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Jun 24, 2013 09:33 AM

Paris - Champs Elysees - best outdoor place for a drink or bite?

Hi Chowhounders,

Hoping for your help. Can you please recommend some outdoor place on the Champs Elysees to have a drink or a bite at night? I know that the area is extremely touristy with a 'not great food rep' , but I would love to know of a place that you think is good enough to be able to enjoy whether it's a meal or just a drink. I remember years ago coming to the Champs and having a magical time just sitting there and enjoying the lit surroundings. The restaurant I went to was very forgettable, but maybe you know of something better? :)

Thanks for your help.

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  1. On the Champs? They are all of various degrees of forgettability. If a gun is pointed at me obliging me to have a meal on the Champs, it would be the Maison de l'Alsace. May be closed for renovation.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      That's hysterical! Well, let's hope it doesn't require such crucial methods ever. :)

      I know, I know, Champs is a tough place for something good, but even just for a drink maybe? I just would love to sit there at night, it's so pretty, hopefully going somewhere decent though. Thanks for your suggestion. Any others, Chowhounders?

      1. re: SmeagolDobby

        Always the anti Champs Élysées snobbism from those guys who feel like they live in real Paris. Les Champs is an awesome neighborhood, full of things and people you won't see anywhere else. Yes, you would never see Amelie Poulain there. But that's a good thing.

        The drugstore Publicist, methinks (where food is good and Parigi should go, I'll procure the gun). La Maison du Danemark. Oh, and the ones on avenue Matignon: La Terrazza, le Berkeley.

        1. re: souphie

          Julot is right, indeed there is plenty of good food around the Champs.

          Two wonderful steakhouses on rue Marbeuf: Charbon Rouge and La Maison de l'Aubrac, open 24 hours a day.
          If you crave a burger, Aubrac Corner serves a good one. Avoid the steakhouse at the Drugstore where the meat is meh compared to the two other places.

          Le Baron: a good Lebanese restaurant on rue de Washington.
          Mandarin Elysées (rue de Berri) for Cantonese food.
          Le Boudoir, rue de Ponthieu, run by a charcutier MOF - fantastic pâté en croûte and a real sommelier good with small-estate wines.
          La Réginette for pizza (has to be searched).

          Cocktails at Le Secret, le Warwick (restaurant too), Fouquet's...

          1. re: Ptipois

            The OP is looking for options on the Champs Elysées, not in the general area.

            And I must disagree about the Drugstore Steakhouse. Working nearby, I've scoured the neighbourhood again and again for years in search of a good meal and now return to the Drugstore Steakhouse again and again.

            But we are in total agreement about Le Boudoir on the rue du Colisée. Love it as a wine bar and for the nosh.

            1. re: Parnassien

              My apologies. Although I haven't tried the place more than once, my lunch at the Drugstore Steakhouse was disappointing, especially meatwise - compared to the far superior, pristine meats served at Charbon Rouge and Maison de l'Aubrac with a less stiff service. If I find myself in the neighborhood and crave some grilled beef, that is still not the first place I'll consider. I'll take the view over the two others', though.

              I did not get the feeling the OP was asking for recs for the avenue only. The Champs, notoriously, is a neighborhood composed of that avenue-that-used-to-be-beautiful and a, say, 100-meter portion of the neighboring streets (to be very restrictive; IMO Les Champs stretch North of the avenue to rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré and South to rue François-Ier).

              Of course, if the OP's requirements include sitting at a terrace, the avenue is the place. When it comes to eating one has to dive a bit deeper - but not that deep.

            2. re: Ptipois

              Since I've mostly been in Paris in cold weather, I've enjoyed the people watching at Fouquet's over a cup of their hot chocolate. I wouldn't give it an"A," but it's certainly enjoyable, and the people watching is fabulous from their glassed in "porch." Don't know whether that's opened to be a sidewalk cafe in summer, but a glass of wine (their food's not very good) would surely be fun...

              1. re: ChefJune

                Yes, the "porch" walls are taken down (weather permitting....) -- and the entire sidewalk becomes Fouquet's terrace.

                The coffee's good...

                ....but this is a glass of wine/cup of coffee/chocolat chaud in which you are renting the view and the experience.

            3. re: souphie

              Julot is right - Drugstore Steakhouse has a spectacular view and the Maison de Danemark an adequate one - both better food than elsewhere. Except as Sophie says, off the CE.

        2. If you must, a drink at Le Fouquet's; at least it still has a tiny bit of history left

          1. If the OP is just looking for just a people-watching terrace, both the exorbitantly expensive Le Fouquet's (not worth it IMHO) and the more affordable Maison du Danemark might fit the bill. Undoubtedly the Publicis Drugstore is a good choice foodwise but maybe not all that good for the OP's purpose... the Steakhouse is excellent but limited peoplewatching ... and the terrace of the less good brasserie is a bit insulated from the street scene that the OP is looking for... it also takes a miracle to get one of tables with the Arc de Triomphe view. If worse comes to worst, the terrace of Vesuvio pizzeria next to the Maison du Danemark on the even-numbererd side of the Champs at least gives you an in-your-face view of the Arc de Triomphe.

            As someone who works at the Arc de Triomphe-end of the Champs, I stand shoulder to shoulder with Parigi on this one. The Champs is so dominated by tourism that it is in a way no longer parisien. But as Souphie points out, there are bright spots. Not many, admittedly. Let me add the summer-only 7th(?) floor terrace/ restaurant/ bar Le W at the Warwick Hotel on the rue de Berri almost at the corner with the Champs Elysées... delightful... maybe not for this OP in search of a strategic sidewalk table ... but might suit others looking for a civilized retreat in the area.

            10 Replies
            1. re: Parnassien

              Is the Champs over-priced and over-touristed? You betcha.

              But if you, like me, spent your childhood dreaming of sitting in a cafe on the Champs-Elysees watching the world go by, it's worth it.

              I still have the receipt from Fouquet's in 1995 -- we paid whatever the franc equivalent of $8 for a cup of stupid coffee...but for $16 I lived out my girlhood dream.

              Go...have a cup of coffee...then head out of the area and find a restaurant with real food and real prices....and real people.

              1. re: sunshine842

                But far better to sit and watch the "real" Paris in other bars. Even somewhere like Deux Maggots in St Germain is far better for people watching i.e. you may be surrounded by fellow tourists but the passing parade has lots of locals and the whole ambiance is a million times better than the mass market tourist tat of the Champs

                1. re: PhilD

                  Nobody has a childhood dream of sitting at Deux Magots. (later, perhaps, after the required-reading list in high school)

                  If the OP's dream is to sit in a sidewalk cafe on the Champs, some other cafe in some other part of the city might be awesome, but it's. just. not. the. dream.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    In that case it's simple, as terraces go: Le Fouquet's, as long as you don't eat there.
                    Or Le Deauville (below Fouquet's), less touristy but a true Les Champs landmark.
                    Or, in the lower Champs section, Le Berkeley, avenue Matignon, a tip already mentioned by Julot and warmly endorsed by me. One of the last remaining "grands cafés" in Paris.

                    That's more than enough. And if you want to eat in an unpretentious place, aside from the places mentioned above, there is a lovely bar called Le Marie-Suzy at the Etoile end of avenue de Friedland. Nice warm atmosphere, lovely cocktails, good food. Very nice brunch buffet on Sundays.

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      But if the dream is based on a false premise isn't it better to help direct them to a place/area that may be more aligned to their dreams...?

                      1. re: PhilD

                        didn't you ever dream of visiting someplace?

                        Even on that maiden voyage, I knew before we ever sat down at Fouquet's that the Champs wasn't much what I'd created in my mind.

                        But it was important to me to sit in a cafe on the Champs, I have fond memories of having realized my dream...and I've never been back.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          Of course I have - but I have always appreciated the advice of the wise when they suggest alternatives that align more with the dream than the realities.

                          Is the dream of a drink and snack specifically on the Champs Élysées or is it more like a Woody Allen like dream of sitting in a old brasserie io a terrace in 1890 and sipping a glass of wine with Toulouse Lautrec? Often people mistakenly think the Champs is/was the street which teemed with those sorts of places.

                          Not my dream so its just a guess. Whatever, it is the traffic choked, back-packer, tout filled, rip off cafe's geared to uber rich Russian tourists etc etc then the Champs may not satisfy it. So why not suggest better alternatives?

                        2. re: PhilD

                          I would want to visit Les Champs if I hadn't been to Paris before!
                          My experience of that would be another matter...

                          Besides it's not such a false premise. Though a shadow of their former self, Les Champs are still not entirely worth throwing away. Saint-Germain has become a mercantile touristy dump in its own right too.

                          1. re: Ptipois

                            well, indeed....just like we'd want to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower and the towers at Notre Dame and stand gawking at the Mona Lisa.

                            It's what people dream about when they go to Paris the first time. The moody cafes in a hidden arrondissement will still be there for the next trip.

                            You'd have a hard time finding someone in Paris *on vacation* who didn't go down the laundry list of things that tourists see....and I've seen more than a few jaded business travelers who took a minute to just drink in the beauty of the city on their way to meetings.

                            1. re: Ptipois

                              The OP has been before, but years ago. Agree you need to do the sights but the champs is pretty nasty now and thought is sensible to suggest a similar but better alternative (and agree about the BSG and the tourist cafes and bars - although they do have a little more class than the champs)

                  2. Although it does not have outdoor seating, my favorite place to sit and have a light meal or dessert on the Champs-Élysées is Ladurée. The interior is beautiful, and the seating up front has a lovely view of the street. Tourists do flock to it, but many Parisians frequent it also. The food is satisfactory, the desserts are good, and the atmosphere is lovely.