The Paris Lunch Guide
I am aware that perhaps the last thing the internet needs is another article on obligatory tourist sites and must-sees of Paris. It is not even that I think these guides are sketchy – they can honestly be quite helpful for those visiting the city for the first time. And frankly, if you have never been to the city of lights, do go and see the Eiffel Tower, stroll around Montmartre and gaze at the Sacré-Coeur, as these sites are simply striking. It is merely that these places you’ll visit are on average not the Paris the general Parisian experiences. For example, many of my friends have never even been inside the Sacré-Coeur, or shiver at the idea of standing in line to walk up the stairs of the Eiffel Tower. Also, I do not wander around aimlessly in the sixth arrondissement gazing at the beautiful Seine and its matching architecture as often as most movies make you think Parisians do.
That being said, let me show you a glimpse of what Paris is like for me personally. Having lived in the city for a long time, I created a personal list of favourite eateries, hangouts and museums. I have been thinking of doing a series with my favourite spots for a little while now and will start today with my recommendations for lunch and brunch in Paris. I can usually be found in the tenth arrondissement around Canal Saint-Martin (which is near La République and not too far from Le Marais), so expect my locations to be a bit centred around this area. However, some of these recommendations might be a bit of a walk, but are quite close by Métro (or, for the less active among us, a Uber driver…). Paris is however, a city made for walking.
Please keep in mind this is not a list of must-visit lunchrooms in Paris. There are so many interesting brunch places around town and these are simply a couple of lunchrooms I have tried out in the last year or so and love to go back to every now and then when having lunch with friends or family in Paris. This list, at most, should be seen as some form of local recommendations of lunch addresses in Paris from one friend to another.
Holybelly – They call themselves a Melbourne brunch café, but Holybelly has acquired a small spot in the hearts of many Parisians. Expect no old and dandy Parisian class, but a lively modern brunch place in the tenth arrondissement where I have come across the fluffiest buttermilk pancakes I have ever set my teeth in. Even my very, very French boyfriend enjoyed the – for him near-exotic – Australian lunch consisting of poached egg with bacon and avocado on toast. A personal favourite, but does get pretty crowded on weekends (expect a bit of waiting time!).
Le Poutch – In the same street as Holybelly, there is Le Poutch for those who want to have brunch in a more Parisian-style fashion. The tenth arrondissement is upcoming, but this place stands out for me for its cosy, vintage vibe yet classic French menu. The tile floor and simple yet somehow simultaneously sixties-retro interior is ridiculously stylish, but just wait until you’ve tried their quiche – I have yet to come across a French mamie that does a better one.
Ober Mamma – Ober Mamma has been around for a bit, but is still worth the mention as it in my opinion actually lives up to the hype. It must also be the only restaurant in Paris that has a gigantic sculpture of a tree in the centre of the dining area (as far as I know), and their Italian food is one of the freshest of Paris. Take the entree with the large Parmesan chunks and the parmigiana for a main course for a real treat.
Season – My friends once took me to this restaurant saying that since I now live up north I must feel right at home here. For me, this restaurant is Paris’ response to the current trend of Scandi-chic; the simple yet refined interior decoration matches their menu, which consists of light and clean meals with fresh and pure products. The marinated salmon salad with mango, beetroot and ginger is surprisingly filling and one of my absolute favourite meals in Paris.
Wild & The Moon – This floral lunchroom located in a side street of Le Marais is one of the most aesthetically pleasing places I have visited. Also, their menu is entirely consisting of vegan and organic options and is served on the most beautiful plates and bowls. Besides their tasty lunch menu, they also serve fresh juices, salad bowls and coffee on the go. However, I would recommend sitting down and choosing for a large lunch, as the menu changes daily yet remains healthy, fresh and simply appetising.
Bistro Les Philosophes – Les Philosophes in le Marais is probably as Parisian as bistros get. It is situated in the beautiful fourth arrondissement (definitely worth a stroll if you have the time) and their terrace is top notch when it comes to people-watching together with a friend over a quality glass of red wine. More for an afternoon drink than a rather large lunch, but they do serve a rather large French brunch with fresh croissants and baguette for those who show up a little early.
Café de Flore – This café is the home of the original French philosopher’s garde, and it used to be the favourite weekend hangout of Sartre and de Beauvoir. I feel a bit of a philosophical rush whenever the waiter serves me a café au lait in that typical Café de Flore cup and saucer. The green tables with gold-embossed logo are, for better or worse, becoming a true Instagram classic. Side note: perhaps one of the more expensive coffees I’ve had in Paris (and not necessarily that good, but apparently one cannot help but pay to come close to the true spirit of Sartre).
Les Deux Magots – Straight across Café de Flore is Les Deux Magots, which also has that typical, classic Parisian lunchroom atmosphere. There is smoked salmon, there is brioche and there is a croque madame, but mostly go there to experience that essential fancy French lunchroom mingle rather than a mind-blowing meal. The place was once frequented by the likes of Picasso, Hemingway and Léger, and by having a croissant and a café au lait there you might just experience a little bit of their old artistic pursuit.