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7 of the best cafes and restaurants near Paris’s major attractions

Lunch near Paris’s big draws doesn’t have to be expensive or touristy. A short walk from the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre will reveal a classic bistro, stylish brasserie or locals’ favourite

Everyone visiting Paris is likely to end up among the crowds at its most famous sights; the problem that arises, then, is that there is rarely anywhere reasonable to stop for lunch – either price- or quality-wise. To miss out on the chance of a great meal in somewhere such as France is shame, especially as there is invariably a hidden gem just round the corner. So, here is a selection of classic-but-affordable bistros and brasseries, plus surprising health food and vegetarian options, and the chance to sample Asian and North African cooking too.

All places cited are children-friendly, and ready to prepare a small-portion special dish, say pasta or chicken


Le Trumilou

For a great lunch deal, cross to the Right Bank of the Seine and discover Le Trumilou, a quaint bistro of cosy red banquettes, where Corinne and Alain Charvin have been serving genuine terroir cuisine for the last 30 years. The lunch menu features classics such as celeri remoulade, crunchy raw celery root with mayonnaise, veal kidney in a tangy mustard sauce, and the perfect creme caramel. Or two people can share the copious €14 platter of charcuterie. The sunny terrace looks out over the twin towers of Notre Dame cathedral. Alternatively, for just a cold beer served in traditional stone mugs, head from Notre Dame to the Brasserie de l’Isle Saint-Louis. • Two-course lunch menu €18. 84 Quai de l’Hotel de Ville, 4th arrondissement, +33 1 42 77 63 98,


Le Sancerre

Le Sancerre is one of the most authentic wine bars in Paris. It was opened in 1946 by Edmond Mellot, a renowned vigneron who decamped to the French capital to promote sancerre to Parisians, setting in motion a process that would turn it into one of the world’s best-known wines. With its snug interiors decorated with evocative paintings of the Sancerre area, and its vineyards, little has changed over the years. Dishes of the day run from braised guinea fowl to roast pork with cauliflower gratin, plus a selection of the famous Crottin de Chavignol goat cheese. • Dish of the day €14, salad €9.50. 22 Avenue Rapp, 7th arr, +33 1 45 51 75 91, no website


L’Ambassade d’Auvergne

The Pompidou Centre celebrates its 40th birthday this year, so crowds are likely to be even bigger than usual; but just two minutes’ walk away is a peaceful spot for a delicious lunch of the distinctive cuisine of France’s Auvergne region. From the outside, the “Embassy of Auvergne” looks austere, but push open the door and a rustic wooden-beamed auberge is revealed. Auvergne cooking is seriously hearty, so be prepared for big portions, especially the succulent Sarlan sausage served with the speciality aligot, creamy mashed potato blended with Cantal cheese. There is an excellent wine list, including a surprising selection of 35 different wines from the Auvergne itself. For vegetarians there is a main course of seasonal vegetables along with soups such as chestnut veloute. • Two-course lunch menu €22.50, main dish from €17. 22 Rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare, 3rd arr, +33 1 42 72 31 22,


Café Du Théâtre

The Sacré-Coeur looks down on the roofs of Montmartre, one of the most intriguing Parisian quarters, part tourist trap with rip-off restaurants, part genuine bohemian. Sitting right at the foot of the Sacré-Coeur funicular is a quiet square where the friendly Cafe du Theatre has become a neighbourhood institution. It’s a family affair, run for the last 40 years by two Algerians, Sami and Akim, and has a lively clientele of locals residents, actors and theatregoers, plus the occasional tourist. There is a two-course €12 menu with French classics such as onion soup and a big choice of salads and omelettes, but the best bet is to stick with its speciality couscous: a mountain of it topped with spicy merguez sausages or grilled chicken, plus a steaming bowl of vegetables and soup. • Coucous €13, vegetarian couscous €9.50. 48 Rue d’Orsel, 18th arr, +33 9 51 84 47 39, no website


La Guinguette d’Angèle

Although Paris is far from a paradise for vegetarians, let alone vegans, there are a lot more alternatives today to the classic boeuf bourguignon. Visitors coming out of the Louvre need to walk a while to find some reasonable places for lunch, but in the buzzing Rue Coquillière, just behind Les Halles shopping centre, is a tiny hole-in-the-wall counter serving a dazzling array of detox lunchboxes that are all organic and gluten-free. There is usually a choice of vegetarian, vegan and raw dishes, as well as daily specials of saffron chicken with parsley pesto, carrot and white bean salad. The menu always features a freshly-made soup, along with tempting home-baked cakes and pastries. There are a couple of tiny stools and a wobbly table to eat outside the Guinguette, but this is perfect for a takeaway picnic with the tranquil Palais Royal gardens two minutes away. • Lunchbox or dish of the day €9. 34 Rue Coquillière, 1st arr,


Restaurant Graindorge

Restaurants lining the Grandes Avenues off the Arc de Triomphe tend to be either pricey – serving businessmen on expenses – or aimed at tourists, so it is a surprise to discover the elegant Restaurant Graindorge. The chef-owner, Bernard Broux, has been cooking there for 25 years, with a loyal clientele filling his 1930s art-deco dining room each lunchtime, drawn by the reasonably-priced gourmet menu. Broux specialises in distinctive Flemish cuisine, rarely found in Paris, including the unpronounceable Potjevleesch, a terrine of veal, pork, chicken and rabbit in aspic. For the main dish don’t miss the waterzooi, a Flemish take on bouillabaisse, a stew of cod, bream, mussels and shrimps cooked with leeks, carrots and potatoes. • Two-course lunch menu €28, three courses €32. 15 Rue de l’Arc de Triomphe, 17th arr, +33 1 47 54 00 28,

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