French dining has been the envy of much of the world since it's inception. French dishes can be found anywhere on the globe, but rarely do they taste as decadent as in the nation's capitol. Food ranges from delicious street bites to the highest of fine dining. Eating and drinking is not just a necessity in France, it is entertainment, culture, and art.
The proper drink is a necessary accompaniment to a French meal. The morning espresso, sparkling water with lunch, pastis (anise-flavored liqueur and apéritif) in the late afternoon, glass or two of good red wine with dinner, and a sip of brandy to finish the evening meal makes a complete day.
Tap water (eau du robinet) is safe to drink, but sparkling or still water is usually preferred. If you would like a carafe d’eau, simply ask. To order a bottle of water, ask for gazeuse (with gas) or plate (flat, without gas). Ice is rarely given.
Most people in France begin the day with a hot drink. While there are a variety of home brewing techniques like the French press, many people choose to drink their coffee at the local bar or café, standing at the counter.
The legal drinking age is officially 18.
Wine - French wine is world renowned, for good reason. Drinking wine by the carafe is an inexpensive, quality option at most restaurants.
Le vin is defined by the region. The French wine regions include:
Beer - Several beers are mad in France, but it is not as popular as wine. Cider is a popular alternative found in Normandy and northern France.
Aéritif - It is popular to start a dinner meal with an apéritif.
Le Digestif - After dinner, some people enjoy a finishing shot. French liqueurs, like brandy, are often served.
Several of the finest restaurants in the world are in Paris. Michelin stars abound within the city in restaurants serving classic French cuisine as well as international fare.
It is recommended to call ahead when going out to dine (but in many areas with small restaurants you can just try your luck). Make a reservation in advance, and call to cancel if you are not able to make it. Also be sure to greet people when entering or leaving an establishment with a simple "Bonjour Madame/Monsieur" and "Merci Madame/Monsieur". When you are ready for the bill, ask for l'addition. Behave as if you are a guest, rather than just a customer.
Fixed-price meals usually include a starter, main dish, and dessert. These meals can cost as little as €9, or up to €100s.
Though ingredients and dishes vary by region, many elements of French cuisine have become popular across the nation, as well as around the world.
And despite the legend, you will struggle to find frog legs in French restaurants (better chance to try Chinese restaurant for that meal).
Vegetarian food isn't difficult to find within the city. There are many vegetarians restaurants and most places will offer at least one vegetarian option, and a side dish or appetizer can be made into a main course.
Paris has a number of exceptional vegetarian restaurants. The site, http://veganparis.com, is a helpful resource to finding the perfect vegetarian/vegan eatery.
Le Grenier de Notre Dame
Address: 18, rue de la Bucherie (5th)
Jst off Notre Dame, this is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Paris. Cozy atmosphere and a varied menu catering for vegetarian, vegan, and macrobiotic customers. English menu, serves alcohol.
Le Potager du Marais
Address: 22 rue Rambuteau 75003 Paris
Tel.: 01 42 74 24 66
Well-known eatery near the Centre Georges Pompidou. Hot soups, homemade tofu, and seitan bourguignon are all on the menu. All dishes are prepared with organic ingredients.
Address: 8 Rue Xavier Privas 75005 Paris, France
Tel.: 01 43 26 36 00
International falafel chain that has plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans. Take away.
By law, a 15% gratuity is always included in the price wherever you eat or drink. Usually people round up the bill for a tip or add a few percent more. If you do want to leave something extra, don't add it to your credit card slip since the waiter probably will not receive it. Instead, leave the coins in the tray where the check was presented or on the table.
Parisian cafe culture is legendary. Locals sit at their favorite cafes, watching passers-by and passing the time. Enjoy finding your favorite.
Address: 109, rue Vieille du Temple
Tel.: 01 42 72 13 77
Crêpes and buckwheat galettes in bustling Marais. Organic buckwheat galettes are served with café, sparkling apple cider or lait ribot (Breton buttermilk).
Address: 186 Rue Grenelle 75007 Paris, France
Tel.: 01 45 51 47 53
A neighborhood environment enlivens this old-fashioned cafe. The bar is always busy and the blackboard lists wines sold by the glass.
Café des 2 Moulins
Address: 15 rue Lepic, 18th
Tel.: 33 1 4254 9050
Famous for it's role in the film Amélie, admirers can be found taking pictures day or night. which used it as the heroine's charmingly vintage place of employ. Ten years after the film's release, tourists still pop in on their pilgrimage tour of Amélie's Montmartre, but it has largely gone back to being a comfy neighborhood café – minus the tobacco counter, which has been nixed in favor of more sitting room. The scatter of tables and bright red chairs on the sloping pavement is the perfect vantage point from which to observe the lively street market.
Café de la Nouvelle Mairie
Address: 19 rue des Fossés Saint Jacques, 75005
Tel.: 01 44 07 04 41
Stone walls, wooden floorboards, and a fabulous terrace keep this place busy. Close as it is to the Sorbonne, the area is a gathering point for the artsy crowd.
La Mer à Boire
Address: 1 rue des Envierges, 20th
Tel.: 33 1 4358 2943
Perched atop the Parc de Belleville, one of the highest points in Paris, this café offers gorgeous views of the city. The large paved terrace is in high demand as is the free Wi-Fi. Inside there is a gallery for cartoonists and graphic novelists, as well as a concert hall for young musicians on weekend nights.
Cafe de Flore
Address: 172 boulevard St Germain 75006
Tel.: 33 1 45 48 55 26
Spots at the shady pavement tables in the neighborhood of Saint Germain are in great demand in this site of literary history. This café was a favorite of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. Prices are high in this gem, but the charm may be worth it.
Fast food can easily be found throughout the city in the form of international chains or the ubiquitous street foods of sandwiches, quiche, crepes, pizza, french fries, and falafel. Despite Paris's reputation as a pricey place to eat, cheap eats can be found for under 5 Euros. The cheapest restaurant areas are located in the Latin Quarter and around Montmartre. Note that areas full of tourists often get by on sub par food.
Crépes - (gare Montparnasse) The quintessential French street food of crépes can be found anywhere, but some of the best lie in the area around the gare Montparnasse. In particular, Josselin offers a bustling environment and delectable crépes.
L'As du Falafel - (32 rue des Rosiers) Popular falaffel shop with Mediterranean specialties.
Man'ouché - (stand close to the Centre Georges Pompidou at 66, rue Rambuteau) Lebanese restaurants have become quite popular and offer tasty, filling, inexpensive meals. Schawarma, lemon and garlic chicken (shish taouk), falafel, and hand-tossed Lebanese pizzas stuffed with soft cheese and zaatar are all specialties.
There is a reason French food can be found in all corners of the world. The French take their dining seriously and the capitol city is a foodie's paradise. Remember that reservations are not just recommended, for the top places they are essential.
A La Petite Chaise
Address: 36, rue de Grenelle
Tel.: 01 42 22 13 35
Price: €20-33 pre-fixe menu (included a glass of any wine or coffee at lunch, additional for evening service)
Hours: Open every day, including Sundays
This restaurant holds the distinction of the oldest restaurant in Paris, founded in 1680. Formally attired waiters serve classics cooked right.
Address: 228 rue de Rivoli, lst
Tel.: 33 1 44 58 10 10
Price: Average €200
Hours: Open for lunch and dinner from Mon-Fri
For a truly outstanding gastronomic experience, it is hard to do better than the glamorous dining room at the Hotel Meurice. Classic French decor of crystal chandeliers and damask curtains house three Michelin star dining.
Restaurant du Palais-Royal
Address: 110 Galerie Valois, lst
Tel.: (1) 40 20 00 27
Price: Average €50
The perfect location for a romantic meal, this restaurant looks out into the gardens of the Louvre. Contemporary French food is prepared with seasonal ingredients.
Chez Dumonet - Josephine
Address: 117 rue du Cherche-Midi, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés, Paris, 75006
Tel.: (1) 45 48 52 40
Price: Average €50
Hours: Closed Saturday and Sunday
This is a classic old-world bistro. Boeuf bourguignon, crisp-skinned duck confit, pan-fried foie gras, monkfish with white beans, and spectacular desserts are all on display.
Address: 31 Avenue George V, 8th
Tel.: (1) 49 52 70 00
Eric Briffard has one of the most prestigious chef's job in town as the head of this kitchen. Classical techniques are practiced with international elements like the Perle Blanche oysters in an aspic of granny smith and wasabi.
Address: 16 avenue Bugeaud, 16th
Tel.: 33 1 56 28 16 16
Price: Lunch menu €58; tasting menus €80, €120 and €150; à la carte €90
Chef Jean-Louis Nomicos offers cusine originally from Marseille in a swanky setting.