Food connoisseurs should always reserve time for a meal at one of Paris' top gourmet restaurants, world-renowned gastronomic establishments that have earned up to three Michelin stars for exceptional cuisine and service. Star chefs such as Alain Ducasse and Guy Savoy guarantee a gastronomic experience your palate will savor for some time, serving up delicacies such as foie gras ravioli or wild Breton lobster. Impeccable service awaits you in lavish surroundings, but it does not come cheap, so arrive armed with plastic and remember to book well in advance.
This hotel restaurant is run by talented chef Yannick Alléno, whose innovative cuisine (such as calf sweetbread with mushroom béchamel) brought Le Meurice from one star in 2003 to three today. The restaurant's interior is reminiscent of Versailles, with crystal chandeliers, antique mirrors and large bay windows overlooking the stunning Jardins des Tuileries. A set lunch menu is available for 75 Euros (approx. $99). Allow for 100 Euros/approx. $132 à la carte.
Located on the elegant Place des Vosges, this restaurant under Bernard Pacaud's direction first gained its three-star rating in 1986. The seventeenth-century building provides a romantic and luxurious setting for a top-rate gourmet meal. The menu features delicacies such as crawfish soup and rack of lamb with nougat. Desserts include the legendary chocolate tart and orange and pink grapefruit trifle. Allow between €125 and €200 (approx.$165-$264) a la carte. Reservations are recommended at least one month in advance.
Although simplicity is the keyword where decor at Arpège is concerned, this in no way indicates simplistic food. Talented chef Alain Passard puts all his energy into the cuisine here, and foodies will not be disappointed. Truffles are a dominant feature in the dishes, and the Thai crab curry is one to try. Couscous with vegetables and shellfish and monkfish with mustard sauce are also among the specialties. Allow between €50 and €180 (approx. $66-$237) à la carte.
With an impressive nine to his name, world-renowned chef Alain Ducasse holds the most Michelin stars in all of France. Also responsible for the Louis XV in Monaco, Ducasse's reputation consistently pulls crowds. In collaboration with designer Patrick Jouin, Ducasse ensures an unfailing, elegant and excellent dining experience at the Plaza Athénée. A winter menu will set you back a steep 320 Euros (approx. $422), and a la carte choices range from foie gras at 80 Euros/approx. $105 to Iranian caviar at 150 Euros/approx. $198.
A stone's throw from the elegant Champs Elysees, this classic French restaurant was established by Pierre Ledoyen in 1792. The dining room is spacious, with high ceilings and numerous windows, providing customers with a view of the Petit Palais. A former chef at the Ritz restaurant, Christian Le Squer competently serves up dishes such as smoked eel and spaghetti with a cream of porcini mushroom sauce. Le Doyen is a top choice for a gourmet dining experience that won't break the bank.
In Paris' chic eighth district, chef Pierre Gagnaire provides an exclusive gastronomic experience for a maximum of 45 guests. The menu is innovative (raw gambas stuffed with niora chilli are recommended), with entrees and main courses approximately €100/approx. $132 a piece, and a special tasting menu that will leave you short €225/approx. $297. Dessert is a medley of nine traditional French pastries accompanied with seasonal fruits and chocolate. The restaurant is closed on weekends.
Opened in 2000, L'Astrance has ascended from one Michelin star to three in the past ten years. Although criticized in the past for sacrificing the fare to ceremony and decor, there is plenty on offer here to stimulate the palate. Chefs Pascal Barbot and Christophe Rohat concoct dishes such as gratin-style mussels and red mullet with tamarind butter. The decor is predominantly gray, classically-clad wait staff, and a tranquil dining experience is guaranteed. Set menus are €150/approx. $158, and €250/approx. $330 with wine.
Located in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris' affluent 16th district, Frédéric Anton heads up this restaurant owned by the hotel Accor group. A stylish dining room opens to an outdoor terrace surrounded by greenery and sheltering parasols. Classic French cuisine meets contemporary here, with the likes of roasted Breton lobster or black risotto with Thai basil. Set menus range from €140 to €180 (approx. $185-$238), with main courses averaging at €80 (approx. $106).
You can sample the talents of multifarious chef Guy Savoy at this gourmet bistro by ordering the modestly-priced set menu at €100 (approx. $132). This procures you a half-entree, the main course, and a half-dessert. The menu is subject to change according to the season, with popular game (e.g. pheasant and venison) winter additions. Recommended gourmet soups include artichoke and truffle or lentil and crayfish. The decor, all dark wood, and leather are resolutely contemporary.
Young, talented chef Eric Frechon heads this three-star Michelin restaurant at the luxurious Le Bristol hotel. The gastronomic restaurant offers seasonal menus featuring both classic, simple French dishes with creative flourishes (foie gras de canard with oysters in green tea bouillon) or beef pot au feu, along with more contemporary creations. More accessible lunch menus make the Bristol a good choice for the gastronomically curious with limited budgets. Always reserve well ahead.
Housed in an eighteenth-century building and overlooking the Palais Royal gardens, this intimate center of high gastronomy has been a place of literary and political debate for 200 years. Today, under the direction of Guy Martin, it is a modern spot for French cuisine at its best. While the restaurant was downgraded from three to two Michelin stars in 2008, it remains one of the city's traditional center for fine gastronomy. Set lunch and dinner menus are available at €75 and €225 (approx. $99-$297) respectively, and a la carte options vary from €120 to €200 (approx. $158-$264). The restaurant is closed on weekends.