Once, in Paris, my friend and I got into an argument. It was his fault (honestly though). The next time I saw him, he just plopped a little bakery bag into my hand and waited. Inside, delicious and tempting, was un pain aux amandes, just for me.
“Are we okay?” he asked.
He had discovered my greatest weakness.
When I moved to Paris, I had intended to sample my way through Rachel Khoo’s cookbook. Fantastic idea, right? It had a Julie and Julia flair but seemed infinitely more whimsical under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower’s elegant frame, and with the infamous market street Rue Cler mere steps away from my oh-so-French chambre de bonne. As I said, great idea. But then my hot plate short-circuited my power, my kitchen served as my bedroom/laundry room/office, I didn’t have an oven, and, oh right, I don’t cook.
Needless to say, I managed to replicate one recipe before shelving the book for a later date. Do you want to know what that recipe entailed? No cooking. I bought a baguette, some goat cheese, a couple figs, chopped walnuts, put them together, and called it a night.
If I ever do learn to cook, I will use Rachel Khoo’s delightful book of recipes. But for now, when I visit Paris, I will continue to sample cafés and restaurants, watching the light rain from under smoky terraces instead.
Without Parisian restaurants, and the scrumptious food awaiting me around street corners, I would have immensely suffered. When I left Paris, I craved my daily pain aux amandes for months. Visiting one of my best friends in Canada and finally tasting a true, non-Americanized chocolate almond pastry was legitimately one of the highlights of last fall.
I’m certainly not an expert on the Parisian culinary scene, and honestly, some of the best Parisian dining experiences will be the ones you least expect. You’ll simply stumble into a dimly lit hole in the wall, and find yourself in love.
But to this day, the number one question people ask me is “Where should I eat in Paris?” Alors, for inquiring minds, this a sampling of my personal, local recommendations. Bon appétit!
Where to eat in Paris:
Notable French chef Christian Constant owns multiple restaurants in the city; Café Constant is one of his more casual ones, though the food will hardly disappoint. The French couple I worked for in the 7ème arrondissement recommended this little find the night we met. It doesn’t accept reservations, so arrive early, but the food is delicious. I ordered: salade de coeurs d’artichaut et champignons de Paris, tout simplement en vinaigrette and filet de daurade royale au pistou grillé à la plancha, beignets de legumes croustillants.
(I don’t know why I remember that).
I happened to find this place the hectic week I left Paris—it provided the perfect atmosphere for the perfect casual date and sendoff. With meals as low as 10 Euros, this little bistro is tucked away in the 1st arrondissement, and most amble by without a second glance. Miraculously, and perhaps because of its discreet decor, we seemed to be the only English-speaking people there.
6 Rue la Vrillière, 75001 Paris
Rue Cler generally has pleasant options, as well as a wonderful food market on weekends. Le Petit Cler specifically offers quality food at a low price; I definitely enjoyed a bottle or two of Bordeaux on French dates at this place. (Say Bonjour to the attractive waiter Philippe for me. He bought me wine. And had a beard. I really couldn’t ask for more).
29 Rue Cler, 75007 Paris
You may notice a theme here, but since I lived in the 7ème arrondissement, you’ll find a lot of recommendations centered around that area. Honestly though, the staff at this delightful Greek restaurant became my friends by the end of my time here. They were friendly, helpful, and served delicious food. My favorites were: une feuillette des épinards and corgette des aubergines. I found this tiny restaurant by accident, but when I researched it online, I realized it had glowing reviews, many from Greek people praising this place for offering an authentic experience. Some called it the best Greek restaurant in Paris. All I know is that it’s not too expensive, the food is delicious, and the staff, wonderful. (Options for both sit-down and takeaway).
24 Rue Jean-Nicot, 75007 Paris
You may find more traditionally French cafés in the city, but this is my personal favorite. Coutume has a bright, clean atmosphere, some of the best coffee in the city, and baked goods I couldn’t stop eating. Their lemon cake is particularly addictive. They also have a full menu, and I’d highly recommend the fresh fruit, yogurt, and granola, and their salads are quite fresh. However, for me, the main allure was the environment. Clean and bright—and with free WiFi (pronounced in French as “wee-fee”), Coutume was the ideal writing location. I could pack up my bag and work there for an afternoon, rather than settling for Starbucks. Although nothing quite compares to sitting at a traditional French café and sipping a glass of wine or espresso late into the night, most of those locations don’t offer computer outlets or WiFi— essential working and blogging tools
47 Rue de Babylone, 75007 Paris
If, like me, one of your best friends in Paris is lactose intolerant, allergic to gluten, and a vegetarian, you will most likely spend ample amount of time in Véget’halles.
41, rue des Bourdonnais, 75001 Paris, France