You’re spoiled for culinary choice in a city that boasts the most Michelin stars in the world
France lays claim to more Michelin stars than any other country, and the city of Paris has managed to bag more than 70 of these. We’ve narrowed them down to our top ten…
1. Plaza Athénée
With a total of 19 Michelin stars and operating 23 restaurants in seven countries, celebrated chef Alain Ducasse is often accused of being a brand rather than a chef. But despite the fact that he rarely cooks for his fans these days, he is never out of the kitchen and is on a permanent quest to reinvent French cuisine. And, having won back his third star for his Paris flagship restaurant Plaza Athénée (dorchestercollection.com/Plaza-Athenee) at the 2016 Michelin Guide awards, he’s once more the talk of the town. At the hotel restaurant, executive chef Romain Meder honours “naturality”, forgoing heavy, buttery meat dishes for a high-end version of wholesome, humble cuisine based on fish, vegetables and grains. The Atlantic sea bass with clementine confit sings with fresh flavours.
2. Pavillon Ledoyen
The pin-up of the restaurant world, the dreamy Yannick Alléno also scored a hat-trick of stars after leaving his headquarters at Le Meurice in 2014 to take the reins of the historic Pavillon Ledoyen (yannick-alleno.com) – also known as Alléno Paris), where he snapped up his third star in mere months. Aside from chef Alléno’s incredible cuisine, the charming 18th-century setting offers a wonderfully whimsical taste of Paris’s true spirit.
L’Arpège (alain-passard.com), a restaurant devoted to the humble vegetable, clinched Paris’s highest accolade in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, coming in at number 12 on the list, one spot ahead ofAlain Ducasseat the Plaza Athénée. Chef Alain Passard has been praised for his variation on minimalism and deconstruction – cooking methods that have since been copied by other chefs. Toppling the world of haute cuisine when he took red meat off his menu in 2001 at the height of the mad cow disease crisis in Europe, Passard has since focused on making vegetables the main attraction, with concepts like caramelised tomato dessert and broken mustard sauce.
Speaking of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, Sustainable Restaurant award winner, Septime (septime-charonne.fr) also featured on this year’s list, jumping to the 35th spot, not far behind Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen, which was this year’s highest new entry, at number 31. Neo-bistro Septime has rapidly gained an almost cult-like status thanks to its environmentally friendly ethos and affordably priced food. But you’ll need to book months in advance.
Despite a year of mixed reviews, L'Astrance (astrancerestaurant.com) crawled back into the top 50, to 46. The miniscule restaurant seats just 25 covers and doesn’t offer menus, so you’ll need to be willing to give the chefs carte blanche. Their varying seven-course feast is priced at AED 945. Pascal Barbot, possibly the most famous of Alain Passard‘s apprentices, is at the kitchen’s helm, using French techniques paired with myriad influences from Asia.
6. La Tour d'Argent
The historic La Tour d'Argent (tourdargent.com), overlooking the Seine and Notre Dame in the buzzing Latin Quarter, holds one of the city’s twinkling stars, largely thanks to its iconic signature dish, canard à la presse (pressed duck). True to its old-school form, advanced booking is essential.
7. Le Roche Restaurant and Bar
If you’re seeking to amuse your bouche, Le Roche Restaurant and Bar (leroch-hotel.com) promises a culinary adventure conceived by starred chef Arnaud Faye. Appetisers include the sublime salmon tarama with cloudlike blinis and a delightful garlic-fried egg with parsnip, honey and lemon.
8. Gaya Rive Gauche
At Gaya Rive Gauche (pierre-gagnaire.com/restaurants/gaya), super-chef Pierre Gagnaire serves sensational seafood at surprisingly affordable prices in a cosy and cultivated setting.
9. Le Restaurant
Le Restaurant (l-hotel.com/le restaurant), in the turn-of-the-century boutique hotel L’Hôtel on Paris’s arty Left Bank, offers Michelin-starred chef Philippe Bélissent’s seasonal delights, including Lozère lamb with ambrosial pumpkin, sugared chestnuts and salsify. It’s also très romantique.
For many years, locals and tourists were spoilt for dining options in Paris, as long as they wanted French food. But now, Japanese chefs are du jour, Peruvian cuisine is gaining momentum, Mexican taquerias are the place to be seen, and even the Brits are having a moment.
Chef Kei Kobayashi cut his cloth with Alain Ducasse and you’ll thank your lucky stars (and his two from Michelin) if you manage to procure a table at Kei (restaurant-kei.fr). Don’t be put off that the signature dish is a salad. The mini allotment of crispy vegetables, smoked salmon, rocket foam, lemon emulsion, tomato vinaigrette and black-olive crumble is transcendent.
Source: Condé Nast Traveller Middle East