the brainchild of Chef Yves Camdeborde, who’s most recent accompolishments include judging France’s version of MasterChef. A coveted seat for the celebrated prix fixe dinner must be made months in advance. For a more relaxed (and achieveable) chance to dine at Le Comptoir, line up early for their “no reservation” lunch, starting at noon. Classic French favourites with surprising twists can be had at very reasonable prizes, alongside fabulous French wine. We recently swooned over the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth roasted bone marrow with a very bourgeoisie dollop of caviar. For an even more casual, laid-back feel, check out L’avant Comptoir next door, also opened by Chef Camdeborde. This deli-like venue offers “small plats” only to be eaten standing up, but with no compromise on taste.
30 Rue Gay-Lussac
Tel: 01 43 252079This tiny little restaurant is known for being “the place where chefs come to eat on their days off”. One wall of the cozy venue is lined from floor to ceiling with bottles of wine, and guests are asked to stand up and pick their bottles rather then perusing any wine list (in fact, there is no wine list)! There is only one menu each night, based on seasonal ingredients, so if you are a vegetarian or have a limited openess about food, you might be in for a few challenges! But don’t worry, whatever is served up is guaranteed to be good. Casual and rustic – Les Papilles, which literally means taste buds in French, allows the chef to take the reins and take diners on a tasting adventure to appreciate the uniqueness of French culinary traditions. Advance reservations are a must.
Inside the Grand Palais on Ave. Winston Churchill
Tel: 01 42 564242
There are few things more enjoyable than a warm summer’s day in Paris. Mini Palais, situated in the monumental Grand Palais, is the perfect marriage between modern sophiscation and historic splendour, and allows one to enjoy a sunny afternoon in Paris with some of life’s most important necessities – good food and wine. A relaxing lunch on the outdoor terrace between the Palais’ majestic marble columns is the perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon of sightseeing, with a chilled glass (or two!) of rosé in hand, of course. Under the guidance of renowned Chef Eric Fréchon, the Mini Palais focuses on sophisticated modern cuisine based on seasonal ingredients. Having said this, classic brasserie items like steak tartare and frites still hold firm on the menu. Mini Palais is the perfect spot to unwind, catch a breeze, and savour the unhurried elegance of Paris.
31 Rue Saint-Louis-en-I’ile
Tel: 01 43 543161
Possibly the best ice cream in all of Paris, the famous Berthillion Glacier has been churning out high quality ice cream and sorbets since 1928. The shop was formerly a restaurant called “Le Bourgogne”, and was opened by Monsieur Berthillion on the little island district nestled in the midst of the Seine. Since 1954, the family decided to close the restaurant and focus exclusively on crème glacée. Berthillion ice creams are made using only natural ingredients, and features heavily on seasonal fruits. Up to 15 flavours are produced daily based on the ingredients in season. On a recent visit in July, we slurped up vibrant summer flavours like “peach on the vine” and “summer cherry”. In true French fashion, the shop is closed throughout the second half of July and all of August for les vacances, so make sure to plan your next trip around this!
Du Pains et des Idées
34 Rue Yves Toudic
Tel: 01 42 404452
In a city where bread is given almost a holy position in daily life, it’s an extraordinary feat to be named the best boulangerie in town. Christophe Vasseur’s much celebrated boulangerie, Du Pains et de Idees, won the prestigious Gault-Millau prize for Best Bakery. The success of the bakery is not only a testament to Christophe’s skills and innovations, but also to his ambition in following a dream. He didn’t start in the food industry, but instead went to business school and worked in fashion. But ultimately he followed his passion in opening this very unique shop. Unlike many others in Paris, Du Pains et des Idees holds true to the belief that bread bakers and patisseries are two very different crafts. Hence, Christophe only creates bread in his shop, and his croissants, le rabelais (pain brioche with saffron, honey and nuts), le pagnol aux pommes, and pain tartine has achieved legendary status in the hearts of many Parisians.
Tel: 01 40 750875
Iconic Laduree is still probably the most recognized macaron maker in the world. The luxury patisserie was founded almost 150 years ago by an outspoken writer named Louis Ernest Laduree, whose grandson, Pierre Desfontaines, created the first ever “double-decker” macaron in 1930. The macaron, filled with ganache cream, became an instant hit. Laduree also established the concept of “the tearoom” for ladies to lunch in by combining a cafe with the patisserie, since ladies back in the day were not admitted into cafes as these were the exclusive domain of men. In the 1990s, Laduree received a total brand makeover and Pierre Herme was hired as a consultant to develop new macaron flavours. Since then, Laduree has established itself as a style icon with numerous collaborations with fashion houses like John Galliano, Christian Louboutin, and Christian Lacroix, making Laduree macarons the sweetest fashion accessories.
17 Rue des Belles Feuilles & various locations
Tel: 01 47 833205
Henri Androuet, a peddler for Gervais, had a dream of bringing cheeses from all the regions of France to the tables of Parisians who’ve never tasted the country’s rich cheese heritage. In 1909, he opened his first cremerie and Androuet Fromagerie was born. On his quest to find the most unique cheeses, Henri travelled extensively throughout France even to the remotest of regions. There are colourful stories of his cheesemongers having to pray in Provence monasteries for weeks in order to gain access to the monks’ coveted cheeses. Today, Androuet stocks hundreds of raw milk cheeses at each of their locations, including the truffled 75% fat, triple cream brie Henri Androuet created for the 18th century French epicurean, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, who so famously uttered the phrase “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are”.
At a Glance
Le Dôme Café (108 Boulevard du Montparnasse) – A favourite gathering place for literary giants and artists such as Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald, Le Dome was the ultimate hub for American writers residing in Paris’s Left Bank in the early 1900s. A poor artist back then could get a good meal for under $1, although today Le Dome has transformed into a top seafood restaurant, and have earned 1 Michelin star. This is a nostalgic place to slurp up oysters and crack into langoustine.
Rue Poncelet Open Market (17th arrondissement) – This open-air market, a stone throw away from Champs Elysees, could double as the movie set for a classic Parisian film. The vibrant marketplace is filled with irresistibly fresh fruits, seafood, meats, pastries and cheeses. Be sure to stop by at Fromagerie Alléosse, or at Maison Divay for their delicious charcuterie. On a recent visit, the friendly butchers at Divay offered us fat slices of their silky home-made foie gras terrine to taste.
La Tour Eiffel – Yes, this is touristy, but you can’t go to Paris without paying homage to the Iron Lady. A great tip for foodies – climb the 600+ stairs up instead of taking the elevator. This is a great way to work off the day’s indulgences of pain au chocolat and decadent duck confit!
Passages Couverts – Paris is even beautiful in the rain! Head to the shielded markets of Galeries Vivienne, Passages Jouffroy and Panoramas for a bit of shopping and window gazing. Some of the passages also hosts little bistros, sausage makers and creperies.
Andouille – I consider myself an adventurous foodie, but there is one French food I cannot stomach (pun intended!). This sausage is filled with folded layers of tripe as well as the rest of the intestinal system of the pig, and challenges my gag-refexes. I would recommend curious foodies to give this a try!