While elegant dining is always a good idea, in the warmer months in Paris, sit-down, indoor restaurants are less popular than guingettes. Guingettes are a sort of tavern as we knew them back in the day. The food is served as almost an afterthought since drinking, hanging out watching a televised game and even dancing are really the ‘plat du jour’ at these venues. A couple of big, fun guinguettes have popped up recently in Paris, notably Le Grand Bleu. And while Les Maquereaux isn’t a traditional guinguette, since it’s a barge docked right on the river, alongside the Quai Hotel de Ville, it more or less serve as one, too.
A classic dining option in Paris is a dinner riverboat cruise. You just can’t imagine how breath taking the scenery along the banks of the River Seine is – the Ȋle-St.-Louis, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the yachts parked across from Jardin des Plantes, and more – until you’ve actually seen it with your own eyes from the river! Add the sparkle of sunset and twinkling stars, or the twinkling Eiffel Tower which sparkles in the evenings on the hour, to that scenic panorama and you have the makings of one unforgettable evening. For a twist on the theme, head on over to La Défense and dine “waterfront” next to the Bassin Takis at Octopus.
For a kick-off-your-heels experience, head on down towards the riverfront area just in front of the Ile St. Louis. Here you can sit, sip and watch the boats go by at the Brasserie de L’Isle Saint-Louis. Or go down below to the quay where you will find yet another stretch of casual dining options, like Mr. Pelican, Les Maquereaux, Chez Daniel and others. Always packed on weekend afternoons, the Quai Hotel de Ville even has outdoor swing dancing (not obligatory, but certainly optional). The food here at these venues is outdoor bbq style and fresh oysters, accompanied by chilled bottles of wine or cocktails like the famous Apero Spritzer. This is a group-friendly option and absolutely perfect when the weather is good and a bit of live music is the order of the day.
An elegant and haute cuisine pick on this list is Table du Flow. This restaurant offers direct views onto the Pont Alexandre III and the Grand Palais, both enhanced by the rays of the setting sun. Flow is a barge that is parked along the Seine, the fanciest one on this area just below the Alexander III Bridge. On the top floor is a bar that boasts the aforementioned views but also includes the Eiffel Tower. Below is a nightclub. And outside, along the riverbanks is their casual dining. This restaurant, however, is anything but casual so expect outstanding wine lists, superior dining and French class.
For waterfront dining in Paris, the Central Paris water views are the River Seine, Port de l’Arsenal and the Canal St. Martin. The Canal St. Martin area is the place to be for hipsters. The Port de l’Arsenal now has the refurbished Le Grand Bleu and La Seine boasts a riverfront pedestrian area that spans both sides, Rive Gauche and Rive Droite. These have been turned into kilometers-long pedestrian areas welcoming families, bicyclists, sunbathers and picnickers. This is the perfect place to stop and grab a refreshment at Faust near Invalides on the Rive Gauche side of Berges de Seine.
This isn’t where you’ll find frou-frou food. No, here is where you’ll get your traditional poulet-frites (roast chicken and fries) and your beers on tap. Brasserie, of course, is the traditional French term for ‘brewery’ and at this family-owned brasserie, you’ll find nothing but authentic French.
Its location has you in the heart of Paris, right on the Western tip of the picturesque, and legendary, Ile St. Louis. People watching is as fun here as sipping something iced and diving into a big salad or a more robust dish from the basic menu.
Enjoy the views here as much as the food and be sure to appreciate that you are sitting in the midst of where historical legends and the famous (Baudelaire, Marie Curie, Helena Rubinstein), from literally every walk of life, have also leisurely lolled and spent their precious time.
Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: People watching isn’t on the menu but it’s certainly a main course at this location. On either side of you is the River Seine.
Paige’s expert tip: Authentically French? It doesn’t get any more authentic than this family-owned cafe-brasserie here next to the Seine on the famous Ile St. Louis.
Waterfront dining at its best – cruising the Seine River lunch or dinner. This is one of those occasions when the rule of thumb, “you get what you pay for” doesn’t apply. The food here is all cooked fresh on board and is occasionally even prepared by a Michelin-starred chef (ask at booking for this special calendared event). For example dinner choices are salmon served with lemon and dill sauce or poultry “supreme” served with tarragon sauce and oyster mushrooms. The dinner or brunch cruise itself lasts an hour and fifteen minutes so it’s an excursion that is brief and to the point. The boat is sleek and comfortable with no comfort or luxury sacrificed. For these prices, you could get either a meal at a bistro or a cruise along the Seine, but here you get both.
Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: It’s great to have options. This is one of those quality options, offered by a smart entrepreneur, that easily fits into a tight time budget.
Paige’s expert tip: Truly one of the best deals for dinner in Paris. Never mind that you get a great cruise along the Seine, too. The meal is memorable and Michelin-starred chef quality. Bonus: you get to have that romantic cruise along the Seine just as the sky twinkles into night time.
One of the best features about this newly created all-pedestrian zone along the banks of the River Seine, is that they have instantly been outfitted with dozens of eating establishments.
So, even though myriad groups of people still pack their aperitif picnic baskets of cherry tomatoes, coldcuts, cheeses and chilled bottles of wine before heading down to this idyllic zone of leisure, you no longer need to.
Because now there are dozens of super choices for food and drink on both sides of the river. From the Pont Des Arts to down past the Pont Marie; and from the Musee d’Orsay all the way down to the Eiffel Tower, you will find little riverside cafes, creperies, bars and lots of chairs and outdoor seating.
This area has become one vast outdoor leisure zone, replete with satisfying choices for food and drink.
Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: This leisure zone now offers dozens of affordable food and snacking choices, with gorgeous views to boot.
Paige’s expert tip: No matter what you have a taste for, you will find it here on this vast pedestrian zone that now welcomes people along the banks of the Seine. Either sit at one of the cafes or take some treats to go. Plenty of cold drinks available, too (and even hot drinks for the colder weather).
You can take your street-vendor like food to go and sit inside Faust at their tables to enjoy it, or wander to the other side of the entrance where there is now a permanently installed outside bar where you can sip and nibble.
While the interior is reserved mostly for clubbing and occasionally for dining these days, the outdoor seating is used as both a dining and drinking area. And be sure to check their FB page for updates as flashmobs of 300 and more gather to toast one another in this Paris hotspot on the banks of the Seine.
Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Starting your evening here with drinks out on the terrace overlooking the Seine is an utterly cinematic way to begin an oh-so-Parisian night of revelry.
Paige’s expert tip: While the bar outside, in good weather, offers riverbank dining, just under the historic landmark bridge of Pont Alexandre III, you will find Faust. Though the restaurant has transformed into a club-only, the tables inside still offer views from their panoramic windows out onto the river just beside it.
Brand new and with striking views of the Eiffel Tower, this modern-chic venue has you dining in ultra-good vibrations. Literally. Here you are inside the Maison de La Radio France which is the building that houses dozens of recording rooms, concert stages and other high-tech spaces where France’s prime radio shows are recorded and broadcast.
The cuisine here is Asian-fusion so expect delights such as caramelized chicken served wrapped in a banana leaf with sticky rice and fresh pineapple. Or expect delicate slices of lamb served with an eggplant satay.
A plentiful selection of fresh fruit juices compliment your meals, such as carrot-orange-ginger. Lunch time offers a practical set menu of the chef’s creation which will have you in and out and satisfied in time for that afternoon conference call.
Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Finally a restaurant at the Maison Radio France. This second floor venue sports a chic decor and Asian-fusion cuisine.
Paige’s expert tip: Open for both lunch and dinner, now the in-the-know Maison de la Radio concert goers have a reason to linger before and after the concerts. There is, worth noting too, a bar upstairs that is open in the evenings now and also offers breathtaking River Seine and Eiffel Tower views.
The La Defense neighborhood of Paris is known for its high rise skyscraper buildings and its modern, NYC feel. With this kind of landscape, it isn’t surprising that there are tens of thousands of office workers who all need to chill with a refreshing drink after work before wrestling with the crowds on the metro.
Octopus, a partnership between the venerable Maison Rostang and the hipster Liquid Corporation, is now an integral part of this equation. It’s located just next to the Bassin Takis, a shallow city block large wading pool that emanates a refreshing mist baths every few minutes. The freshwater mist is so thick that only it clears can you see the dozens of children frolicking in the shallow pool in summertime.
On the menu here are cocktails and small bites. Your choice of over 35 small plates include signatures like sardine club sandwich, oysters, fried cheese nuggets and crispy crab cakes. Their signature cocktails are all adventurous and there’s also beer on tap and a good selection of wines.
Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Sometimes, like during summer heatwaves, the best thing to do is get near a nice big expanse of refreshing water.
Paige’s expert tip: For mains, you can have the signature lobster macaroni, a Rostang specialty, and also a choice of steak, chicken or fish. Dessert selections include Sophie’s chocolate cake, since the esteemed chef Rostang’s daughters have followed in his footsteps. And not to miss is the orange coulis creme brulee. When you’re looking for a NYC feel here in Paris, and a fun soundtrack-infused watering hole that welcomes Parisians looking to bridge work and home commutes, this is a chill place to come and nibble/sip.
Under the helm of Chef Geoffrey Rembert (La Tour d’Argent, Bristol) this oasis in a thriving hotspot offers gastronomic dining seasoned with breathtaking views over the Pont Alexander III, le Grand Palais and the gorgeous river Seine.
Choose this for an elegant evening out with a loved one or dear friends. None of the clamor/party atmosphere from the riverfront crowds intrude upon you in here. And everything from the service, to the wine list to the inventive and masterfully flavorful dishes will have you smiling all through dinner and leaving you glowing afterwards.
There is something intoxicating, also, to watching the unceasing parade of riverboats serenade you outside you as you dine.
Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: This choice fits the bill for a special occasion or romantic Parisian dining spot. And it’s waterfront, backlit by the exquisite Pont Alexandre III.
Paige’s expert tip: Best to arrive before sunset and take in that breathtaking transition along the Seine of evening into night while sipping an excellent French wine and nibbling on your appetizer. Another bonus about this restaurant is that upstairs is a rooftop bar for that after-dinner cocktail and below is a nightclub open for dancing until 4am on weekends.
Lunch on an expansive terrace that fronts the “marina of Paris” just near the Bastille – and you’ll feel like you’re miles away from the city. The Port de l’Arsenal is where lucky Parisian boats, barges and mini-yachts dock. This little body of water serves as the fluid bridge between the Canal St. Martin and the River Seine. What’s truly great, is that now the harbor’s landmark Le Grand Bleu has been fully restored, renovated and upscaled. This means that just next to the Place de la Bastille, overlooking the boats is a terrific new casual-dining place where you can order drinks and snack on finger foods and shared plates.
Large terraces and even bigger screen tvs are what you’ll find at this guinguette. Traditionally a guinguette is where people gathered to dance and drink. Here it’s more like watch the game and drink with friends.
Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Frequently you’ll see a boat traverse from the Canal St. Martin to the River Seine, or vice versa here at the Port de l’Arsenal.
Paige’s expert tip: This place gets packed in the evenings since it’s so close to the Place de la Bastille. If you’re looking for a quiet terrace overlooking boats and water, you can also stop by for an open air lunch under a shade umbrella while you gaze at the boats below.
At the center of one of the liveliest areas along the Seine, here you can regroup with your tribe around a shared plate of oysters and a chilled bottle of wine, champagne or sparkling water. This ‘peniche’ which is barge in French, is parked right in the center of several others. Flanked by two other popular barge-restaurants, the area attracts hordes of people on weekends. Even during the week, it’s a popular spot in the evenings.
Casual dining is what you’ll find here. A chicken burger and fries is about the heartiest thing on the menu. Otherwise it’s mostly shared plates of cheeses, cold cuts and, yes, oysters! Beer is on tap, as are cocktails. The wine and the Besserat de Bellefon champagne you can order chilled, by the bottle.
Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: This restaurant/bar is literally parked right on the water, the river Seine to be exact.
Paige’s expert tip: A plate of chilled oysters and a bottle of wine or sparkling water shared among friends: If that’s what you like, this is the place. Enjoying a summer afternoon or evening along the waterfront, which is lively and full of activity, is a great way to soak in good vibes.
Under the recently assumed reigns of André Terrail, son of the famous Tour d’Argent restaurateur, Claude Terrail, the family’s gastronomic bistro La Rotisserie d’Argent offers delightful accessibility. The sizzle of the establishment’s signature roasting duck and farm-raised chicken greets you when you enter this red-checked tablecloth icon on the Left Bank. It is literally just next door to the shrine of gourmets the world over, La Tour d’Argent, but here what is served is the bistro version of French food of the highest quality ingredients. Claude Terrail acquired this bistro in 1989 with the intention that snobbery had no place within its walls.
What’s even more refreshing is that the service is quick and pleasant and the staff is welcoming and warm. Duck is the dish here, so much so that it even embodies its mascot. Other classics on the menu not to miss is the Mimosa eggs which are a crab salad filled devilled eggs appetizer, heavy on the fresh crab. The foie gras is top quality. Sides such as whipped mashed potatoes, full of cream and butter, a fresh green salad, roasted potatoes and sauteed crisp vegetables in, yes, butter come in dishes that you can share with your fellow diner.
Don’t even think about skipping dessert here. If you’ve never tried the French whipped, lightly toasted egg white in a sea of creme anglaise, otherwise known as Ile Flottante, I highly recommend you do. The portion here is more than generous and its done exceptionally to perfection. Or you can always go for the tarte du jour.
Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: During the warmer months, outdoor terrace dining here means looking out over the Seine onto the Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris and the Ile Saint-Louis.
Paige’s expert tip: For your first visit to this bistro, stick with the classics and signature dishes. That means have a taste of the roast duck and the crab stuffed devilled eggs. The wine cellar at the sister ship (La Tour d’Argent) is ranked one of the best in the. So even the wines by the glass here will be excellent choices for whatever you order. Sides are fun and are meant to be shared. A simple tapenade and country style bread is your pre-appetizer for whetting the palate as you peruse the menu.