The Best French Bistros (and Restaurants) in the 7th District of Paris
When visiting Paris, it is hard to find a better district to eat in than the 7th, that prosperous, gentrified and beautiful district that houses the Eiffel Tower and runs along the left bank to Blvd. St. Germaine. The 7th is home to 1,000’s of restaurants, it would take months just to eat your way through this district (and what glorious months those would be).
Now I have been writing about the paradox of French foods a lot in the past few weeks. I have complained, rightfully, about the poor quality of food in parts in Provence that are overrun by tourists and urged visitors to Paris to stay at home and use their kitchens for a meal or two so as to take advantage of the wonderful ingredients that Paris has to offer. But hold the phone. Let’s not get carried away. Nothing and I mean nothing beats the pleasure of a great meal out in Paris.
Eating out in Paris has changed and for the better. It is in the past five years or so that cooking in Paris evolved as a new wave of chefs and creativity emerged with a style more in harmony with the demands of consumers and their shrinking budgets. Not everyone can do the Michelin thing.
This transition has taken place in districts like the 7th and 15th which border the Yellow Flat. The number of bistros that serve reasonable well thought out food in the area is great, you eat well and reasonably. Many are still quite traditional in their approach but present quality in value, That being said, here are the results of my efforts to date, listed alphabetically.
Au Bon Accueil 14 Rue Monttessuy. 01 47 05 46 11.
Thinking about a romantic meal near the Eiffel Tower with that someone? Maybe an anniversary dinner? Well, this is one place to consider. Very elegant and cool, muted tones hushed atmosphere refined chef and a great deal with a prix fixe at 35 Euro. The meal feels like it should cost a lot more. but it can be daunting. Don’t be shy and ask for an English version of the menu if they haven’t given it to you already. Reservations mandatory, if it is nice out get a sidewalk table with a direct view of the Eiffel Tower. Recent internet reviews have called the current chef into question, has anyone eaten there in the past 12 months?
Au Petit Sud Ouest.46 Ave. De La Bourdonnais. 01 45 55 59 59. www.au-petit-sud-ouest.fr
This charming almost raucous but always inviting homage to duck and all things Sud Ouest. It’s Magret and Foie Gras heaven, take your statins and red rice yeast pills beforehand. Again, reservations are mandatory in advance.
L’ami Jean. 27 Rue Malar. 01 47 05 86 89.
Bring the appetite and hold on. Just across the Champ de Mars and a good ten to fifteen minute walk which you will be thankful for on the way home. Large portions of true to their heritage Basque food from the south of France. Very loud room and lots of fun but be forewarned, a French speaker will likely be needed to talk full advantage this evening. Don’t be afraid, order things you have never eaten before.
La Billebaude. 29 rue L’Exposition. 1 45 55 20 96.
Our meal at La Billebaude this summer was sweet and wonderful. This ‘bistro gourmand’ has a diverse and creative menu, often emphasizing wild game owing to the Chef’s hommage to the hunt (just look around at the art) although our meals were primarily fish. Heading into August, the restaurant, almost empty put on a solid meal.
We ate well, a large plate of smoked salmon and foie gras (look at that slab) for appetizers. Mains, were strong and dessert, some of the best profiterols ever. Ever. 2 glasses of white wine, a bottle of a superb Sancerre Rouge Pinot), coffees all for 160 dollars for 3 of us. Great value.
The Bistro de Breteuil. 3 Place Breteuil. 1 45 66 98 88
This once beautiful room has probably, well definitely, passed its prime and just is not a gourmet food destination. It is a throwback, a place to relax and enjoy classic French dishes prepared in a fairly competent way and not to push the envelope. So why go? To have fun! The atmosphere is classic, crushed red velvet and oversized paintings abound. The prices are more than reasonable and when you let go of any gourmet snobbism you can have a great time. You are well advised to follow their formula approach, the key to this establishment. For 36 euro you get the appetizer, main, dessert and a bottle of wine for every two people. Come looking for gourmet, just roll with old school menu and relax. All in all go to have a good time if you are in the neighborhood but don’t expect a refined approach. Not sure I would seek it out as a destination though.
Chez Les Anges. 54 Blvd. La Tour Maubourg. 1 47 05 89 86. http://www.chezlesange.com. We have enjoyed eating at Au Bon Acqueil and lwere pleased that the same couple renewed a brasserie near Les Invalides on Blvd. Tour Marbourg and breathed life into this institution. The room is decorated impeccably in modern cool and somewhat Zen tones and for once you can hear the people at your table easily even with a crowd. As with most of the meals reviewed, the prix fixe menu of 36 euro allows you to afford an elegant meal at reasonable prices. Be forewarned, you can spend here if you go off into the carte.
Les Cocottes Des Christian Constant. 135 Rue St. Dominique
Christian Constant has restaurants on this block of Rue St. Dominique. This is the fun one, a casual almost dare I say Californian atmosphere centered around food served in ‘Cocottes”. Cocottes are a symbol of French comfort food, small cast iron pots that retain heat and flavor. They vary greatly, from pigs feet to lamb shoulders, all cooked until they fall apart except for the veal that I had. I forgot that the French can serve meat very very very raw. Had to send it back, but they accommodated me. The room has a diner vibe, very modern with a long bar. Service is efficient but indifferent. Prices are fair and the place is rocking. Perfect place to bring your kids or your inner kid.
Le Florimond. 19 Avenue De La Motte Piquet. 01 45 55 40 38.
Isn’t great to feel comfortable when you go out to eat? Well taken care of by the host, the waiter and the kitchen. When I think of Le Florimond I see several images. The host, so charming, the food, good and again very reasonably priced (a 35 euro prix fixe of appetizer, main and dessert) and the room. So warm and inviting. And finally the Chou Farcie, the stuffed cabbage. It is the recipe of the chef’s grandmother and worth the trip alone. Reservations recommended.
La Fontaine De Mars. 129 Rue St. Dominique. 01 47 05 46 44.
The Rue St. Dominique is one of the cutest in the 7th on this great street full of small gourmet stores and restaurants. Le Fontaine de Mars is a classic French bistro that will take you back a hundred years, ask Michelle Obama. Expensive and most recent reviews denote a downward trend in quality that continues. Give this one a pass, there is much better out there.
To reach the heart of the 7th from the Yellow Flat, go to La Motte Piquet and turn left. Head across the Champ De Mars and get ready to enjoy your lunch or dinner. And best of all, there is that long walk home afterwards, take a moment and watch that Eiffel Tower sparkle.
Want to add to this list? Comment and I will check out your suggestions, or write a review yourself. I would love to see it.