Elegant Dining In Paris' Most Romantic Restaurants

Photo courtesy of Paige Donner copyright 2016
Photo courtesy of Paige Donner copyright 2016
Photo courtesy of Ze Kitchen Galerie photo by Eric Laignel copyright
Photo courtesy of Chez Julien
By Paige Donner, Paris Local Expert

A stay in Paris is best when constructed of many joyful moments. And while of course dining experiences make up only one small facet of the whole experience, choosing the right restaurants can only enhance the romance of your time spent here. 

In the right setting, with the proper presentation and the just-perfect dishes curated on a restaurant's menu, a romantic dinner or lunch can be one of life's most enjoyable moments.  And what is happiness, ultimately, if not many joyful moments strung together to make a whole? 

Here on this list you will find the restaurants that seemingly have been created just for romance. When you are looking to celebrate love in the City of Lights, look no farther than the Palais Royal. This is the view that is yours from Maceo, where the gourmet meal and extraordinary wine list come with a reasonable bistronomy bill.  For a Sunday brunch Cafe de la Paix sets the gold standard and for a lunch or brunch any day, the newly opened Cafe Pouchkine on the historic Place de la Madeleine is an opulent and satisfying choice. For a chic and relaxed dinner, Hexagone, helmed by multiple-starred chef Mathieu Pacaud, is sure to make the date-night go swimmingly.

Art gallery browsing on Paris' Rive Gauche makes for an afternoon or Thursday evening's (when the art galleries tend to have their opening night shows) romantic pastime. In this neighborhood you have three superlative choices: Les Bouquinistes by Guy Savoy, Ze Kitchen Galerie by William Ledeuil and Alcazar

If being among the trendsetters makes you feel like you have more sex appeal, the restaurant at the super hip - at least with the cinema and music crowd - Le Roch Hotel & Spa is worth checking out. For a little Italian restaurant in the center of Paris, gravitate toward Gemini Halles where pastas and pizzas come in gluten-free versions, too. And for that French Bistro, the one with the cosy red velvet seating and the view out onto Ile St. Louis, whose chef is a master at anything that has truffles in it, look no farther than Chez Julien, it's what your partner was secretly wishing you would suggest. 

 

10. Cafe de la Paix
Photo courtesy of Paige Donner copyright 2016

The venerable Cafe de la Paix began serving patrons in 1862. Its location within the Intercontinental Grand Hotel makes stopping in for a coffee and an afternoon sweet an experience worthy of the surroundings. Soaring columns, sumptuous draperies, luxurious red leather chairs and crisp white linen cloths cast a spell of undeniable elegance. The interior terrace provides a glassed-in view of the street and the Opera, while the outdoor terrace, weather permitting, allows for a true sidewalk cafe experience, albeit in the rarefied air of this neighborhood. Enjoy breakfast, a light snack or a formal meal, you'll feel that certain je ne sais quoi just sitting here.

9. Le Grand Bistro Muette
Photo courtesy of Le Grand Bistro Muette

Within a short walk of the divine Musee Marmottan Monet on the edge of Passy is this comfortingly traditional French bistro. The lunch and dinner time specials for two or four come with a complimentary bottle of good wine and include all three courses, starter, main and dessert. The bistro's new Chef Patissier (pastry chef) Ilham Moudnib outdoes herself with a selection of desserts sporting a range from molten chocolate cake served with a dollop of Tahitian vanilla ice cream to lime and basil sorbet dished up as accompaniment to a passion fruit flaky-crust tart. Steak-frites are on the menu here but so is a nice white fish that comes with seasonal, steamed vegetables. A roast lamb with thyme can also be that irresistible temptation and when served with new potatoes is difficult to pass up.

8. Cafe Pouchkine
Photo courtesy of Paige Donner

Until you have experienced the opulence of all that is the best of Russian, you have only slight knowing of what opulence really is. The Franco-Russian restaurateur M. Dellos has now opened a flagship two-storey cafe/restaurant on the Place de la Madeine. It is in keeping with the Moscow flagship of the same name, Cafe Pouchkine. More than just macarons, this fine dining establishment offers several distinct dining areas. There is the cosy library, fit for a manor and just as stately. Then upstairs, as you rise above the crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling just above the stairwell, you enter into an elegant dining room with views directly onto the Eglise Madeleine, just in your sight line. The cuisine here offers a choice of French and Russian. The Maison Dellos is a Franco-Russian house and so the pastries for your dessert will be an enticement of both French and Russian confections.

7. Le Roch Restaurant & Bar
Photo courtesy of Paige Donner copyright 2016

The Executive Chef overseeing the menu creation here is Arnaud Faye who has worked at the Ritz and also with Thierry Marx before landing his own golden digs at the Chevre d'Or in the south of France. And it's Remy Bererd who is the resident chef overseeing the kitchens on-site. What's truly essential for you to know here, however, is that this trendy new restaurant in this hipster new hotel is every inch quality, fresh food and not just the flavor-of-the-month. On the menu are enchanting items like seabass in honey and pepper, ricotta raviolis with pistachios in a lime bouillion, and lamb with sweet spices. The restaurant has fast become a popular spot for the beautiful people so if you are looking for a more quiet, romantic setting, it's best advised to book for dinner. Also, it doesn't hurt that the rooms upstairs are just an elevator ride away.

6. Ze Kitchen Galerie
Photo courtesy of Ze Kitchen Galerie photo by Eric Laignel copyright

This is the talented Chef William Ledeuil's Left Bank restaurant and a place where you will enjoy French-Asian fusion cuisine. The restaurant's ambiance is that of an art gallery (hence the name) where collector-worthy paintings are displayed and rotated every 6 months. Chef Ledeuil is the author of two recent food books, one about bullion, a book that helped touch off the bullion craze that swept NYC a few years back as well as Paris, and another more recent book about pasta in all its expressions. Dining here at this 1-Michelin-star restaurant is just as romantic an experience for lunch as it is for dinner since the location has you in the heart of one of Paris's most charming art gallery districts. And there is nothing more romantic than a long, lingering lunch enjoyed with a glass of wine (or two) followed by leisurely sauntering through the small Saint-Germain-des-Pres streets.

5. Alcazar
Photo courtesy of Paige Donner copyright 2016

This is a Rive Gauche find that will fool you by its demure XVIIth century exterior. But once through the doorway, you discover a huge dining room with a 20ft high interior covered courtyard that has you feeling immersed in an exclusive luxury garden. The successful refurbishment, post its Top Chef tv-set incarnation, has given it a new lease on life. The food here is prepared from the highest quality ingredients. If you decide to start with oysters, be assured they are from the top-notch Perles Blanches producer. The steak-frites is a perfect combo of lean meat and house fries served in a silver cone. For brunch, the menu is all organic and mostly vegetarian, with a couple of choices - salmon and chicken - for those wanting it. Either before or after your meal, be sure to pay a visit to the bar upstairs. They often even have DJs.

4. Hexagone
Photo courtesy of Paige Donner

Still a remarkable spot in the poshest part of the city, opened by a young chef who is doing it all on his own (not backed by a big industrial group, that is). Hexagone is a refreshingly elegant restaurant-bar just near the Trocadero. Its elegant entranceway welcomes you directly to the bar, where a trained mixologist whips up intoxicating cocktails in the granite black surroundings with white and yellow accents. The dining room is down the steps and this kind of spaciousness is rare in Paris, even moreso in such a prestige address. The breathtakingly beautiful cuisine here fits into the nouvelle French category with such things as capuccino of green peas, Bresse chicken and the Ganache Bayano Bresil served between buckwheat glazed wafers with honey ice cream. True, Mathieu worked alongside his 3-Michelin starred chef father and his mother at L'Ambroisie for years. And, yes, the pedigree shows.

3. Chez Julien
Photo courtesy of Chez Julien

In one of the oldest areas of Paris, the Marais, you'll find this charming French restaurant that has stood here for 100 years. There are times when the location and the decor are so charming that diners are willing to overlook the cuisine - but here you get all three as the top-notch cuisine has this memorable and romantic restaurant on a sure-fire winning streak. Chef Helmi Derbal is a connoisseur of truffles and he knows where to source the best. Depending on the season, he'll whip up his signature dishes using either white or black truffles, and only the best. One of the house specialties is the simple-sounding croque monsieur a la truffe - a classic French melted cheese sandwich that when truffles are added becomes something altogether out-of-this-world. This is also one of the best places to enjoy a cocktail - either with or without alcohol.

2. Les Bouquinistes by Guy Savoy
Photo courtesy of Paige Donner copyright 2016

Les Bouquinistes is one of Chef Guy Savoy's more casual dining establishments. Meaning, you can expect your meal to be top-shelf without the 3-star price tag attached. This restaurant's decor has been newly refreshed with master modern art works by Fabrice Hyber, taking its inspiration from the many art galleries that surround the restaurant in this Left Bank neighborhood. Come prepared to indulge in a favorite wine or discover a new one as the extensive wine list will have you delighting in anticipation. The menu offers signature dishes like mushroom-prawn raviolis in a beef broth; suckling pig, braised until sweet, served with slow-cooked lentils in the meat juices; ile flottante (a very French dessert made with egg whites and creamy custard sauce) flavored with candied rose. The lunch tasting menu is ever so affordable and if you want to indulge you can do the 6-course tasting menu. SO worth it!

1. Maceo
Photo courtesy of Paige Donner copyright 2017

In the elegant Palais Royal district of Paris this spacious and elegant restaurant takes its name from the living Jazz legend. Rare is it in Paris where gastronomic casual dining can be enjoyed with such generosity and room to breathe. The view from the tables on the slightly elevated dais is also singular - it affords a straight shot onto the gardens of the Palais Royal, where Louis XIV learned to ride a horse and where the famous French woman of letters, Colette, once lived. Though owner Mark Williamson likes to call his restaurant a sort of bistro, the menu and, of course the wine selection say otherwise. Chef Rodier trained under the chef at Laurent, so deer served with oyster mushrooms, scallops served on a puree of jerusalem artichokes or cod served bouillabaisse style is just a sampling of what you'll find on the lunch or dinner menu.