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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 28 May, 2023
Expert travel writer: Anna Brooke

Paris is one dynamic food metropolis – a culinary hub that ticks every edible box, whether you’re looking for classic steak-frites and onion soup or breakfast staples like baguette and croissants.

Old-school pleasures – chateaubriand beef and garlicky snails – abound on menus in many traditional eating houses (like bistros and brasseries), but nowadays the new generation of chefs is deconstructing traditional dishes to create their own, more elevated styles of food, often using ingredients sourced from neighbouring departements like Picardie (for potatoes and root vegetables) and Seine-et-Marne (for cheeses).

What to try

You’ll find plates from all over France, but Parisian specialities include: Paris-Brest (choux pastry with praline cream), croque-monsieur (cheese and ham toastie), steak tartare (raw beef chopped with spices and herbs), hachis parmentier (ground beef and mashed potato pie) and cheeses like Brie de Meaux and creamy Coulommiers. Also see our round-up of traditional French foods to try in France.

Wine predominates, but look out for Parisian beer (often brewed within the city limits), like Gallia, La Parisienne and La Baleine.

The dining scene

Paris and fine food have always gone hand-in-hand. But over the last twenty years, classic French cuisine has transformed into something wholly exciting and contemporary, largely in its bistros (local eating houses), thanks to a culinary movement known as bistronomie (a mix of bistro and gastronomie). In short, it involves making ‘simple’ bistro dishes with high-end gastronomic techniques, resulting in creative, elevated food, at affordable prices.

The one staple that never seems to change, however, is the Parisian café – the people-watcher’s dream with tiled floor, zinc bars, and tables sprawling onto the pavement. Cafés tend to open early for breakfast then serve food all day until late.

You’ll also find traditional menus in the city’s brasseries – grand, noisy institutions, where black-and-white suited waiters serve seafood platters, sauerkraut and steak in historical dining rooms with décor unchanged since the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The street food scene in Paris has exploded in recent years too, with everything from Afro-French soul food to Brazilian stews on offer from pop-ups and vans around the city.

Paris is also now home to more than eighty food markets, all overflowing with locally-grown produce, cured meats, pates, cheeses and of course, French wines. The quaintest is Enfants Rouge, but Marche Bastille, where colourful stalls are often interspersed with street performers, is also worth a try.

Recommendations

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A la Mere de Famille

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

A classic vintage Paris candy store front À la Mère de Famille with Dark Green facade and appetizing samples in window

There are old-fashioned bonbons, jellied fruits and chocolates galore in this historical sweet shop, founded in 1761.

Best for ages 4+

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Bastille Market

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

The open-air market in the Bastille district is one of the largest and busiest in the city selling fresh produce from France and other European countries.

This vast, snaking open-air food market of 100+ stalls is held weekly on Thursdays and Sundays. It’s great for fine, locally-sourced produce, especially cheese, and atmospheric; street performers often entertain the shoppers.

Best for ages 13+

Duration: All day

When: Thursday & Saturday

Frequency: weekly

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Cafe de la Paix

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

Famous Cafe de la Paix with people and tourists sitting outdoor in Paris

An institution with the best vanilla mille-feuille in Paris, served in gilded surrounds with views onto the Palais Garnier Opera House.

Best for ages 13+

Ciel de Paris

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

Landscape shot from Triumph Arc of the Eiffel Tower during a sunset amongst a pink and purple sunset

This bar on the top of the Tour Montparnasse skyscraper is coveted for both its breathtaking Eiffel Tower views and its potent Bellinis.

Best for ages 18+

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Closerie des Lilas

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

The entrance to cafe La Closerie des Lilas, where there are plants covering perimeter

A stalwart literati haunt famed for Hemingway beef (steak with whiskey sauce) and crepe suzettes, flambeed at your table.

Best for ages 18+

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Enfants Rouge Market

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

People buying fresh seafood at Marche des Enfants Rouges. Bright lights and a variety of seafood at this stall

The best of the city’s food markets, with dozens of yummy traiteurs (delicatessens) selling everything from Creole curry to Breton crepes. It’s also the oldest food market in Paris – it started here in 1615. Closed Mondays.

Best for ages 18+

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Le Baron Rouge

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

five bottles of wine and a charcuterie selections

A venerable market wine bar, dedicated to all things wine, with barrels direct from producers and crowds spilling out onto the pavement for post-shopping tipples. A Paris institution.

Min age 18

Best for ages 18+

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Le Comptoir du Relais

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

Street view of a Cafe terrace with tables and chairs

The go-to spot for bistronomie-style cooking and all-natural wines in a photogenic, retro setting.

Best for ages 18+

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La Tour d’Argent

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

Street view at night when restaurant is lit up

Iconic French restaurant famed for its Challans duckling and 320,000-bottle wine list, as well as unrivalled Seine views.

Min age 18

Best for ages 18+

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Le Train Bleu

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

View of the landmark Belle Epoque Le Train Bleu restaurant inside the historic Gare de Lyon train station, built for the 1900 Paris World Exposition.

Head to this grand train station brasserie, originally opened to serve passengers travelling to the 1900 World Fair, is to ogle the incredible decor – the room is laden with gilt, carved cherubs and blowsy frescoes of southern landscapes.

Best for ages 13+

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Maison Ryst Dupeyron

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

Wide angle detail of multiple bottles of Brandy, Cognac, and Amarginac from various brands on shelves at the Galeries Lafayette.

A family-run Armagnac business famed for their vintage wines and own brandies, and well worth crossing the city for.

Min age 18

Best for ages 18+

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Stohrer

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

The front view of Stohrer on a street in Paris. The exterior of the shop is painted in navy with a dark blue parasol

The birthplace of the rum baba in the 18th century, the city’s oldest patisserie still wows with its gateaux (cake) today.

Best for ages 4+

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Jules Verne Restaurant

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

A view of the detailed infrastructure from the bottom of the Tower

World-class food and unrivalled Paris views at Michelin-starred Frederic Anton’s daring restaurant on the Eiffel Tower’s second level.

Adult price: £120

Best for ages 12+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around
Duration: -

Getting there & doing it

Unsurprisingly, many of the fanciest haute cuisine restaurants are near the Champs-Elysees. The new generation of neo-bistros, where many locals actually eat, are scattered all across town, although you’ll find hotspots in the 7th and 11th arrondissements.

The best bar and party destinations depend on your style: young students let loose in rue Oberkampf and the Latin Quarter, trendy creatives mill around Faubourg St-Denis, and fashionistas and jetsetters pose in St-Germain.

When to do it

Despite the explosion of street food, sit-down meals are still sacred in Paris, with three foodie moments punctuating the day: Lunch between 1 and 2:30pm, where locals lap up the menu du jour (daily specials). Then by 7pm, it’s aperitif time in a café or bar, followed by dinner in a bistro or brasserie after 8pm. Parisians typically dine late, with many places serving until 10pm – some are even open 24/7.

On weekends, the city turns into a brunch capital, when eateries all over town offer their take on the Anglosaxon meal. Don’t expect Sunday lunch as such. Though restaurants are open, there are rarely Sunday specials as people traditionally visit family and dine at home.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Paris Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours

Paris

Paris Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours
Like Parisians, in Montmartre we'll visit high-end boutiques for the finest ingredients, sampling along the way. Your guide reveals history, local shops, and delicious selections like cheeses, wines, cured meats, crepes, and pastries. Or, in Notre Dame, indulge in classic French delicacies and explore the birthplace of Paris. From viennoiseries to oysters, regional tarts to desserts, we'll discover hidden gems near Pont Marie. Immerse yourself in local life and the gastronomic influence of Parisian history.

Price: €109

Min age: 3

Rating 4.78 / 5 [2029 ratings]

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Montmartre Hill Sweet & Savory French Gourmet Food & Wine Tasting Tour

Paris

Montmartre Hill Sweet & Savory French Gourmet Food & Wine Tasting Tour
Is there anywhere in Paris a more emblematic and picturesque quarter than Montmartre ? How is it possible to concentrate so many French symbols and food in such a small area ? Follow your passionate local guide and unveil the mysteries of Montmartre during an unforgettable 3 hours food tour on top of the French capital ! • Between le Moulin Rouge and le Sacré Coeur, taste only the best of Montmartre! • You’ll have 6 to 8 stops, sweet and savory • Small groups tours ensure you the best experience you can get! • Chocolate, pastries, cheese, cured meats and wine on the menu… • During the tour, you will have the opportunity to meet some of the most passionate and talented food artisans of the capital. Because we care about the planet, we have decided to stop giving water bottles systematically. Instead, we kindly request that you bring your own bottle to ensure you stay hydrated throughout your journey. By doing so, together, we can make a positive impact on our environment!

Price: €105

Min age: 4

Rating 4.74 / 5 [1569 ratings]

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Paris Montmartre Walking Tour Best Art Culture and Food

Paris

Paris Montmartre Walking Tour Best Art Culture and Food
Join your friendly English speaking guide for this 90 minute walking tour in Paris' most popular neighborhood. Your guide will share stories about the the art, the music, the food and the unique history of Montmartre. You’ll soon learn why the people living here feel differently from the rest in The City of Light.

Price: €36

Min age: 0

Rating 4.83 / 5 [1568 ratings]

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Le Marais Paris The Original District Food and Wine Tasting Tour

Paris

Le Marais Paris The Original District Food and Wine Tasting Tour
This 3.5-Hour Food tour will take place around the Marais Area, in the third arrondissement of Paris, starting from rue de Bretagne, and ending at the Hôtel de Ville. Departing in Paris Oldest Market, the tour will take you to some of the most amazing food shops and artisans. Known as one of the most open-minded area of Paris, the Marais is home for the oldest market in Paris : le marché des enfants rouges. The Parisians love to stroll its aisles and indulge themselves with lots of fine product to try. Discover this iconic area and its secrets! Because we care about the planet, we have decided to stop giving water bottles systematically. Instead, we kindly request that you bring your own bottle to ensure you stay hydrated throughout your journey. By doing so, together, we can make a positive impact on our environment!

Price: €115

Min age: 4

Rating 4.59 / 5 [758 ratings]

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Paris Cooking Class including 3-Course Lunch, Wine & Optional Market Visit

Paris

Paris Cooking Class including 3-Course Lunch, Wine & Optional Market Visit
Discover traditional French cuisine and prepare your own 3-course lunch on this 4.5- or 6-hour cooking class in Paris. Begin with a visit to a food market in Paris’ Latin Quarter (6-hour class only) and select your ingredients. Then, plan your menu and cook your meal with guidance from a professional instructor. Learn tips and tricks to improve your cooking before sitting down to enjoy your meal. Sample wine from across France, and enjoy personal attention from the instructor on this small-group tour, limited to 11 people.

Price: €189

Min age: 12

Rating 4.94 / 5 [681 ratings]

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Destination guides

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Paris

Ile-de-France, France

Aerial view of Paris with the Eiffel Tower in frame against a beautiful golden sunset

Crammed with iconic buildings, world-class art and a culinary scene steeped in history, Paris is one of the world’s great capitals, overflowing with style, romance, and art de vivre.