I love Paris and I'm pretty sure that Paris loves me. I've been hanging out in the French capital since 2005. I’ve been lucky enough to go back to the city at least twice a year since then and have friends who live there that show me the real Paris. Now I get to share my insider knowledge, the individual places where I love to eat, drink and dance in Paris with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Les Bonnes Soeurs (8 rue du Pas de la Mule) Set back from Place des Vosges in the Marais, the place is a Paris institution. The menu is extensive but my particular favourite is the cheese trinity omelette. Be warned, this place is popular. Go early or be prepared to queue.
Breizh Café (109 rue Vielle du Temple) Parisians love crepes and there is no better place in the city to savour them than in the affordable luxury that is Breizh Café. Here you can book in advance and I suggest you do.
Rose Bakery (30 rue Debelleyme) This is the Marais branch of the Franco-British cafe. If you’re feeling a bit worse for wear from the night before, order a piggy latte, it comes in a giant bowl – almost like a glass chalice of coffee. It pairs very well with their take on eggs benedict.
Folks and Sparrow (14 Rue Saint-Sébastian) It’s oh so hip and the décor is on trend - minimalist, but the staff are the friendliest bunch I’ve met in Paris. They serve freshly made baguettes carefully wrapped in paper and garnished with miniature flowers. I also normally order a Parisian blonde beer – I’m on holiday, so why not.
For a cheaper alternative to a sit down brunch go to any boulangerie for their freshly cooked croissants. My particular favourite is Du Pain et Des Idées (34 Rue Yves Toudic) where a croissant will set you back a whopping 90p.
Le Refuge (72 rue Lamark) This gem is tucked away in the back streets behind Montmartre. It’s set between two stair cases opposite Lamark-Caulaincourt station. The interior is decorated in typical belle époque style with mosaics and giant mirrors. The real treat is the terrace outside where you can enjoy their €12 lunch menu.
Berthillon glacier (29-31 Rue Saint-Louis) On holiday ice-cream can count as lunch! Set within walking distance of Notre Dame.
Le Servan (32 Rue Saint-Maur) All you really need to know is their lunch menu is €17. Hand on heart – you won’t get better food for this price in Paris. It’s slightly out of the way but it’s worth it for the daily changing menu.
If it’s sunny, head to Place du Monge, a small square with a market Friday and Sunday (or any monoprix/franprix – French supermarkets) and pick up some meat, cheese and wine then head to Jardin du Luxembourg to enjoy and watch the world go by.
Botak Café (1 rue Paul Albert) This small restaurant is mid-way up the steep climb to the Sacre Couer but away from the tourist traps in Montmartre. It’s a quirky little place with a fixed price menu - £25 for three courses, which is an excellent price for the quality of the food.
Café Crème (4 rue Dupetit-Thouars) The café is always packed with locals and tourists alike. They serve classic French dishes at reasonable prices – go there to people watch and soak up the atmosphere of a neighbour restaurant.
Les Fondues de la Raclette (107 Avenue Parmentier) Raclette is basically cheese fondue. Here, however, you get a selection of cheese and your own mini frying pan to melt it over heated plates on the table. It’s served with different meats and potatoes. At first glance, you’ll think you’ll never be able to eat all that cheese – trust me, you will.
La Marine (55 Quai de Valmy) Out of all the places I’ve been to in Paris for food, this is my favourite. From the moment you walk through the red velvet curtain you’re transported to a different time – huge chandeliers hang over mirrored walls. Here, you’ll experience a true French brassiere. Order the snails in garlic butter for starters then use the bread accompaniment to soak up every last bit of the buttery goodness.
If you can push your budget a small bit and love cheese, go to restaurant Astier (44 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud) the menu is mostly meat filled but the real show stopper is the cheese. The cheese board is more of a carousel that fills the entire table. They talk you through the selection and then invite you rotate it and take as many slices as you want – heaven.
drinks and dancing
Avoid the Irish / Australian bars – they’re more expensive than the Parisian ones. If you feel you have to go to either, the Cork and Cavan and Café Oz, respectively are decent.
Café Charbon (109 rue Oberkampf) This is another firm favourite of mine. Locals go here to dance the night away. Generally speaking, if you’re looking for a party, rue Oberkampf is the place to go.
Chez Moune (54 rue Jean-Baptiste) Is an eclectic dive bar in the heart of Pigalle. Like most others in the area, it doesn’t charge entry, so expect a queue. For all the night owls, it stays open until 6am.
Bus Palladium (6 rue Pierre Fontaine) Is a four floor legendary nightclub and music venue in Pigalle. Its €20 for entry but that includes two drinks – you need to pace yourself though, this is another place open until dawn.
La Fourmi (74 rue des Martyrs) Is a boho neighbourhood bar with all important cheap drinks. Locals flock here to sit on the flea market furniture and drink the night away.
L’Entre Potes (14 rue de Charonne) Is a tiny speakeasy bar near Bastille. The walls are filled with graffiti and as you sink into the cosy leather couches you’ll end up staying longer than the one drink you intended.
Pop In (105 rue Amelot) Is another one of those bars you think you will literally pop in to and then end up staying half the night. It’s got a slightly grungy vibe but it’s all part of its charm.
As a finale for your trip, I would strongly recommend a visit to Georges, an industrial chic bar/restaurant at the top of the George Pompidou Centre. The escalators whizz you up to the best vantage points in Paris. Be warned the cheapest wine is £10, but it’s worth it to take in sights of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
If you’ve had your fill of sights, then head across to Bar Zero de Conduite (14 rue Jacob) in the Latin Quarter, here they serve cocktails in baby bottles while cartoons play in the background – everything your inner child could ever want.