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The Ultimate Paris Food Guide: All of the Amazing Things to Eat in Paris

The Ultimate Paris Food Guide: All of the Amazing Things to Eat in Paris | CosmosMariners.com

Today, you, my awesome readers, are in for quite the treat (literally, since this post is about food), so I hope you're hungry!

 Jordan from The Hungry Traveler has been kind enough to create the ultimate Paris food guide so you can head to the City of Love with confidence for some tasty cuisine. Below, she leads us the best things to eat in Paris--and where to find them--so newcomers and foodies alike can experience the culinary delights of the City of Lights to the max.

She's very passionate about food and traveling, and has been to 30 of the states in the U.S. and over 15 countries; when she's not eating her way around the world, Jordan is a chef and culinary instructor in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Bon appetit, Cosmos Mariners!



The Ultimate Paris Food Guide: All of the Amazing Things to Eat in Paris | CosmosMariners.com

Why We All Need an Paris Food Guide

Eating in any foreign culture can be a bit stressful but I hear more people worried about dining in Paris than anywhere else.  I’m not sure what makes Paris so intimidating to visitors but I would imagine it’s a combination of high expectations, stories about rude French waiters (not usually true!), the overwhelming dining options, and the ever-present fear of missing out.  

Paris is one of the best eating cities in the world but that doesn’t mean dining well is a given.  Tourist traps exist, reservations are crucial, and there are some quirks to the French dining etiquette that Americans find unfamiliar. 

While I consider Paris to be the best food city in the world, I understand it can be tough in some circumstances. After living in France and spending several weeks in Paris, I’ve had my share of frustrations and confusion but also some of the most spectacular dining experiences of my life. 

After much reading, research, and travel experience, I’ve put together a list of some tricks and tips to ensure you dine well in Paris.  But before you read these suggestions in my best Paris travel guide for foodies, there is one key piece of advice to keep in mind and David Lebovitz explains it best, “How you get treated is directly proportional to the way you behave and present yourself.” 

While this is true in nearly any culture, it is especially good advice for Paris. 

1) Do Your Research

Think about the kind of food experiences you want to have in Paris and then start researching.  Be honest with yourself – if you hate fine dining, you don’t have to go to fancy restaurants just because you’re in Paris.  There are many different types of restaurants in Paris and you have to figure out what is right for you.  Consider your dietary preferences and be sure you book restaurants you find appealing (just because a guidebook recommends it, it doesn’t mean it is right for you). If there are certain foods you’ve always dream of eating in Paris, make sure you book restaurants that serve them. 

These are some of my favorite Paris food guides and dining resources: 

Websites and Blogs

Paris by Mouth – http://parisbymouth.com/
Le Fooding Paris - http://lefooding.com/en
The Paris Kitchen - http://www.thepariskitchen.com/
Lost in Cheeseland - http://www.lostincheeseland.com/
Chocolate & Zucchini - http://chocolateandzucchini.com/
*Many of these sites have Paris dining guide apps available for mobile phones so be sure to check those out as well.


The Food Lovers Guide to Paris by Patricia Wells – Available on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2w8xP7K
Hungry for Paris by Alex Lobrano – Available on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2gakxDG

The Ultimate Paris Food Guide: All of the Amazing Things to Eat in Paris | CosmosMariners.com
Yamtcha Soup: One of the best dishes I've had in Paris...and it definitely does not look like the traditionally French cuisine one might expect.

2) Plan Ahead

Now that you have done some research, you should have a list of restaurants you want to try. Before making reservations, take a minute to think about what you want to accomplish on your trip.  

If you’re booking a few Michelin-starred restaurants, space them out throughout your stay in Paris. These tend to be longer meals and can be exhausting to have back to back.  

Don’t book your most anticipated dinner on the day you’re doing the most sightseeing or the first day of your trip when you may be too tired or jet lagged to appreciate it. 

Leave a few meals open for spontaneity.  Maybe have some cafes in mind or try La Fourchette / The Fork, a mobile phone app and website that allows you to make last minute bookings.  

You can see what is available nearby, read reviews, and pick something appealing to you.  I always like to ask my hotel for at least one suggestion and give the place a try.  

You may also want to visit a few shops and markets to pick up the makings of a picnic. 

The Ultimate Paris Food Guide: All of the Amazing Things to Eat in Paris | CosmosMariners.com
A crepe is always a good spontaneous lunch or dinner option. This one was from La Drogerie in Le Marais. It's also a reminder that cheap eats in Paris can also be delicious!

3) Make Reservations

It’s always a good idea to make reservations.  Eating out in Paris is popular so don’t expect to be able to walk into any restaurant and be able to get a table. 

Restaurants in Paris prefer to know who is coming in and it’s a courtesy to them to call ahead.  Remember to always call and cancel as soon as possible if you are not able to make your reservation.   

Some restaurants take reservations online or by email but you can also have your hotel make reservations for you.  I prefer to ask my hotel to make the reservations because it’s much easier than struggling with international calls, time changes, and a language barrier. 

If you have any food allergies or dining restrictions, communicate them when you make the reservation. This gives the restaurant time to plan or allows you to make other plans if they cannot accommodate you. 

4) Be Polite

Many French restaurants are tiny and cramped.  Try to use the restroom before being seated so you don’t have to get up throughout the meal and disturb those next to you. Be aware of noise levels and try not to speak too loudly.  While you may be sitting very close to the table next to you, this is not an invitation to engage in their conversation.   

Knowing a few basic French phrases will get you far. At the very least, you need to be able to say “bonjour” or “bon soir” when entering a shop or restaurant and “merci” when leaving. It would also be beneficial to learn some basic ordering phrases.  I recommend a pocket phrase guidebook such as the Rick Steves’ French Phrasebook and Dictionary sold on Amazon - http://amzn.to/1POzWyQ

5) Go with the Flow

If your meat is a bit overcooked, your entree is not what you expected, or your meal is dragging a bit long, just go with the flow and enjoy the cultural differences – these are what make travel fun! Here are a few hints that will help avoid you avoid some common frustrations: 

Most restaurants do not serve food all day.  Lunch is typically from 12:00pm until 2:00pm and dinner is from 8:00pm until 10:30pm.  If you’re looking for somewhere to eat in off hours, try a café or bakery and look for a sign that says ‘service continu’ on the door. 

Servers will not remove your plates until you give them the signal to do so.  When you’re finished eating, place your utensils face up on your plate at 10 o’clock and 4 o’clock. French service tends to be a little different than Americans are accustomed to but don’t interpret this as the waiters being rude. Most French restaurants have less staff and the French prefer a more hands off style of service. 

Meat tends to be cooked a little more rare than we are used to in the US. Here are the common meat ordering temperatures:

Bleu – very rare
Saignante – rare
A point – medium rare (This is usually the best choice)
Bien Cuit – well done

You may check out this very thorough guide to ordering a steak by the Behind the French Menu blog.

Another great resource is this list of 10 Common Ordering Mistakes People Make in Paris from David Lebovitz.

The Ultimate Paris Food Guide: All of the Amazing Things to Eat in Paris | CosmosMariners.com
The bar at Le 6 Paul Bert

6) Avoid Tourist Traps

Of course, this is easier said than done but here are three warning signs: 

1) The restaurant is located right outside of a major museum or landmark 

2) The menus are laminated (a sign they are rarely updated)

3) The menus are posted in the window in 5+ different languages

During a busy day of sightseeing, it can be tempting to stop for lunch at the closest café but you’ll likely find yourself disappointed. Instead, try to walk a few blocks away from the tourist attractions and pick a restaurant in that location instead: your foodie Paris experience will be much better for that little bit of extra effort.  

Paris by Mouth is an excellent resource and provides recommendations for restaurants around tourist sites. Check out their ‘Not Terrible Near the Louvre’ article here and scroll down to see more of their recommendations for avoiding tourist traps near other major attractions. 

Many bakeries and markets offer take away sandwiches or prepared gourmet lunches.  You can buy these and then eat them in a park or at a bench around one of the museums or tourist areas.  This saves time and allows you to dine on some cheap eats in Paris in a scenic location. 

The Ultimate Paris Food Guide: All of the Amazing Things to Eat in Paris | CosmosMariners.com
A case of gourmet prepared food ready for purchase at Maison Guyard

7) Consider Lunch and Fixed Price Menus

Dining in Paris can be expensive but you can always save a few dollars by making reservations for the higher price point restaurants for lunch.  Just be careful about planning two big meals for the same day. 

Most restaurants and bistros in France offer a daily fixed price special. It’s often found scribbled on a chalkboard. You typically have the choice of two or three courses and it can be a great value and way to try some special items. 

8) Take a tour

If you’re looking to get an in-depth Parisian food education, consider taking a food focused walking tour. A tour can help you get oriented to the city and your guide will teach you the ins and outs of dining in Paris and provide you with excellent recommendations for the rest of your trip. 

One of my favorite Paris experiences was taking the Paris Culinary Traditions tour offered by Context Travel. I highly recommend Context Travel but there are many tour providers in Paris offering walks with different themes and focuses. 

Do some research, read the reviews, and pick what sounds the most interesting to you. 

The Ultimate Paris Food Guide: All of the Amazing Things to Eat in Paris | CosmosMariners.com
Just a small selection of the cheeses available at Androuet, one of the stops on Context Travel's Paris Culinary Traditions Tour

9) Don’t Waste Time on Breakfast

Many Americans are used to a big hot breakfast of bacon and eggs, but this isn’t typical in Paris.  The French typically eat some bread and coffee/tea/juice for breakfast.  While your hotel may serve an American style breakfast, I don’t think it’s worth the money, time, or calories. Instead, grab a croissant from a bakery near your hotel and eat it outside.  

The Ultimate Paris Food Guide: All of the Amazing Things to Eat in Paris | CosmosMariners.com
My favorite breakfast in Paris: the tartine from Eric Kayser Boulangerie

10) Know How to Pay the Bill and Leave a Tip

In a restaurant or bistro, the server will not bring the bill until you ask for it.  When dining in France, the table is yours for the evening and the waiter would not want to imply he/she is rushing you by leaving the bill at your table.  

Once you ask for it, they will bring the check and you can set your credit card or cash on top of it to indicate you are ready to pay.  Once the waiter sees this, he/she will bring the credit card machine to your table or make change for you. 

While you may find conflicting information on tipping, I find it’s best to err on the side of being generous when you're eating out in Paris.  If you’re happy with your service at a restaurant, it’s appropriate to leave a 10% tip.  If you’re at a café, you can simply round up and leave a few extra coins on the table.  

However, one thing is certain – you must always tip in cash. 

The Ultimate Paris Food Guide: All of the Amazing Things to Eat in Paris | CosmosMariners.com

But above all, remember:

You’re in Paris and life is good. Don’t sweat the small stuff. My Paris food guide is meant to make your trip easier, not induce worry. Don’t get stressed and turn an amazing trip into a source of anxiety. 

Be yourself, have fun, and don’t be intimidated! 


Was this Paris food guide helpful? What are your favorite things to eat in Paris?


For even more yummy travel and cooking tips, keep up with Jordan here:

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The Ultimate Paris Food Guide: All of the Amazing Things to Eat in Paris | CosmosMariners.com

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