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Elegant Experiential Dining In The City of Light



Dining out in Paris can easily be the central focus of a romantic vacation. Or, at least, one of the central focuses... And while dining makes up only one facet of the whole romance of Paris experiences, choosing the right restaurants, like the ultra sublime Apicius, or the classic bistro, Les Deux Magots, can only enhance the romance of your time spent here. On this list, you will find restaurants that will make you feel like they have been created just for the two of you. If being among the trendsetters makes you feel like you have more sex appeal, the restaurants at the top of the super hip list today are Monsieur BleuMordu, Mr. T and Beefbar. At the latter, be sure to ask to be seated inside under the Art Deco authentic 19th c. hand-painted glass roof. It is one of Paris' most exquisite interior decors and a registered national landmark.

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 two superlative choices: Les Bouquinistes by Guy Savoy and Gaya Rive Gauche by Pierre Gagnaire. Both chefs have been decorated with 3-Michelin stars and are considered national treasures, at the top of their culinary game. These restaurants, though, are their 'casual' eateries, so you won't be surprised with a 3-star bill at the end of your meal! 

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? 

When you are looking to celebrate love in the City of Light, take a meander over to the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank where you will find Le Mavrommatis, the most elegant of Greek-French fusion restaurants, the only one outside of Greece with a Michelin star. And for that French Bistro, the one with the cozy 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


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10
16éme Arrondissement


Dining here offers you one of the most resplendent views onto the Seine and the Eiffel Tower just across the river. This restaurant, recently under new ownership, is part of the Museum of Modern Art/ Palais de Tokyo complex. The patio, through which you traverse to enter into the restaurant, is one of Paris' hotspots during the warmer months. The menu is mostly French neo-bistro classic fare such as a generous hamburger, French toast served with warm salted butter caramel sauce and the classic eggs benedict. Champagne is kept on ice here at the bar and the mixologist seems to constantly be shaking and stirring. Weather permitting, the patio seating affords an excellent view of the skateboarders who use the museum's lower courtyard as their skateboard park, with the Bateaux Mouches cruising along the Seine in the background. For lunch especially, make reservations.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: The view onto the Seine and the Eiffel Tower from inside the glass wall renders your meal almost an afterthought.

Paige's expert tip: One of the finest outdoor patio dining venues in the city overlooking the Eiffel Tower and the Seine. That it's on the patio of the Palais de Tokyo, amps up its appeal all the more. The restaurant offers several distinct dining spaces, such as the main dining area, the outside patio and a tented, private dining 'bubble', perfect for private parties.

Read more about Monsieur Bleu →


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6th Arrondissement - Rive Gauche


In one of the most sought after locations in Paris' Saint Germain des Pres district, this elegant bistronomy restaurant has popped up out of the city's culinary terroir. Its mission is to provide the absolute best products France has to offer, be that recently harvested game from the hunting fields, fresh-caught fish off the Atlantic coast, or prized truffles and foie gras from the Dordogne. Even the tarama here is made in house. And all of these changing menu specials are expertly prepared with imaginative touches by Chef Baptiste Trudel like spiced ground nuts or flashes of citrus with brightly colored edible flower petals. Building on their successes of O Chateau, a popular Parisian wine bar, this restaurant takes the entrepreneur, Nicolas Paradis, into new territory. Here, the interior decor has been done is simple elegance more akin to fine dining than to the typical Parisian bistro. Their wine menu is pared down with mostly French regional wines, organic or bio-dynamic, with one Portugal wine on offer. These are to be enjoyed by the glass or by the bottle. When the weather is warm, their outside terrace, protected by the pedestrian walkway that fronts up onto this side of the covered market, a historical landmark now housing the trendy Apple store just next door, is unrivaled.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Mordu means bitten in French. It also means 'to be won over to' as in 'bitten by a taste for good food and wine.'

Paige's expert tip: While this bistronomy restaurant is in the heart of the Saint Germain des Pres shopping district, it is tucked away on the pedestrian walkway side of the covered market. In warmer months, the outside terrace is unrivaled. The dishes here are deceptive, in that, they appear simple but each ingredient used has been cultivated, unearthed or caught or captured as if it is a rare treasure. In other words, ask your waiter lots of questions about the dishes, you will be treated to a crash course on the art of French culinary delicacies and rarities.

Read more about Mordu Saint Germain des Pres →


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4éme Arrondissement
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.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: In one of the oldest parts of Paris with a view onto the the Ile St. Louis, this restaurant is picture perfect with delicious cuisine.

Paige's expert tip: If you like truffles, you've found your place. The chef used to be the Exec Chef at a restaurant specialized in only truffles. So whatever the season, you'll find truffles on the menu here, black, white and even those nuggets of black gold from Burgundy. The terrace is one of the best in the summertime!

Read more about Chez Julien →


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7
8éme Arrondissement


In the past, you could occasionally hear the comment that a good steak was hard to find in Paris. With the city's recent opening of the world acclaimed Beef Bar restaurants, this is certainly no longer the case. When a succulent piece of top-quality steak from Kansas (USA), Australia, Kobe (Japan) or France is what has your mouth watering, this is the place to indulge. Only the best cuts of beef are served here and they are choice pieces that melt in your mouth. The concept restaurant was created by Riccardo Giraudi in 2005 in Monaco. It has since expanded and now the long-awaited opening in Paris has arrived. There is a jewel hidden inside this historically classified venue. It is an interior glass-roofed atrium or 'Jardin d'hiver' in French and the new re-do by Humbert & Poyet interior designers is nothing less than breathtaking.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: The location was worth waiting for. The address is an historic landmark and now the site of Paris' top steak restaurant.

Paige's expert tip: Steak. Not just steak but the choicest cuts of steak, exquisitely marbled and prepared so they melt in your mouth. Large chilled wine cases, floor to ceiling, stocked with jewels like Echezeaux and Haut-Brion. Appetizers include meat bonbons (these defy crispy-fried delicious description and simply must be tried) and truffle adorned ceviche. Sides are whipped mashed potatoes served in individual copper single-serving pots. And the decor... for a romantic meal be sure to request seating in the inner atrium, the 'Jardin d'hiver', where Belle Epoque Paris envelops you and the Humbert & Poyet redecoration of this classic restaurant lavishes its tastefulness on the two of you. Sumptuous velvet seating, roomy booth seating and Art Deco motif carpeting infuse this classic with timeless style in the form of its Belle Epoque decor of the 'Salle 1900' so named after the year it was created.

Read more about Beefbar Paris →


6
3rd Arondissement - Marais


Quick to have become known as one of the hipster restaurants of the Upper Marais, this partnership between Enguerrand, Guillaume and Tsuyoshi (Mr. T in the equation) is not just rocking along but is soon to expand into L(os) A(ngeles) territory. Their philosophy is simple: Offer gastronomic dining in a hip, young environment. To this effect, the background music is rap and contemporary R&B, the kitchen is open and the decor is gold metallic chain. Something else this young trio has hit on, and that is presenting their imaginative dishes as performance art. Case in point, the smoke-filled shoulder of lamb bite-sized kebabs that arrive at your table wafting of seared thyme. Located in what is the cute, hipster area of the Upper Marais, this Franco-Japanese partnership has yielded a menu and cuisine that is full of appealing aromas and hands-on street food style dishes. Accompany that with mains that are grilled fresh fish or seared top-quality steaks and you've got yourself a great little place for lunch for dinner.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Dining out is becoming more an experiential, performance art. The open kitchen and the presentation of dishes here, make the case for this exceptionally.

Paige's expert tip: This is excellent dining in a neighborhood that is filled with the best of Paris shopping, art gallery visiting and just plain taking in the city's sights and sounds.

Read more about Mr. T →


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16éme Arrondissement


When this restaurant opened at the exquisite Shangri-la Hotel several years ago, it was with much fanfare as Paris's first haute-cuisine Chinese restaurant. It has lived up every inch to its reputation since then. The restaurant is in the bottom level of this Napoleon IIIrd mansion that was refurbished as a Palace Hotel and is furnished in Sino-Franco elegance throughout. The menu is faithful to authentic Chinese cuisine as you would find in the provinces, with little to no Western re-interpretation. The tea menu is extensive and one of the chef's passions is to imagine pairings with the rarest of Chinese teas. If you've never had Chinese haute-cuisine, authentically prepared with genuine ingredients, this is worth trying. And the setting's luxuriousness offers a welcoming atmosphere.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Chinese haute cuisine with a dedication to authenticity makes this a unique dining choice in Paris.

Paige's expert tip: Shang Palace is Paris's only Michelin-starred Chinese fine dining restaurant. (It has been awarded one star so far.) For a quick lunch try their Dim Sum menu. Or book for a long, langorous dinner à deux.

Read more about Shang Palace →


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6éme Arrondissement


If you are wondering what a magot is, or why there are two of them, just step inside the iconic cafe and bear witness to the statues of two Chinese magi, or wise men, presiding over the center of the room. It is very fitting since this room has played host to literary, artistic and political greats over the past century such as Picasso, Hemingway and Louis Aragon. The tables outside are where history was made, hosting such literary greats. This anchor of Parisian life and history is still run by the same family, though today at the helm is the great-granddaughter. The quality of food and service has been equally impeccably maintained. The food is prepared in-house as well as meticulously sourced from the best producers. The wine, even when ordered by the glass, is always served tableside from the bottle by your white-gloved, tuxedo-clad waitstaff.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: This one of the Parisian dining institutions that are so classic that it is as much a pilgrimage as visiting Le Louvre or Eiffel Tower.

Paige's expert tip: This anchor of a Saint Germain des Pres cafe has lost none of its luster or grandeur over the century it has reigned here in Paris. Now its Thursday night jazz nights have revived it, even more, becoming the place to soak in a bit of jazz and enjoy a glass of whatever suits you. And you needn't even indulge in dinner to sit inside and listen to jazz music. But dinner here is always a good idea, with such classics as grilled salmon or duck served with new potatoes on the menu. A prize was created - Prix Des Deux Magots - and eponymously named for the best talent and original work. But you don't have to be a writer or artist to soak up some of the Saint-Germain des Pres atmosphere.

Read more about Les Deux Magots →


3
5th Arondissement - Latin Quarte


After an upscale up-do, this 1-Michelin star Meditteranean-Greek-French fusion-icon in the Latin Quarter is ready for its close-up. The beginning of 2018 marked when for the first time a 'Greek' restaurant outside of Greece was awarded a Michelin star. This jewel of a restaurant spans its own little corner of this idyllic spot in the 5th arrondissement. It's not more than a stone's throw from the Arenes de Lutece, the 2000-year-old Roman arena, a holdover from days gone by when Paris was called Lutece. Somehow fitting, then, that this gorgeous, neutral-toned fine-dining establishment would grace the neighborhood. Tables are discreetly placed just far enough apart so that your conversations can remain private. If need be, there is also an upstairs dining room. Accompanying the founder, Chef Andreas Mavrommatis in the kitchens now is the recently added chef came from the Royal Monceau, so you can expect exquisiteness in presentation as well as substance. Another detail is their attention to the Art de la Table. This is something that restaurant trends seem to be bypassing these days, but here they conscripted an artist friend, Georges Moustaki, to grace their insignia on the J.L. Coquet fine crockery.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Many Michelin-star restaurants are singular, but this Greek-fusion restaurant is the only one of its kind outside of Greece to be awarded star-distinction.

Paige's expert tip: Though this restaurant is often described as Mediterranean and Greek, in fact, its culinary influences owe more to Chef Mavrommatis' Cyprus roots. Admittedly, it will be one of the most elegant and refined, and French fusion, Cyprian/Greek dining experiences you can imagine being treated to. The wine list offers a spectacular choice of fine Greek wines, with specialty regional dessert wines even, too. The wait staff is friendly, attentive and the Maitre d' even worked for Daniel Boulud in NYC before returning to Paris.

Read more about Le Mavrommatis →


2
7éme Arrondissement


This is Pierre Gagnaire's fish restaurant on the Left Bank in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. It's not to be thought of as the "petite Pierre Gagnaire" but rather as its own concept. The restaurant serves the choicest and freshest fish (also meat cuts) prepared in the most creative and delicately masterful ways in the spirit of 3-Michelin star culinary legend, Pierre Gagnaire. This is very much a neighborhood restaurant infused with the famous chef's guiding principles of elegance, simplicity and honesty. A large selection of wines are served by the glass and such gems like Pascal Jolivet's Pouilly-fumé Nature are available by the bottle. The set lunch menu of appetizer, main course and dessert for 49 euros has you dining on Michelin quality fare without the lofty prices. The fairly recent move of this Gagnaire culinary institution up the street to this quieter location afforded it an up-do by way of Gagnaire's longtime interior decor collaborator, Marcelo Joulia. What's extra nice now is that the elegant bar affords light dining with a glass of wine or cocktail.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Pierre Gagnaire is one of the culinary world's references when it comes to creativity, mastery and honesty as a top chef.

Paige's expert tip: The new location of this iconic Pierre Gagnaire fish restaurant, that also serves meat, offers bar seating now. It's a perfect place to wander in, order a fine glass of wine from their cultivated wine list (chablis-premier-cru from William Fevre) while nibbling on small plates. For proper dining, the set lunch menu is one of the best gastronomic deals in town and for dinner, well, it is Gagnaire.

Read more about Gaya Rive Gauche →


1
8éme Arrondissement


Named after the Roman who wrote the first culinary book in the times of antiquity, Apicius is the Michelin-starred restaurant set apart in a world unto itself nestled in an 18th c. mansion just a few streets away from the Grand Palais. Helmed now by the young and extraordinarily accomplished Chef Mathieu Pacaud, within a year of taking over, he maintained this iconic temple of gastronomy's Michelin star. He and his business partner, Laurent de Gourcuff have infused this park-like setting in the center of the city with a hip, fun, dynamic ambiance while not relinquishing a shred of the establishment's elegance. Set menus come in a range of three or four services for lunch and four or seven services for dinner. Rather than being seated in one large dining room, you are seated in one of several smaller dining salons, thus adding to the air of intimate dining. Many tables have views out onto the exquisite private garden surrounding the manor. Things to taste on the menu include 'blue' lobster from the Iles Chausey, pigeon de la Guerche on a bed of roses 'eternelle' accompanied by balsamic whipped beets. Delicate white cod served with raw slivered coconut over a fine glaze of lightly curried pumpkin purée. And the chocolate soufflé, so rich and velvety that it melts the bourbon vanilla ice cream and the créme chantilly it's served with.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: The creative flair Chef Pacaud lends to his classically interpreted cuisine, maintains Apicius as a culinary temple.

Paige's expert tip: I don't always recommend Michelin-starred restaurants, but this one I do, and without hesitation. Apicius has long been a culinary landmark, a Parisian temple of gastronomy, and now under Chef Pacaud's masterful touch, you not only dine on extraordinary finesse but experience the complete and whole pleasure of haute cuisine presented with excellent, friendly, professional service. The restaurant's bar off to the left when you enter the private manor is a good way to begin or end your meal.

Read more about Apicius →


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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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