The first thing to know about eating in Paris, is what the different types of establishments are. Once you have a good grasp of what you can expect from each - you should also understand that what time you want to eat, can have a big impact on which you select. Traditional dining hours are 11:30 - 2:00 p.m. for lunch and 7:30 - 11:00 p.m. for dinner. Unless you are eating on the go, or wish to shop for food in Paris, reservations are a must - so book ahead. Most restaurants are small with fewer than 30 seats and they don’t turn tables. Therefore, plan on taking your evening at a casual pace.
Many restaurants offer set menus with a combination of appetizer, main course, dessert, and an à la carte selection. This will be your budget friendly option. Look for the menu to be handwritten on a chalkboard, then you’ll know they are serving local and fresh dishes with seasonal ingredients.
People who follow a specific diet or need certain accommodations because of allergies will find numerous offerings. Establishments that specialize in the vegan, lactose-intolerant, and gluten-free lifestyle are plenty. Many different types of establishments have already feathered these alternative items into their core menu. When you travel, a quick Google or Bing search will find a location nearby or you might want to consider raw food restaurants in Paris, France.
Although most lunches and suppers are consumed over a long period of time at a comfortable table, you may need to squeeze a little eating in with sightseeing. For a quick bite on the run, try street vendors. You can get an affordable ethnic or gourmet snack. The majority of choices will be specialty options such as falafel, American burger, Mexican tacos, and Korean BBQ. There are many vendors strategically placed throughout the streets and boulevards or in specialty trucks. You’ll find one that’ll fit any budget, serve cools eats or treats, and really hits the spot quickly. You can even grab a crunchy warm baguette from a boulangerie or hot crêpe at a stand. Here are some of the best areas for eating on the go: Rue des Rosiers, Rue du Faubourg, and Saint Denis. You could also schedule a gourmet walking tour with a professional guide.
This is a bakery that specializes in French bread. To be known as a true boulangerie, they must bake bread at the location. Look for a sign that says “Artisan Boulanger” on the window. Otherwise the bread is brought into the store from an associated boulanger. You can tell if it is handmade if the ends are pointy. If they are rounded, the bread was likely made by machine. It's a beautiful sight to see the baguettes stacked up like firewood! There is no better place on earth to buy baguettes and croissants to take along on a walk.
Specializing in pastries and sweets and often coupled with a boulangerie. There will usually be a professional pastry chef in house. Pâtisseries offer the most delightful displays of tarts, cakes, and pastries. They will usually have a special of the day. Chocolate éclairs and macarons (two small round cakes made with almonds, egg white and sugar, pressed together and filled with buttercream or jam) are sinfully consumed by the millions. Buy a few and take them to the park. Pâtisseries and boulangeries are always a part of a food tour itinerary.
The finest chocolatiers in Paris look like expensive jewelry stores with their elaborate displays. Perhaps some of the most flavorful in the universe can be found in these chocolatiers. You’ll want to at least try the bonbon de chocolat, filled with ganache, praliné, caramel, or fruit. Stop in and treat yourself for a burst of energy! If you are with the family, you may find some additional fun places to eat on tours with kids.
Cheese stores! This is where you will find the most delicious cheese on the planet! Hold your nose, the place will be full of competing aromas. Some fromageries have tasting rooms where you can enjoy fresh cheeses, charcuterie, and wine paired to perfection. A little nibble will provide a good dose of protein to keep you going. Learn more about how to buy cheese in Paris.
A crêpe is a super thin pastry served hot with a variety of fillings. Favorites include ham and cheese or a sweet caramel au beurre salé. The perfect companion for a city stroll.
Of course, France is known for its red and white beverages too! Beaujolais, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Natural, or a nice Champagne will be on the list carefully curated by the owner. You will not have a hard time finding a chic bar for a tasting. Accompaniments that should be on the menu include charcuterie (how to buy cured meat in paris), cheeses, and crunchy baguettes. A great way to experience the lifeblood of the City of Lights and have lunch.
When looking for a casual place to have coffee and a toasted sandwich named panini during the regular activities, stop in a café. This is a country staple with all the charm and ambiance you would expect. It will be packed with the neighborhood foodies and bustling with activity. This is a great opportunity to chat with friends and soak in the hustle and bustle of the populous. They are typically open first thing in the morning around 7 a.m. and do not close in the afternoon like other places. Prices here are very affordable.
Each bistro has its own identity. Still an intimate casual option, some have simple snacks while others offer a full menu. You will have to peek inside to discover if it is the right choice for you. Hours here usually follow the timetable for lunch and dinner. The prices are reasonable.
A brasserie is otherwise known as a brewery! You guessed it, like a pub, here you can get some great beer and champagne to go with your meal. These gastronomic establishments are very popular. You will often find a 19th century atmosphere offering a wide range of famous French cuisine for moderate prices! These are larger than a café or bistro, but still do not usually require a reservation. Most brasseries are open morning until late in the evening.
Since France is known all over the world for its cuisine, you must have at least one fine dining experience at a Michelin rated restaurant while you are there. Any appetizer, main course, or dessert prepared by one of these professional chefs will probably blow you away! A multi-course food extravaganza will delight your tongue for hours. They don’t really do leftovers, so take your time and enjoy. The best restaurants book-up quickly so reservations are an absolute must. You can reserve up to 2 - 4 months in advance!
Situated in the countryside, these are usually similar to bed and breakfast inns. The restaurant is generally run by professional chefs who want to use local ingredients, sometimes grown on their property. A table d’hôte with limited options is usually offered. The owners, who are most often the chefs, are always friendly and tend to visit the dining room and socialize with their guests.
Cheese is served after the main course and before dessert. This way, the strong smell of cheese does not linger during the remaining conversation. It is presented with bread, not crackers. A small piece of bread with a small piece of cheese, don’t shove a big chunk in your mouth. There is a cheese etiquette after all. Typically, a nice glass of red wine will be served.
Meaning a fixed or limited menu at a set price consisting of a multi-course experience. This option is usually the most affordable, often featuring signature items from the chef. Otherwise, if you order à la carte, your bill could be substantially higher. Drinks are not often included in a Prix Fixe option at a restaurant.
For more information, please refer to the following pages: