Paris may be known for its unforgettable sights and for its top-notch cuisine, but very rarely do the two meet in central Paris. Luckily, it doesn’t always have to work out like that. Just a little local knowledge can go a long way, especially near the Louvre.
While visiting one of Paris’s many famous monuments or museums, visitors often feel the pangs of hunger calling time on the sightseeing. But famous sights in Paris attract tourist trap restaurants and cafés, selling microwaved croque monsieurs for exorbitant sums. When emerging from a communion with the Mona Lisa or the Venus de Milo at the Louvre, feet aching and belly rumbling, there are some fantastic places to grab a bite.
The Louvre is divided into three wings, the newest of which is the Richelieu wing. On the first floor of this wing you’ll find not only the 19th century Napoleon III apartments but also the Café Richelieu which, in cooperation with the famed Angelina café, offers French brasserie classics like croque monsieur, quiche Lorraine and French onion soup. Finish with the decadent African hot chocolate that gave Angelina its celebrity. With views over the pyramid in the Louvre courtyard, this is a truly excellent choice.
Musée du Louvre, Richelieu Wing
Located on the ground floor of the Louvre, overlooking the glass pyramid, is the Café Marly. Here you can enjoy some of the finer staples of French cuisine, including caviar, oysters, smoked salmon and steak tartare. A few fusion dishes like crispy egg rolls and even a cheeseburger with Iberico bacon are also on the menu. Be forewarned: you’re paying for the real estate at Café Marly!
93, rue de Rivoli
If you’re eating between 12 and 2pm near the Louvre, you might have to line up behind locals who work in the area: Restaurant Zen is a lunchtime staple just steps away from France’s largest museum. Famous for its ramen and donburi, this Japanese restaurant also serves up delicious sushi and Japanese curries.
8, rue de l’Echelle
Daniel Rose of Spring is actually an American native, but he has impressed the locals with his modern, innovative cuisine. A single, market-driven menu is served to all guests, so be sure to let the kitchen know of any dietary restrictions or allergies when you reserve. Previous concoctions have included veal “candy” cooked sous-vide with butter-poached heirloom beats and rosy duck breast with fig and foie gras.
6, rue Bailleul
Founded by an American husband-wife team, Ellsworth boasts a trendy aesthetic with an ever-changing menu. Choices may include a seasonal soup, house-made rillettes or the famed fried chicken. Ellsworth also offers a great brunch option with house-made scones and an infamous Bloody Mary.
34, rue de Richelieu
La Dame de Pic
This Michelin-starred establishment is known for its surprising, creative cuisine. A lunchtime prix fixe allows you to sample the mastery of Anne-Sophie Pic’s innovative dishes without quite as much damage to your wallet as the dinner service is wont to do. Famous for creating an aesthetic around an ingredient, Pic serves up a fantastic hen’s egg appetizer with local Paris mushrooms and ginger consommé, followed by a stellar veal sweetbread roasted with Colombian coffee, carrot puree, Piedmont hazelnuts and 12-year-old Dalmore whiskey. Desserts tend to be on the lighter side and feature fruit like the Benin pineapple compote with chamomile ice cream and vanilla coulis.
20, rue du Louvre
The natural wine trend seems to be unique to France, so this is the perfect opportunity to give some of these sulfite-free bottles a try. The knowledgeable sommeliers will be happy to suggest natural wines by the glass and the bottle, accompanied by cheese and charcuterie platters and unique small plates like tuna gravlax with black quinoa or red pepper gazpacho with Bellota ham.
41, rue de l’Arbre Sec