Aristide Boucicaut opened the world’s first department store in the 1850’s. Le Bon Marché was an instant and enduring success, changing shopping habits (and the neighborhood) forever.
The magnificent Hôtel Lutetia was built across the street to host out of town shoppers, and restaurants opened to feed them. Little has changed in the last 150 years and there are still a lot of great lunch options in the area, making it hard to choose just one!
Café Varenne – Although they all have similar menus, not all cafés are created equal and Café Varenne is a cut above the rest, using fresh, quality ingredients for simple, seasonal meals.
Their tomato shrimp tartare is a summer favorite, while the 7-hour leg of lamb satisfies diners in the winter. Locals have their own tables, with their names painted above, but on sunny days, the sidewalk tables on the rue du Bac are the hottest seats on the block.
Café Varenne. 36 rue de Varenne, 75007. tel: +33 (0)1 45 48 62 72.
Cuisine de Bar – Literally, bar cuisine, the meals at Cuisine du Bar do not require an onsite kitchen. Part of the world famous bakery Poilane, the house specialty here is the tartine, an open faced sandwich served on Poilane’s country bread. Gourmet ingredients like avocado purée, foie gras and smoked salmon turn a simple treat into a sophisticated meal, served with salad or hearty soup and a glass of wine. The affordable, easy menu is a favorite with the sales staff from the local boutiques and tourists from across the globe.
Cuisine du Bar. 8 rue de Cherche Midi, 75006. tel: +33 (0)1 45 48 45 69.
Top image: Mamie Gâteaux & Bottom image: Le Cherche Midi
Le Cherche Midi – Very few tourists head to this neighborhood favorite, because the cuisine is not French. Le Cherche Midi serves high quality Italian meals to regulars who come for the original antipasti platter, excellent pastas and very traditional meat dishes. During truffle season, it’s a decadent delight just sitting in the dining room, inhaling the exquisite fragrance as waiters weave their way through the intimate space, balancing baskets of fresh foccacia bread and bottles of artisanal olive oil.
Le Cherche Midi. 22 rue du Cherche Midi, 75006. tel: +33(0)1 45 48 27 44.
La Laiterie Saint Clothilde
La Laiterie Saint Clothilde – This spot is a modern mom-and-son restaurant that takes French cuisine and gives it a modern twist by reviving farm-to-kitchen classics like carrot green soup and fava bean sides. While the vegetable dishes here are more original than those served by most French kitchens, the focus still remains on fish and meat. The food is light and delicious, served in an understated-yet-trendy mid-century dining room. La Laiterie attracts a pretty serious fashion crowd and has become so popular, they opened up the Basque-inspired Graff just two doors down.
La Laiterie Saint Clothilde. 64 rue de Bellechasse, 75007. tel: +33 (0)1 45 51 74 61.
Top image: La Laiterie Saint Clothilde
Le Babylone – Walking into this traditional bistro with its white lace curtains and red-and-white checked tablecloths feels like time travel: welcome to Paris circa 1954, minus the Gitane cigarette smoke. If the three rather stern waitresses look alike, it is because they are sisters and daughters of the woman behind the bar. A son-in-law runs the kitchen, cooking up daily specials that evoke grandma’s kitchen: roast lamb with mashed potatoes, pork loin and green beans, or a salad plate that includes celery root and beets.
Le Babylone. 13 rue de Babylone, 75007. tel: +33 (0)1 45 48 56 12.
Top & bottom image: Mamie Gâteaux
Mamie Gateau – A charming antique store with French country kitchen classics, classroom maps and candy displays for sale, this is also one of the most popular lunch spots in the quartier, with young couples crossing town to try the mouth watering quiches and tourtes. A list of housemade tarts fills the daily blackboard. Rough, wooden tables and mismatched chairs make for a cosy room which opens for lunch and serves bites through tea time.
Mamie Gateau. 66 rue du Cherche Midi, 75006. tel: +33 (0)1 42 22 32 15.
Le Bon Marché. 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007. tel. +33 1 44 39 80 00
Written by Sylvia Sabes for the HiP Paris Blog. All photos by Carin Olsson. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.