It’s the holiday season and those who jump on vacation as an opportunity for international travel often flock to Paris this time of year. There is an undeniable charm that comes along with the winter chill in the city. Neighborhoods are decorated with draping christmas lights and other ornamentation and window shopping is taken to a whole new level with detailed shop displays embodying the spirit of the season to the most minute detail.
While the decor may change, the modus operandi of tourists remains the same: seeking out the most interesting cultural and culinary delights Paris has to offer. Museums and galleries remain largely open during the holiday season and some stores are even open on Sundays- a practice virtually unheard of in France- but restaurants aren’t necessarily the same story.
Luckily we have restaurant aficionado and fellow food lover Wendy Lyn who has put together a constantly evolving list of restaurant openings from Christmas to New Year’s Eve. She’ll be updating her list as she gets more feedback from restaurants, so check in for up to date information as the holidays approach. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions that might make your holiday wish come true.
For a Classic French Meal: Bistrot Paul Bert
This Paris institution is best known for its perfectly cooked steaks and classic French cuisine. The quintessential bistrot setting seduces both visitors and locals alike while the sure-to-please menu does the rest of the work. Regulars order their usuals, based on a changing seasonal menu, while tourists envy those who get to call this lovely bistro their second home. Reserve in advance and ask for a table near the bar to really be part of the action.
For a Modern Experience: Dersou
The Japanese/French team behind Dersou is not afraid of making world collide on a quiet side street near Bastille. Eastern inspired dishes arrive at your table alongside French fair – both paired with exciting cocktails and a solid wine list. Reservations are absolutely necessary for the first seating tasting menu, while drop ins are welcome to try to find a spot for the second seating. This fairly recent addition to the Paris dining scene doubles as a great spot for the morning after, when it opens it doors at noon on the weekends to welcome late night revelers with a great cup of coffee and a restorative morning meal.
For Guaranteed Great Wine: Le Baratin
Textbook French cuisine comes to life at this cozy neighborhood bistrot where the self taught chef has been reminding the French why their native cuisine is great for over twenty years. The setting is no frills- think zinc bar, chipped tiled floor, and yellowing walls- but when it comes to bistrot dining, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The decadence comes later, with the wine list. A thoughtful selection of wines from small independent winemakers will surprise and delight. Elegant and expressive wines from around France escalate simple dining to an art form and will surely be among the happiest memories you take home with you. Reservations highly recommended.
For a Laid Back Evening: Le Mary Celeste
This cocktail bar, from the team that brought you Candelaria, Glass and, more recently Hero, specializes in apéritif- or low alcohol- cocktails, making it a great place to slowly start an evening, wind one down, or pace yourself through an entire night. While Mary Celeste is ostensibly a cocktail bar, the passionate staff in both the kitchen and behind the bar, have made this address a destination for wine movers and foodies as well. The service is unrushed and the tables and bar always seem to have room for one more- making this a great meeting place for a laid back gathering of friends. Younger crowds bring up the energy level in the wee hours of the night and strangers quickly get to mingling at this friendly and convivial spot. Reservations recommended, walk-ins welcome.
Best Bang for Your Buck: Le Servan
The emphasis is more on “bang” than “buck” as this critically acclaimed restaurant still remains affordable for the quality and experience it offers. From starters to finish, the sister run staff delivers all the way- friendly service, taste bud awakening flavor pairings, and indulgent desserts round out the dining experience. The Vietnamese and French inspired cuisine brings together dumplings in savory broths, beautiful cuts of fish and meat, and a generous addition of spices and fresh herbs. Reserve well in advance to get a table that you’ll likely want to linger at for quite awhile.
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