Even outside the Michelin-starred temples to high cuisine, of which the city has many, a huge number of Parisian restaurants remain defiantly traditional, offering classic cuisine bourgeoise based on well-sauced meat dishes, or regional French cuisines. You can find a tremendous variety of foods, from Senegalese to Vietnamese, however, while the so-called bistronomy movement sees accomplished chefs rejecting over-fussy concoctions in favour of more experimental cuisine, focusing on fresh flavours – and even, shockingly, giving a starring role to vegetables – usually served in less elaborate settings and at lower prices.
Where to eat
Luxurious, hushed restaurants decked with crystal and white linen; noisy, elbow-to-elbow bench-and-trestle-table joints; intimate bistros with specials on the blackboard; grand seafood brasseries with splendid, historic interiors; artfully distressed boho cafés – Paris has them all. And today, many of the city’s most talked about restaurants are the relatively relaxed so-called neo-bistros, where the focus is very much on creative food, not on traditional service or old-school decor, while a new breed of hipster coffee houses, akin to those you’d find in east London or Brooklyn, has cropped up to serve the needs of caffeine heads not satisfied with the city’s characteristically bitter brews.
Eating out in restaurants tends to be expensive, with three-course evening meals rarely costing less than €45. Lunchtime set menus (known as menus or formules) can still cost as little as €15, however. The big boulevard cafés and brasseries, especially those in more touristy areas, can be significantly more expensive than those a little further removed.
For the more upmarket or fashionable places, and at weekends, it’s wise to reserve. Generally you will only need to do this a day or so in advance, but the most renowned places may require booking up to several weeks (or in some cases, months) ahead.