Ciel de Paris

paris view from ciel de paris restaurant

Most people already know that a good view doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with a remarkable culinary experience. But I’d gone to Ciel de Paris many years ago and found the food pas mal. And to top it off, it was reasonably priced, which is so often not the case in places that tend to attract out-of-towners. But what’s truly the draw here, aside from the 70s decor, are the views from the top of the Tour Montparnasse, which are unparalleled in Paris. The views are even better than the views from the Eiffel Tower, since you get to peer down on the famous tour, which was once just as reviled as the blocky Tour Montparnasse currently is.

Unlike those philistines that didn’t like the Eiffel Tower when it was built, I think I am the only one in Paris that doesn’t mind the Tour Montparnasse. The black rectangle lurking in the background of Paris isn’t nearly as objectionable as a number of some of the recent modern buildings, such as Les Halles (which is currently getting a makeover) and the Opéra Bastille.

ciel de paris table window

Modern architecture rarely gets to be redone, but the interior of Ciel de Paris had been updated and remodeled (remodels can go either way in Paris and I get very depressed when I see beautiful old bistros being torn down, to be replaced by upscale “cafés” with clear lucite furniture and chandeliers, potted palms, and mirrors and gold leaf on the walls) – so I was very happy to see that the team at Ciel de Paris had kept the time-warped chairs and lighting, and simply refreshed and refurbished the place. They also have a new chef and I went with a friend one sunny afternoon to check it out. The hostess was incredibly nice, as was the rest of the earnest staff. Of course, there are a number of tourists, but aside from a few groups dining on the raised balcony (a great idea since groups can be boisterous, and from the lower tier, you could barely hear them), most of the folks at lunch were French.

ham on tapenade tartine

The lunch menu is €29 (two courses), or €38 (three courses), each with coffee. (Prices subject to change.) When we were about to be seated at a table just one table away from the window, I’d asked if we could sit next to the window and they said that that table was taken. When I asked the hostess how they decide who gets to sit there, she said it was whoever reserved first – l’égalité, I suppose. Since we’d reserved just a few days before, I’ll take her word for it. But if you want a seat right next to the window, you might want to reserve farther in advance than we did. However at dinner, you can reserve a balcon (balcony) table, or a windowside one, at different prices.

ravioli in comte

At dinner, there is a menu “balcon” menu that is €65 and another “Grand Ecran” (€114) that includes “Dîner au Champagne Canard-Duchêne brut Rosé
1 bouteille par personne.” When I asked if that really includes one bottle of Champagne par personne, they said “Oui!” – so if you choose that menu, be prepared for a good time! (And plan to walk..or take public transit, home.)

ciel de paris restaurant scallops

For the first course, my friend had tiny raviolis in a fondu au comté, which were delicious – and rich. So much so, that I had to help her finish the cheese-filled squares of pasta. I began with Tartine de jambon Serrano, an open-faced toasted piece of sourdough bread spread with tapenade (olive paste) draped with country ham and a salad of walnuts and horseradish tucked in Belgian endive leaves.

We both went with Pétoncles with leeks and piquillos in beurre blanc for our main courses. You rarely see bay scallops in Paris so I was concerned they’d be previously frozen. But they tasted sweet and fresh to me. (And since I hadn’t had a full-bottle of Champagne, my senses were still pretty much in fine working order.)

view from ciel de paris

The bread, however, had an odd flavor to me and wasn’t so great, which is irksome in a city filled with very good bakeries. Bread expert Steven Kaplan brings his own baguette when he goes out to eat, although I’m not there, yet. Since we were both in the middle of a work day, we each had a glass of Sancerre, which were generous and although no one was holding up the bar at mid-day, there is a Champagne and cocktail bar where you can drink in the view of the place, and Paris, for the price of – well, just a drink.

sancerre

Dessert was a tangy Lemon Meringue Tartlet with tart lime sorbet with was a nice way to end the meal, then we finished up with two coffees and mini financiers and pâte de fruits.

lemon meringue tart

Folks often ask me about romantic restaurants in Paris, or places to celebrate a special event. And even though my days of special events (and romance) are winding down, I’d say this is one place that fits the bill.

chairs at ciel de paris coffee at ciel de paris

With food that is a vast improvement over the standard “restaurant-with-a-view” fare, engaging servers, and a view that just doesn’t quit, Ciel de Paris reaches higher than you might expect.

tour montparnasse

Ciel de Paris
56, Tour Maine Montparnasse (15th)
Tél: 01 40 64 77 67
(Reservations accepted by internet)

Paris view



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59 comments

  • Thanks for another wonderful post, with the knowledge resource that is the Internet I now know exactly where you went and the history of the building. That dessert looked delicious – I liked the square shape for a change.

  • Thank you for this wonderful review David! Recently I had friends come over from Paris and my friend Vero started telling me about Jacques Genin and his wonderful caramels and I went…Oh yes I know Jacques Genin..He makes a wonderful Paris-Brest too but you must order it..But hes concentrating on chocolates and Caramels now..blah blah..She laughed so loud and then asked me if I knew any more places that I could recommend to her..Guess that definitely makes me a Paris-o-phile !! So now I send her this link and I have a new restaurant to explore once I am in Paris again..Soon!! Have a wonderful weekend!!

  • This is definitely on the list. View, comfortable seating, good food, just what me and the Mister want in a restaurant. Happy traveling!

  • A diamond in the rough! What beautiful views of Paris! And from an ugly modern building. Such a delight, David, and definitely going on my list of places to visit when next I visit the most wonderful city in the world. Thanks!

  • A while back I spent a few months working in the Opera Bastille, and I can assure you it’s just as much a disaster inside as it is out. It has no soul or theatrical feel at all – you might as well be in a factory – and the actual auditorium doesn’t begin to work as a theatrical space. Popular mythology has it that there was a (huge) mistake in the competition process: Ott’s appalling design, though rejected by the judges, somehow was put on the wrong pile and became the winner. I can well believe it. If you want to go to opera in Paris, go to Salle Garnier – it’s a vastly better experience.

  • Thanks for another great post David. One place to add to my increasing list of Paris eateries.
    I always enjoy eating at L’Européen opposite the Gare de Lyon when I’m visiting. The thirties décor is wonderful but better yet is watching the besuited businessmen tackling a burger with a knife and fork…..

  • One bottle per person:) I like the idea of bringing your own bread:) But I would bring my own butter of course!

  • What a beautiful posting. Makes me want to return to Paris, was there one year ago. Thank you.

  • I appreciate these tips on restaurants I would not normally have on my list to visit. And I’ll appear to be really in the know the next time a friend visits Paris and asks for recommendations.

  • So… bring your own bread? Initially I thought that was funny, then I realized I often bring my own dessert, so…

    It is not all that common in the ‘burbs that restaurants have house made desserts although I do find my favorite restaurants seem to be the ones that take that extra step. I mean, isn’t that the final impression when you walk out the door?? So many folks tell me they don’t like dessert, then will reluctantly take a small taste of something I have brought to a party and swoon… I think they have been jaded by bad restaurant dessert experiences. I like to convert them to dessert lovers.

    It is hard to imagine bad bread in Paris. Has nobody mentioned this to them?? It’s almost enough to make me want to skip the place… but the view and your review… I think it is going on the list for our trip in September… the list that is exceeding the number of days we will be there, sigh.

  • You went to Ciel de Paris “one sunny afternoon” ???? Sunny???? Excusez-moi monsieur but there has been no sun in Paris this Spring. Every day has been overcast windy and grey an endless misery. DO ADMIT.
    Let alone Paris broke the l887 record for a cold day in May the other day.

  • Sarabb1313: That article I linked to about M. Kaplan explained a lot about the bread situation in Paris and France. He is really an expert on the topic. There are a lot of great bread bakeries, some mediocre ones, and some bad ones. In my neighborhood, there is a very bad one not far from me and there is always a line. The two other (good) bakeries also have lines, but I always wonder why people don’t walk 1/2 a block to get the good stuff. I guess it’s like the people who choose American ‘cheese’ over cheddar in the US, or the white bread in the French supermarkets over the stuff sold at the bakery a few doors away.

    BurgundyBrit: I love L’Europeen! They have great oysters and the place is great as well, as you described. I like sitting at the counter and having oysters and Sancerre.

    Christopher: I’ve not been in the Bastille Opéra but it really is an eyesore. There are a few “rumors” about how it got built. I heard when the architects were giving their presentations to the officials, someone advised the mayor (or whoever) to “pick the guy on the left.” And he picked the guy on his left, which was the wrong side (!) Don’t know what is true but there were a number of very bad buildings erected during that period in Paris. If you look for pictures of the Bastille before they put the opera house up there, it was an amazing place.

  • What do you mean your “days of special events (and romance) are winding down”? Hope you have many more days and years of special events and romance!!!

  • You have such gifted way of writing and photographing for a blog – every post I feel as if I am the fly in the room smelling, tasting, and seeing all that you do. Thanks so much!

  • LOVE this. Thanks!

  • Loved this one too David. Just returned from my first visit to Paris. Saw this building of course. Wish I’d known about this great place to eat when we were there. Will have to go next time….The weather was not great unfortunately, didn’t see much of the sun. My visit was greatly enhanced after reading many of your informative blogs and books!

  • Enjoyed the review. And, I, too, don’t mind the Tour. What it might lack in classical charm, it more than makes up for in stellar views. I tend to stay near this area when in Paris — within walking distance from the Tour and the Eiffel Tower.

  • oh, yummy! everything looks utterly beautiful and delicious. un reve!

    and couldn’t agree more about les halles. hope maybe the tide is turning a little and this restaurant is an example of that.

  • Thank you! We referred to your blog suggestions while in Paris May 12 – 19. One place we found on our own was BOCO off Rue de l’Opera. If you haven’t been check it out!

  • David; I recommend to ALL my visitors and guests the Tour Montparnasse. Less waiting time AND the benefit of seeing the ET… and cheaper too.

    I love showing the ET from the boat – you see it from many different angles and it’s always new – I really prefer seeing the Great Iron Lady from a bit further away – when I’m bang under it or close to touch, I feel a bit overwhelmed.

    Can’t comment on the resto but believe everything :) Bon app! And thanks for this beautiful post

  • Thank you for the delicious pictures…I’m not usually fond of scallops, but that dish looked wonderful.

    What is the little orange square on your desert plate?

  • For years, my partner has insisted that standard 750ml Champagne bottles are single-serving sizes. Now I’ve finally found a restaurant that agrees with him! And David, with your warm heart and lovely point of view, one can hardy believe your days of romance would be winding down. Thanks for the tip about what sounds like a delightful venue.

  • I agree with Elle – hope you have many more special, romantic days and events!

  • Oh David – now you have made me feel *really* old! When I first went to live in Paris, the Tour Maine-Montparnasse, as it was called, was only just “topping out”, and it only opened a few months before I left. There was a shopping mall and a swimming-pool in the basement.

    Mind you, on a recent trip to Paris I was astonished to find how old and tacky the RER station at Auber looked – in my memory it is still brand spanking new, but I think even I have aged better than it has!

  • I can’t believe I ran to get a hunk of baguette to munch while reading this!
    Guess I was salivating..sounds terrific.

  • Nice post…great pictures, as usual. Funny about the bread…go figure – I can’t imagine taking my own baguette w/me, though…that’s pretty funny.

  • Your days of special events and romance are winding down? I don’t think so! I hang out with a 50’s and 60’s crowd and and they are so much better at romance than we were in our 20’s and 30’s. It gets better as you get older!!

  • Thanks for the tip, David! I’ve always hesitated about going there but your article has showed me this truly is the ‘height’ of gastronomy!

  • David,
    I do hope you went to the Apple store in the basement of the Louvre. Its a great store and the people there will help you with everything, especially transferring from your old MAC to th e new one. Who knows how to do that but these nerds? Certainly not me.
    I love your blog. And make many of the recipes.
    Lucy Salenger

  • David,
    I do hope you went to the basement of the Louvre to the Apple store there. These nerds know more than you or I about transferring info from an old Mac to the new Mac.
    I love your blog and make many of your recipes. We also try many of your restaurants in Paris.
    Thanks,
    Lucy Salenger

    • Oddly, there were no appointments at either of the Apple stores in Paris on the website, none at present nor in the future – none, zip. (I was kind of surprised, it wasn’t even showing a schedule on their French website.) So I just kept checking very hour on the app and suddenly, one showed up at Opéra. It was six hours of sitting there with them, but they fixed it. Honestly, I don’t know what I would have done if that store didn’t exist. The people that work there are great.

  • In your photo all the men are wearing suits. Did you? I’m wondering if there is a dress code at this restaurant. Which makes me wonder if there is such a thing as a dress code in France.

    • No, but most nicer restaurants are what you might call “business casual” and people tend to dress up a little more in Paris than in other places. Few places have strict dress codes although I think men are expected to wear suits in very high-end restaurants, or at least a sportjacket.

  • LOVE that photo of you onThe Local interview!!! Great lighting, angle, everything.
    Fabulous.

  • Excellent review! Thanks! I have read so many bad things about the Tour Montparnasse I was delighted to see such a nice review! Your photos are excellent–as always–and I think I may have found that special restaurant for my “splurge”! Did you happen to notice if solo diners are accepted there? Any tips for solo diners? Thanks again!

  • Lovely informative review, love the detail about a bottle of champagne each!
    Butter Viking; is that you? The Swedish butter maker who provides butter for Noma, who I visited at your dairy?
    I like the idea of taking ones own baguette and butter. I have been known to take my own condiments to restaurants….

    • Hi Msmarmitelover! yes I frequently read this blog! It reminds me of my youth in Paris:) How was your trip to Denmark? any other stories there?

  • We had the pleasure of dining at this lovely restaurant when we were In Paris in 2011. The views were indeed spectacular and the service was impeccable. My husband thoroughly enjoyed his dinner, but unfortunately, I barely touched my Skate. The beautiful sunset and views of Paris and the Eiffel Tower shimmering at night were worth what we paid for dinner. The only thing that “left a bad taste” in our mouths, (please ignore the pun) was that we were told we would have to vacate our table as soon as we finished our meal. This was very upsetting, especially since there wasn’t a party waiting to take our table. Not about to have this ruin our last night in Paris, we sat at the bar and enjoyed an after dinner drink, while we drank in the magnificent views. If you’re visiting Paris, please don’t miss the opportunity to experience this.

  • Sorry David, for carrying on a conversation on your blog comments…
    Butterviking: yes Denmark was great, very expensive though, and I’ll be blogging about it soon. Didn’t go to Noma however, heard it’s impossible to get a table.

  • There must be more to the story about Deena’s experience. It is so NOT like Paris to be rushed at dining.

  • David, could you please provide a little background to the horseradish salad? I’m only familiar with it as a condiment, and due to its spiciness, “a little goes a long way.”

  • I feel even older than Annabel; when I lived in Paris the Tour Montparnasse was not even the bud of a bad idea. Honestly, I wept the first time I saw it. Unlike les Halles, it’s almost impossible to ignore—best to be in it, where you can’t see it but can enjoy those incredible views.

  • Stu and Deena: I’m surprised, especially since there wasn’t a reservation for the table. There is a new-ish trend in Paris to do two seatings (or more) in restaurants, unlike the days of yore when you got the table for the night, as places need to pay their expenses and need to increase the number of diners. And recently, a few times when I’ve reserved a table for the first seating, I was told on the phone that they’d need the table at a certain hour.

    Bonnie: The sauce was enriched with a dose of grated horseradish. It was likely prepared horseradish as the fresh is hard to find in Paris.

    Delliah18: I would not feel bad eating here as a solo diner, and in Paris, a number of places have communal tables (6 Paul Bert, Square Guardette, for example) or you can eat at the bar, or wine bars, such as Verjus, Vivant, Frenchie (the wine bars, at all three), and Le Garde Robe would be fun if you were dining solo as they’re quite convivial.

    • Thanks, David for the suggestions on the good places for solo visitors!! Very helpful!

  • I spent a really lovely evening at the champagne bar here last fall for a friends’ hen night. The bartenders and staff were terribly gracious, and even gave us a last glass on the house and little ciel de paris bag hooks as a souvenir for the evening. Definitely not what I expected (and for the record, the Opera Bastille might be an acquired taste from the outside, but the inside is a singer’s dream…)

  • Thank you for this wonderful post. I am going to Paris in July and will definitely put this on my list of must do’s. I wonder if you know if the waiters know English? Thank you very, very much. I love your blog. Jackie

    • Most restaurants in Paris have at least one server who speaks English, and in this kind of place, I think they may even have English menus. Learning just a few basic words is a nice touch. (I regret that on a recent trip to Lebanon, I didn’t learn any words of Arabic beforehand because it’s nice to greet people in their native language.) But most of the staff is young and friendly, and a good number of places in Paris, they’ll be happy to let you use whatever French you have or help you out – in English.

  • Dear J. Brown; you have one month to learn basic courtesy words in French and restaurant French. The wait staff probably know English but would appreciate you learning their language or at least some of it as a courtesy to them in their country. Also, learn how to order water in a restaurant. Understand that France is not America and the French have an expectation of decorum different than Americans, they are more civil and pleasant and expect the same of you. To better understand this, read David’s books, quickly, you don’t have much time!

  • Woah Stu, pretty condescending there aren’t you?
    Actually, in my experience of living in Paris, you sorta can’t win. If you speak English, they reply in French with annoyance, if you speak French, they reply in English. I just used to grit my teeth continue in French and see who won.
    I’m coming to Paris on Tuesday David, to see my friend Trish Deseine so checking your blog for places to visit.

  • Stu/Ms Marmite: I’m assuming the comment was meant to help enjoy the trip. Like when I write about places like this, these posts are aimed at directing people toward places they might enjoy in Paris (I try to include a mix of places, so folks can decide where to go.)

    Many people do speak English now, and in some cases, will respond automatically in English, even if you attempt French. It is a good idea to learn a bit of the language if possible but some folks feel self-conscious about attempting the language (I’ve met a number of French people that speak good English, but apologize for not speaking it better) – so it’s best to do what you can, and in my experience, most people in France are pretty forgiving of errors or goofs.

    (And believe me, I’ve made quite a few of those!)

  • Recently had brunch somewhere in LA where you got a full bottle of champagne with any brunch entree. We thought it was crazy but nice to see this is also acceptable in fancy French restaurants haha.

  • Hi David, I really like reading your blog but I wish you’d stop shoving these paid promos in our face.

    • This isn’t a paid promotion; we paid for our lunch and went as regular diners. (Our check came to €84.) The restaurant didn’t invite me nor did they know I would be writing it up. (Nor did I!) I was sharing it because folks often ask me about places to eat in Paris, specifically visitors, and with the spectacular view, I was anxious to check out the renovation to see if it was any good.

      For more information, check out my Restaurant Write-Up Policy.

  • I miss it. and I’m hungry now !!

  • David, I am going to Paris in October and just put this one on my list. ;-) Thanks for yet another wonderful post!!

  • We booked VERY last minute (2 hours prior) through La Frouchet at a time that does not exist in the restaurant’s booking system – go figure…. The hostess was extremely friendly and managed to find us a table on the elevated level. We could not have been more pleased by friendly way we were treated at the door and throughout the meal. And the food was really tasty too! And the view….awesome…

  • Hi, David,
    Is there a dress code at Le Ciel? I read in another review thread that coat and tie were required, and my husband, while having packed nice clothes, did not allow for either.
    I would really like to experience this place!
    Merci.

    • I went wearing just a nice shirt and slacks (what they often call in the US “business casual”) and there was no issue (we were there at lunchtime.) Am not sure what the dinner dress is but there are hardly any places left that require a tie in Paris. However it’s best to check with the restaurant directly via their website to confirm.

  • I’ll have to add this and L’Europeen to my list! I will be there for a brief four days at the end of July/beg.of August- with a full list of new spots to try! I do need to get back there for a longer stretch soon. I am missing my home away from home! Last year when I visited Montparnasse I ended up at Habitat and that was that!