French Traditional Dining For A Deliciously Immersive Experience

Some of the top restaurants in town, meaning helmed by renowned chefs and attracting an equally celebrity clientele, all practice a traditional French philosophy towards dining. Mind you, this also leaves room for innovation and signature expressions. Some of the well-known restaurants in Paris that fit this category are Le Clarence, Lasserre, Taillevent, Laurent, Le Gabriel and La Grande Cascade. On this list you'll also find La Dame de Pic and Guy Savoy's new Monnaie de Paris restaurant location which both offer fresh insights into French traditional cuisine. The decor at these two restaurants as well as at Le Clarence and La Grande Cascade will add another dimension to your dining experience. 

Another restaurant keeping to its French traditional cuisine roots is L'Affriole. For those who enjoy traditional Auvergne French food preparation albeit with a lighter touch, you'll thoroughly enjoy your dining experience here in this chic Eiffel Tower neighborhood. La Dame de Pic, Chef Anne-Sophie Pic's restaurant near the Louvre is a statement of elegance and refinement. Here the chef has taken traditional French cuisine and wrapped it into a full expression of aromas and sensory experience. 

A real salt-of-the-earth classic here on this list is Au Pied de Cochon. A fixture in Les Halles since the '40s, this landmark just keeps getting better. It's disinguished, too, by the Maitre Restaurateur label, meaning everything is made in-house. So go ahead and indulge in the pork paté. It's some of the best in the city, not to mention the signature dish, their pig's trotters. For more, refined, fragrant, light and even artistic fare, have a go at this venerable old address whose kitchens today are illuminated by a rising (2-star) talent: Brasserie Thoumieux

We tend to romanticize the inclusion of frogs' legs and escargots (snails) on a menu and call it French. But for visitors to France these seem to be the classic dishes that make us feel like we’ve tried the local cuisine. So, you’ll find the classic Brasserie Thoumieux on this list, a local's favorite since 1923. For a classic French bistro menu, and moreover, the simple ambiance of this place, an absolute favorite with Marais neighborhood locals, is Au Bascou. 

For truly fine French traditional dining, Guy Savoy's still fairly new restaurant location at the Monnae de Paris is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is meant to be repeated as often as you can. This same can be said for Prince Robert of Luxembourg's restaurant, Le Clarence, which re-creates the experience of dining in an authentic Bordeaux Chateau. And the Second Empire sumptuousness of Chef Frederic Robert's La Grande Cascade Michelin-starred dining room whisks you away to an elegant era of horse-drawn carriages Imperial refinement.


3rd Arondissement - Marais

This is one of those places that you'll never hear about until one of the locals ticks off his top favorites in the neighborhood. Here, expect to eat well. The cuisine is rooted in Basque country and the chef-owner toils away in the kitchens himself. He'll delight his regulars by bringing out the day's inspirations for them to taste. Don't expect too fancy of decor nor white-glove service. But be prepared to leave satisfied. Extremely satisfied. The location is in the haut Marais, making this a perfect stop either before a shopping sprint or art gallery troll. You'll also find a nice wine selection here to pair with the chef's specials.

You can't say you've really been to Paris until you've dined here at Au Pied de Cochon. The name of the restaurant means "pig's foot" literally translated, or pig's trotters for the culinary translation. And that is what the restaurant became famous for. Opened in 1947 by a former butcher. It has kept its authenticity, even if it has added a touch of elegance and refinement, over the years. The restaurant is known, and loved, for still making all their dishes by hand on premise. This is the place to order that plate of pork paté since it was made right there in the kitchens, and not bought from outside. And though they do sell hundreds of thousands of plates of pig's trotters here annually, the dish not to miss is their onion soup. It is one of the best in the city.

8éme Arrondissement
Photo courtesy of Photo by Paige Donner copyright 2014

The Avenue Gabriel is the small street that fronts between the American and British Embassies. This is where you will find Laurent, the quiet and classy 1-Michelin starred dining establishment that counts Presidents, Ambassadors and the elite of international business among its regular clientele. Chef Alain Pegouret creates dishes that marry flavors and colors in perfect harmony. Ever imaginative, he comes up with 30 new dishes each year, following the seasons. A perennial on the menu is his medley of Roots Vegetables, so colorful that it appears as a painter's palette. The terrace is the true gem of the restaurant and at once offers soothing seclusion and the feeling that you are ensconced somewhere off in a private villa in the French countryside. This oasis was restored by Hittorff in 1842, at the same time as he was commissioned by King Louis Philippe to design the Champs-Elysees.

7th Arondissement - Eiffel Tower

Billing itself as a traditional restaurant, its modern interior decor might lead you to think modern bistro. But, have a seat at the table and be prepared to enjoy your large portions of delicately prepared fish, meats, seafood and still-warm, freshly-baked bread with every single, delicious bite. Chef Thierry Verola whips up his own rendition of traditional Auvergne (a French region steeped in history and culture) cuisine and offers approachable yet very elegant dishes. Shellfish served warm with a dusting of fresh, diced tomatoes and olive oil to start your meal. Daily specials written up on the chalkboard are always sure-bets or choose from the simple menu. In summer months expect roasted abricots served in a simple syrup with an accompaniment of Fontainebleu whipped cream. His wife Maria graciously runs the dining room and has that knack of anticipating your every desire. An anchor of the 7th Arrondissement dining.

7th Arondissement - Eiffel Tower

This brasserie has been a fixture on the Paris landscape since 1923. It is now helmed by Chef Sylvestre Wahid (two Michelin stars). The decor is still reminiscent of its glorious Belle Epoque past, though with stylish updates. These include large mirrors and long, red banquet seating. The cuisine is also a stylish update of French traditional fare. Expect seared tuna steak served with Meditteranean-inspired condiments - olive oil even features in some desserts - or choose from the daily specials, meat or fish main. Chef Wahid has emerged as one of the forefront talents on the Parisian culinary scene. So dining here gives you a taste of the promise of an authentic traditional French cuisine with flavorful, refreshing updates. The location is impeccable. The rue St. Dominique is the road to the Eiffel Tower and very popular for shopping, strolling and simply absorbing a delightful, tony, upscale Parisian neighborhood.

6éme Arrondissement
Guy Savoy
Photo courtesy of Paige Donner

Located now at the Monnaie de Paris, this newly opened and already celebrated restaurant serves contemporary haute cuisine in a just redone - though historical space - overlooking the Seine on the Quai Conti. The Monnaie de Paris is the oldest French institution and was founded in 864 under the reign of Charles II. It offers, now, in this newest incarnation, spectacular views overlooking the Seine. The interior design has notes of the theatrical, with tables placed just so, to capture the natural lighting. Salmon, flown in direct from Scotland, is served on its bed of ice at table, seasoned before your eyes with a triad of citrus before gingerly being sprayed with a consomm� of citrus.

7éme Arrondissement
Photo courtesy of Mathieu Pacaud Group

It's not easy being a Paris institution. Especially when the celebrated chef retires and a new one comes in to take the gilded reins. In this case, it's Chef Mathieu Pacaud (of Hexagone and L'Histoires) who is now running the kitchens. His vision was to update the interior and play with the themes of ocean, sun, and sand for this venerable fish restaurant. There are different areas in the restaurant that provide cosy seating nooks in a restaurant that is now nearly twice the size of what it once was. The menu, too, has been completely overhauled with the chef's delicate touch (he has both 2 and 1 star restaurants in the capital). Think light emulsions over steamed blue lobslter from Brittany; the fresh catch of the day delivered from the fisherman's boat that morning served grilled or poached with lightly sautéed vegetables. The Divellec remains a Paris power table.

16th Arrondissement - Auteuil Pa

This dignified 1-Michelin-starred dining room is the domain of the highly accomplished Chef Frederic Robert. The gastronomic menu of Chef Frederic Robert is contemporary traditional French, skillfully prepared and artfully presented. Many of the city's greatest chefs got their first start in the kitchens here at La Grande Cascade. This is one of the most beautiful restaurants in Paris and one that dates back to 1907. Its 'Retro-Metro' style was first constructed in 1856 originally as a hunting cottage for Emperor NapoléonIII. It was later turned into a restaurant for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. It has officially remained a restaurant open to the public since 1907. This Deuxieme Empire dining establishment is ideal for special occasions and elegant meals any time of the year. You'll find widely spaced tables, high ceilings, chandeliers, spacious doors and windows. In summertime, it offers one of the prettiest patios for magnificent outside dining.

1er Arrondissement
La Dame de Pic
Photo courtesy of La Dame de Pic

Paris's 3-Michelin-starred female chef, Anne-Sophie Pic, created her menu around perfume and scents. Dining here at this oasis of refinement and elegance is at once a soothing and satisfying experience. The decor is done up with a woman's light touch with tans and wood accented by the occasional metallic and also pale rose. The open kitchen at the entrance of the restaurant affords diners a glimpse of the theatrics of preparing a meal while they are waiting for it to be served at their table. Expect to be able to choose from an above average wine selection. Here it's all about the food and wine pairings so be sure to ask your sommelier what he recommends and it's certain your palate is in for a nice surprise or two.

8éme Arrondissement

This is one of Paris' newest and most elegant restaurants. You may have heard of the Prince Robert of Luxembourg's famous wine estate in Bordeaux, Chateau Haut-Brion? In 2016 he opened these doors to his private mansion in Paris not far from the prestigious Champs-Elysees. Devoted exclusively to the French Art de Vivre, dining here is a most memorable experience that transports you into a luxury cocoon of timelessness. Chef Christophe Pele offers his deliciously devilish take on French classics that marry a modern twist to the favorites. Each day he uses his 2-star Michelin prowess to create the day's offerings. But of course you can choose from the menu as well. In terms of gastronomic dining, a phenomenal wine list and surroundings unparalleled even in Paris, Le Clarence with its friendly and welcoming team, offers you the kind of fairytale experience heretofore only a dream.


Meet Paige Donner

Paige's latest book, The Romantic Couple's Guide To The City of Love, Sexy Paris follows her earlier guidebook Paris On 4 Paws, A Dog Lover's Guide To The City of Light and her acclaimed...  More About Paige