Leave it to the Parisians to come up with an ingenious twist on the food truck craze that has swept the Western world’s culinary culture in recent years. That ingenious twist is called Bustronome, a hybridization of the words bus and gastronomy.
And, yes, you guessed it. It’s a luxury Paris tour bus that has been outfitted with a gourmet chef’s kitchen on the bottom and comfortable dining tables and chairs up top. The top of the bus – covered for the colder months and air conditioned for the warmer ones – seats approximately 50 people max.
So whether you’re booking for just the two of you or the whole family, you will be accommodated comfortably.
A view of Paris' Arc de Triomphe from inside the Bustronome — Photo courtesy of Bustronome
The concept was this: Founders Jean-Christophe Fournier and Bertrand Mathieu wanted to launch a restaurant, but they shied away from a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment. They looked around and noticed how successful the food truck scene in Paris had become, but they wanted to offer something a bit more original.
What if, they asked themselves, they outfitted a luxury excursion bus and served up Paris, the exquisite city illuminated in all its glory, by night, while dishing up a gourmet meal? And thus hatched the idea that is now the successful Bustronome, a luxury bus that serves a gourmet meal while you comfortably tour the sites of Paris.
Dinner begins at 8:30 p.m., and the meeting point is a few steps from the Arc de Triomphe. The route of the gourmet dinner + excursion then proceeds from the Arc de Triomphe down towards Trocadéro, which affords the most stunning views directly onto the Eiffel Tower across the river.
During this first leg of the trip, your glass of Champagne is poured and served with toasts of foie gras and other delectable hors d’œuvres.
By the time you’ve crossed over from the Right Bank to the Left Bank and had the chance to wave at all those river boat cruise diners doing their thing on a boat along the Seine, you'll be starting on your appetizer. Likely by then, conversation at your table will have revved into high gear.
There are two-tops and four-tops and even, at the back of the bus, two tables, each seating a group of four, that are close enough together to make it feel like group seating. What makes this all work is a very clever plexiglass gizmo secured to your tabletop, in which your glasses of champagne, water and wine fit snugly so as to prevent tipping and spilling.
The meal is delicious. The true heroes of the evening are the chef and his team – laboring in a tight but efficiently outfitted kitchen on the first floor of the bus – and your head waiter, whose toes seem to twinkle as he navigates the stairwell up and down with heavy plates of food and trays of glassware. All the while, the bus driver jostles along with the not-so-gentle Parisian evening traffic.
By the time you’ve passed Invalides then Notre Dame and next the Hôtel de Ville, finally coming to the Place de la Concorde, it’s time for a little break for diners and crew.
The ample parking alongside the Tuileries, right in view of the Champs-Elysées and the Concorde Obelisk, affords more stunning panorama as a backdrop to the closure of your evening’s gourmet meal. The soirée winds up at the place of your departure, the Étoile.
A couple final notes: Yes, there's a bathroom aboard the bus. Dinner lasts a scheduled two-and-a-half hours, but allow for at least three. Truly, if it’s romance and exquisite sightseeing you want included with your meal, opt for the dinner service rather than lunch.