Having just moved back to the Bay Area from the City of Lights, my recent trip to Paris was designed to be mostly administrative. Close up my bank account, cancel my phone contract, say goodbye to people, the usual. I only lived there for six months, but it carved a macaron shaped hole in my heart that will never be filled by any other place. In that short time I explored this wonderful city, ate like a queen, drank like Bacchus, and met some of the most incredible people I will ever encounter in my life.
It’s hard to know where to begin when talking or writing about Paris, it’s all been said and written before, and by more eloquent people than I, so I’ll stick with what I know, and do a small overview of my more frequent haunts.
The Marche d’Aligre is THE BEST market in Paris. No arguments! Open every day except Monday, in the morning it sprawls through the street, with every food imaginable and a flea market. It’s wild, busy, and wonderful. It quiets down in the afternoons with just the covered market open from 4-7, where you can get the best fish, cheese, meat, and produce known to man. I recommend the first fishmonger as you come into the doors, where Patrick and his son Valentin will flirt with you over the ice. For cheese head to the left and see Isabel! Fancy Italian? See Martine at the Italian deli for fresh pasta, smoked mozzarella, and olives. This is a destination and a neighborhood spot, everyone knows everyone, and it is a must see spot for anyone who likes markets. As ever with French markets, never touch anything, and wait your turn! They know what they are doing and will get you that perfect avocado for Wednesday’s lunch, as long as you touché pas!
Open until 1pm, and then 4-7pm, everyday except Monday
Miss Lunch at Premier Pression Provence, 3 Rue Antoine Vollon, 12eme
This is absolutely one of the coolest, funkiest restaurants in Paris, if not the world. For the sake of full disclosure, I did work here over the summer, as a waitress and assistant to Miss Lunch herself. Right around the corner from the Marche d’Aligre, we shopped fresh every morning. It’s harder than you’d think to find great food in Paris, most of it comes from the freezer, but here at Miss Lunch you know that everything was bought whole from the market that morning, and prepped lovingly by your chef and hostess. Originally from Canada, Miss Lunch is a force to be reckoned with, giddy and energetic, unbelievably creative, and a fantastic chef. Her food speaks of influences from all across the globe, but is tied together with a dedication to seasonality and the highest quality. First made famous by her secret supper club Lunch in the Loft, she opened Miss Lunch in the back of a Provencal olive oil boutique, sort of as an experiment. If you look at the open kitchen, you’ll see no stoves or ovens, just two microwaves. Because of licensing, that’s all she was able to get, and having never worked with a microwave before, you’ll be shocked to see what comes out of her tiny kitchen. She also offers cooking classes and private catered events. This is a must eat destination for people who have been traveling and need real food, great vegetarian options, and everything is always healthy and delicious. Small selection of great natural wines! Miss Lunch will always feature heavily in my life as a truly inspirational figure, her food changed the way I think, cook, and eat, and I will be forever grateful.
15 Euros for Starter+Main or Main+Dessert
Open for lunch Wednesday through Saturday, dinner Thursday and Friday
Bistro des Gastronomes, 10 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, 5eme
I stumbled upon this place one evening while walking to the Latin Quarter for drinks. Small, clean, and modern, I was shocked to see that the very serious looking menu was only 28 euros for three courses! I had to find out if it was too good to be true. It isn’t. Their specialty is razor clams, and they are to die for, but having been back again and again, I am pleased to say that everything is delicious. This place is classic French cuisine, done perfectly, with a stellar, tight wine list. This is my go-to special occasion place, because it is extremely good value for the level of the food, presentation, and service. I’ve recommended it before and will recommend it again, because they just tick all the boxes. Don’t get trapped at some fancy shmancy place that will serve you Cordon Bleu 101 for 200 euros (I’m looking at you Tour d’Argent), spend your money here instead. It’s worth it.
28 Euros for the 3 course set menu
Open for lunch and dinner everyday except for Sundays and Mondays.
L’Etiquette, 10 Rue Jean du Bellay, 4eme, Ile St Louis
No trip to Paris would be complete without a lock-in with my buddy Hervé at L’Etiquette. In fact, I’d say my friendship with him defined my entire time living in Paris. My first day living there, I strolled around my neighborhood, established that there were two wine shops, noticed that one of them was a Nicolas and the other was independent, and then promptly introduced myself to Hervé and told him he would be seeing a lot of me. Oh how right I was! Everything in this little shop is naturel, Hervé is a missionary for the natural wine movement and only carries the best natural wines from France. This is somewhere in between a bar, a shop, and your friend’s house, he will happily open a bottle to drink with you in the shop, and chances are 90% of the clients at any given time are personal friends of him. If you’re lucky, he’ll take a polaroid with you and you’ll end up immortalized on his wall. If you look closely, you’ll see me there….three times!
Open all the time, so it seems