An incredible number of restaurants remain defiantly traditional, offering the classic cuisine bourgeoise
based on well-sauced meat dishes, or regional French cuisines, notably from the southwest. You can find a
tremendous variety of foods, from Senegalese to Vietnamese, however, and contemporary French gastronomy is increasingly willing to embrace spices and exotic ingredients.Spin-off bistros of Michelin-starred celebrity chefs like Alain
Ducasse, Pierre Gagnaire and Guy Savoy are something of a fashion at the moment, and well worth considering.
Where to eat
There is a huge diversity of ambiences to choose from: luxurious, hushed restaurants decked with crystal and white linen; noisy, elbow-to-elbow bench-and-trestle-table joints; intimate neighbourhood bistros with specials on the blackboard; grand seafood brasseries with splendid, historic interiors; and artfully distressed cafés serving dishes of the day. Our reviews are divided into restaurants, including brasseries and bistros, and bars and cafés, a term used to incorporate anywhere you might go for a drink or a lighter meal – cafés, ice-cream parlours and salons de thé. There are more bars, which have less emphasis on eating, listed under Nightlife.
Eating out in restaurants is expensive, with evening meals rarely costing less than €30. Lunchtime set menus (known as menus or formules) can still cost as little as €13–16, however. The big boulevard cafés and brasseries, especially those in more touristy areas, can be significantly more expensive than those a little further removed. If you can, it’s worth budgeting for at least one meal in one of Paris’s spectacular Michelin-starred gourmet restaurants. You’ll need to dress smartly; most prefer men to wear a jacket and perhaps a tie. Prices are often significantly lower at weekday lunchtimes; otherwise count on €110–150 as a minimum, and there’s no limit on the amount you can pay for wine. Note that a surprising number of places don’t accept credit cards.
It’s best to reserve for evening meals, especially from Thursday to Saturday; for many places it’s usually enough to book on the day, though for the top gourmet restaurants you’ll need to book at least two or three weeks in advance.