Zimbeck and her colleagues lead walking tours in the capital of France and have been seeking out the best tables in the city for years. With her help, we compiled a list of 10 best French restaurants in Paris:
1. Bistrot Paul Bert
For authentic bistro fare with old-timey Paris atmosphere, go to Bistrot Paul Bert.
Courtesy Heather Sperling/Creative Commons/Flickr
“This is one of the restaurants that I always recommend when people ask for a classic bistro experience,” says Zimbeck. Located in the east section of the city, the bistro has a lively atmosphere and serves delicious steak frites and apple tart. Also worth checking out: the same owner’s modern version of the cafe, Le 6 Paul Bert, just down the street.
Bistrot Paul Bert, 22 Rue Paul Bert, 75011 Paris. Tel +33 1 43 72 24 01
A perfectly poached egg with corn and parmesan at Septime. The no-choice menu changes seasonally.
courtesy lindsey tramuta
“Septime’s the place where you can go and depend on having beautiful service that makes you feel special and welcomed,” says Zimbeck.
Septime, 80 rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris. Tel +33 1 43 67 38 29
3. Chez Casimir
The little brother of renowned Chez Michel, Chez Casimir shares a kitchen with the pricier counterpart, though it serves more affordable fare. Located near Gare du Nord, it’s particularly convenient for Eurostar riders or those looking for affordable dining, and what Zimbeck calls the best cheese plate in the city.
“It’s where the locals go for high-caliber bistro food,” she says.
Chez Casimir, Gare du Nord, 6 rue de Belzunce, 75010 Paris. Tel +33 1 48 78 28 80
4. Relais d’Entrecôte
Served with secret sauce and crispy fries, the portions seem scant until the wait staff comes around with the much-welcomed second helping. Families with picky eaters or those looking to avoid reservations will appreciate the restaurant’s three locations.
Relais de l’Entrecote, 15 rue Marbeuf, 75008 Paris. Tel +33 1 49 52 07 17
5. Le Chateaubriand
“They take the ingredients that morning and put them together in interesting ways,” says Zimbeck.
Reserve a table, if you can, but unless you plan far in advance, you’ll have to join the crowd on the sidewalk waiting for a spot in line. The small room and portions don’t make for a relaxed meal, but one that will surprise and excite.
Le Chateaubriand,129 avenue Parmentier, 75011 Paris. Tel +33 1 43 57 45 95
AT Verjus, find romance with … fried chicken.
Courtesy Verjus Paris
“There’s a lot of engagement and conversation,” says Zimbeck.
Restaurant Verjus, 52, rue de Richelieu 75001 Paris +33 1 42 97 54 40
Semilla, 54 Rue de Seine, 75006 Paris. Tel +33 1 43 54 34 50
8. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
The counter feels like a sexy sushi bar at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon.
Courtesy Kent Wang/Creative Commons/Flickr
Executive chef is now Axel Manes, a protégé of Robuchon. While continuing the classic dishes, Manes has put a new emphasis on seasonality.
A recent menu sampling includes les palourdes (clams) stuffed with pink garlic and mushrooms and calf liver with crispy onion rouelles.
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, 5 rue Montalembert, Hotel Pont Royal, 75007 Paris Tel +33 1 42 22 56 56
9. Les Papilles
Craving a glass of French wine? Les Papilles is the place to go.
Courtesy Les Papilles
A copious four-course fixed menu features a main dish served family-style out of a copper pot and usually a plate of cheese. The plates change daily.
“A lot of chefs like to come here on their day off because they don’t have to think about it,” says Zimbeck. Reservations recommended.
Les Papilles, 30 Rue Gay-Lussac, 75005 Paris. Tel +33 1 43 25 20 79
10. Breizh Café
The best spot for an authentic Breton crepe.
Courtesy Cody and Maureen/Creative Commons/Flickr
According to Zimbeck, the overly stuffed buckwheat galettes made with Bordier butter are a world apart from what you’ll find at most street-side crepe stands. Reservations are required, as usual, for the best French restaurants in Paris.
Breizh Cafe, 109 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris. Tel +33 1 42 72 13 77
Editor’s note: This article was first published in 2013 and been updated for 2019. CNN’s Forrest Brown contributed new material to this article.