Paris' Best Fresh Fish and Seafood Restaurants

One constant you find in Paris dining culture is an almost religious fervor for fresh ingredients. This couldn’t be truer than when it comes to fish and seafood. Much of the fish comes from the Atlantic, caught off the coast of Brittany, and the oysters you’re eating may have originated from the Bassin d’Archachon, just off the coast of Bordeaux, arriving in Paris within hours of harvesting. And if the national drink is wine, it pairs excellently with oysters, lobster, and most other fish, shellfish and crustaceans.  Indeed, a meal of fish affords the opportunity to discover French wines that make delightful pairings with this lighter fare, especially those from the Loire Valley's Atlantic Coast region and of course, Burgundy and Chablis wines.

As soon as the weather starts to turn a bit warmer and the terrace tables come out onto the Parisian sidewalks people begin thinking about eating shellfish, fish and fruits de mer, fruits of the sea, the literal translation for this French term for seafood. This lighter fare is perfect for spring, summer and early fall dining. Fish and seafood play a huge part in French cuisine, certainly year-round, but especially when the days become longer and are kissed by sunshine and warmth.

On this list you will find two "power tables" that are also three of the city's best fish restaurants: Le Duc, La Mediterranée and Desirrier.


1er Arrondissement

This is a trendspot. Designed like an aquarium that floats over two floors, this restaurant near Les Halles opened only last year. Its owners have a string of successes under their belts (Curio Parlor, Experimental Cocktail Club) soi t's not surprising that this one has gotten well off the ground, too. Mackerel is served two ways here, on a cutting board after its been seared and then served with a spiced quinoa side dish. Or you can have it barbecued on skewers inbetween chunks of chorizo. Peruvian-based seasonings seem to be favored here with lots of lime, ginger, red pepper, and garlic present which they also use as a marinade for a ceviche dish called the � Tiger's Tongue � (leche de tigre). Persistence pays when it comes to getting a reservation. It also leans towards the expensive side.

14éme Arrondissement

Much to the delight of patrons, chef G�rard Allamandou doesn't feel compelled to mask fresh seafood in elaborate sauces or so much fussy preparation. Instead, he lets the Montparnasse restaurant's just-caught bounty speak for itself. A hint of bacon, a touch of oil, and everything's just as it should be. Though the menu changes seasonally, an example of what you might find on a day in September includes steak from salmon raised organically, grilled mackerel filets in a mustard sauce, European raised lobster roasted à la nature and a starter might be fresh anchovies served with a garnish of fried parsley. A great wine list also helps coax out the flavors of fish and shellfish. Daily set price menu �23 or �38. METRO: Ga�t� (line 13)

17éme Arrondissement
Photo courtesy of Desirrier copyright

The signature of Michel Rostang's fish restaurant is the entire fish grilled whole, "en croute de sel." For turbot, sea bream and sole weighing over 3lbs. and caught fresh that morning, this kind of succulent seafood dining is unique in Paris. The kitchen is presided over by Chef Olivier Fontaine who faithfully uses only the ingredients that have been personally sourced by M. Rostang himself : crawfish and fish from Lake Geneva, the wild bar from Charles Henri Cantot, the vegetables from Annie Bertin's garden and oysters from Normandy and Brittany gathered by David Hervé. The restaurant's interior had a full refresh just this past September. Thanks to the husband-wife team of Lempereur they translated the Rostangs' warm personality into the interior of Dessirier. Walls are of leather strips and fabric, the flooring is reminiscent of fish scales and warmth is added through a gentle incorporation of colors and lights.

16éme Arrondissement
Photo courtesy of Restaurant Antoine Paris copyright

In the few short years since it opened, Antoine has quickly made its mark on the capital and snagged a reputation as one of the finest fish restaurants in town. The young and fairly new chef here, Thibault Sombardier, is a native of Lyon. He was inspired to become a chef the moment his father took him to visit the kitchens of Paul Bocuse in Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or. What you will find on the menu at this 1 Michelin starred, aesthetically elegant restaurant is the freshest and choicest fish delivered direct from Saint Gilles Croix de Vie, the source considered the best for fish by Parisian chefs. Another one of the guiding principles at Antoine is a made-to-order attitude. So, often the rarest of fish and other seafoods will not even be listed on the menu. That's to say, it pays here to ask what the day's specials are.

6éme Arrondissement
Blueberry Makis Bar
Photo courtesy of Blueberry Paris copyright 2014

The name the two sisters who founded and run the place gave to their restaurant is derived from a Wong Kar Wai film, My Blueberry Night. Its significance here is the California connection, an element these two restaurateurs, Florence and Marie, infused in their Pacific-themed restaurant, where a California-meets-Japan vibe and menu reigns supreme. On offer are traditional Japanese sushi and classic California makis re-visited. What that translates to is a use of French-imagined ingredients such as truffle, strawberries, yuzu, smoked mozzarella, Thai basil, shizo and more. You can expect your fish to come to you in all its cooked forms, like as in Tempura, or perhaps raw, or even maybe seared or half-cooked or marinated in citrus. The atmosphere leans towards zen and loungey with a neon pop here and there.

Photo courtesy of Gaya Rive Gauche by Pierre Gagnaire photo copyirght

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 which serves the choicest and freshest fish in the spirit of Pierre Gagnaire. It very much wants to be 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 by the carafe. Michelin awarded it one star. The menu offers a plat-du-jour at 48euros. You can also order the set menu of appetizer, main course and dessert for 60euros.

La Mediterranée
Photo courtesy of La Mediterranéé copyright

One of the most elegant fish restaurants in Paris that is also affordably priced you'll find just steps from away from the Jardin du Luxembourg. The terrace dining in spring and summer has you looking out onto the gorgeous Place de l'Odéon and its backdrop of the Odéon-Theatre de l'Europe. What you'll find here is a discreet Parisian institution, favored by regulars who include Senators, publishers and authors. Its colorful interior evokes feelings of being in the warmer south of France and the incredibly fresh, high quality fish have you thinking of fishermen who have just cast their nets that morning for the day's catch, now sitting on your plate. The set menu features only wild fish and at �35 is a quality meal you'll be hardpressed to duplicate elsewhere. The fleshy Whole Turbot is served with vegetables and chanterelle mushrooms. Chef Denis Rippa trained at Le Divellec.

14éme Arrondissement
Le Duc
Photo courtesy of Le Duc restaurant

Known as much as one of the city's power tables as it is known for being one of the top fish restaurants in town, Le Duc is an elegant restaurant with a down-home feel for that upscale business lunch or that special occasion. You'll undoubtedly be rubbing elbows with other seafood devotees in this restaurant, which is reminiscent of an old � albeit tasteful � wooden boat. Fresh, simple preparations distinguish the food, and diners can't say enough good things about the variety of fish and shellfish dishes. The wine menu here is one of the most stellar in town, which is saying a lot since even 3-starred restaurants don't always have Romanée Conti on their wine list. Here they do. That gives you some idea as to the kind of diners this place attracts. METRO: Raspail

14th Arrondissement - Montparnas

There are several good, even great, oyster bar restaurants in Paris. What makes this one so exceptional are two things: 1. The first being the quality and range of selection of the oysters here. That means you can taste oysters of any size from Normandy to Ile de Noirmoutier to La Rochelle to Beziers. And that in itself makes coming here worthwhile. But the second thing that puts this restaurant in the category of singular is that you can enjoy all of this seated on high steel stools around a 1920s era circular zinc counter. And for that, coming here becomes an excursion and dining experience. Their specialties, besides oysters, also includes fish served whole on a platter as well as shellfish and seafood platters. The wine list, too, has been written up even by major US wine publications, so impressive is its 4OOO bottle cellar. The oyster sommelier as well as the wine sommelier here are only too delighted to help guide you in your choices and selections. So if you're open to trying oyster and wine pairings that are sure to delight your taste buds, give yourself permission to enjoy this richly satisfying culinary experience.

7éme Arrondissement
Photo courtesy of Mathieu Pacaud Group

Late in the fall of 2013 the legendary Jacques Le Divellec retired from his decades of helming his luxury yacht of a restaurant which had been THE Paris reference for seafood. He sold with one stipulation, that the acquiring group keep his team in tact and fully employed. Without this great chef, the "Bocuse of seafood" as he was nicknamed, in charge of his kitchen, it is difficult to imagine that things are exactly the same as they had been. Still, Le Divellec promises much to love, including exceptionally fresh seafood, yacht-like decor, and a celebrated wine cellar. Popular specials include lobster with pan-fried duck foie gras and iced cognac soufflé. METRO: Invalides


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