HOME > Chowhound > France >


Five days with an architect...where to eat?

This May we will have an architect and his business woman wife stay with us. This will be their first visit to Paris. Which restaurants have great building design, interesting views, a history associated with art or science? All I can think of is Jules Verne... What do you suggest?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. "Which restaurants have great building design, interesting views, a history associated with art or science?"
    Sorriest, sounds as though you were setting yourself up for gimmick heaven.
    The only resto that has good food AND interesting interior that I can think of is Les Climats.
    Otherwise, there are the likes of Le Train Bleu (ok brasserie fare), La Mosquée (clone mint tea). Sort of goes downhill from there.

    1. Historic building intelligently restored, memorable food and a typical Paris alley view: Spring.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mangeur

        The main room of Spring is nice but not a standout design. The basement is already more interesting. And the cellar… Unfortunately one can't eat there.

      2. An 18th century toll house? La Rotonde Villette (designed by Ladoux)

        Or the old municipal mortuary? Les Grandes Tables du 104
        might be suitable for lunch...

        Scroll down JT's reviews on 19e for details:

        4 Replies
        1. re: mangeur

          Agree with both Les Climats (ex Telephone Exchange) and the 104 (ex-mortuary which housed horses, hearses and suchlike). Go to the Train Bleu for a coffee or walk thru. And what about Saut de Loup and the MiniPalais? Saturne has that neat but awful sound-bouncing glass ceiling. A snack in the Versailles Cafe, great setting, modern room?
          Parnassien - do you think the Maison de l'Amerique Latin or the restaurant of the Maison des Polytechniciens qualify?

          1. re: John Talbott

            And a drink at the bar at l'Hôtel.
            How is Lapérouse these days? It has been good, bad, good, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Where is the cycle now ?
            A very nice space is the café of Musée Jacquemart-André. It has ok quiche and quite nice pastries. Lovely lunch place.

            1. re: Parigi

              Jacquemart-André; beautiful, but food?
              Galleria and Petit Palais, ditto.

          2. Maceo is a restaurant in an historic building in the 1er... with beautiful ceilings. I love the food there. and the ambiance.

            1. I haven't been to the Jules Verne since the putsch but that's pretty impressive. And how about restaurants in the passages - Yamcha, Passage 53, Racines, Coinstot Vino and the like?
              This is a great challenge.
              But make sure he also goes to the Glass House and Sainte-Geneviève and Bibliotheque Downtown Libraries (if the latter is accessible). To stay on topic we can give places around them to eat other than Maceo.

              1 Reply
              1. re: John Talbott

                Yes, the different passages offer a nice architectural view of Paris (even the one with all the Indian restaurants).

              2. Some suggestion :

                Café de Nemours and Le Grand Véfour at the Palais Royal.

                The Café Marly inside the Louvre overlooking the covered sculpture halls.

                The Institut Du Monde Arabe is an interesting building.

                I think the restaurant at the Opera is nice for its modern integration into the old building.. (IMO)

                I'd get a coffee at the Place des Vosges because it a nice urban environment (and full of history)

                Le George at the Centre Pompidou.

                Le Flore for its "Art-Déco" interior.

                Is the restaurant on top of the Palais de Tokyo still open ? It has a nice view

                2 Replies
                1. re: Maximilien

                  "The Institut Du Monde Arabe"
                  Is the "temporary" shed outside still in business?; great for a tea and snack.
                  Pti should know.

                  1. re: John Talbott

                    I don't, though I pass by it regularly. Last time I looked (Monday, actually) it looked pretty deflated.

                2. Isn't there a place to eat inside Jean Nouvel's Institut du Monde Arabe? See photo:

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Steve

                    Yes, Zyriab. Never was anything to write home about re. food, but a nice setting allright.

                    Try Le Dôme du Marais, former Mont-de-Piété (or "Chez ma tante", the old pawn shop).

                    1. re: Ptipois

                      "Le Dôme du Marais,"
                      Now why didn't I think of that. It's spectacular. Still good food; last time I went it was locally sourced etc and good.

                    2. La Grande Cascade, Napoleon's old hunting retreat?

                      1. Pre-Catalan is a special setting.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jock

                          I agree that the Bois places are spectacular, but for an architect?

                        2. Un embarras du choix. Many have already been mentioned but my favourite spaces + better than average food are (in no particular order because I'm too whimsical/ seasonal/ etc to have permanent preferences):
                          Musée des Arts et Metiers in the 3rd... not mind-blowing food but the setting is a wow... one of the best designed small specialist museums in Paris... to use the restaurant, you have to pay for the musuem entry or use your Paris Museum Pass except for Sunday brunch when access is free;
                          Mini-Palais in the Grand Palais in the 8th... on a warm day or night on the colonnaded terrace, ain't nothing that says Paris any better... and on arriving and leaving, the sensational view of the Pont Alexandre III and Les Invalides... and also a bar and salon de thé so a great non-meal option too;
                          l'Institut du Monde Arabe in the 5th... one of my favourite bits of modern architecture in Paris... the pricey rooftop Lebanese restaurant Le Zyriab is notoriously inconsistent but seems to be on an upswing at the moment... my last meal there (Sept 2013) was A- but the previous one was D+... yet the architecture + the views can make the food seem better than it is... also open for tea/ snacks in the afternoon and as a bar at all times... unfortunately, there is always the risk of getting bumped or finding it suddenly closed to the public because it's very popular (including my own company) for biz/ private functions;
                          Le Georges on the top of the Centre Pompidou in the 4th... loathe it during peak hours but love it for a late snacky lunch/ afternoon tea/ or late-night munchies... it has its own private entrance so accessible when the Centre Pompidou is closed... and the Centre Pompidou is such an architectural icon that it is probably on every visiting architect's short list;
                          Le Grand Véfour in the Galerie de Beaujolais of the Palais Royale in the 1st... is there any more quintessentially parisien restaurant ? love it... loads of artsy connections (Colette, Jean Cocteau, etc) + a great setting just off the gardens of the Palais Royal... food is Michelin-starred... very expensive;
                          La Grande Cascade in the Bois de Boulogne... the Second Empire setting oozes Frenchness... and the Michelin-starred cuisine is one of the better gastro-bargains in Paris (under 100 € for dinner if you choose wisely)... my family always has its landmark celebrations here or at Le Grand Véfour so I may be a wee bit biased by sentiment;
                          Le 104 on the rue Aubervilliers/ rue Curial in the 19th... the old house of the dead really does throb with life these days... fab multi-arts complex with two restaurants, Les Grandes Tables du 104 and Le Café Caché... some tourists can be put off by the neighbourhood but I love the incongruity of such a powerful expression of creativity in a wonderfully re-fashioned (award-winning design) morgue in what is now an immigrant's quartier... and let's not forget the food at both restos is really, really good;
                          Hotel Raphael on the avenue Kléber in the 16th... not really an architectural site in itself but will grab anyone with good taste and cultivated sensibilities.... a one-two punch of Paris deliciousness... first, a drink on the rooftop terrace with in-your-face views of the Arc de Triomphe on one side and a more common Eiffel Tower view on the other side... and then a great meal at Le Restaurant (one of best non-starred chefs in Paris)...at lunch, a bargain;
                          (and yes, JT) the Maison de l'Amérique Latine on the boulevard Saint-Germain in the 7th... misleading name because this restaurant in a sensational "hôtel particulier" is relentlessly French... if you are lucky enough to snag a table in the garden on a sunny day, a small paradise remembered for the rest of your life... but lunch only and often very difficult for tourists to get a rezzie because members/ regulars (including the director of the Musée d'Orsay) get priority... cuisine is not sensational but consistently good to very good;
                          Le Poulpry in the Maison des Polytechniciens on the rue de Poitiers in the 7th... again, an old and historic "hôtel particulier"... a place where the worlds of politics and culture co-exist in great harmony... and the food ain't bad either;
                          Wanderlust at Les Docks aka Cité de la Mode et du Design on the quai d'Austerlitz in the 13th... one of the more recent additions to the art + food formula that Paris does so well... it's young and trendy so old fogeys might not appreciate it but I (and, I think, the very hip John Talbott) love it... surprisingly good food and fab terrace for warm days;
                          Les Climats on the rue de Lille in the 7th... great design and decor of a multi-faceted restaurant (bar, dining room, conservatory & garden) in a somewhat grand re-hab building... and very good food/ wine to match.

                          I hope you will let your architect friend have a say in your choices. Restaurant design is a big topic of conversation here and there is special section "Restomaton" in the hip online foodie site Lefooding.com devoted to it. All in French but pics for your friend to browse.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Parnassien

                            I've alerted my friend to this thread and, although he is hiding in Cancun from our frigid Midwest weather, hopefully he is looking into the places you are suggesting. If not, I'll just make a list and drag him where I want to go.

                            1. re: hychka

                              If he can stand the insipidness of Cancun, he ought to be fine with this list of great interiors.

                              1. re: Parigi

                                At least it wasn't -15 degrees F in Cancun at 1 PM today. The place has that going for it.

                                1. re: hychka

                                  "-15 degrees F"
                                  Getting back OT, hychta, even in the Marche St Martin today it was warm enough to shed our coats and parkas at the Comptoir de Brice.

                            2. re: Parnassien

                              "Wanderlust at Les Docks aka Cité de la Mode et du Design on the quai d'Austerlitz in the 13th."
                              Parnassien's fine suggestion (and indeed my inner hipster came out here, I loved it) prompted me to think that there were at least two architectural sites nearby - the Gare d'Austerlitz almost facing the Cite de la etc. and La Pitie-Salpetriere. I'm sure your friend will find lots more that we on CH are not supposed to spend too much time on - but he can.

                            3. Having had a mediocre meal at Jules Verne many many years ago, I wouldn't recommend it. I felt very disappointed by the lackluster meal and the cheesy 'tourist' atmosphere. The service was also nothing to write home about.

                              Le George on Centre Pompidou would be ideal for an afternoon break. the iconic building is known to all architects, but to experience it in person is another wonder. Wow! You could also combine it with a visit to an exhibit there.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: lecker

                                "Having had a mediocre meal at Jules Verne"
                                Before or after the Ducasse putch (circa 2007)?
                                I ate there long before (maybe 1985) at a scientific congress function and for meeting food for 200 it was OK but I've heard nice things since.

                                1. re: John Talbott

                                  It must have been pre-Ducasse, 2000 or 2001. My disappointment may have been heightened by the fact that it was sold to me as the 'best' restaurant in Paris at the time. I have since learned to manage my expectations when someone says that. Maybe with Ducasse, it has gotten better; I would hope so.

                                  Over the years I have come to realize that most restaurants located in iconic places (or at the top of a TV tower, or the top of the highest hotel in the world, the highest skyscraper, etc) attract enough tourists and others that they do not necessary focus their attention on food and service. But if checking off the Eiffel Tower and a meal in it at Jules Verne is what hychka's friends prefer, then they may enjoy it. Given that Paris is full of amazing architecture, art and history, I think hychka's friends will be in heaven. I would also seek out some buildings that Le Corbusier, Renzo Piano or other iconic architects designed and built in the city.

                                  If I were going to Paris to visit friends (sadly, my friends no longer live there), I would want them to take me to little restaurants, off the beaten track, that combine great food, service and have interesting architectural/art references. I am always amazed when I find a little cafe or restaurant housed in a building that is older than the U.S! That, in and of itself, thrills me. I marvel at the history, the people who must have visited that space before me, what the walls would tell me about the past occupants, if they could talk, etc. And when the meal is amazing, I am in heaven. So many of the places mentioned in this discussion above seem to fit that bill, but I just wouldn't include Jules Verne in that selection. Obviously, I am bias because of the meal I had there way back when. Certainly, Ducasse must have improved Jules Verne from when I was there, but Ducasse can be had almost ALL over the world. It's almost like an institution, isn't it? Wouldn't it be more exciting to try a restaurant or cafe by a chef who is only in Paris? My mouth waters when I think about all the talented chefs in Paris, without the obvious publicity of Michelin or the NYTimes, etc..., following their passion in creating and delivering mouth-watering food for all their patrons...Why don't I live in Paris? Anyways, before I digress further, just my two-cents, for what it's worth.

                                  John: My memory of Jules Verne is that it wasn't that big? How did 200 people fit into the restaurant when you dined? Was there another part that I didn't see?

                                  1. re: lecker

                                    "Jules Verne is that it wasn't that big?"
                                    I just checked and it says 120 so 200 is an exaggeration.
                                    Or perhaps we were at 58 Tour Eiffel or one of the other spaces served by the kitchen

                              2. "great building design"
                                I ate at a place today that had several really dazzling interior design features:
                                Ceiling plants upside down like at MassMoca
                                Tables and bar of raw wood
                                Tables with zinc containers for water and wine bottles
                                Napkins hanging over the edge
                                Hooks on metal table legs for purses and briefcases
                                A semi-opaque glass piece between the salle and kitchen.
                                Anyway the food was also out of the ordinary -
                                6.9 La Faille, 49 (not 54 as some reviews state) rue Montmartre in the 2nd (Bus #85),, closed Sundays, pix at http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/...

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: John Talbott

                                  Ah, Talbott le plus vénérable des vénérables... I just had my second meal at La Faille... the first (an amazingly cheap 2-course lunch) was good enough... but the latest -- including the scallops + a black rice risotto thingey-- was wet dream territory. And I love the ambiguity... of decor (are we in Denmark ? Megève ? Paris ?) .... of cuisine (neo-bourgeois ? trad ? d'auteur ?)... and of function (continuous-hours café ? sleek cocktail bar ? restaurant ?)

                                  Anyway, many thanks for another superb trailblazing job ... let's just hope that the Frenchie-fixated folks can find their way here.

                                  1. re: Parnassien

                                    You're welcome; always on the prowl (sniffing like the Guignol's version of Pierre Gattaz).

                                2. The architect sparked on the sewers and the catacombs.

                                  Well, I'm not eating there!

                                  Any suggests for places close to the entrances?

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: hychka

                                    The sewer entrance is near Pont de l'Alma so anything ion the 7eme around there works, and the Catacombs are close to the 5 & 6eme. My advice is to select the restaurant for quality rather than direct proximity to these two attractions as they are close to lots of good options.

                                    1. re: hychka

                                      For the Catacombes on the place Denfert-Rochereau/ 14th in a 500-metre radius:
                                      Le Cornichon on the rue Gassendi, modern French cuisine, around 40 € (and worth every cent), near the very interesting and browsable Rue Daguerre market street;
                                      Les Petites Sorcières on the rue Liancourt, updated Flemish (sorta) cuisine, affordable lunch "formule"/ 20 or 25 € but can get pricey for dinner, boring décor, closed Sun + Mon;
                                      Le Jeu de Quilles, rue Boulard, tiny cave à manger with an ingredient-focused but limited-choice menu, meats from the next-door celebrity butcher Desnoyer, avoid during heat waves, around 40 € but usually a 20 € lunch bargain, closed Sun + Mon + Tue lunch
                                      Bistro des Pingouins, rue Daguerre, cheap and cheerful bistro du quartier, classic cuisine, 14 € lunch special... wheeee!, closed Sun.
                                      Or you could just eat a sandwich and chat with Sartre in the Montparnasse cemetery while you wait.

                                      For les Egouts de Paris on the quai d'Orsay/ 7th
                                      there's une flopée d'idées for the 7th in other threads like http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/963154

                                    2. While this has nothing to do with architecture, I want to take this guy to CAJ and have tried 8 times to call for reservations and get no where.
                                      Why CAJ for an architect? Because you guys have so much to say about the place and we did enjoy the one time we went there some time ago.

                                      However, I get no reply to calling the number per the web page and dialing per instructions on how to call from the USA to France.

                                      8 calls!


                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: hychka

                                        Were they not on their Easter holidays....? I see on their Facebook page they are posting menus so must be back.

                                        You are dropping the zero from the phone number in front of the 1? So it should be +33 1 47 05 86 89

                                        1. re: PhilD


                                          Sorry if I'm a bit short after 8 tries.

                                          Is an internet reservation system too much to ask?!

                                          Is that a topic for a thread?

                                          1. re: hychka

                                            Maybe they have gone early for the Labour Day holiday, as they are making it avert long weekend.

                                            Are you calling just before service, I often find that's the best tactic for a small restaurant, calling during service isn't great and the staff are too busy to answer the phone. Its 2:30am in Paris now so way past their bed time.

                                            1. re: PhilD

                                              PhilD, you are decent person. You work hard at answering questions on chowhound and I respect the many good bits of advice tossed my way and to others.I'll try again; but, why can't I just email "hychka, table for four May 13, 2014 at 13:00....available? Please advise." and expect an answer?

                                                1. re: yakionigiri

                                                  Although it is an enigma given how advanced the broadband and mobile technology is in France. I like to think they use the technology were it matters but still value the personal touch of interacting on the phone....

                                                2. re: hychka

                                                  Best slots for phone reservation: 11-12 AM just before lunch service, around 3 PM after the end of service but before they retire for a nap or something, 6-7 PM before dinner service. 10 PM is also good.

                                                  Chez l'Ami Jean you can try at 9-10 AM for the restaurant staff usually has an early start.

                                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                                    6-7 PM before dinner service worked like a charm!


                                        2. Our architect and business woman friends are on the train to London having completed their five days as our guests. They thoroughly enjoyed the places suggested on this thread and others here on Chowhound. His list included the catacombs, Pompidou, Napoleon's Tomb, Moulin Rouge, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, D'Orsay, and the Louvre. We ate at several emergency stops as well as CAJ, Le Canton, Bistro d Bretueil, Verjus, Dans les Landes. We tried several others and had a couple of calamities caused by Metro breakdown, pouring rain and reservation bungles. Overall everyone was happy.
                                          Time for the Next group, ...my daughter and granddaughter are now moving in. And, we are off!
                                          Thanks for all your helpful advice!!!