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6 recommended Paris restaurants, bars and cafés

by Eddie Lennon
Paris street restaurant

Paris is a city teeming with surprises. Some of the most pleasant of these are the variety of restaurants serving outstanding food; the quirky and original bars whose madcap individualism celebrates the true eccentric charm that lies beneath the city’s polished surface; and a veritable constellation of neighbourhood cafés, each one with its own inimitable atmosphere…

Paris Restaurants


Ferdi, Paris

Located in Paris’ most luxurious neighbourhood, Ferdi’s gourmet bar is a first-class dining experience. It has been put together with love and a rare attention to detail. The result is an enormously popular establishment that gets booked up weeks in advance, so be sure to reserve. You won’t regret it.

Once inside, you are greeted by a small dining space with a rich burgundy décor, exposed stone walls and an eclectic musical soundtrack. But it’s the cuddly toys, model cars and old photographs that will catch your attention, before you’re distracted by the explosive cocktails (€10 each). Don’t miss the vodka and strawberry purée Pompadour, a house exclusive.

The menu is impossibly extensive, with everything from risotto and curry to enchiladas, lobster, macaroni and cheese and churros (mains €15; sides €6; desserts €10). The flavours are new and exciting, and its burger is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the best in Paris.

Ferdi’s success lies in the small touches: the table mats bear the Ferdi logo; drinks are accompanied with olives and nuts; and everything is beautifully presented. The service is on the slow side, but don’t let that put you off. Once you’re there, you won’t want to leave.

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Ciel de Paris

Ciel de Paris

In the mood to splurge? Then the highest panoramic bar and restaurant in Europe, located on the 56th floor of the Tour Montparnasse, could be right up your street. A world of high-octane Parisian glamour awaits. Ambient music drifts from the speakers and guests can be seen tucking into gourmet cuisine, while practicing the art of seduction. All against the backdrop of the famous Paris skyline, and the illuminated Eiffel Tower.

Although the restaurant boasts a high-end, original and expensive menu, the fare is a cut above your typical Parisian offering: two-course evening menus from €65; lunch menus from €29. Be sure to book in advance if you’re interested. For a prime spot by the window, best to arrive after 10.30pm, when the restaurant begins to empty out. The drinks menu boasts an array of original cocktails—think champagne and Pimm’s—along with the old favorites and classics.

There’s no getting away from the fact that Ciel de Paris is expensive. But the luxurious setting, sumptuous menu and breath-taking view will make it a fitting highlight of your Parisian getaway.

Review by: Joanne Bulley/Eddie Lennon

Paris Bars


25°Est, Paris

If there’s one place that epitomises the Parisian summer, it’s the roof terrace at 25°Est. Boasting an unspoiled view across the Canal de l’Ourcq and a happy hour that stretches from 3pm to 8pm, this is the spot for sipping a cool beer on a lazy, balmy afternoon.

As well as the large roof terrace, you have the choice of the main terrace along the canal bank at the front of the restaurant and an extra, narrow strip of tables just across the water. All the outdoor spaces get predictably crowded during the warm weather, but you can usually find a spot to squeeze into on the roomier roof terrace.

If you end up here on a rainy day, don’t be too disheartened—the interior’s airy space and metallic décor make it a refreshing place for a few drinks. Quirky touches such as the bright red floor and chairs, and toilet sign in multiple languages (including Japanese and Hebrew!) mean that the abundance of grey doesn’t make the place too sombre. Look out for mini-art exhibitions, too; the walls are often adorned with the latest collection from a local painter.

Review by: Naomi Firsht/Eddie Lennon

Chez Georges

Chez Georges, Paris

Deep in the heart of the chic Saint-Germain quarter is this boisterous gem of a wine bar.

In the dimly-lit cavern, red tapered candles flicker, dropping wax over tables, chairs, and, often, people’s belongings. Between the dark red banquettes, tiny round tables and minuscule hole-in-the-wall bar, people are wedged in shoulder to shoulder, many of them dancing on any floor space that’s available. They aren’t shy about getting up on the tables for a quick boogie, either.

Although you’ll find the standard beers on tap, wine is the specialty here; you can get a glass for around €2.50. Ordering at the bar downstairs means bottles only (from €19). Such is the sociable nature of the place that you can often find yourself sampling and sharing with your neighbors, so be prepared to make new friends! If you are hoping to nab a table in the cellar, be sure to arrive well before 10pm, though on weekends people queue outside even earlier.

The music is an eclectic mix of French chanson from the era of Edith Piaf (who features highly on the nightly playlist) and klezmer music, a nod to the original Georges’s Israeli nationality.

Review by: Naomi Firsht/Eddie Lennon

Paris Cafés

Institut Suédois

Institut Suédois, Paris

Tucked away in a side road in Le Marais, the Institut Suédois café offers something a little different. A far cry from the plush brasseries typical of Paris, it is definitely more Sweden than France. And therein lies its charm. Indoors, the café is comfy and authentic with brightly-coloured tablecloths, beams and a stressed wooden floor. The furniture is white, the kitchen homely and the clientele an eclectic mishmash of young people and families (with high chairs available for babies).

The menu is fairly basic, with teas, juices and beer (€3), soups, sandwiches and cake (€5). But the food is home-made, and people know why they are here. Just outside is a beautiful courtyard, offering two rare commodities in this city: space and tranquillity. Surrounded by the Institut, the courtyard is cobbled, its huge blue doors opening out onto the street, and birds flutter in your midst. There is no table service, so you’re left to your own devices.

At the weekend, the café and courtyard are always busy, so opt for a weekday if you’re looking for a complete time-out. You may also wish to pop into the art gallery (admission free), which showcases pieces by Swedish artists. Small but beautifully lit, it’s the perfect way to end your afternoon escape.

Review by: Joanne Bulley/Eddie Lennon

Le Sésame

Le Sésame, Paris

In the heart of the BoBo (bohemian-bourgeois) neighbourhood of Canal Saint-Martin, this charming café makes for a snug little hideaway. The orange-and-white façade and fairy-light-bedecked awning offer a glimpse of the pretty décor that lies within. The interior is simple and clean, with a few homely touches, like the books lining the wall above the banquette seat and the retro kitchen cabinet in pale blue.

Customers come here for healthy salads, smoothies and quiches, as well as a choice of filled toasted bagels. The countertop is laden with indulgent treats such as carrot cake and Philadelphia cheesecake, all pointing to a New York-inspired menu. Non-carnivores are well catered for, too; the menu is about 50% veggie.

Slip onto a squashy banquette or perch on a bar stool by the window or counter. The atmosphere is laid-back, even during peak times, and service is always with a smile.

During the week, lunchtime menus for a bagel plus drink or dessert are €10.50, pretty reasonable for the area. The restaurant opens late most days. Be aware, however, they are only licensed to serve alcohol with food, so if you’re coming for an apéritif you’ll need to order a snack alongside it―not too much of an ordeal thanks to an inexpensive selection of evening tapas. It also hosts mini-art exhibitions and evening events.

Review by: Naomi Firsht/Eddie Lennon

The Parisians’ Guide to Cafés, Bars and RestaurantsThis article is an extract from The Parisians’ Guide to Cafés, Bars and Restaurants, the unique new guide to eating and drinking in the French capital, written by residents of the city and frequent visitors.


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