This article is part of a guide to Paris from FT Globetrotter
I am a native Parisian. Born, raised and having always worked in Paris, I can say that there is not a single place in this city that does not evoke memories for me.
Parisians are spoiled with a wealth of architectural heritage, the beauty of the city’s gardens and its multitude of secret places to discover and explore. It is a city loved by those who seek to unravel its mysteries.
But what I love most are Paris’s gastronomic delights. Join me on an epicurean stroll through my city . . .
To experience Paris like a true Parisian, let’s start early in the morning with a walk in the sumptuous gardens of the Palais-Royal. Here, under beautiful arcades, we’ll discover Le Grand Véfour, one of the oldest restaurant in Paris, where you should aim to have lunch or dinner while in the city. Upon entering, you can admire its traditional woodwork and delicate paintings. Choose a table once occupied by Napoleon, Victor Hugo or, more recently, by Colette or Jean Cocteau — a plaque indicates their places. One of the best dishes to eat here is the oxtail parmentier with a delicious truffle purée.
Nearby, you’ll find the Louvre museum. While waiting for it to open, have breakfast on the terrace of the Le Nemours (I always order the buttered toast with an organic fruit juice). The restaurant is on Place Colette opposite the Comédie Française, one of the few state theatres in France. From its terrace you will typically see actors rehearsing their evening play or writers strolling or chatting over a coffee.
For lunch, I suggest an authentic Parisian bistro. Head towards the Place de la Bastille and Chez Paul, where you’ll be surrounded by 1900s decor as you enjoy a classic meal of poireaux vinaigrette (a cold leek salad) and a steak tartare — all washed down with a Côte Chalonnaise and finished with a rum baba. The cheerful atmosphere is a little noisy but 100 per cent Parisian.
If you prefer to skip lunch to stroll around Paris, you will be peckish by tea time. I suggest you remedy this at Angelina on Rue de Rivoli, a Parisian institution that is almost 120 years old. Savour its famous Mont-Blanc pâtisserie and unforgettable hot chocolate. You won’t feel hungry again until dinner time.
Near the Bois de Boulogne, towards the bottom of the famous Avenue Foch, is the site of the first airfield in Paris, which saw the first hot-air balloons take off. Here you’ll discover Le Saint James hotel, where you can experience one of the most beautiful bars in the city, installed in the former library of this majestic 19th-century residence built by the Thiers family.
For dinner, I propose two options: The first is the creative and inspired cuisine of David Toutain, where I recommend that you try his astonishing vegetable symphony. This spot is for those who want to discover new and incredible flavour combinations in a modern and minimalist atmosphere.
Alternatively, treat yourself to a stunning view with an equally delightful gourmand experience at Jules Verne, chef Frédéric Anton’s breathtaking restaurant on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. The tower was built for the 1889 Universal Exhibition (and only intended to stand for 20 years) and seeing it up close 130 years later, with lift cables and all, is a fascinating spectacle. Jules Verne is one of the few restaurants in Paris where patrons still dress up for dinner. It is a visual and culinary feast — and well worth the visit.
Philippe Gombert is the president of Relais & Châteaux, a collection of independently owned, luxury boutique hotels and restaurants around the world
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