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Paris Cultural Eats: Our Favorite Museum Restaurants

Restaurant at the Musée d’Orsay (Quyn Hanh Le Nguyen)

I’m a museum junky. I love nothing more than passing a day wandering through endless corridors of art and antiquities, but after a few hours standing on hard marble, I’m usually in need of cold drinks and some serious snacks. Unfortunately, most museums suffer from what I like to call “Disneyland Dining”, overpriced, poor-quality food with limited options, usually served cafeteria style.  And that’s not the worst of it! With food in hand and nowhere to sit, hungry patrons usually have to stalk fellow diners to snag a (very dirty) table the second someone stands up – not exactly my idea of fun.

Café Richlieu-Angelina at the Louvre

There are, thankfully, a few exceptions to the rule. Lucky for me, they can also be found in some of Paris’ best museums. Delicious, well-prepared meals in beautifully decorated (and often historic) dining rooms; impeccable service and (gasp) clean tables… heaven!

Here are four of my favorites:

The Richelieu-Angelina Café at the Louvre:
You can find this little oasis right next to the entrance to the Napoleon III apartments. The white and grey interior is usually offset with huge bouquets of beautiful fresh flowers, contributing to the serene atmosphere. All of the Angelina favorites are on the menu, including gourmet salads and sandwiches. My favorite snack is a glass of wine, the cheese plate, and one of their decadent deserts. In the winter, I always order the famous hot chocolate to sip as I gaze at the fabulous view of the famous glass pyramid.

Musée d’Orsay (yellowmo) and the Café at the Jacquemart-André (umami88)

Le Café Jacquemart-André at the Musee Jacquemart-Andre:

I always have a hard time deciding whether to sit in the gilt dining room or on the grand terrace overlooking the small, walled garden at this special little museum. I usually order one of their salads leaden with gourmet toppings along with a decadent dessert (which rival those of Laduree in my opinion; the citron meringue tart is to die for). The Sunday brunch is a great option too.

Les Ombres at Quai Branly (Hotels Paris Rive Gauche, Guillaume Sautereau)

Les Ombres at the Musee Quai Branly:
This café is one of those serious, fine dining restaurants that caters to the movers and shakers of the Parisian business world. Suits abound here, but the hint of stuffiness and high prices are easy to overlook once you catch a glimpse of the amazing view of the Eiffel Tower from the glass ceiling dining room and the huge rooftop terrace. The food is always delicious and well executed, but the bonus dessert plate of mini treats you get with your bill wins my heart (and makes the expensive check a little easier to swallow)

Les Ombres at Quai Branly (Hotels Paris Rive Gauche)

Restaurant at the Musee D’Orsay:
Sure, there’s a cafeteria upstairs, but you won’t regret allowing yourself to be transported in this stunning dining room, complete with crystal chandeliers and sumptuous ceiling frescos. The main menu is traditionally French, but the chef always adds some specials inspired by the museum’s temporary exhibits.
What about you? If you know of any great places to eat before or after a museum visit, please let us know in the comments below!

Dining room at the Musée d’Orsay (yellowmo)

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Written by Ariel Kocourek for the Hip Paris Blog. For our amazing rentals in Paris, Provence & Tuscany check out our website Haven in Paris.

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Written by Ariel Kocourek

Ariel KocourekAriel Kocourek was born in Bend, Oregon, lived with her family in England, and now calls North Carolina home. She’s spent countless summers traveling with friends throughout the four corners of Europe and loves nothing more than a good road trip through the french countryside. Ariel travels frequently to Paris to check up on the Haven in Paris properties and to get her fill of tasty treats!

Website: Haven in Paris

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Posted in Arts, Events, Food, Restaurant Reviews | 16 Comments »

16 Responses to “Paris Cultural Eats: Our Favorite Museum Restaurants”

  • Jan Maarten Wieringa says:

    We are planning à trip in may (26-28) and this Gives à good clue. Last year we dined at het restaurant in Palais de Tokyo wicht was hip and fine !
    Jan Maarten , The Netherlands

  • I agree that it isn’t the very best food in all of Paris, but it is infinitely better than the cafeteria upstairs 😉 I’m glad you enjoyed the museum at least!

  • Agi says:

    just a short note.Last week we visited D’orsay museum ( fantastic) and had dinner at the restaurant. Yes, I agree, the place is amazing, but the food….the food was terrible…Slightly spoiled the mood….

  • Thanks Roger, some of your fantastic photos have gone into my “art” folder!

  • You know that dessert is very near and dear to my heart Trisha!

  • Another great Paris post now saved in my Paris file! A file, I should mention, that is mostly filled with your excellent posts.

  • Susan says:

    I learned a few new things….merci!

  • Trisha says:

    Oh Ariel…I did notice that every place dessert seems to be the main course for you :) That is why I love you!

  • Hi Dawne, I just took a look at the D’Orsay website, and I think most of the museum should be open while you are there!

    http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/events/towards-the-nouvel-orsay.html

  • Thanks everyone for your comments! I’m glad it was helpful. There’s definitely no better way to pass a day, than visiting a museum and having a leisurely lunch!

    Great suggestions for other fab eateries in big museums around the world! The MET is my #1 favorite too!

  • Karena says:

    Oh I agree! The Rozelle Court at the Nelson-Atkins is divine!

    xoxo
    Karena

    Art by Karena

  • Dawne Polis says:

    I always do a luncheon at the restaurant at the Musee D’Orsay, and will be in Paris Nov.1-11, but I’ve heard the museum is closed until mid-November! Gasp! Is that true? I’m taking people with me on a photography workshop, and I’m so disappointed that I can’t take them to this wonderful place! I guess we’ll have to try the Angelina. Oh, and in addition to the great restaurant in the American Room , ground floor, at the Met, I also like the little coffee shop upstairs in the old part of the Museum of Natural History. Great NYC views and a funky old feeling.
    Love this helpful bog. Thank you!

  • Mine (favorite) has been the D’Orsay .. forever.
    I used to … a very long time ago .. love taking my children to the restaurant in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
    But it changed, they grew and that was the end of that ~
    Now I live where there are many museums and all of the seem to have charming cafes attached ..besitos, C

  • As a huge fan of Angelina’s, I love the café at the Louvre. Still, the restaurant at the Musée d’Orsay is a stunning visual feast worth experiencing!

  • Lape says:

    Hi Ariel,
    I like this article because whenever I say I like visiting museums when I’m in a new city (like I once wrote about on my blog), people often imply that I’m weird or too much of a tourist. I’ve also noticed the dodgy food offered in museum restaurants/ cafes. Sadly, I felt the same way when I went to the Louvre last year. Somehow, I didn’t come across the restaurant you talked about in your post. My friend and I ended up buying brownies and hanging around until other visitors stood up and quickly taking their (dirty) table just like you mentioned in your article :-) I really wish I had seen an article like this before we went there. Anyway, I’ve taken note of your other museum restaurant suggestions and will definitely stop by one when next I go to Paris. Thanks for the useful post :)

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