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Helen Rosner

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How to Eat Your Way Through 24 Perfect Hours in Paris

An ideal itinerary, from one of Paris's most knowledgeable gastronomes

The goal of a 24-hour eating safari in Paris is, bien sûr, to jump headfirst into the gastronomic delights of the French capital. But don’t treat this roster as an endurance test. Instead, consider it a carousel of pleasure to hop on and off according to your stamina and appetite. But do start the adventure here, because a funky late-night feast at a retro, almost-all-night bistro is the best thing ever to slay jet lag.

1:30 a.m. La Tour Montlhéry–Chez Denise

If this place looks like it should be in a Robert Doisneau black-and-white photo, that’s because it dates back to the days when Les Halles, the market that was the ventre, or belly, of Paris, was just down the street. Originally opened to feed market workers and merchants in the middle of the night, La Tour Montlhéry endures, even though Les Halles was destroyed decades ago in the name of urban renewal. Just about the only thing that’s changed here over the years is the fact that you now have to step outside to light up your "I only smoke when I’m in France" Gitane. Order something offal, or mutton chops, or a big steak with an avalanche of really good frites, and tell them to bring on the Beaujolais from the barrels in front of the bar. Don’t expect the usual restaurant conventions of conversational privacy in this place: everyone talks between tables, and the waiters love to wisecrack. 5 Rue des Prouvaires | +33 1 42 36 21 82

4 a.m. A Gourmet Market Tour with La Route des Gourmets

Rungis, the world’s largest wholesale food market, located in the Paris suburb of the same name, replaced Les Halles in 1969. It’s strictly closed to the public unless you’re with a guide—and this guided walking tour, led by culinary tour company La Route des Gourmets (and including a pre-sunrise pickup at your hotel or apartment, to drive you the 15 kilometers out to the banlieue), is the best way to explore the acres of vast halls individually dedicated to fruit and veg, dairy, meat, fish and seafood, international imports, and more—the newest pavilion in this vast complex is dedicated to organic foods. The grand finale to your tour is a modern workman’s (or -woman’s) meal of pastries, bread, cheese, charcuterie, wine, and coffee in one of the bawdy, busy, boffo 1970s vintage restaurants that cater to the thousands who work here in the middle of the night. +33 6 62 41 24 63 |

8 a.m. Breakfast at Holybelly

French couple Nico Alary and Sarah Mouchot spent some time living in Melbourne before returning to Paris and opening this hopelessly popular all-day breakfast spot near the Canal Saint-Martin in the 10th arrondissement. The menu is a Gallic take on Aussie, Anglo, and American breakfast favorites: pancake and egg dishes with à la carte sides including mushrooms, sausage, hash browns, bacon, and baked beans. The excellent coffee from the Belleville Brûlerie will be nectar after the bitter brew poured out at Rungis. 19 Rue Lucien-Sampaix | +33 9 73 60 13 64 |

Holybelly Meghan McCarron

9.30 a.m. Du Pain et Des Idées

Pick up an escargot aux pralines roses — a curled brioche pastry ornamented with cracked melted almonds in a hard pink-sugar shell — to eat while you walk along the moody Canal Saint-Martin. This is one of the best bakeries in Paris, so buy a baguette too, because they’re so good, and because you might want to impulse-buy some paté, charcuterie, or cheese later. (On that note, always travel with a knife and a corkscrew in Paris, just because.) 34 Rue Yves-Toudic | +33 1 42 40 44 52 |

10.30 a.m. La Fontaine de Belleville

For the French, the baguette jambon-beurre is the misty-eyed equivalent of the cheeseburger in the United States. The one at this café, made with Prince de Paris ham and butter from Beillevaire, the excellent cheese shop, is the best in town. 31–33 Rue Juliette-Dodu | +33 9 81 75 54 54 |

La Fontaine de Belleville Facebook

11 a.m. Cheese Plate at Chez Casimir

Order a plate of perfectly ripened raw-milk cheeses with a glass of wine at this amiable bistro near the Gare du Nord. Not in the mood for another bistro? Two of Paris’s best cheese shops are Barthélémy and Quatrehomme—head to either, buy a selection, and then find the nearest park and sit down for a snack en plein air. Keep an eye out for the truffled brie made by the Rothschilds at La Ferme des 30 Arpents, their farm east of Paris.
Chez Casimir | 6 Rue de Belzunce | +33 1 48 78 28 80
Barthélémy | 51 Rue de Grenelle | +33 1 42 22 82 24
Quatrehomme | 62 Rue de Sèvres | +33 1 42 22 82 24 |

11:30 a.m. Breizh Café

Feeling a little peckish? Head to this famous Breton crêperie in the Marais and tuck into a buckwheat galette decked with smoked salmon, salmon roe, and crème fraiche. 109 Rue Vieille-du-Temple | +33 1 42 72 13 77 |

Noon or Whenever: La Patisserie

French pastry alone is reason enough to buy an airplane ticket to Paris, so you'll want to eat the best of it all day long. Here are three leading lights of the modern pastry revolution:
Christophe Michalak
A superstar who loves to play with the fussy, frilly side of French pastry, Michalak has shops in the Marais and Saint-Germain-des-Près. His La Religieuse, a choux pastry with a cute little collar of salted-butter caramel, has made many converts, and his strawberry and pistachio tart and Paris-Brest are both classic and original.
16 Rue de la Verrerie | +33 1 40 27 90 13
60 Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière | +33 1 42 46 10 45
8 Rue du Vieux-Colombier | +33 1 45 49 44 90 |

Des Gâteaux et du Pain
After stints at Fauchon, Ladurée, Le Bristol, and the Plaza Athénée, pâtissière Claire Damon has won an avid following at her two boutiques. Her bestsellers include Le Kashmir (a pastry with oranges, dates, vanilla, and saffron) and a Mont Blanc made with blackcurrants.
89 Rue du Bac | +33 1 45 48 30 74
63 Boulevard Pasteur | +33 1 45 38 94 16 |

Pain de Sucre
Pâtissiers Nathalie Robert and Didier Mathray have a seditious talent for making the right modest tweak or two to classic pastry, but it’s their own inventions that make a trip to their shop such an urgent mission. Don’t miss Le Rosemary, which has a rosemary sablé tart base filled with rhubarb, raspberries, and rosemary essence. 14 Rue Rambuteau | +33 1 45 74 68 92 |

La Tour d'Argent Official Site

Le Chocolat

Paris is the world capital of chocolate connoisseurship. Here are the three chocolate shops you shouldn’t miss:

Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse

The best bean-to-bar atelier in Paris was created by pastry chef Nicolas Berger and Alain Ducasse. They scoured Europe for vintage chocolate-making machinery, and now produce some spectacular single-cru chocolate.
40 Rue de la Roquette
+33 1 48 05 82 86
Jacques Génin

Located in the Marais, this superb chocolate-and-pastry shop is where Mick Jagger stocks up on his favorite mint-filled chocolates.
133 Rue de Turenne
+33 1 45 77 29 01

Patrick Roger

Roger has made a splash locally with the gigantic chocolate sculptures decorating the windows of his boutique. Rest assured, his wares taste as good as they look.
108 Boulevard Saint-Germain
+33 1 43 29 38 42

1 p.m. Lunch at La Tour d’Argent
Now it’s time to have your obligatory meal at one of the stuffy grandes dames serving old-school haute cuisine. La Tour boasts one of the best views in Paris, looking out right over Notre Dame, and its formerly staid menu recently got a sexy update courtesy of new chef Philippe Labbé. The €105 set lunch menu is one of the best deals in the city for classic French fine dining. 15 Quai de la Tournelle | +33 1 43 54 23 31 |

4 p.m. Pozzetto

My favorite scoop here is the Sicilian pistachio—the nuts from Bronte on the largest Italian island have a superb depth of flavor that crosses sweetness with umami, but the chocolate-hazelnut has been known to induce true rapture, too.
39 Rue du Roi-de-Sicile | +33 1 42 77 08 64
21 Rue de Lévis | +33 1 42 77 08 64 |

5:30 p.m. L’Avant Comptoir de la Mer

It’s time for a glass of wine and a snack, so head for chef Yves Camdeborde’s seafood-themed small-plates place, maybe for some roasted razor-shell clams. This popular standing-room-only spot is a great place to meet people and clock the real vibe of Saint-Germain-des-Près beyond its woefully outdated bohemian image. 3 Carrefour de l’Odéon | +33 1 42 38 47 55

7:30 p.m. Huîtrerie Régis

The best oysters in the world come from France, and many of them have made their way to this hole-in-the-wall bar in Saint-Germain-des-Près. The minimum order is a dozen a person—challenge accepted—and you’ll want to start with the Fines de Claire moyennes (medium sized) from the Marennes-Oléron oyster beds in France’s Charente region. 3 Rue de Montfaucon | +33 1 44 41 10 07 |

9:30 p.m. Dinner at Septime or Le Servan or Verjus

To my mind, these are the three best contemporary bistros in Paris right now, helmed by chefs Bertrand Grébaut, Tatiana Levha, and Braden Perkins respectively. All are on the pricier side of modern bistronomie, though all are very much worth it. What makes them different from the rest? Grébaut’s refinement bespeaks his training at the Ecole Grégoire-Ferrandi, the best professional cooking school in Paris; Levha’s cosmopolitan background (she’s of Russian-Filipino-French ancestry) adds some spice and the occasional shot of fish sauce to her cooking; and Perkins plays the great keyboard of the American palate with the best French produce. So which should you choose? Whichever one you can get into, of course — or better yet, change your ticket home so you have time to visit all three.
Septime | 80 Rue de Charonne | +33 1 43 67 38 29 |
Le Servan | 32 Rue Saint-Maur | +33 1 55 28 51 82 |
Verjus | 52 Rue de Richelieu | +33 1 42 97 54 40 |

11 p.m. Bar Hemingway at the Ritz

This clubby, casually chic bar nestled in the back of the just-reopened Hôtel Ritz boasts some of the world’s most mind-bendingly expensive drinks... and its best bartender, Englishman Colin Field. He loves to diagnose you and mix a custom cocktail, so head here after dinner and be sure to tell him what you’ve been up to all day. Rounds for the ladies come adorned with flowers — a lush rose, generally, but sometimes a special drink will garner you a chrysanthemum or hibiscus. 15 Place Vendôme | +33 1 43 16 30 30 |

1 a.m. Le Mary Celeste

Right before last call, order a brilliant small-plate snack—like some smoked hummus with melon kimchi and parsley—at this Haut-Marais hipster spot with some of the best cocktails in town. Round about now, though, after a full day of eating, you’ll likely be wanting what the French call a digestif — a drink that aids digestion — so go for an Armagnac or some Chartreuse, the potent herbal elixir made by monks in eastern France. And if you didn’t manage to hit every stop on this list, don’t worry. Tomorrow’s always another great day for eating in Paris. 1 Rue Commines | +33 9 80 72 98 83 |

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