Paris: Food, Drinks, and Design

The best Paris plan: Eat too much, drink too much, walk too much. It never gets old.

Dan FrommerA note from the editor: This guide is a short list of some of the best and most interesting places to eat, drink, shop, and visit in Paris, based on hundreds of hours of in-person research. Like all of our guides, the goal is to focus on a few great starting points. I’ve been to Paris seven times over the past decade, for work as a journalist, vacation, and researching this guide. These are the places I tell friends to go. —Dan Frommer

1. 0fr. books and gallery.

A neighborhood bookshop worth traveling for.

0fr Paris

Art and design books from around the world, original publications, indie magazines, stationery and candles, a gallery in the back, evening events that pour into the street, and even a rack of clothes for sale—striped shirts, a librairie-chic olive jacket, the odd tote bag. It’s easy to spend an hour here. (Open Sundays, too.)

0fr Paris

This part of the north Marais has been hot lately—food, fashion, and the renovation of the historic market building—and we’ve been fortunate to call it our home on recent visits. With few good hotels nearby, Airbnb shines here.

 20 rue Dupetit-Thouars, Paris, 3rd. Arrondissement.  @ofrparis.

2. Fondation Café.

Paris’s café culture is the best in the world. But most of the coffee served on its corner terraces is lousy. (Drink wine instead.)

Over the past several years, however, some newer shops—which actually focus on the coffee—have popped up, such as TéléscopeTen Belles, Lomi, FragmentsCoutume, Cream, and Holybelly.

Fondation is the best in the neighborhood, and some of the best in Paris, brewing beans from Belleville Brûlerie, which has become a top local roaster. Founder Chris Nielsen, an Australian, worked at nearby Ten Belles before opening Fondation in 2014, in a tiny storefront a couple doors down from 0fr.

Fondation Café Paris

There are a few seats inside and out if you want to sit for a bit, or take your café à emporter and enjoy in the Square du Temple park.

 16 rue Dupetit-Thouars, Paris, 3rd.  @fondationcafe

3. Nanashi.

A modern Parisian take on Japan’s bento boxes. Nanashi is great for a light lunch or dinner. Menus vary daily, but our favorite is the salmon chirashi bowl, which is served with seed-speckled rice over greens and sprouts.

Nanashi Chirashi

More great food nearby: Café Charlot, the best bistro in the neighborhood, which attracts the fashion set; several stands at the Marché des Enfants Rouges; breakfast or lunch at The Broken Arm; and the Rose Bakery for brunch.

57 rue Charlot, Paris, 3rd.

4. The Broken Arm.

Paris practically invented the idea of a “concept shop,” or a fashion boutique that sells other things, like magazines and books, with a cafe or restaurant attached.

Both Colette and L’Eclaireur were concept-shop pioneers; Merci (see below) came a few years later. Compared to any of those, The Broken Arm is tiny. But it’s also a lot of fun.

The Broken Arm

The space is run by a pack of friends that used to run a fashion website. Now, they sell a really interesting mix of clothes for both women and men, from Paris it-labels Jacquemus and Vetements to Nike and Raf Simons, whose namesake menswear collection has a cultish following. (Simons’ day job until recently was designing ready-to-wear and couture for the house of Christian Dior—watch the film about him, Dior and I.)

The stuff is on the pricier side, but not scarily so. And the requisite cafe has yummy food—always including a delicious soup—as well as good espresso.

Lauren Sherman. 12 rue Perrée, Paris, 3rd.  @thebrokenarm.

5. Cuisse de Grenouille.

A surf shop in Paris? That is, to be sure, part of the gag.

Surf in ParisBut the “surf in paris.” t-shirts and sweats are cool, when they’re in stock. And the shop has a nice vibe, “for the Gentleman Surfer,” as the slogan goes.

(Two other good menswear shop in the area: French Trotters on rue Vieille du Temple and Beaubien, which also ships internationally.)

Here, you’re also near Merci, one of Paris’s best-known—but still awesome—concept shops.

Merci features great little selections of mens and womenswear, stationery, home and kitchen goods, lighting and furniture, a mini Aesop shop, and three (!) cafés, including two at street level and one in the basement. Bring home a set of Duralex bistro tumblers or a bright neon Caran d’Ache pen.

Merci Paris

Founded in 2009 by the husband-and-wife team behind Bonpoint, the children’s clothing line, Merci donates its profits to a charity that benefits Madagascar.

 5 rue Froissart, Paris, 3rd

6. Chambelland.

The best boulangerie in Paris is the one you go to every morning—the neighborhood spot with still-warm baguettes, croissants, and pain au chocolat.

But in recent years Paris has seen the rise of a couple great gluten-free bakeries, too. And the buckwheat- and rice-based bread at Chambelland is particularly special, whether you’re celiac, gluten-sensitive, or totally normal. Slathered in smoked-salt butter, it’s almost more Japanese than French. Crunchy, crusty, chewy—the sort of textures that most gluten-free bread can’t supply.

Another good gluten-free bakery is Helmut Newcake; check their Facebook page for the daily menu.

14 rue Ternaux, Paris, 11th.

7. Ten Belles.

Great coffee by the Canal Saint-Martin.

Ten Belles Paris

This section of the canal has blossomed over the past few years. Ten Belles, one of Paris’s first ‘eepster coffee shops, serves excellent espresso drinks and lunch. Now there’s a cute little grocery next door, Myrthe. In the evening, Le Comptoir Général—with a hidden entrance off the canal—is a funky bar with an African theme.

Canal Saint Martin

Right across the canal, there’s Café Craft (if you need someplace with wifi to work), Le Verre Volé (casual neighborhood bistro and wine shop), La Patache (divey bar on one side, great little rotisserie/charcuterie restaurant on the other), Holybelly (fun café with great breakfast menu), Bob’s Juice Bar (fresh juice and healthy food), Nordkraft (Danish furniture), and Artazart (design books).

10 rue de la Grange aux Belles, Paris, 10th.  @tenbelles.

8. Le Chateaubriand.

An amazing, affordable, unpretentious gourmet experience.

Chef Iñaki Aizpitarte’s Le Chateaubriand was one of the trailblazing “neo-bistro” restaurants to sweep Paris in the mid-aughts. The term was popularized by the excellent, Paris-based journal Le Fooding, which calls the restaurant the “emblem of an era that decided to change the culinary regime, that sent everything flying out the door and pushed the limits all over again.”

Here, you’ll enjoy a set tasting menu—€70 last we checked—that evokes fine dining without beating you over the head with it. While the menu changes constantly, a look at its Instagram location page offers a sampling of recent items: tomato jus with smoked chili oil, John Dory with peachsea asparagus risotto, and a candied egg-yolk dessert.

Line up for the 9:30 second seating, which doesn’t require a reservation.

129 avenue Parmentier, Paris, 11th

9. Le Mary Celeste.

Craft cocktails, small plates, and oysters (during cold months) have made this a popular corner bar in the north Marais.

Le Mary Celeste

Save room for a couple shockingly good tacos from their sister restaurant/bar, Candelaria, a few blocks away. (The expat team also recently opened a Korean fried chicken place, Hero.)

Candelaria Paris

1 rue Commines, Paris, 3rd.  @le_mary_celeste.

10. Lemaire.

If you want to dress like a “real” Parisian, this wooden-paneled shop in the North Marais—where you’ll find the minimalist wares of designers Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran—is the place to begin.

Lemaire is a member of the Paris fashion elite and has held top positions at both Lacoste and Hermès. However, last year, he quit the latter to focus on his namesake label. It’s a good thing, because these clothes perfectly capture what fashion obsessives are after right now: collarless dress shirts, great-fitting jeans, and beautiful overcoats.

The men’s selection is straightforward but still interesting—not too fashion-y—while the women’s collection is both simple and feminine at once.

If you’re looking to buy one nice thing that you’ll have forever, it’s worth acting when you visit the physical boutique. A few stores in the States carry Lemaire, but you can never find the entire collection, even online. What’s more, thanks to the exchange rate, it can be more affordable in Europe.

This is the place to go if you want to spend about a $1,000 on a winter coat—or $300 on a shirt—and call it your Paris souvenir.

Lauren Sherman. 28 rue de Poitou, Paris, 3rd.

11. Septime La Cave.

This tiny, unpretentious wine bar near the Bastille is a great place to rendezvous for a glass of wine and snack before dinner nearby.

Septime La Cave

It’s the sister bar of Septime, one of Paris’s top restaurants, and the newer, seafood-focused Clamato, which doesn’t take reservations. Also close: the excellent, old-school Bistrot Paul Bert.

3 rue Basfroi, Paris, 11th.

12. Coutume Café.

A great café on the left bank.

Café Coutume

Excellent espresso, light weekday lunch, and solid wifi. Coutume is a good place for casual lunch with colleagues or friends, or a solo laptop session.

47 rue de Babylone, Paris, 7th.  @coutumecafe.

13. La Grande Épicerie.

One of the world’s great grocery stores. Part of Le Bon Marché, the left bank’s historic department store, the recently remodeled Grande Épicerie is a food lover’s delight.

Le Grand Epicerie

There is an entire foie gras section. An entire canned fish section. An entire truffle section. More varieties of butter than you’ve ever seen—try Le Beurre Bordier‘s smoked salt and seaweed varieties. Plus random groceries from around the world, several small restaurants and snack counters, great sandwiches to go, a whole wall of different types of bottled water, and even a futuristic, automated checkout system.

Upstairs, there’s a kitchen-supply department, too, with a nice range of Opinel and Laguiole knives.

38 rue de Sèvres, Paris, 7th.  @lagrandeepicerie.

14. Hemingway’s Paris.

Tourists now outnumber poets in this section of the Latin Quarter. But walking down the rue Mouffetard—“that wonderful narrow crowded market street which led into the Place Contrescarpe,” as Ernest Hemingway describes it in A Moveable Feast—you still feel an unmistakable bit of old Paris. Hemingway lived on the third floor at 74 rue du Cardinal Lemoine; Gertrude Stein across the park at 27 rue de Fleurus.

Sundays are the busiest, as there is an open street market on rue Mouffetard (and another at Place Monge nearby).

Rue Mouffetard Paris

The Café des Amateurs, the “sad, evilly run café” where the Hemingway-era “drunkards of the quarter crowded together,” is long gone. But a lazy afternoon picnic (or morning run) in the Luxembourg Gardens is still perfection.

Luxembourg Gardens

74 rue du Cardinal Lemoine, Paris, 5th.

15. Fondation Louis Vuitton.

Among Paris’s classic museums, we recommend the Musée d’Orsay, housed in an old railway station, and the more modern-art focused Palais de Tokyo.

But if you’re looking for adventure, the Fondation Louis Vuitton—affiliated with the French luxury conglomerate LVMH—is something entirely different: A crazy new Frank Gehry structure in the Bois de Boulogne park, just beyond central Paris.

The Fondation opened in late 2014 (pdf); its collection until August 2016 focuses on contemporary Chinese artists, including Ai Weiwei.

8 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, Paris, 16th.
You’ll Want These For The Plane

Bose QuietComfort 25 headphones.

Bose QuietComfort 25You’ll fly more comfortably by cutting out the background noise with these excellent noise-cancelling headphones. We’ve flown dozens of hours with these exact headphones and they continue to work great.

$299 at