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.
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)
- For more Arty Eats, check out Amy Thomas top Paris museum restaurants here
- Amy also has a nice roundup of Paris street art
- The NY Times also found some great places to eat in Paris museums.
- Looking for more things to do in Paris? My Mélange has a great compact guide to her favorite Paris haunts