Copenhagen's Best French Restaurants Span Simple Bistros to Fine Dining Establishments

Although Copenhagen's international reputation has been cemented by its faithful adherence to the Nordic kitchen, it does have a wide range of excellent and authentic French restaurants that range from casual bistros to Michelin-starred luxury.

Top of our list is the understated Carte Blanche, a simple French eatery in select residential quarter Østerbro where the food is as delicate as the decor. Also in this leafy enclave is St. Jacques, a small but popular restaurant in a delightful square close to Park Bio, and the newest spot on the list, Restaurant Jean Claude, where French dining is kept true to its rustic roots.

The aim of Pastis on downtown Gothersgade was to introduce Copenhageners to contemporary French bistro culture, and this restaurant is informal yet very smart. This is quite a contrast to Kong Hans Kælder, the most established restaurant on our list and the only one to have a Michelin star. On the other side of Kongens Nytorv, its location, Copenhagen's oldest basement, makes an atmospheric setting for an extravagant dining experience.

Those in search of a central location and reasonable rates may well fall in love with the traditional French kitchen at Mon Amour in Copenhagen's Latin Quarter. Also in this neighborhood is L'Education Nationale, a simple, inexpensive French eatery extremely popular with the city's Gallic exchange students.

Foie Gras on a budget may seem a contradiction in terms, but Les Trois Cochons, on 'Little Paris' aka Værnedamsvej, has given Copenhagen's less wealthy foodies just that.

We couldn't leave our list without mentioning Hotel D'Angleterre's revamped restaurant Marchal, or nearby Havfruen on Nyhavn: About as close to a Parisian oyster bar as you're likely to get in Copenhagen.


Restaurant Havfruen
Photo courtesy of Debarshi Ray

This cute, traditional seafood eatery right on the quay in popular tourist street Nyhavn is probably the closest Copenhagen gets to a real French-style oysters bar, and its loyal clientele have been coming here for years. Havfruen ('the mermaid') has remained pretty much the same for decades, with its dark wooden tables and royal blue tablecloths, and serves a range of reasonably-priced, fresh fish and seafood specialties - though its restaurant's highlight is undoubtedly the oysters. It's all washed down with a glass of wine - the wine list is exclusively French.

Recommended for French because: Great oysters, and very French - yet in the true Copenhagen setting of Nyhavn.

Local Expert tip: Great seafood on the waterfront.

Read more about Restaurant Havfruen →

Restaurant Jean Claude
Photo courtesy of Restaurant Jean Claude

There is a definite air of nostalgia to Jean Claude, but this only adds to its charm. The new kid on the French block in Copenhagen, the restaurant opened in summer 2012 on Victor Borges Plads in Østerbro where it is in good company next door to the popular Italian restaurant Fischer. The bistro's aim is to provide its guests with an authentic French home dining experience, and this small, rustic kitchen specializes in simple, traditional dishes. The head chef at Jean Claude, Luc Larrette, has previously worked at two-starred Reims restaurant L'Assiette Champenoise: That said, the bistro is very reasonably priced, with main dishes starting around DKK 170 - or you could pop in at lunchtime for a simple baguette.

Recommended for French because: In a relatively short space of time, Jean Claude has made itself known as one of Copenhagen's most authentic and traditional French kitchens.

Local Expert tip: Even if you're not out for a splurge, come at lunchtime for a distinctly French flavor.

Read more about Restaurant Jean Claude →

Photo courtesy of Marchal/Hotel D'Angleterre

The refurbished restaurant in the landmark Hotel D'Angleterre reopened in 2013 as Marchal, after the hotel's founders, Jean Marchal and Maria Coppy, who first established a restaurant before it developed into the Hotel D'Angleterre. Head chef Ronny Emborg comes fresh from Michelin-starred AOC, and the upscale, lavish cuisine of Marchal is described as Nordic and French classics with a contemporary twist. The restaurant is open to those looking for an extravagant dining experience as well as shoppers from nearby Magasin looking for a 'bite to eat' in sophisticated setting. To this end the menu is generally a la carte, with the option of two-person dishes such as lobster and chateaubriand. Expect to pay upwards of DKK 2000 / $350 for a three-course dinner for two people including wine.

Recommended for French because: This restaurant is simply historic. It's where ordinary Copenhageners go for a taste of luxury; a place where commoners can feel like royalty.

Local Expert tip: Even those on simpler budgets can come for a light snack or afternoon tea to breathe in the elegant atmosphere.

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L'Education Nationale
Photo courtesy of Jane Graham

L'education Nationale is closer to a real French restaurant than the usually stuffy, stiff places found outside the country itself. This simple bistro, with its red-and-white checked tablecloths and clientele of French expats and hungry students, has been a fixture of Copenhagen's Latin Quarter neighborhood since the early 1990s. It's authentic enough to keep French customers coming back time and again, and the atmosphere is more lively than romantic; the tables are placed a little too close together for intimate dining experiences. Lunch is served from 11.30 right through to 4pm, with dishes from DKK 69 for a sandwich or a 'pissaladiere' (traditional Provence pizza) to DKK 165 for the entrecôte de boeuf. Dinner starts at 5.30pm--choose between a number of mains, all priced at 199kr, or the DKK 295 'Menu de Ministre', a three-course changing menu.

Recommended for French because: Generally considered the most authentically French of all Copenhagen's French restaurants.

Local Expert tip: A genuine French dining experience rather than a romantic French restaurant.

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This small, basement restaurant on a small side street from Kongens Nytorv has been one of Copenhagen's most exclusive restaurants for more than 30 years. Its medieval, atmospheric setting, in Copenhagen's oldest wine cellar, is believed to be the site of the city's first Royal Mint, and some 300 years after it was first built, H.C. Andersen lived in a tiny garret above. As a long-standing one-starred Michelin restaurant, Kong Hans specializes in French cuisine with a Nordic twist: Needless to say, well-dressed company and pre-booking are essential. Expect to pay upwards of DKK 2,500 for two people including wine.

Recommended for French because: Kong Hans has remained at the top of Copenhagen's elite for over 30 years.

Local Expert tip: Dress up, book well in advance and raid the savings: This is an extravagant treat.

Read more about Kong Hans Kælder →

Restaurant Le Saint Jacques
Photo courtesy of Kasper Thye

This popular French brasserie is located in a leafy square on the right-hand side of Østerbrogade, not far from Park Bio and the large Parken stadium. Especially pleasant is the chance to dine al fresco at one of the outside tables, watching the world go by; inside, the small premises are characterized by Russian icons on the bare, white walls. The signature dish of owner Daniel Letz - whose resume includes Kong Hans Kælder - is his smoked salmon, which is smoked by hand, while French classics such as foie gras, moules poulette, and steak frites are also served. While it is generally possible to find tables on weekday lunchtimes, pre-booking of larger parties is essential.

Recommended for French because: One of Copenhagen's most popular French restaurants, Le Saint Jacques enjoys the perfect setting for outdoor lunchtime dining.

Local Expert tip: Come on a Sunday for a three-course menu at the special rate of DKK 200.

Read more about Restaurant Le Saint Jacques →

Mon Amour
Photo courtesy of Mon Amour

Prices are more than reasonable at this welcoming, family-run French bistro in Copenhagen's atmospheric Latin quarter, which serves authentic French cuisine with a distinct lack of snobbery. French standards like foie gras, moule frites and steak frites are served alongside house specialties such as 'gigot d'agneau', a slow-roasted leg of lamb prepared with thyme, garlic, and rosemary. Note the restaurant is closed on Mondays. Three-course menu DKK 295 / €39. Mon Amour also has a wine bar, with a wide selection of the best in French wines.

Recommended for French because: A relative newcomer to Copenhagen's restaurant scene, this French bistro is friendly and resonably-priced, making it especially welcoming to visitors.

Local Expert tip: Not far from Mon Amour is its sister cafe Frenchy in a basement on Hyskenstræde, which serves 'Copenhagen's only French brunch'.

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Les Trois Cochons
Photo courtesy of Cofoco

Les Trois Cochons was one of Cofoco's first restaurants and is ideally located on foodie street Vaernedamsvej, where the distinctly Parisian air makes the perfect ambience for this unpretentious French restaurant. In keeping with the Cofoco concept, simple decor and seasonal set menus give the place the vibe of a private party and help keep prices down. Since Les Trois Cochons first opened, Cofoco has expanded its empire across Copenhagen with Vespa, Scarpetta and so on, but 'The Three Little Pigs' continues to have a loyal following in Vesterbro and Frederiksberg. The house foie gras has fans on its own. A three course evening menu costs DKK 295 per person.

Recommended for French because: This restaurant has a loyal local following who appreciate that good food and a pleasant dining atmosphere doesn't have to cost a fortune.

Local Expert tip: Due to its small size, reservation is strongly advised.

Read more about Les Trois Cochons →

City Centre
Photo courtesy of Pastis

Ever since it opened in 2006, chic bistro Pastis has been hugely popular with local food critics as a smart place to head to for contemporary French cuisine. Centrally located on the corner of Gothersgade and Adelgade with large cafe windows open directly onto the street and multi-colored cafe chairs, the bistro ambience is not restricted to the food: With Pastis, owners Mikkel Egelund and Henrik Lazlo hope to bring 'bistro culture' to Copenhagen, for lunch as well as dinner. The fixed menus are about average for Copenhagen's more upscale cafe-restaurants, at DKK 285 for three courses. Small lunch dishes like Salade Nicoise, Croque Madame and escargots are priced between DKK 90-125, while main courses are priced between DKK 150-250. Sister restaurant Pastis Fishmarket opened nearby in 2010.

Recommended for French because: With Pastis, Copenhagen gets a very contemporary take on the classic French bistro.

Local Expert tip: Though a la carte is offered, opting for the set menu offers good value.

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Carte Blanche
Photo courtesy of Carte Blanche

Opened summer 2010, Osterbro's neighborhood French eatery Carte Blanche has been received favorably by local food critics, who have described the place as somewhere 'you feel like coming time and again.' The small premises are bright and welcoming and smart without being exclusive, while the prices are surprisingly reasonable: Two courses from the small but select menu costs 210 Dkr; three-courses go for 240 Dkr. Carte Blanche is owned by Vincent Chabane, who previously ran Vincent's on nearby Landskronagade (now under new ownership). Reservations can be made by telephone only.

Recommended for French because: Carte Blanche is not showy, but quietly understated, leaving the focus where it should be: On the food.

Local Expert tip: Like all Copenhagen's best French restaurants, Carte Blanche is tucked away from the downtown area.

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Meet Jane Graham

After touring most of Europe in her twenties, Jane was charmed by Copenhagen's relaxed tempo and moved there from her native northern England in 1999. Four young children at home has meant...  More About Jane