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Dining Outdoors in Paris: One of the City's Sheer Pleasures



In one sense, nearly every restaurant in Paris offers outdoor dining. As soon as the sun makes its presence again, usually in Spring, all at once, it seems, the outdoor café tables come out and Parisian sidewalks are filled with diners enjoying a leisurely lunch or dinner in the midst of passersby.

 

There are, however, certain tables in the city whose courtyard terraces are famous for the outdoor dining they afford their customers. One of these, Laurent, is probably the most well-known among that certain set of businessmen and politicians who enjoy an excellent meal and prefer to enjoy it outdoors, secluded and shaded by century-old chestnut trees. And the Mandarin Oriental's Camelia courtyard garden restaurant seating is one the city's most delightful "secret" dining spots. Another treasure, less well-known among the travel set, is Le Pavillon at Parc Montsouris.

 

Outdoor dining can also include the charming little cafés that are to be found in some of the city's parks and gardens. The one in the Champs de Mars, about midway between the Eiffel Tower and the Ecole Militaire, is one of the most pleasant little outdoor places to have a snack and a cold drink in the summer time that you can imagine. On this list, you'll find many more suggestions, in a range that accommodates most nearly every budget. And the settings are all superb, giving you that sense of being outside the city, while still being very much within and a part of it.  


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What many visitors to Paris don't realize, is that this museum, which sits just across the street from the Grand Palais, and which is not so little at all, offers free museum entry year-round to its permanent exhibits. The other oft-unknown little tidbit about this wonderful Parisian place is that it has one of the most charming garden cafés in this part of Paris. Indeed, since it is located just off the Champs-Elysées, you can often try to think of an inviting, classy but not too Champs-Elysées-expensive place to relax in around here. Keep in mind though that while the setting is fancy the food here is not. Meals are served in a sort of lunch box or snack box style which is another reason why the prices here are so reasonable. It's a wonderful spot to catch your breath or enjoy a light lunch or both. And since the café is in the inner courtyard of the museum, you are sure to be sheltered from noise, traffic and other possible urban annoyances.

Read more about Café le Jardin du Petit Palais →




This terrace spans part of the length of the Tuileries, the part closest to the Louvre and within view of its iconic Pyramid. The main, or indoor, part of the restaurant is the on-premise restaurant of the Musée d'Arts Décoratifs that is just next to the Louvre but not part of it. Of course you don't have to pay for entrance into the museum to enjoy a meal or an afternoon coffee/tea/snack outside here. The terrace has tables and chairs set up on the inner courtyard side of the address which is where the Tuileries span. Where else but in Paris can you enjoy a salad or a coffee and slice of Tarte Tatin while gazing directly at the Louvre's Pyramid on one side and the vast expanse of the Tuileries gardens on the other?

Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: When the weather is beautiful and you feel like gazing at the Louvre while you sip your iced coffee, this would be that ideal spot.

Paige's expert tip: This terrace seating is on the inner courtyard side of the building's address. The restaurant is part of the Decorative Arts Museum but their terrace seating is actually all outdoors and uses part of the actual Jardin de Tuileries for its seating.

Read more about Le Saut du Loup →


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14éme Arrondissement


Rated by locals as one of the prettiest terraces in Paris, this restaurant, which is an Art Déco style pavilion, features a gorgeous terrace that butts up against the length of the beautiful Parc Montsouris in the 14th arrondissement. You will mostly find locals and business people dining here for lunch, especially on days when the weather is favorable (meaning, do reserve in advance!). Sébastien Dagoneau, the chef trained under some of the city's greats including Alain Senderens, formerly of Lucas Carton, and offers refined choices such as foie gras served with a chutney of tropical fruits and sides such as baked macaroni with foie gras. Their wine list offers good choices that go along well with the "noble ingredients" of his menu.

Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: When you seek an authentic dining experience in a restaurant with a beautiful terrace where the Parisians go, this choice fits the bill.

Paige's expert tip: Not a go-to spot for many tourists, this location offers you an authentic glimpse into how the business crowd does lunch. And for this price, you will be able to afford the fine dining here, on one of the city's prettiest terraces overlooking a gorgeous 19th century park.

Read more about Le Pavillon Montsouris →


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Give yourself the pleasure of actually entering into and savoring this landmark pavilion, built in 1900, which has graced the Champs-Elysées for the past more than a century ever since. In summer, it is even more sublime since it opens up its outdoor terrace, in the garden-facing outdoor patio, to welcome both lunch and dinner diners. Since this is Lenôtre, you can be sure that you will enjoy some of the best dishes Paris has to offer: poultry braised with sweet spices served on a bed of stewed tomato and eggplant; a minestrone of vegetables with lime-basil roasted prawns... for dessert you won't want to pass up their vanilla millefeuille that comes in a size enough to feed two.

Read more about Le Pavillon Élysée Lenôtre →


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The landscape artist Guillaume Le Jardinier helped create this little piece of floating paradise that stays docked at along the bank of the River Seine just underneat the Pont-Neuf, on Notre Dame side of the bridge. The restaurant features not just one, but two large terraces and is an ideal spot from which to admire the setting of the Parisian sun against a backdrop of all the beautiful bridges that span from that point all the way to the Eiffel Tower. Bistronomy is the best food description meaning you will find your basic bistro fare jazzed up a bit with finer products and a nouvelle cuisine touch. There's something about dining on this barge on the River Seine that sets it apart from the others. Maybe it's the location or maybe it's that the owners, Grégory Lentz and Jérome Schabanel, who also own Lapérouse, know what they're doing.

Read more about Les Jardins du Pont-Neuf →


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Nice and new on the scene is this bistro that sports bistronomic fare. The location is embarrassingly convenient, just steps from the Louvre and the Palais-Royal, yet tucked one block behind in a little square that has just become a pedestrian-only zone. Ahhh, paradise in the heart of Paris. The man, Laurent Chainel, who opened this restaurant at the end of 2014 is a veteran of previous popular Parisian places so he knows well what pleases. On his menu, to accompany the vast array of wine choices, you will find items such as aïoli mackerel, pan-fried tuna with grilled vegetables and penne and even an original burger, the "hambourgeois" made with brebis cheese and other lovely things.

Read more about Le Bistrot Valois →


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8th Arrondissement - Monceau Mad

A much bigger patio seating than you'd otherwise expect, this former Hilton Hotel's inside courtyard, visible through the lobby's glass walls, can seat up to 80 diners, lunch or dinner. The landscape architect who added the palm tree and trimmed hedge punctuation to the terrace courtyard is Olivier Riols. The menu served here is that of the location's main restaurant, Le Safran, which is overseen by Executive Chef Fran�s Gagnaire. Choices include seared lobster served in a crustacean broth flavored with bergamote or filet of lamb in a honey-candied lemon sauce and this can be accompanied by pink quinoa casserole. It can sometimes get a little chilly out on the terrace, especially when you are not seated near one of the heat lamps. If you can get your server's attention, ask them to bring you a blanket that you can drape over your shoulders or on your knees.

Read more about Le Patio Andalou à L'Hotel du Collectionneur →


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7th Arondissement - Eiffel Tower
Bateaux Parisiens
Photo courtesy of Bateaux Parisiens Lunch setting Interior photo copyright Jean-Pierre Salle

Board your lunch or dinner cruise just underneath the Eiffel Tower on the banks of the Seine. Then get ready for a lovely meal while you are regaled by live music and some of the most beautiful Parisian sites of historic monuments along your cruise. The later departure, 8:30 pm, offers several options starting from the basic Service Etoile, all the way up to the Service Premier. The difference is primarily the kind of wines served with your meal and also the placemento of your seating on the river boat. For example, the Service Premier has you seated at round tables, with a maximum seating of 2-8 people, at the front of the boat for the best views. But otherwise everything is the same, same dinner and same music and same River Seine. In other words, it's all good.

Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Outdoor dining mustn't be static. This offers a way to enjoy the fresh breeze off the river Seine while dining in fine weather.

Paige's expert tip: The difference between the dinner cruise that leaves at 8:30pm and the ones that depart at 6pm and 9pm is that these two last an hour and a half and do not have music as part of the evening's animations, whereas the 8:30pm dinner cruise has live music that accompanies your dinner and it lasts 2 1/2 hours.

Read more about Bateaux Parisiens →


The most discreet of the Paris Palace hotels, this beautiful location just off the Place Vendôme also offers a most lovely terrace on which to enjoy a casual meal or snack during the warmer months. The light-colored marble flooring and soothing beige tones of the surroundings, , instantly envelop you in an atmosphere of serenity while still offering you a sense of the festive, lightheartedness of summer. The menu here is conceived by the esteemed chef Jean-François Rouquette and includes pickings like squid ink raviolis served with artichokes in a lemon sauce. Desserts are choices created by patisserie chef Fabien Berteau who was named best chef-patissier 2015 by a prestige French culinary jury.

Read more about La Terrasse du Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme →


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The menu here is overseen by celebrated French Chef Thierry Marx who has created also the Daily Marx, a M-F lunch menu inspired by his book of recipes also of the same name. Culinary creations to be enjoyed are turbot served with a hollandaise sauce accompanied by green asparagus (seasonal) and estragon. The outdoor patio seating is one of the most favored in the city and the central birdcage-like "pod", which can accommodate up to six diners, is certainly sought after especially for special occasions. The resident sommelier, David Biraud, is quick to offer perfect pairings, ones that he has expertly chosen to compliment the chef's signature dishes. Check with the restaurant for its current calendar of themed evenings, such as this summer's Rhythm'n'Soul.

Read more about Camélia →


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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

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