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An Insider’s View: Favorite Bars and Restaurants in Paris

We all know about Paris’ typical tourist haunts, but what aspects of the City of Lights appeal to locals? A few days ago, I was fortunate to interview Frédéric, a Parisian “insider.” We talked quite a bit about what this singular city has to offer, as well as his Paris Lifeadvice for tourists.

Thank you for agreeing to share your thoughts about Paris. What brought you to the city?
I arrived a year ago for work and because I have many friends who live in Paris.  I’m 29 and I work at the Department of Ecology.

What are your favorite restaurants/bars in the city?

American Breakfast : A Pulp Fiction-style diner with good food.
Metro: Cardinal Lemoine

Scwartz's Deli ParisSchwartz’s Deli : A typical diner in the historic Marais neighborhood.
Metro: St. Paul

Aki : A great Japanese restaurant, try the okonomiyaki and noodles…yum.
Metro : Opéra

The Bellevilloise: This is a nice bar, especially in the summer when you can enjoy the terrace, impressive architecture and
eclectic live music programming.
Metro: Gambetta

The Clockwork Orange: Nice owner, great happy hours and cheap cocktails.
Metro: Oberkampf

Le Motel: Small bar hidden near the Bastille, very good cocktails, good techno music.

Metro: Bastille, Ledru Rollin
8 passage Josset
Le rendez-vous des amis75011 Paris, France

The Rocket: Delicious, unique cocktails, nice ambiance
Metro: Beaubourg

Le Rendez-vous des amis: Small bar with inexpensive, good wines (especially the reds).
Metro: Abbesses, Pigalle
23 rue Gabrielle

Le Truskel: A bar where British rock stars go after their concerts, great rock music and beer.
Metro: Grands Boulevards, Bourse
12 Rue Feydeau
75002 Paris, France

What are your favorite arrondissements or neighborhoods?
Opéra for restaurants, bookstores and Japanese stores. Bastille and Oberkampf districts in general, Beaubourg for its cool bars and restaurants.

In your opinion, what are some of the most unique/interesting aspects of Paris?

The architecture, museums, restaurants, going out … there’s always something to do in Paris. Each arrondissement (district) is a mini-city to explore with its own characteristics.

What is your favorite season in Paris?

Summer, because there are fewer Parisians around the city.

{Laughing} So, what is a place, activity, etc. that is a “must see/must do” in the summer that most tourists might miss?
Rosa Bonheur ParisIn the summer, a walk / nap in the park of Buttes Chaumont , an artificial park that offers a beautiful view of the city.  Don’t forget to have a glass of wine at the bar Le Rosa Bonheur (in the park) that stays open until one o’clock in the morning, an ideal place to dance to 70’s and 80’s music while drinking wine.
Metro: Buttes-Chaumont

The area of Buttes aux Cailles is a very nice area for going out and dining. You’ll find a lot of lesser-known, small typical French bars and restaurants.
Metro: Tolbiac or Place d’Italie

Is there any general advice you have for visitors to Paris?

La-Lettre-iVelib_visuelParis is not a very spread out city, so if the weather permits, I recommend using the Vélib (bike rental) at automatic kiosks throughout the city at a very reasonable price. It takes about an hour to bike from north to south or east to west. Getting around by métro is faster but the sightseeing is not as good when using this mode. Finally, the bus can also be used even though the network is not very clear. Taxis are a more reliable way to return to where you are staying after 2:00 am on the weekend (because the métro shuts down).

Overall, avoid touristy bars and restaurants along the main avenues, where beers can cost up to 15 euros a liter. Go down the narrow side streets to find restaurants and bars that are authentic with more reasonable prices.

INSIDER TIP: Reservations are highly recommended, not just on the weekend. If you are not fluent in French, I recommend using this website to make your reservations. They not only show you some photos of the restaurants and approximate prices for a meal, but some even offer up to a 50% discount. Make your reservation here. 

Written by Jen Westmoreland Bouchard for

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