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The culinary attractions in Paris match anything else the city has to offer, and you don't have to spend a fortune to enjoy them. Street markets are in every neighborhood and contain as fine a selection of cheese and charcuterie as any high-priced restaurant. Gleaming pastry shops beckon you with croissants, tarts, éclairs, and elaborate cakes. Even a humble sandwich becomes a Parisian specialty when it's made with a crusty baguette or the dense, chewy Pain Pôilaine.

Le Bistro Maxim's

Le Bistro Maxim's
by Mark St. John

Of course, you will also want to sample the offerings of the local chefs, and -- with a little planning -- it is possible to be a gourmet without breaking the bank. The key to fine dining on a modest budget is to eat where the Parisians eat and stay away from restaurants surrounding major tourist attractions. You'll find few bargains around the Eiffel Tower or along the Champs-Elysées. Leave the mediocre cafés on the place du Tertre to the milling crowds of sightseers. Opt instead for restaurants in neighborhoods where people live and work, which are forced to keep their prices and quality competitive. (For more tips on dining in France, see our chapter on French Eating Establishments.)

Review: Zagat Survey - Paris Restaurants

The title of this handy publication is based on the fact that its reviews have been culled by surveying 1700 diners who ate a combined 330,000 meals in a year, covering 825 restaurants in Paris and its surroundings. Of those surveyed, 96% are French, 71% are male, and the breakdown by ages is as follows: 20's - 11%, 30's - 26%, 40's - 23%, 50's - 25%, 60's or above - 15%. The Zagat survey concept began 30 years ago, and guides are now published for over 40 cities throughout the world.

What makes this pocket-sized guide such an excellent value (List $11.95 US, 69.00FF, £7.99 UK, $15.95 Canada), is that it not only offers individual reviews for each restaurant, but provides ratings in every conceivable category. For example, the guide rates the top spots by various different criteria:

  • Reviewers' favorite restaurants
  • Food ranking (overall quality)
  • Type of cuisine (seafood, Provençal, haute cuisine, ethnic, etc. - 25 categories and 8 ethnic groups)
  • Arrondissement
  • Decor
  • Gardens
  • Historic interest
  • Romantic atmosphere
  • Terraces
  • Best views
  • Waterside locales
  • Best service
  • Best value

Following the pages of rankings is the alphabetical listing of all restaurants, including street address, arrondissement, métro stop, phone number, hours, credit cards accepted, numerical values for food / decor / service and price range, and summaries of the surveyors' own commentaries. In the back of the book, a comprehensive index lists all restaurants by arrondissement, nationality, category, and special features, including such helpful ones as:

  • Business dining
  • Dancing / entertainment
  • Dining alone
  • Family style
  • Fireplaces
  • Game in season
  • Handicapped access
  • "In" places
  • Jacket / tie recommended or required
  • Late late spots
  • Meet for a drink
  • Outdoor dining
  • Outstanding views
  • Parking / valet
  • Parties & private rooms
  • People-watching
  • Power scenes
  • Quick meal
  • Quiet conversation
  • Romantic spots
  • Sleepers (good to excellent food, but little-known)
  • Special occasions
  • Sunday dining
  • Teenagers & other youthful spirits
  • Trendy intelligentsia
  • Winning wine lists
  • Young children

Bar de L'Entracte-Paris (George Bates)

Bar de L'Entracte-Paris
by George Bates

The Paris Survey was coordinated by Elizabeth and Philippe d'Hémery. Editors are Alexander Lobrano, a food and travel writer; François Simon, a journalist and author of gastronomic guides; Mary Deschamps and M.L. Lewis, freelance writers specializing in lifestyle and cultural subjects. No doubt, this book will prove invaluable to both the traveler on a tight budget, as well as the jet-setter looking for the poshest setting or the trendiest new cuisine!

Review: Cafés of Paris

In which café did Robespierre play chess? Where was Napoleon forced to leave his hat in lieu of payment when he forgot his purse? In what establishment did Simone de Beauvoir find respite from loneliness after Sartre left for the Front? "The Cafés of Paris...a Guide" provides much more than the encyclopedic listing of establishments one might expect.

In rich detail, author Christine Graff has conjured up the kind of book no lover of Paris should be without. "In the 11th arrondissement, close to the Bastille on the rue Saint-Sabin is a real find: the Café de L'Industrie.... Here, in a café that looks as if it might have been Bogart's just before he went off to Casablanca, you can sip coffee for five francs standing or nine francs seated at the dark red banquettes next to old wood tables. Faded cream walls, the frosted Deco glass, old photos of French celebrities, Oriental rugs well past their first splendor, an artsy crowd, and strains of traditional French folksinging coming from the back create an ambiance of Old France."

Flavored with witticisms from Montesquieu to Henry Miller, The Cafés of Paris shines like the city itself. Chapter titles such as "The Ratman of Paris and Other Café Stories," "A Cheapskate's Guide to Cafes," and "Parisians Discuss Their Favorite Cafés" offer only a hint of the wealth of information to be found in this charming guide.


Zagat Survey 1998/99
Paris Restaurant Survey

SAVE 20%

With findings based on the opinions of ordinary diners, Zagat's restaurant guides are much more reliable than critiques written by any one person. Restaurants are separately rated on food, decor, service, and cost, with snappy reviews that are concise and fun to read.

Zagat Survey - Paris Restaurants 1998/99

Covering All of Paris and Immediate Surrounding Neighborhoods
by Zagat Survey

Published July 1998 by Zagat Survey, LLC
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ISBN: 1570061343

A restaurant critic for France's weekly L'Express and The International Herald Tribune, and a renowned food journalist, Patricia Wells is eminently qualified to write about the culinary treasures of Paris. Pat Wells returns to each of the more than 450 restaurants, bistros, cafés, and specialty food shops listed. She samples, she reviews, she updates all vital statistics, she drops those whose quality has disappointed and she recommends more than 100 terrific new places, emphasizing less expensive entries. And of course she brings back recipes, 20 new ones in all.

SAVE 20%

Food Lover's Guide to Paris

by Patricia Wells, Peter Turnley (Photographer)

This title is currently on back order.
Paperback - 416 pages, 3rd edition
Published in June 1993 by Workman Publishing Company
List Price: $15.95
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ISBN: 1563053268

Food Lovers' Guide to Paris

The Cafés of Paris

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To the average Parisian, the local café serves almost as a private club, a place to take a respite from work, meet friends, and relax. Getting to know the cafés can be your key to really discover the city, its people, its pace, and its charm.

Cafes of Paris

by Christine Graf

Usually ships within 2-3 days.
Paperback - 192 pages
Published February 1996 by Interlink Publ. Group
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ISBN: 1566562015

Ian C. Mills ©1998-99 All Rights Reserved
Bibliography: Zagat Survey - 1998/99 Paris Restaurants, Editors: Alexander Lobrano et al, 1998, Zagat Survey LLC, New York. Paris From $70 A Day, Jeanne Oliver, 1998, Macmillan Travel, A Simon & Schuster Macmillan Company, New York. The Real Guide - Paris (Revised), Kate Baillie & Tim Salmon, 1992, Prentice Hall, division of Simon & Schuster Inc., New York (out-of-print). The TimeOut Paris Guide (2nd Edition), Penguin Books USA Inc., New York (out-of-print). Fodor's 97 Paris, Fodor's Travel Publications, New York. The Cafés of Paris, Christine Graf, 1996, Interlink Publ. Group. Pariscope.
Images: "Le Bistro Maxim's" (Mark St. John), copyright Bruce McGaw Graphics, from Covers of books from

Culinary Links:

Bars & Cafés

Art Prints of Bistros & Cafés
Sample works of art depicting French cafés and bistros in quaint settings, by such artists as George Bates, André Bertounesque, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Victor Shvaiko, Mark St. John, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and others. These prints may be purchased (and framed) at a 20% discount through's affiliation with

Cafés of Paris
A mini-directory of the better-known Paris cafés, listed by arrondissement, with mini-reviews, photos, and hours of business.

Cyber Cafés
The creators of the Guide to Pubs and Bars offer helpful reviews on the growing collection of cafés where you can log on to the Internet while enjoying a
café au lait. Some of the cafés have their own web sites.

Guide to Pubs and Bars in Paris
Adam Hatia and Ian Hall have assembled an A to Z list of 206 bars in Paris, 129 of which have been given scores. Places are given points for music, ambience, beer, cocktails, prices, etc. in a "frighteningly scientific" manner. Check this month's "10 best" and "10 worst" ratings for saloons in various categories. The guide includes a handy listing of bars by district.

Paris Beer Guide
Learn where to
drink and where to buy a brew in the City of Lite. If you're a gringo who can't speak the lingo, you'll be happy to know that Paris is blessed with English, Irish, American, Australian, and Anglo-tolerant French pubs. Josh Mittleman offers a review of the brewhouses from an anglophone's point of view. How about a glass of "Dark de Triomphe" (Dry stout)?

Food Stores & Markets

Where Parisians go
The Paris Tourist Office has assembled this guide to outdoor food markets, gourmet shops, bakeries, wine merchants, cheese shops, chocolatiers, etc.


Best Buys of Paris Restaurants
Culled from Frommer's and the Zagat Survey, here are tips on eating cheaply, plus a list of the 80 least expensive places.

Best Restaurants in Paris
The 200 gastronomic superstars of Paris are showcased with more than 1000 pictures and detailed reviews. Not for the faint of pocketbook. Reservations essential; their web site offers a form with which you can query availability for specific dates and times at your choice of restaurant.

Les Frères Blanc
These eight establishments claim to be "the most beautiful Parisian restaurants." Menu listings & prices were last updated in May 1997. Les Frères Blanc also offer "Privilege evenings" at 7 locations: for 350FF per person, enjoy dinner before or after a theatrical performance at one of a dozen local venues.

Going native in Paris
Adrian B. Leeds, author of The Leeds Good Value Guide to Paris Restaurants, gives advice on dining as the locals do. Other articles include: The Secret Formula of the Frugal Gourmet in Paris, Getting the Royal Treatment, A Global Microcosm in Paris, and Intricacies of Working and Living in Paris.

The Restaurants in Paris
The Paris Tourist Office cites approximately 8000 restaurants in Paris. Here is their selection of worthy contenders, categorized by restaurants open after midnight, those with a terrace or a view, the "in" restaurants, places open 24 hours, etc. You can also search their database.

Restaurants: Paris and environs
The Paris Pages offer their own directory of restaurants, sorted by
arrondissement , with brief descriptions, star ratings, price ranges, addresses, and métro stops.

Top Ten Restaurants in Paris offers up the results of Gault Guides' view on the very best chefs and their famous showcases.


Economical Eateries
Eating out in Paris need not cost an arm and a leg! Rough Guide Travel presents a directory of reasonably priced snack bars, cafés, brasseries, and restaurants offering French, ethnic & international fare.

The History of Cheese
With roughly 400 different kinds of cheese offered in France, it's nice to have a little primer on its origins and designations. FranceWay also discusses the controversy about pasteurization, its effect on flavour, and whether pasteurized cheeses are inferior. Although mass-produced cheese ranks first in household consumption, there has been a resurgence of hand-made cheeses recently. Brie-lovers unite! (SEE ALSO: NEWS ARTICLES on cheese.)

Introduction to French Gastronomy covers the background on Haute Cuisine, Cuisine Bourgeoise, Nouvelle Cuisine, mealtime traditions, and etiquette.

So You're Eating Out?
Tips on understanding menus, glossary of different gastronomic and drinking establishments, avoiding 'touristy' spots, etiquette and gratuities, dining nicely on a budget, etc.


A Legacy of France
Everything you wanted to know about wine: history, art & technique of wine-making, distinct growing regions, appellations (classifications), categories, vintage ratings, how to choose a wine, proper storage and serving methods, the right glass to use, methods of proper wine tasting, prices, and a handy dictionary of wine terms. Also listed are links to many vineyards' web sites.

More Recommended Reading

Culinaria France (Culinaria Series)
by André Dominé, Günter Beer (Photographer), Peter Feierabend (Art Director), 1999.

Edible France: A Traveler's Guide
by Glynn Christian & Jenni Muir, 1997, Interlink Publishing Group.












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