Here are some of our favourite places to eat in Paris. Naturally they all have to be wheelchair accessible, ie, one step is the maximum we can manage with our short ramp which we carry on the electric wheelchair (when needed). We don’t mention many of the givens to a good restaurant as to be in our top 10 they are obvious: good quality food, a warm and welcoming atmosphere, at least some engagement with us from management and staff and relative value for money.
We include a short introduction to how we came by the restaurant and why we like it, brief details on their opening hours, their address and contact details. Hopefully this will be of some value to our friends and family (and others) visiting our favourite city of Paris, in the Bastille area (arrondissements 75012 and 75004).
1. La Gazzetta
We read about this restaurant in the guide ‘Hungry for Paris’, and walked past it many times in 2009/10 when here last winter but didn’t venture in because the one step was a bit too high for our short ramp.
It’s close to one our favourite haunts, the Place d’Aligre, and this winter with a longer ramp we decided it was doable (the six wheels make it very safe). It’s a hit in our view!
Our note: They have a wonderfully original and creative menu from an apparently well-known (in Paris) Swedish chef. Each lunch you have three entrees (akin to tapas), usually a small soup like carrot and ginger, a fish/meat perhaps sardines and tomato salsa, and pasta/pastry, say a pizza slice with delicious flavours. Followed by a main, eg, suckling pig, marlin (fish) or veal .. all original recipes (not at all usual), delicious and for one very reasonable price (around €17 for the entrée and main). To temp you further they provide three or four original and delicious desserts for extra.
Thursday to Saturday lunch and dinner.
29 Rue de Cotte 75012
Tel: 01 43 47 47 05 www.lagazzetta.fr
2. Le Gorille Blanc
This restaurant has been going for many years but was previously on the left bank and a few months ago the owners crossed the river and are now very close to our port, just off Rue St Antoine. When we asked our friends John and Lesley if they could recommend a restaurant for our Wedding Anniversary they thought of ‘Le Gorille Blanc’.. and what a good choice!
At the back of the restaurant is ‘Maigret’s table’ .. this is where author Georges Simenon sat when he frequented the restaurant, way before the current owners moved in.
Our note: Spacious, yet small and intimate with excellent service. Food creative and original. Crab soup, best rabbit Stewart has eaten anywhere and even I could happily have eaten it (I don’t like rabbit!), so moist and perfectly cooked with delicate flavours of fresh herbs.
Monday to Saturday. Lunch 12.00 to 14.30. Dinner 19.00 to 23.00
4 Impasse Guemenee 75004
Tel: 01 42 72 08 45
3. Le Chardenoux
This excellent restaurant is at the end of rue Paul Bert which has many other good restaurants including bistrot Paul Bert (no. 6 listed here). The owner and chef is a quiet celebrity (if there is such a thing) with several other restaurants and a patisserie which is adjacent to this restaurant (and well worth a visit).
It’s very good value especially at lunchtime with the set menu. The dishes are never cliché being created by M. Lignac. The décor is a delight dating back to the early 1900s.
Our note: It’s a very popular small restaurant so you must book for lunch – many times we have arrived to see people being turned away because they hadn’t planned ahead.
Every day, lunch and evening.
1 rue Jules Valles 75011
Tel: 01 43 71 49 52 http://www.restaurantlechardenoux.com/en/
4. Le Square Trousseau
It’s a smart and buzzing restaurant on the edge of a small park (Trousseau), close to the Place d’Aligre. Rows of tables (with heaters for cold days) line the pavement and inside is a stylish dining space.
The first time we visited was in 2010 sharing lunch with our dear friends Charlette (special French resident who spends her time every Thursday evening conversing with us only in French .. to help us improve our language skills), and John and Lesley. Charlette couldn’t resist leaning across to the table next to us (closely positioned as always) and dipping her spoon into their massive bowl of chocolate mouse which is a speciality of the house .. we were slightly aghast but it was certainly taken in good humour by our French neighbours. We all rated the food to be excellent. A recent visit confirms they have only improved since then!
Our note: Relaxed yet buzzing, whether sitting outside or in. A simple and sensible menu although sadly the hare (lievre) which Graham had licked his lips for was not available on the night we visited. They seem to serve large portions for French cuisine but thoroughly enjoyed by all .. Graham’s second choice of veal was eaten with good grace.
1 Rue Antoine Vollon 75012
Tel: 01 43 43 06 00 www.squaretrousseau.com
5. Chez Hanna
In 2010 we stumbled across this tiny cafe right in the heart of the Marais (old Jewish quarter) at the town hall end of Rue Rosier.
Since then we have returned many times and after a nine months gap touring over the summer (Belgium, Holland and back) were greeted warmly by the frantically busy staff with a warm touch on the shoulder. As always we are crammed into such a tiny space the poor table staff have to step over the rear wheel of Stewart’s chair, occasionally tripping, but never the tiniest of frowns about this. There are several highly rated falafel cafes in this one spot, all with big queues, but this one in our view would take some beating.
Our note: The best choice in our view (and we haven’t strayed from it in all the times we’ve eaten there) is their Falafel Special which is absolutely delicious with vegetable salads (like roasted aubergine, carrot, red cabbage) humus and spicy sauce served with warm puffy pocket bread. The falafel is the star of course.
Mid-day to mid-night all but Monday (we think).
54 rue des Rosiers 75004
Tel: 01 42 74 74 99 www.restaurant-chezhanna.com
6. Le Bistrot Paul Bert
Another restaurant originally discovered with the help of the ‘Hungry for Paris’ book and when we first ate there our table neighbours (the tables are quite tightly packed) asked how on earth we discovered it.
We understood their surprise as it is tucked away in a back street off Rue du Faubourg St Antoine. It’s always packed full of locals and regulars with no tourists.. we think it’s just a bit too far from the beaten track for them. Part of the restaurant seems to be a converted butcher’s shop with tiled walls and meat hooks still embedded in the roof.
Our note: A traditional-style menu and every dish so far has been good quality with at least one unusual and original creation.
Tuesday to Saturday. 12.00 to 14.00. 19.30 to 23.00.
18 Rue Paul Bert 75011
Tel: 01 43 72 24 01
This place, translates as ‘The Chisel’, was recommended by our sometimes mechanic Clive.
Another favourite of ours, filled mostly by locals, just off the other side of the busy Rue du Faubourg St-Antoine (to the above Paul Bert), and not far past the Place d’Aligre markets.
Our note: Always good food and a great atmosphere.. even when we have been the first to arrive within twenty minutes it can be packed and buzzing.
Open: Monday to Thursday. Friday and Saturday from 19.30.
45 Rue de Citeaux 75012
Tel: 01 43 42 49 31 www.lebauchoir.com
8. Le Cafe de L’Industrie
A rambling set-up close to the Bastille markets, there appear to be three or more buildings, the two main cafe’s facing each other .. we always choose the cream and brown one.
The concept, we think, is to offer a cheap and cheerful option appealing to students and those in a hurry (it would appear). We enjoy it for the atmosphere and low-cost.
Our note: We notice quite a few negative reviews of this restaurant but we always enjoy our time there and it’s true to its name, ie, a worker-style cafe (basic). It can be crowded and busy but there is always a table available after a short wait.
15-17, rue St-Sabin 75011
Tel: 0 1 47 00 13 53
9. Le Train Bleu
This is a classic restaurant deliberately ‘stuck’ in the early 1900s Paris both in decor and service but not in terms of the selection of dishes on the menu! It’s an institution.
It’s the sort of place to take family and friends if they’re on their first (or first in a long time) visit to Paris, more for its eye-popping ‘belle-époque’ decor and atmosphere than the food, but that’s also good. It is, however, quite expensive although their lunch specials of the day give you options for a small budget. It is huge and has a bar, the Big Ben Bar, which means if a full lunch or dinner is a bit too much for the budget or the stomach you can still visit and soak up the 1900s decor and imagine yourself in a classic Agatha Christie murder mystery. This restaurant was named after the train service known as le train bleu (more here at Wikipedia).
Our note: We can only get into this restaurant via their tiny lift which is hidden around the back by the taxi stand. When we asked the Tourist Office at the station whether it was accessible, on our first visit, they said No. Luckily we double checked and found the lift. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work.. one day when meeting Graham and Lesley there we had to leave Stewart in the lobby as the little old lift decided it was a day of non-action.
Open: Lunch from 11:30 to 15:00, Dinner from 19:00 to 23:00.
1st Floor, Gare de Lyon 75012
Tel: 01 43 43 09 06 www.le-train-bleu.com
Similar to Le Train Bleu (above) this is another institution, one of several Fromer restaurants, and one of the oldest brasseries in Paris.
It maintains its ‘belle-époque’ style of the early 1900s and naturally appeals to tourists whether from overseas or France in general. The decor and the style is outstanding, it’s a classic. The food is predictable and safe, my favourite is the three fish with sauerkraut .. sounds odd but it is a speciality of the Alsace region of France where they originated. Stewart enjoys their steak and loves the escargot (snails of course).
Our note: We’ve eaten here more than any other restaurant and always with a group, never just the two of us. Once again this restaurant receives negative reviews from time-to-time but it is a good restaurant and there are not many around of this style and quality at such good value.
Open: Every day from 12h to 15h and from 18h30 mid-night.
5-7 rue de la Bastille 75004
Tel: 01 42 72 87 82 www.bofingerparis.com/fr
We can’t believe how lucky we are to spend so much time in this great city .. within easy walking we have these excellent, good value, cafes and restaurants, but of course more than that we have fabulous markets, cheese shops, delicatessen, chocolate-makers, music-box makers, metal-detector specialists, musical instrument makers and repairers .. you name it, we pass by them all the time.
Our best wishes .. we hope very much if you haven’t enjoyed some or all of these places, these are delights that await you!
Stewart and Lesley