Whether you’re looking for the perfect spot for a power lunch or wanting to spend a leisurely three hours à table, each of these Parisian restaurants offer an outstanding midday meal in a first-class setting.
L’Oiseau Blanc, The Peninsula Paris
Perched above the city’s rooftops with a view of its most recognized monument, the Eiffel Tower, L’Oiseau Blanc is a lunch spot that is beyond impressive. Whether you want to plan a romantic rendezvous for two or an all-important meeting, L’Oiseau Blanc (the name comes from the plane that attempted the first nonstop Paris-to-New York flight) soars as the perfect spot for both. It doesn’t matter if you’re dining indoors or on the terrace either, chef Sidney Redel’s selections take a gastronomic spin on classic bistro dining with a daily changing menu. His signature dish, turbot braised with bay leaves served on a bed of lentils, showcases the kitchen’s sophistication. The bar at L’Oiseau Blanc is also known for pouring delicious cocktails (the Take Off, for example, is made with gin, sweet vermouth and bitters), wines, tea and coffees, the perfect pick-me-up after a luxurious lunch.
Le Cinq, Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris
The iconic Four Seasons Hotel George V is one of the most lavish spots to enjoy lunch in Paris. At its Christian Le Squer-helmed signature restaurant, Le Cinq, lunch is far from a mere afternoon diversion. Refined, elegant cuisine, breathtaking décor and world-class service are just three of the reasons this is a go-to lunch spot for high-powered business people and discerning travelers alike. Meals here change often depending on the season, but they can be expected to be served à la carte or as a four- or six-course set menu, with or without wine pairings. The cuisine is a modern take on classic French dishes, like a Parisian-style onion gratin and fresh sea bass with caviar. If you’re looking for a more casual option at the same stunning hotel, La Galerie is the perfect setting for lobster bisque, a club sandwich and salad with truffles. Decked out in fresh weekly flower arrangements by in-house artistic designer Jeff Leatham, La Galerie offers seating indoors and outdoors on the sunny courtyard.
Le Comptoir du Relais
Hidden among the hustle and bustle of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the artistic left-bank neighborhood famous for its, restaurants, historical monuments and artsy Hemingway hangouts, you’ll find this area favorite. There is nothing pretentious or overwhelmingly opulent about lunch at this sidewalk café, but the exquisite cuisine and impressive wine menu make it an ideal spot for a leisurely meal for locals and vacationing lovebirds. Signature dishes by famed chef Yves Camdeborde include foie gras, mini pastas with slow-cooked beef cheek, velvety lobster bisque with Japanese pearls, and perfectly cooked meats with mouthwatering potato puree. Daily specials are handwritten on the oversized mirror inside. The tiny indoor seating area solidifies the fact that the best seats are outside, facing the sidewalk, where diners often cozy up under the restaurant’s signature fleece blankets.
Le Bistrot Paul Bert
From the outside, this bistro may appear to resemble many others you’ve seen around the city — chalkboard menu, warm interior, classic wooden chairs and everyday plates. But have a closer look in the kitchen, and you’ll notice that owner Bertrand Auboyneau has done wonders by taking his eatery to the next level, using only the help of fine, fresh ingredients. A food-industry favorite spot for lunch, particularly on the weekends, Le Bistrot Paul Bert is a boisterous, family-style restaurant where a lavish afternoon sitting can easily roll over into dinner. Some favorites that are always available on the menu include the gently cooked eggs with cream and mushrooms, the signature steak frites, classic sole meunière, and the generous Baba au rhum (small cakes soaked in rum) or Paris-Brest (a creamy pastry created to resemble a bicycle wheel) dessert. The rest of the menu changes seasonally. In typical bistro manner, Le Bistrot Paul Bert serves lunch only during the hours of 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., followed by a “snack” menu from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to tide you over until dinner. To ensure you get a table, reserve well in advance.
Located in a former engraver’s 1840s workshop and a classified historic location, the September 2014-opened Caffè Stern is a relatively new restaurant on the Paris foodie radar. Located in one of the city’s many covered passageways, the Passage des Panoramas, this establishment is quirky, sophisticated and a perfectly lavish spot to eat any day of the week (closed Sunday and Monday). Created by David Lanher (Racines, Vivant), and under the culinary direction of star Italian chef Massimiliano Alajmo, Caffè Stern was designed by the great Philippe Starck but still features many of the original charms of its eclectic past. Host your power lunch here over a plate of poached lobster with breadcrumbs and curry sauce; fried langoustines with bottarga; or steamed margherita “pizza” that’s finished off with a perfectly poured barley cappuccino roasted with star anise made from coffee roasted in Verona and expressed by a Faema 1961 espresso machine.