Here are some of my favorite places to eat and stay, and things to do in and out of Paris. I update this list regularly as places open and close, and I discover new favorites.
The Marais and Upper Marais are currently home to the city’s hip spots, but I remain loyal to my beloved Left Bank, particularly the area around St-Germain-des-Prés, where you’ll find some of my favorite hotels.
Hôtel de l’Abbaye – We used to stay here back when living in Paris was just a dream. Since then, it’s gotten more luxurious and, if anything, more lovely.
Hôtel Bonaparte – A cozy, reasonably priced hotel (think shabby genteel); the location around the corner from St-Sulpice can’t be beat.
Perfectly Paris – Lovely furnished apartments from an honest and reputable agency. Mostly in Montmartre.
Arnaud Nicolas – Located near the Eiffel Tower, the owner is a Meilleur Ouvrier de France (best craftsman of France) specializing in charcuterie and, indeed, his terrines, pâtés, and cured meats are divine. I enjoyed what was possibly the best pâté de campagne I’ve ever tasted. I’m also still dreaming about the ham.
Café de Mars – A favorite local spot in my neighborhood (the 7e arrondissement) offering creative food and an excellent, reasonable lunch menu.
La Cigale Récamier – A French publishing hangout – and Michelle Obama has also eaten here! – there’s a book-lined dining room, a sweeping terrasse, and a menu specializing in textbook-perfect soufflés. I love the Henri IV, a cheese soufflé with a chicken-in-mustard sauce that gets spooned into the molten center. More info.
La Table d’Akihiro – A tiny, jewel-box restaurant with only 16 seats and a French-trained chef, Akihiro Horikoshi (formerly of the three-starred L’Ambroisie), who executes everything flawlessly. The menu is prix-fixe, fish-centric, and not for the inflexible, or anyone on a special diet. This is my favorite restaurant in Paris. More info.
Le Mistral – If you’ve read Mastering the Art of French Eating, you know how much this café means to me. It’s just a simple place with paper placemats and mustard in foil packets but, open for over 65 years, it’s also a neighborhood institution. The menu features charcuterie, steak, and aligot, a whipped cheesy potato purée from Aveyron in south-central France, which is the ancestral home of the owners, our friends Didier and Alain Miquel. More info.
Le Petit Cambodge – At this bright spot near the Canal St-Martin, you’ll find communal tables and a chic crowd tucking into Southeast Asian fare. I recommend the bo bun (pronounced “bo boon”), a salad of rice noodles, lettuce, fresh herbs, peanuts, and grilled lemongrass-scented beef, drizzled with a sweet-savory dressing, and topped with a crispy pork spring roll. Light, fresh, and colorful. More info.
Les Deux Abeilles – A quaint tea salon with the feel of an English country house, the ladies of the 7e arrondissement come here to lunch and gossip. Everything is made on the premises and the quiches, salads, and homey desserts are all seasonal and delicious. I particularly love the omelette à la brousse (eggs softly folded with mint and a ricotta-like cheese) and I dream about the chocolate almond cake. More info.
Miznon – I have a love-hate relationship with this casual Mediterranean café because the food is soooo delicious, but the actual experience of eating here is soooo disorganized and stressful. The cauliflower is their muse, whole roasted until meltingly tender and stuffed into a pita with garlic tahini, lemon salt, and lashings of olive oil. They also offer sandwiches filled with juicy grilled lamb, Moroccan tuna, chicken salad, or even boeuf bourguignon . . . but the true star here is the cauliflower. A second location near the Canal St-Martin is more spacious and slightly more on the ball. More info.
Pizza Chic – This place elevates pizza to an art form (as does its Right Bank sister restaurant Grazie). Try the carciofi (artichoke) pizza, topped with parmesan-artichoke purée and a salad of arugula, parmesan, and shaved raw artichokes. More info.
THINGS TO DO
American Library in Paris – A wonderful center for community and culture; the library requires membership, but the evening events, featuring a dynamic lineup of authors, are free and open to the public.
Context Travel – Small-group walking tours led by expert docents that focus on art, architecture, food, history and more.
Horse in the City – Custom horseback rides with private tours in some of Paris’s most magnificent locations, including the Bois de Boulogne and Château de Versailles. Each session begins with coffee and concludes with a picnic. Owner Baptiste Auclair is a licensed riding instructor and excellent teacher. This is a truly special experience.
La Cuisine Paris – A cooking school in the heart of Paris, near the Hôtel de Ville. They offer English-language cooking classes that teach French food and pastry, and also market and tasting tours.
Paris by Mouth – Food and wine walking tours – including tastings! – offered on the Left Bank and Right Bank.
Paris by the Glass – Wine tastings, classes, and gourmet walking tours led wine expert, Preston Mohr.
Patricia Wells – The ne plus ultra of cooking classes led by the brilliant Patricia Wells, in Paris and Provence.
TRIPS OUT OF PARIS
Some of my favorite French food destinations are Lyon, Toulouse, the Côte d’Azur, Brittany, and Alsace. You can read more in this article from the New York Times.