Paris’s Top 5 Most Authentic Bistros

These intimate restaurants have a warm ambiance and Parisian-approved cuisine

by Elizabeth Quinn Brown | May 10, 2018 11:00 am

Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots are famous, sure. But, there are more authentic choices for those who want a taste of Parisian culture—and a taste of Parisian cuisine. Ones where the ambiance is as fashionable and French as the soupe à l’oignon gratinée. These are the charmed bistrots that Ernest Hemingway would have chosen in 2018:

1. CHEZ JANOU: There are about 80 pastises (the alcoholic, anise-flavored drink) at Chez Janou[1]—which bustles with character in Paris’s Le Marais neighborhood. The fare is fish-focused, featuring a moules gratinées à la Provençal (paired with crusted bread) and a gambas flambées au pastis. But, the sweetest course is the “bottomless” chocolate mousse.

Courtesy of Chez Janou

Courtesy of Chez Janou

2. L’AMI LOUIS: An intimate restaurant with a dark-wood exterior and checkered curtains, L’Ami Louis is an invitation to 1930s-era Paris. The exclusive scene is home to celebs and “it” Brits, who choose this establishment at 32, rue du Vertbois in Paris’s 3ème arrondissement for its charm and delicious foie gras des landes (which costs a decadent 60 euros).

3. LA FONTAINE DE MARS: This historic restaurant has, since 1908, embraced the cuisine of France’s Sud-Oeust at 129, rue Saint-Dominque in Paris’s 7ème arrondissement (about a five-minute walk from the iconic Eiffel Tower). La Fontaine de Mars[2]’ customers—who have included Barack and Michelle Obama—are there for the classics, which include a seared foie gras with a 2008 Cyprès de Climens sauternes.

Courtesy of La Fontaine de Mars

Courtesy of La Fontaine de Mars

4. LE VOLTAIRE: Le Voltaire decorates the River Seine’s southern bank and serves as a chic establishment catering to the fashionable, including Sofia Coppola and Anna Wintour. The scenic terrace is a first-row seat to Paris’s 7ème arrondissement with views of the Musée de Louvre. Here, customers can watch the excitement of the city with a cocktail and an order of the old-fashioned deviled eggs.

Courtesy of Le Voltaire

Courtesy of Le Voltaire

5. LES TEMPS DES CERISES: This corner boîte, which is situated nearby Paris’s Place de la Bastille, was named for Jean-Baptiste Clément’s “Les Temps Des Cerises” (1866)—a famous chanson from the “Paris Commune” era. Les Temps Des Cerises[3]’s mosaic-decorated exterior offers a small menu that features a soupe à l’oignon gratinée and escargots.

Courtesy of Les Temps Des Cerises

Courtesy of Les Temps Des Cerises

Written by Elizabeth Quinn Brown

Endnotes:
  1. Chez Janou: http://www.chezjanou.com
  2. La Fontaine de Mars: https://www.fontainedemars.com/
  3. Les Temps Des Cerises: http://letempsdescerises-restaurant.fr/

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