French food culture runs deeper than croissants and steak frites, and picking the right place to stay can make or break a culinary adventure in Paris. Culture Trip experts have curated these hotels and hostels so you won’t just discover classic brasseries and tourist haunts, but neighbourhood neo-bistros, traditional traiteurs and no-frills Michelin-star restaurants.
Food is central to Parisian life, but the city’s best gourmet experiences aren’t just found in fine-dining restaurants and the boutiques of celebrity pâtissiers. These hand-picked spots will take you to neighbourhoods where graffiti-scrawled vans open their doors on market day to stack trestle tables with artichokes, garlic and heirloom tomatoes; to the blow-the-budget restaurants where locals really eat; to streets where you’ll find classic corner brasseries and crêperies alongside Syrian cafés and tiny udon joints. Bon appétit!
Great neighbourhoods for dining in Paris are no longer just inside the périphérique ring road that surrounds the centre of the city. The newest hotspot to discover in the suburbs is Saint-Ouen, where you can visit the city’s famous flea market Les Puces before settling in at the Parisian outpost of the Brooklyn-born MOB group. Opened in 2017, this super-cool, affordable hotel does on-site dining with a difference – and a conscience. Ingredients for the veg-centric menu (still a rarity in France) are sourced locally and from organic co-ops wherever possible. In summer it’s worth staying for their outdoor barbecues alone.
Looking for serious cocktails and fine dining? Head for Parisian pied-à-terre Amastan, just off the Champs-Elysées. Once you’ve sipped a cherry-infused gin and tonic in the hotel’s celebrated cocktail bar, Anouk, head out in search of culinary enlightenment. Five Michelin-starred restaurants are within a ten-minute walk; try L’Arôme, where Thomas Boullault’s tasting menus famously feature wild turbot in a coffee sauce. For something a little more relaxed, nearby bar-restaurant Le Mermoz was one of the first places to bring natural wine and small plates to this side of Paris.
Business-chic boutique Hôtel de Nell has an unbeatable location for exploring the up-and-coming 9th and 10th arrondissements. At least one of your meals should be in the hotel restaurant, La Régalade Conservatoire, where the service might be fitting for a five-star but a perfectly executed three-course ‘bistronomie’ menu comes in at less than €50. A trip to Le Bel Ordinaire – part wine cave, part épicerie – is another must while you’re in town, as is the mezze at Daily Syrien. Time to spare? Take a walk to picturesque Rue des Martyrs for a quintessentially Parisian experience, and stop to pick up everything from organic cookie mixes at Marlette to fruit-laden pavlovas at La Meringaie.
Run by the Experimental Group (hospitality royalty who’re also behind Covent Garden London’s La Compagnie Des Vins Surnaturels) this uber-central townhouse hotel celebrates French style with Italian passion. Chef Giovanni Passerini heads up the Grand Restaurant, where his spin on Franco-Italian country cooking runs the gamut from beef tartare with smoked ricotta to linguini with calamari. There are also two superb cocktail bars on site: summer-only rooftop The Shed and the whimsical Shell. If you need even more marvellous mixology, Le Syndicat, officially one of the World’s 50 Best Bars, is just around the corner.
Few hostels have a rooftop with Sacré-Cœur views so spectacular it gets booked out for private events, but Generator doesn’t fit the budget-travel mould. Rooftop rosé at apéro hour aside, this flash-packing option is a budget-conscious foodie’s dream. A short stroll to the Canal Saint-Martin takes you to cult bakeries Du Pain et des Idées and Boulangerie Utopie for flaky croissants, followed by rustic lunch dishes at Le Verre Volé’s Formica tables. Head in the other direction for superb pho, dim sum and Korean hotpot around Belleville’s Chinatown.
Another creation from the ever-inventive Experimental Group, this classy boutique hotel has some serious pedigree. If you can bear to leave the Dorothée Meilichzon-designed rooms, a negroni in the ground-floor cocktail bar is the perfect way to start an evening exploring Pigalle’s restaurant scene. In the past few years some of the city’s most exciting spots have opened here: budget-friendly brasserie Bouillon Pigalle and too-cool-for-school Italian trattoria Pink Mamma among them. Alternatively, see if you can score a table at the group’s latest smash-hit, Israeli restaurant Balagan, a 25-minute walk away.
Like the sound of slurping freshly shucked oysters on the terrace of a floating hotel on the Seine? Magnifique! Golden swan pool toys might not float everyone’s boat, but seafood and champagne at the hotel’s summer-only outdoor restaurant La Mer à Boire will kick off any Parisian weekend in style. Come rain or shine, the city’s biggest food market the Marché d’Aligre also sprawls out from the Place d’Aligre just across the river. Shopping here is an essential Parisian experience, whether you pick up punnets of strawberries for a pique-nique in the park or terrines from the traiteurs (delis) that line the surrounding streets.
No luxury is spared at the Nolinski, just a short walk from the Palais Garnier, the Louvre and the Palais Royal. The hotel’s Brasserie Réjane offers everything you’d expect from the swanky location: a light but classic menu where steak tartare and lobster spaghetti meet detox juices and miso salmon. More decadent are master pâtissier Yann Brys’ teatime creations, served in the Grand Salon – perhaps fraisiers in season or chocolate and hazelnut éclairs. Those in the know head on to adjacent Rue Sainte-Anne, the heart of Paris’s de facto little Tokyo, where you’ll find great udon, okonomiyaki, ramen and more.
If your idea of a foodie pilgrimage is following in the footsteps of Andy Warhol, David Bowie and Mick Jagger, book into Les Bains. This epicentre of the ’80s club scene was reborn a few years ago as an uber-glitzy club and hotel. In the sultry, softly lit restaurant Roxo, chef Bruno Grossi (who’s worked with Marcus Wareing and Guy Savoy) devises sharing plates perfect for see-and-be-seen snacking: perhaps broccolini with ponzu dressing, tuna tataki or quail with baba ganoush. Fittingly, given the past clientele’s predilections, you can even order breakfast until 6pm. Although there’s no better way to shake off a hangover than crêpes at the nearby Marché des Enfants Rouges – the heart of the food scene in the hip Marais area.
If you want Europe’s most-hyped Michelin-star restaurant and a handful of the city’s best natural wine bars on your doorstep – plus some spare cash to splash – this quirky, Julie Gauthron-designed three-star hotel is just the retro ticket. A stay here puts you in the centre of the Septime mini empire in the 11th arrondissement. If you’re lucky enough to score reservations for Septime itself, the seven-course tasting menu (paired with some wines sourced directly by the young team and only available here) is sublime. If not, their seafood spot Clamato (directly opposite the hotel) and wine bar Septime La Cave have a similar no tablecloths and no frills aesthetic. You won’t have to wander far to find your next meal: La Cave du Paul Bert, Mokonuts and Café du Coin are among the excellent options just around the corner.
No trip to Paris is complete without exploring the great literary cafés once frequented by the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Skip the camera-toting crowds in Saint-Germain and make tracks for Montparnasse instead. A stay at cute-but-chic La Parizienne immerses you in the world of a fictional left-bank Parisienne. It also puts you moments away from La Closerie des Lilas (frequented by everyone from Baudelaire to Henry Miller) and La Coupole (said to be a favourite of Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and Pablo Picasso). Even the quartier’s most recent gourmet addition has history in spades: Bouillon Chartier Montparnasse is the sister restaurant to the legendary 1896 original across the river.