How to avoid the crowds of tourists and enjoy Paris in the springtime
Photo courtesy of Le Petit Rétro
With spring and Easter around the corner, Paris, the city of lights, will be soon packed with tourists, but you can enjoy, like a true Parisian, the many options of fantastic restaurants and cool bars that only locals and savvy travellers know. From Michelin-starred restaurants to hip bistros and brasseries, here are the trendiest and best spots you shouldn’t miss when in the French capital:
Owned by former TV journalist Gregory Poirier, this is one of the last true Parisian bistros. Le Petit Retro opened its doors in 1904 and has remained the same since, with its walls and ceilings decorated with typical Art Nouveau tiles with flowers motifs. The old-fashioned cuisine is prepared with French artisanal products, and the regular local clients receive their own napkin ring.
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Located in Saint Germain, this trendy restaurant is usually crowded with the cool neighbourhood locals and foodies who come from all over the world to degustation the no-choice menu prepared by chef Yves Camdeborde. You will need to make a reservation a couple of months in advance but if you don’t get a table, you can still enjoy some wine and charcuterie or seafood at the L’Avant Comptoir, the two wine bars next-door.
Another cute bistro in Saint Germain des Près, Chez Fernand serves since 1970, typical French cuisine prepared with simplicity and tradition, like Boeuf Bourguignon, snails or steaks. Chic Parisians are regulars for lunch at this tiny bistro run by chef Rémi Lebon.
Location, location, location. The Mini Palais is located in the heart of the Golden Triangle, where all the luxury labels are. Near the Champs Elysés and the river Seine, Le Mini Palais is at Le Grand Palais, the majestic building that hosts art and fashion events, like the fabulous catwalk shows staged by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. The restaurant is run by the three Michelin star chef Eric Frechon and the bar is one of the trendiest in Paris.
Christian Constant, the former Le Crillon three Michelin-star chef, has several restaurants, including three Les Cocottes. We especially like the Eiffel Tower address. Les "cocottes", or casseroles, are iron pots were are slow-cooked the fabulous dishes, but you can also enjoy other typical French cuisines such as foie gras and pigeon, and the desserts are delicious too.
This all-night bar is set in a fabulous hotel particular, with frescoes, chandeliers and big arches, that was once house to composer Bizet. The location is so stunning that it becomes often the setting for fashion magazines’ shootings. The smart bar offers piano concerts, great DJs and after-parties like the one thrown by Bella Hadid that had Virgil Abloh as DJ.
One of the most popular restaurants in Paris, Les Papilles has a set menu with only seasonal ingredients and wide wine selection that are displayed on the wine shelf. Although it’s located near the touristic Louvre, the Parisians love to eat there or buy wine and saucissons to take away.
In the heart of the once-bohemian Montmartre, this cabaret opened in 1806 and was a favourite spot of the local artists including Picasso, who paid for his drinks with the painting Le Lapin Agile, which reproduction decorates the charming small venue. Go there to experience first-hand the “chanson française” shows and sing along while sipping a nice Beaujolais.