10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris

Pain aux ceriales
How about a pain aux céréales?

Here’s my list of Ten Great Things To Eat in Paris – things that I think you shouldn’t miss!

1. Dinner at Les Papilles

This is one of my favorite restaurants, serving delicious well-presented food, at very reasonable prices. Doubling as a wine bar, you pick a wine from the rack on the wall (ask for help, the staff will guide you if necessary) then enjoy your dinner. The menu is fixed, but they’ll make substitutions for vegetarians and the like. Let them know when you make your reservation.

2. Have a falafel.

If you want to see Parisians eating something messy on the street, with far more flair that I can muster, head over to the rue de Rosiers in the Marais. Order at the window, and be sure to ask for extra sauce piquante, if you know what’s good for you. Then retreat with your sandwich to some doorway to chow down. The classic is L’As du Fallafel, which is one of liveliest place on the street. Lately, however, I’ve been more inclined to head over to Maoz on the Left Bank, which lacks the name recognition, but the falafel is really great and the help-yourself condiment bar means you can pile on the pickled vegetables and hot sauce as much as you’d like.

French Butter
Le Beurre d’Isigny

3. Jean-Yves Bordier Butter

In a country where 97% of the butter is pretty terrific (even the stuff you buy in the supermarché) after I tasted this handmade butter from Brittany, I’m spoiled for life and won’t spread any other butter on my morning toast.

M. Bordier makes a few different butters, including one with smoked salt that I’m told is great on fish, and another with seaweed which I’m told is great for making brownies.

Ok. Just kidding on that last one. But I cannot tell a lie: The beurre I’m partial to is the salted butter with delicate flakes of salt strewn throughout, which are delightfully crunchy when smeared on a toasted baguette and a drizzle of dark chestnut or buckwheat honey.

Bordier butter is available at various fromageries around Paris, and they generally keep it in stock at Le Bon Marché and da rosa. (This butter is also exceptional as well.)

4. Duck Confit at Chez Dumonet

A Parisian friend asked, “Why do Americans all want cassoulet when they come to France?“, and he made a grimace suggesting it was too rich. I thought about it, and deduced that since it’s not something one finds easily in the states, like duck confit, it’s one of the things we seek out when crossing the Atlantic.

There’s nothing worse than bad duck confit. Being presented with an greasy, grey slab of meat with flabby skin…is there anything less-appealing? (Well, maybe going to see a double-bill of Carrot Top and Gallagher.) I rarely order it out unless I can get a look at another table’s order before making my decision. The version at Au Trou Gascon is a crispy wonder, but its out-of-the-way location and slightly upscale-ness makes it less-accessible than Chez Dumonet, where I’ve never, ever been disappointed.

Be sure to finish your meal with dessert if you go; the Grand Marnier Soufflé must be ordered in advance. I also urge folks to try the mille-feuille too, which is a wonder of puff pastry magic. The exceptional taste of pure French butter magically is trapped between ultra-light layers of pastry dough with a vanilla-scented cream filling is threatening to slide out from beneath. Neither are ‘nail-in-the-coffin’ rich desserts, so not to worry. And either (or both!) makes the perfect ending to dinner in this classic Parisian bistro.

Salted Butter Caramels from my hero, Henri Le Roux

5. Butter Caramels

Buttery caramels have been haunting me for years, and the two best ones in Paris at the Henri Le Roux caramels at A l’Etoile d’Or, my favorite candy shop in Paris, and the uber-rich caramels at Jacques Genin. You can’t imagine how they can go so much butter into one little sweet bite, but both are worthy of your attention.

(UPDATE: A l’Etoile d’Or has closed, yet you can get Le Roux caramels at one of their two shops in Paris.)

Jacques makes his caramels daily in various flavors; my favorite is the nature (plain) but I’m also smitten with his mango-passion fruit caramels, which need to be refrigerated, so you’ll have to eat them right away. Which is pretty easy to do.


6. Kouglof at Vandermeersch

One bite of the yeasty kouglof at Vandermeersch will make you forget the long métro ride out here. Available only on weekends. The best.

7. Eric Kayser’s Pain aux Cereales

You don’t need me to tell you there are tons of bread in Paris. Everywhere you look is a boulangerie, and new ones are opening all the time; some good some not-so-good. But Eric Kayser, which seems to be opening them as fast as he can, manages to keep the quality as high as possible in all of them. I’ve never had a bread from him I didn’t love, including the slender baguette Monge or his hearty, coarse pain au levain.

Always on the lookout for a good loaf of hearty, grainy bread in Paris, the pain aux cereales here can’t be topped—except maybe by a slab of Cantal or a smear of ripe, pungent brie de Meaux. Light and crunchy, and riddled with lots of millet and sesame seeds, it goes equally well with cheese after dinner as it does for breakfast with some homemade confiture.

Macarons in the workshop of Gérard Mulot

8. The Toasted Rice Salad at Lao-Lane Xang

Most people don’t come to Paris for the Asian food. But for those of us living here, it’s a nice break from rich Parisian cuisine. Perhaps once a week I head down to the 13th for Vietnamese or Chinese food.

This Laotian joint at 105, Avenue d’Ivry, is always packed and most people are feasting on the Toasted Rice Salad, served in a lettuce leaf which is filled with crunchy rice and little bits of meat. Even if you’re not a fan of unusual Asian desserts, the combination of coconut milk-based treats, served warm on a banana leaf, are lovely and delicate.

Chocolate-Covered Marshmallows

9. Chocolate-Covered Marshmallows

Did you know you shouldn’t fly with chocolate-covered marshmallows? The change in air pressure can cause them to inflate and deflate, cracking the dark chocolate shell. So you should eat them while you’re here. They have them at Pierre Marcolini and also they’re made on the premises at Fouquet, one of my favorite candy and sweet shops in Paris. At Fouquet, pick up a little bag of croquants, chocolate-covered spice cookies, which are one of my addictions and would make this list, but I was trying to limit this to ten things.

La Maison du Chocolat
La Maison du Chocolat

10. Four Way Tie Between Jean-Charles Rochoux’s Dark Chocolate Bar with Caramelized Hazelnuts, Michel Chaudun’s Peanut-Filled Chocolates, La Maison du Chocolat’s Rigoletto Noir, and Patrick Roger’s Feuilleuntine

These are four of my favorite chocolates in Paris. How does one choose? Luckily, you don’t have to. And if you visit Paris, c’est obligatoire to stop in at each one.

M. Rochoux’s bar is a slab of dark chocolate riddled with hazelnut, each individually-caramelized, and embedded within. At Chaudun, he daringly introduces the locals to peanuts in a chocolate-filling, which he told me was a tough sell to ground peanut-averse Parisians…but not to me. I can’t get enough of them. And be sure to get a box of his mini-sized chocolate pavés too.

What’s not to like about caramelized butter mousse, whipped up until light and fluffy, then enrobed in chocolate? At La Maison du Chocolat, they don’t both wow-ing the public with new or trendy. Which is a good thing, since if they ever discontinued any of their truly sublime chocolates, I’d stage a one-man strike out front. (And next month strike season starts again…so if you see me soon out there on the sidewalk, I’m supporting the cause.)

And at Patrick Roger, I never know what I want when I walk in the door. Except that’s a lie: I know that I do want at least one bite of feuillantines, crackly praline cut in a neat square then covered in a thin coating of dark chocolate. But there’s so many other things to try, I know I should branch out a bit more. And I promise I will.

There’s a few other things that you shouldn’t miss in Paris, but the list was getting out-of-control….

  • Lap up authentic Italian gelato at Pozzetto or Grom. The coffee gelato is particularly good at Grom, as is the Crema di Grom, with bits of polenta cookies studded in the ice cream.

  • Try a double cornet of chocolate and caramel ice cream, or any sorbet, at Berthillon.

  • Elbow the bobo crowds for pizza with roquette and bresaola at Amici Miei pizzeria.

  • Pick up for a picnic a salty, crackly-skin Poulet crapaudine from the chicken lady at the Sunday Bastille market.

  • Tear into a slender ficelle apéritif from Moisan bakery.

  • Dive into un petit sac of glazed madeleines and a great croissant from Blé Sucré.

  • Dig into Chokaria, a slab-like mélange of chocolate and caramel, at L’Atelier du Chocolat.

  • My favorite ham-and-cheese filled buckwheat galette are at Crêperie Bretonne, West Country Girl, and Breizh Café.

  • Order #42 at Le Bambou.

  • Get a handful of tiny chocolate and nature financiers at any Kayser bakery.

  • Check out Dorie Greenspan’s Top Ten List of things to eat in Paris.

  • Cut into a superb steak with excellent fries at Le Sévero

  • Have my favorite lamb mechoui couscous at Chez Omar

    And if you love pastries and chocolates, check out my Paris Pastry app, filled with over 300 of my favorite addresses for hot chocolate, éclairs, buttery croissants, ice cream, from all the sweetest shops in town. The app features location maps, my Top 25 List, opening hours, and lots more!


    • Hi,
      I am going a little bit crazy! I could swear that you have a recipe for Kouign Aman. I can not find it in your recipe books and so I assumed it was on this website. I have spent 40 minutes, albeit a wonderful 40 minutes, looking for it but could not locate it. Do you know where I might find it? I appreciate your help.

      It is my birthday on Wednesday and my 2 best friends and I want to make 1, or maybe 2, better yet there will be 3 of us so why share. I was in Paris last week and brought back Bordier butter for the occasion and I’m happy to say that it was still firm when I got it back to Utah!!! Now I just need to find the recipe. I appreciate your help.

      P.S. We had the Lemon Semifreddo this afternoon from your new book. My friends and family say THANKS, for the new book it is awesome.

      I linked the recipe in your comment. Also, all the recipes on the site are listed on the Recipes page, too. Glad you found it…and liked that Lemon Semifreddo recipe : ) -dl

    • LOL!!!

      3 minutes after I sent my inquiry as I am closing the site I notices another link I went to it and there it was the Breton Butter Cake – Kouign Amann Recipe. All I had to do was stop looking and there it was. Now I will have a wonderful birthday celebration.

      Diane Swain

    • happy birthday, Diane! and David, thank you for this site that I have only this spring discovered. I love the idea of the guidebook that your publishers nixed. How about a guidebook/cookbook with pics of the lovely shops/goodies available to buy in Paris alongside your recipes for how to recreate similar goodies at home?

    • Hi David,

      I’ve been reading your blog for ages, and I’m driven to post now because I’ve noticed in several of your articles, you mention the “downside” of a few restaurants is that they’re far and out-of-the way when they’re in the 11th or 12th arrondissements! I’m a bit disappointed as that suggests that anything that’s not in the trendy 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th is out-of-the-way and not easy to access. “Au Trou Gascon” is one metro station after Bastille!

      So, with that said, here are a few good addresses in the 11th/12th:

      Les Funambules
      12, Rue Faidherbe, 75011 Paris
      A great restaurant with very friendly service, and amazing burgers. If you’re not in the mood for a burger, try one of their huge and filling salads.

      Bistrot Balthazar
      35, rue Faidherbe 75011 Paris
      Friendly service, great for an after work apero (Try a nice glass of wine + cheese plate), or for Sunday brunch.

      Le Mouton noir
      65 rue de charonne 75011 Paris
      A tiny little restaurant with a small,yet very reasonably priced menu. Absolutely Delicious.

      …and many, many more! But, you’ll have to venture into the wild of these far-away arrondissements to discover them for yourself ;-)

      Lastly, thanks for always posting great articles — I love your blog, despite this teeny criticism.

    • That’s interesting because I’ve profiled many places on the site that are worth the trip to various neighborhoods, many on the right bank, such as Verre Volé, Chartier, the Barbès market, Jacques Genin, du Pain et des Idees, the rue Montorgeuil, Les Halles cookware shops, Fouquet candy makers, Bazin, Ble Sucre, the march Aligre, Breizh Café, Café Des Musees, boulangerie 140, Chez Omar, and the Richard Lenoir market. Those can be found browsing in the archives and I’ve also put them in categories, in the sidebar. And I do encourage folks to visit them all! : )

    • I just started following your blog this summer and it has been tremendously helpful for my time in Rome and Paris. You are spot on for most of your suggestions, but I wonder about your Vietnamese recommendation, Le Bambou. Have you tried another Vietnamese restaurant on rue Baudricourt [#82] called Sai Gon Moi. It is smaller than Le Bambou, but their food is better prepared. Their broth for the pho is clear [good sign of quality] compared to the cloudy and overly sweetened one at Le Bambou. Anyway, I recommend it to anyone who is in the 13th arrondissemont. Thanks for a wonderful blog!

    • David, I just returned from a two week visit to France and sure wish I’d read The Sweet Life in Paris BEFORE we’d gone! But I find myself nodding yes YES, and laughing out loud. I experienced so much of what you wrote about first hand. We stayed in a lovely apartment in the 5th on Rue Linne for the first week, and then headed south to the Provence area to see the lavender fields for the second week.

      Anyway – we had a wonderful dinner at Fish La Boissonerie, 69 Rue de Seine 75006 Telephone: 1 43 54 34 69. It was recommended by a cousin, whose son works there as a server. He’s American – but has lived in Paris for 3 years now, and has become fluent…well as fluent as one can be as an American living in Paris! My Rascasse and pistachio risotto with crunchy little red beet sprouts on top was so pretty and SO tasty! I hope you’ll go there someday. Tell Paul that Laura sent you!

    • Loved your suggestions, but merde! didn’t make it to Pierre Marcolini for the marshmallows. My husband could endure only so many miles of walking for a chocolate. Not me. Everywhere the people were so kind and helpful with directions. Always “Ce n’est pas loin” – but my idea of “loin” is apparently different from the French idea of “loin”. Tant pis – anything for a taste of something wonderful. I have a question that I hope you can answer – what ham should I buy if I want to make one of those delicious, ordinary “sandwiches au jambon”? And why can’t we have ham sandwiches like that in the U.S?

    • Just wanted to thank you for being my guide to all things delicious while I wandered Paris for the first 10 days of September. My trip was strictly food-centric, and ALL of your suggestions were worth hunting for! I hit dozens of them, but a few stood out the most – the mini financiers at Eric Kayser (actually the entire rue Montorgueil is pretty spectacular & I stumbled onto G. Detou where I gawked for about 20 minutes before deciding to smuggle home some 70% Cuban pistoles amongst other things!). Madame Acabo is just the sweetest thing ever – she made sure that I got one each of all your favorites, I started in on my jar of Le Roux caramel last night (with a spoon of course), and I only regret that I didn’t buy 100 more of those Franck Kestener croquant et caramel bars, ’cause dammit that thing was good! I don’t think I met a nicer bunch of folks than the staff at Breizh, (have you had their green tea ice cream?) bought some of their buckwheat flour, caramel sauce and that Bordier butter (INCREDIBLE). I discovered that I actually do like eggplant – if only those L’As du Fallafel boys could serve it to me that way every day! Visited Pozetto a few times, as I could basically fall out my apartment window and into their shop – the pistachio gelato was delicious (although the pistachio ice cream at Berthillon has it beat) and the espresso was the best I found in Paris – I also brought home some of their pistachio paste, have you tried it? If I lived where you do, I’d hit Ble Sucre every day, what an awesome little bakery! I had a lovely dinner at Le Garde Robe and was doted on by a charming fellow named Momo (I think), that gal and her meat slicer put on quite the show! So thanks for those and so many more great tips, I owe you a debt of Rancho Gordo beans so huge it’s ridiculous! I don’t know if any of your Seattle friends have ever taken you to the Fainting Goat or D’Ambrosio for gelato, if not, I’d love the honor someday, they both rock! Thanks again and enjoy Ireland!

    • And don’t forget to pay us a visit in our candy store (address is 132 av. Thiers, Le Raincy) We’ll be glad to let you try some of our chocolates :-)

    • I’ve been reading through your blog for the last few hours and it’s fantastic! The very first comment on this topic, more than three years ago, says it all. ‘I will be dreaming of Paris tonight!’ Thank you. Keep it up.

    • Hi David,

      I have been following your blog for over a year now & I love your recipes.

      I lived in France for 2 years (did my MBA in Hospitality from Institut Vatel) and worked at Holiday Inn at Orly Airport for a year. Though this was 8yrs ago!

      One of the things that you have missed in “10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris” is the chocolat chaud that you get at the traditional Boulangerie in France. I have had such thick, wickedly delicious hot chocolate only at two places, one is a traditional boulangerie at Le Centre Commercial Belle Epine à Thiais (94 – Val de Marne) & the second being a small resto, (I forget the name of the place) at Chatelet Les Halles, its in the maze of shops at the metro station!!!

      I am sure in your years at Paris, you have already tried this, but if you havent, PLEASE try it whenever you get sometime!!! :)

      Best regards,

    • Angelina – 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France +33 142608200. – Thats the Chocolat Chaud place.. :)

    • I dream of paris every night.
      LES PAPILLES IS BESTTTT!!!! it was certainly one of the best meals I have ever had in my life

    • David,
      Gird your loins (or go in disguise), and try the place across from L’as du Falafel.
      It IS better!