The other week I watched a webinar about creating passive income that completely intrigued me. “Create your own stay at home business during nap time,” “See how this mom made $100K after signing up for our program.” I was hooked. But then he said:⠀
We don’t do this for the mansion. We don’t do it for the Lambo in the driveway. We do this just to have a little extra income each year…
I didn’t hear what he said after that. He lost me after “We don’t do it for the Lambo.” Because the thing is:
Sometimes I want the Lambo. Sometimes I want Over The Top.
Sure, there are times when less is more (bacon bits in a salad), but sometimes More is More. And that was my experience with my first trip to Paris.
People wearing berets? Check. Baguettes everywhere? Yup. The Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame and the Mona Lisa? You got it. What about people eating thick steaks with glasses of red wine, chain-smoking for hours on end in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon? Coming right up.
Paris was the lambo in my driveway.
Especially the food.
And while there are a ton of options everywhere you turn, here’s my list of where you must eat in Paris.
Best Paris Restaurants for Lunch or Dinner
Le Square Trousseau
Not located in Le Marais or Saint-Germain-des-Pres (or any other particularly trendy neighborhood, for that matter), Le Square Trousseau is quite unassuming. And my favorite French bistro. It’s in the 12th arrondissement, which is quieter and more residential, and faces a lovely park.
We went there for lunch one day because we’d schlepped all the way over from the Latin Quarter to try Ble Sucre, the bakery next door, only to find it was closed (never leave me in charge of looking up business hours … unless you like surprises).
But Le Square Trousseau was open. And from the looks of it, pretty happenin’.
If you’re wondering Where do local Parisians eat? Let me tell you, it’s here.
Snack on the beautiful radishes and then order the grilled gilt-head bream— just a whole fish, simply seasoned and perfectly grilled. Save room for the floating island dessert, which I did not do (despite everyone around us eating it) and still regret.
Restaurant Le Square Trousseau; 1 rue Antoine Vollon, 12th Arrondissement, 75012 Paris; open daily from 8:30 a.m.-1 a.m.
Whatever you do and no matter what: Come here. L’Avant Comptoir is a standing-room-only wine and tapas bar, full of charm. If you’re waiting to eat at its sister restaurant next door, Le Comptoir, the hostess will have you wait here, but it’s worth a trip (or two) all by itself.
Don’t ask for a wine menu. (There isn’t one.) Sidle up to the bar, tell the bartender what kind of wine you like and he’ll poor you a glass of something to try. Then order a few different things to eat. Just look up at the big picture cards hanging above you to see what looks tasty. Might I recommend a glass of sancerre with the charcuterie plate (it comes with their house bread … and mountain of butter. No really, a mountain! Look at it!)
At first the people behind the bar seemed a little too cool for school, but when we came back the next night, they recognized us and hooked us up. Repeat visits highly recommended.
L’Avant Comptoir; 3 Carrefour de l’Odeon, Sixth Arrondissement, 75006 Paris
If you’re embracing Paris and ordering foie gras wherever you go (which I 100% support), chances are you will, at some point, hit FGBO: Foie Gras Burn Out. When the last thing you want to eat is more French food, Shiso Burger is where it’s at.
Burgers with an Asian flair? Sounds funky but tastes delicious. Also guaranteed to help you reset and get back into the Foie Gras eating game in no time.
A super casual restaurant, Shiso Burger is one of the best Paris restaurants in the Latin Quarter, for a relaxed, no-frills night out. Afterwards, hold hands and walk by Notre Dame (.2 miles away) for a romantic treat.
Shiso Burger; 21 Quai Saint Michel, Fifth Arrondissement, 75005 Paris
Restaurant Guy Savoy
A dessert involving a magic trick? Salmon cooked table-side on dry ice? Guy Savoy, located in the Paris Mint and named the World’s Best Restaurant in 2018, really knows how to roll out the red carpet. James took me here right after he proposed (oh, heyyy) and it was a serious treat.
The interiors are dark and clean with windows opening up onto the Seine. You feel a bit like you’re in a hip museum. If the hip museum also served food and wine and made you feel as if you have always been a member.
At one point during our meal, Guy Savoy himself came over to check in on us. And then later, our waiter surprised us by rolling in an entire trolley of after-dessert desserts. I could hardly decide which one I wanted. So he gave me all of them. Multiples of the same ones in different flavors even. Bless that man’s heart.
Restaurant Guy Savoy; Monnaie de Paris 11, quai de Conti, Sixth Arrondissement, 75006 PARIS
Aux Bon Crus
Aux Bon Crus is where I had the best oeufs en meurette (poached eggs in red wine sauce).
And James ate snails. Which looked like snails. That he scooped onto pieces of bread. And put in his mouth.
He said they were good though.
Plus, how cute are the red-checked tablecloths? Very Paree.
Aux Bons Crus; 54 rue Godefroy Cavaignac, 11th Arrondissement, 75011 Paris
The food was good, not great. And the service was just so-so. But there’s something really charming about this neighborhood spot. Everyone else must think so, too, because the place was packed. We sat out on the terrace and met a really fun Scottish and American couple who design textiles in New York.
Chez Janou; 2, rue Roger Verlomme, Third Arrondissement, 75003 Paris
Even though savory crepes aren’t really my thing, you kinda have to eat at least one when you’re in Paris. And the best place to get them is Breizh Cafe. There are a couple in the city with really cute outdoor seating. Don’t forget to save room for their dessert crepe served with fancy butter and sugar.
Breizh Cafe; 1 Rue De L’odeon, Sixth Arrondissement, Paris, 75006
Best Paris Bakeries
Now onto the important stuff: baked goods. We popped into lots of little bakeries all over the city to fuel our walks. Here are some of the stand outs.
We tried macarons from three different shops: Laduree, Pierre Herme and Richart. Since you can get Laduree in New York now, Pierre Here is my recommended stop for your delicate cookie needs in fun flavors. And the shop is in Saint-Germain-des-Pres (just down the street from Laduree and Richart) so you can do a taste test (but of course) and walk around the hip and happenin’ neighborhood afterwards.
(Just a note: People rave about the macarons in Paris. But… Chantal Guillon in the Bay Area takes the cake, I mean cookie, in my book.)
Pierre Herme; 72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006; Sixth Arrondissement; Paris, France
Are the croissants in Paris good? Yes. But have you had a croissant from Tartine? Or Arsicault? Or B. Patisserie? San Francisco bakeries have spoiled me. But don’t take my word for it. Come to Ble Sucre to try the award-winning bakery yourself (and stop by Le Square Trousseau next door for lunch).
Maison Georges Larnicol
Maison Georges Larnicol tops my list for best Paris bakeries because I’m a sucker for their kouign amanns. They have a bunch of different flavors and they’re all delightful. If you plan on eating them as you walk, ask the counter person to heat them up for you first. (Trust me.) I still think about the ooey-gooey butteriness to this day.
There are locations all over the city, including at the bottom of Sacré-Cœur (16 Rue de Steinkerque, 75018 Paris, France).
p.s. Planning a trip soon? Check out my travel guides for fun destination ideas.