Adjoining the Musée des Arts Décoratifs is the sublime LOULOU. Its 200-capacity terrace, which surely occupies one of the most enviable plots of real estate in all of Paris, is set within the grounds of the Jardin des Tuileries at the Place du Carrousel. As you sip on a glass of something bubbly and taste the delights on the menu, reinterpreted classics from the French and Italian Riviera, you can look out over some of Paris’ most distinctive monuments. The Louvre and its glass pyramid are to one side and to the other, across the river, the Musée d’Orsay and beyond that the Eiffel Tower. The restaurant is popular with the fashionable business lunch crowd, which turns into a more relaxed dinner scene (a spot of dancing isn’t unheard of), and if you can’t get a seat on the terrace there is room for 130 more inside.
If you haven’t ever made it to the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, you need to make it a top priority for your next free sunny day. And this isn’t because of its unusual topography brought about by an industrial past (it was once a gypsum and limestone quarry, the stone from which was used to build parts of Paris and cities across the United States). Hidden within its leafy depths is the Pavillon Puebla, an establishment with a restaurant, two terraces, and a bar. You can sit beneath the spreading canopy of an enormous tree on a mixture of tables and soft seating and forget completely that you’re in the middle of the lively 19th arrondissement. It is part mountain cabin, part beach hut and totally quirky.
Rosa Bonheur Sur Seine
The Rosa Bonheur team, whose name was inspired by the most celebrated female artist of the 19th century, opened their first guingette, or tavern, in Buttes Chaumont in 2008 and expanded to their amazing 7th arrondissement location two summers ago. At night, with the lights from the Pont Alexandre III reflecting off its golden statues and the waters of the Seine below, it truly is one of the most magical riverside locations in the world. The wondrous sights of the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides and the Grand and Petit Palais on opposite quaysides is borderline overkill. There’s a good-time vibe on the barge, with French-style bar food and tapas for eating and table football if you feel like working up a light or heavy sweat depending on the extent of your competitive spirit.
À La Folie
The Parc de la Villette is the third largest in Paris and the most densely populated with cultural attractions. Within the 55.5 hectares of carefully sculpted parkland are the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, the Cité de la Musique, the Zénith, and the Grande Halle de la Villette, amongst a dozen others. Visit just a handful of these and you’ll have built up a ravenous appetite. And that calls for one thing, a barbecue. À La Folie’s is unbeatable. They prize their selection of beef above all else though that doesn’t mean the poultry, lamb, and fish on the menu can be sniffed at (in any other way than appreciatively). Everything is cooked on an open-wood fire aside from the gourmet salads, which are made from the freshest produce around.
Nothing says summer like a trip to the seaside. Thanks to Huguette, Parisians now need go no further than Saint-Germain-des-Près to get their fix of the good life by the beach. The pleasingly salty whiff of a fresh catch on the wind, the tinkling of glasses, and laughter of happy campers, and the reassuring rush of waves against the shore.Okay, this last part is a lie, it’s more likely to be the sound of cars speeding by that you hear but you get the picture. This crab shack-inspired restaurant has hit exactly the right tone with its décor, which is transportative without being kitschy, and no one could possibly question the quality of the seafood on offer. The color of the prawns alone deserves an epic poem, or at least a soppy love letter.
The Tearoom At The Musée De La Vie Romantique
The Musée de la Vie Romantique is one of the museums in Paris that manages to stay under most people’s radar. Once the home of Dutch-born painter Ary Scheffer, in 1987 it was converted into one of the three literary museums in the city, along with the Maison de Balzac and the Maison de Victor Hugo, holding a significant collection of objects pertaining to George Sand and Ernest Renan. Its tearoom also makes a fine spot for a light lunch of savory tarts, soups, salads, and sandwiches. The gravel courtyard is spotted with green metal tables and rose bushes, an idyllic retreat for an afternoon in the 9th arrondissement.
The Maison Plisson is a unique breed of an enterprise. Over 500 square meters, it combines a green-grocery, a bakery, a butcher shop, a cheesemonger, a general store, a wine cellar, a café, a takeout, and a restaurant with a sizable terrace. Not bad for a place situated in the heart of the Marais. More impressive still is the fact that every product on the shelves and on the plates has been specially sourced by the owners from across France and Europe for its quality and the passion of the producer. Many of these items can’t be found anywhere else in the capital. It’s got expansiveness and it’s got exclusivity. Try, if you dare, to argue with that. Better yet, just enjoy it.
Another popular spot for the Marais’ diners in the know is the GrandCoeur. The restaurant occupies the building of a former coach house and inside it’s an elegant mix of stonework, exposed beams, and green-veined marble table tops. On the paved patio to the fore, there are neat lines of tables with pristine white tablecloths under a blue canopy. The simplicity of the dishes belies the ingenuity of their creation with the finest seasonal products. Dining al fresco here comes with an inimitable soundtrack: the sounds of intricate footwork and fine piano playing emanating from the surrounding dance studios.
L’ Oiseau Blanc At The Peninsula
L’Oiseau Blanc takes haute cuisine to a new, and quite literal, level. Located on the top of the Peninsula Hotel, it offers incomparable views over the city’s rooftops towards its most famous monuments. The restaurant has an aviation-themed décor, referencing the exploits of Charles Nungesser and François Coli who attempted to cross the Atlantic from Paris in 1927. If you can peel your eyes away from the windows or down from a bit of plane-spotting through the open sunroof, you’ll find that the cuisine on the table is a selection of French classics updated for the contemporary palette.
A Noste is really three restaurants in one, all of which celebrate the Gascon cuisine of France’s southwest. On the first floor is Table, the more traditional dining room, where you can taste a three-course lunch menu and if you can manage it, a further three servings with dinner. Downstairs at Tapas, where the liveliness kicks up a notch, there’s a menu of at least 26 tapas (what else?) to try. It’s a communal affair with tables capable of accommodating groups of between eight and twenty. Alternatively, you can grab some Basque street food from the red Renault van parked in the Taloa section of the restaurant. Because, well, why not?
Palais Royal Restaurant
Lunch or dinner at the Palais Royal Restaurant is one of the 1st arrondissement‘s most elegant affairs. Eating on the terrace, surrounded by the gleaming blond stonework of the 17th-century palace, listening to the birdsong coming from the manicured rows of lime trees and the steady trickle of the central fountain, only adds to the occasion. The tables are dressed beautifully and the food is prepared with the utmost precision.
The 20-meter-high glass roof at Les Chouettes is something to see and, if you’re lucky enough to get one of the best tables at this hot joint in the Marias, eat under. The interiors are sophisticated and the menu intelligently put together, always maximizing seasonal produce. There is also a coffee shop for those not in the market for a meal.