Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in Paris: No Traps Here!: Guest Blogger

- Lindsey Tramuta,

As much as tourists and longtime Francophiles try to explore the less-traveled sides of Paris (the Paris of locals), a first-time visitor is likely going to want to hit the highly populated tourist sites. Can we really blame them with a city that looks like a museum? Even with the best of intentions, this usually translates to eating at overly trafficked sub-par tourist trap restaurants for breakfast and dinner with a deplorable ham & cheese on baguette sandwich from a take-away shop for lunch that they convince themselves was charmingly French and delightful when really they would have preferred something far more gastronomical. But why should visitors have to sacrifice taste and affordability just because they’re wandering around the Eiffel Tower or the Bastille? They shouldn’t.

And with that, a few suggestions for where to eat WELL around a few of the tourist hot spots in the city:

7th Arrondissement – EIFFEL TOWER/INVALIDES

{Breakfast} For those who want and need more than a croissant on-the-go from a bakery in the morning, there’s Café Central on the rue Cler. I was very surprised to learn that despite its tourist draw, their breakfast is extremely affordable with the added benefit of a terrace (heated in the winter). For 11€, breakfast consists of a freshly squeezed orange juice, coffee/tea/or hot chocolate, a croissant or pain au chocolat, toasted baguette with butter and jam, and an organic omelette of your choice from a list. This deal is available between 7 and 11:30am. On Sunday, the brunch price kicks in at 11:30 for which you get the same amount of food for double the price. Given the neighborhood, you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal short of going into the supermarket or bakery and eating on-the-go.

*Their chicken burger served at lunch is also quite tasty. You might want to think about making another stop a few hours after breakfast. 

Photo Credits: Justine In Paris

{Breakfast or Lunch} Who could resist the charms of an adorable old couple who run a salon de thé? Pain et Chocolat*, a tiny little place right at the heart of tourist stomping grounds, serves breakfast and lunch with a variety of pastries, teas and a hot chocolate worth going back for weekly. Omelettes, vegetarian dishes and salads make up their menu but you’ll remember the desserts and the owners more than anything.

{Lunch or Dinner} I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Café Constant, the star of the 7th arrondissement, on this list. Owned by the renowned chocolate confectioner and former Hôtel Crillon chef, Christian Constant, Café Constant is the epitome of fine French cuisine. One of four restaurants in the Constant family all located within the same block on Rue Saint Dominique, I wouldn’t recommend leaving the neighborhood without at least stopping for lunch. Traditional fare with a touch more.

11th Arrondissement – BASTILLE/PLACE DES VOSGES

{Brunch/Dinner} A few hops from the Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris built by Henri IV, and nestled in between art galleries and classic music street performers, sits Les Bonnes Soeurs –  a cozy little restaurant with a family feel and modern twist on a traditional menu. After your meal, stroll around the Place or head right into the heart of the Marais for shopping and people watching. Reservations highly recommended – brunch is always packed, always good.

Photo courtesy of Le Rusti

{Lunch/Dinner} After several meals of traditional French food, you’re likely to be itching for something different. The list of top quality Italian restaurants in Paris has been steadily growing and I’m always inclined to trust those that are actually run by Italians. One such place is Le Rusti, an Italian bistro tucked just behind the Bastille on a calm street and in close proximity to the Place des Vosges.  Fresh pastas and antipasti, homemade desserts, convivial Italian music and a wait staff with just the most charming of accents. The place fills up fast, be sure to reserve.


Photo Credits: GT Valck

{Dinner} On one of the city’s natural islands in the Seine river, Ile de la Cîté, is the Place Dauphine which sits just across from the Pont Neuf (bridge). A quick walk from the Louvre, the quaint and quiet Place Dauphine, which is essentially a residential park, sits tucked away from the road. Around the park lined with trees and benches, you’ll find pricey apartments, a few shops and several restaurants worth adding to your list. Ma Salle à Manger looks just as the name suggests – like the inside of your dining room. Specialized in Southwest cuisine, it’s a charming respite from the busy boulevards. An ideal spot to rest your feet in the evening and then digest with a walk along the river.

Photo Credits: John Paul

{Drinks/Dinner} With one of the most incredible views of the river, KONG is the place to see and be seen. Conceived by restaurateur Laurent Taïeb and world-renowned designer Philippe Starck, this lounge/bar/restaurant atop the Kenzo store (with a direct view of the Louis Vuitton headquarters) might be best known for its appearance in Sex and the City when Carrie Bradshaw lunches with her Russian lover’s ex-wife. The refined fusion of modern and classic Franco-Japanese tastes will impress as well as the service. For the price and the view, you shouldn’t expect anything less. For more of a late night out, head to the lounge for cocktails and champagne.

Other options:

8th arrondissement (near St. Augustin): POMZE
11th arrondissement (near the Canal St. Martin): Le Chateaubriand
1st arrondissement (near the Louvre) Les Fines Gueules
8th arrondissement (Avenue George V) Findi
17th arrondissement (near the Arc de Triomphe): Le Latéral

*Address for Pain et Chocolat : 16 avenue de la Motte Picquet, 01 45 50 14 27

Lindsey Tramuta is an expat in Paris from Philadelphia and the creator of the blog Lost in Cheeseland – a collection of musings on food, life, love and obstacles in France. You can read more of her work here:

  1. Susan says:

    Great suggestions! We tried Pomze on our recent trip, and loved it.

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  3. I think this is brilliant .. I know exactly where the writer means. One thing I always do when in Paris is move a few streets away from the tourist attraction and you will find cheaper fantastic restaurants… Oh Rue cler is amazing and I know the restaurant/cafe mentioned for breakfast .. very very good.

  4. Nina says:

    Kong is one of my favorite restaurants in Paris, I’ve been there many times, perhaps I’m going there this weekend too. Pomze is also very interesting.
    Nice list, Lindsey! :-)

  5. andrea@3samovar says:

    i work in the seventh, thanks for giving me ideas!!!

  6. Martin says:

    I’ll be in Paris the last week of November. I’m printing out this list to take with me!

  7. Ol_Paris says:

    Great post! Thank you :)

  8. Vanessa says:

    Great ideas- love Kong- great view!

  9. nadia says:

    I’m hungry for Paris! Great post!!

  10. amyfabulous says:

    WOW, yes I remember seeing that restaurant in Sex and the City – totally forgot about it. Your culinary experience seems like it was amazing. Thanks for the suggestions.

    Did you also do a macaroon and pain au chocolat hunt? If so, where do you think has the best? Lauderee and Pierre Herme is a given, but any other secret spots?

  11. Sweet Freak says:

    Wow, that is an amazing deal at Cafe Central. I love (and second the props) for Cafe Constant and Les Bonnes Souers. Now, me thinks, I have to check out Kong!

  12. Julia says:

    Just arrived in Paris – thanks for the great list – will check them out!

  13. Lindsey says:

    Thanks everyone! So glad you enjoyed my little list – thought it might come in handy!

  14. Brilliant! Reading through the list made me so hungry I had to stop and have a snack. Thanks for the great tips.

  15. Andi says:

    Thanks Linsdey, as someone who travels to Paris 1-2 times a year I am always thrilled to find “new” hotels to check out! Great post!

  16. Lindsey says:

    Amy Fabulous – I would start with Ladurée and Pierre Hermé and make the comparison – those are usually the safest bests! Have a great trip!

  17. Laura says:

    great list–i wish i’d had it while i was living there!

  18. Kasia Dietz says:

    Great list Lindsey! Looking forward to trying a few of these local haunts. Great brunch tips too!

  19. amyfabulous says:

    Martin – will it be your first time in Paris? Here are some more food reccos:

    Le Comptoir Du Relais- This is one of my favorite restaurants. It is traditional French Brasserie. I like to go during lunch because at dinner, it is a set menu and I think you need a reservation for dinner. I LOVE the pig’s feet, sliced pork belly, brandade,cochon de lait, fois gras and haricot vert salad, soups, charcuterie and beef cheek. Opens at 12pm everyday.The chef is Yves Camdeborde (from Le Regalade). The GM is Daniel Boulud’s nephew.

    Ami Jean – Another favorite restaurant. I LOVE this place for dinner. You have to call to make a reso for dinner. Get the 3 courses for 34 EU. The chef, Stephan, worked with Yves Cambdeborde at Le Regalade.

  20. Debbie says:

    And to think that Devin is passing up an opportunity to be in Paris in March!!!!

  21. Good luck, Lindsey! Here’s to hoping you win, though you’re up against my pal Matt, so I have to stay neutral haha =)

  22. Jen Laceda says:

    Yes, I LOVE breakfast at Cafe Central on Rue Cler!! The patio is awesome and food prices are reasonable. P.S. Love that picture on top!

  23. what a fantastic post! Thank you for all the fabulous tips! I’m bookmarking this for when I finally get to visit Paris :-)

  24. Great tips !!! I had dinner at Les Bonnes Soeurs yesterday… Bon rapport qualité-prix

  25. Jean de Lagarrigue says:

    Nice blog post very usefull :)

  26. Lindsey says:

    I’m so glad everyone liked the tips! Cristina – yes, Les Bonnes Soeurs is definitely worth every cent!

  27. Excellent list – I wish I’d stopped by sooner whilst still in Paris…
    Adding to my future to-do in Paris list!
    Don’t forget 7th arr. Christian Constant’s les cocottes de Constant just next door for a reservation-free somewhat less pricy relaxed resto of great fun.
    merci carolg

  28. Lindsey says:

    Yes yes, Les Cocottes is a must-try!

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