Les Papilles is our Favorite Paris Restaurant

Without a doubt, our favorite Paris restaurant is Les Papilles. Although we like to think of ourselves as budget travelers, we always save money for a visit to Les Papilles. This is, after all, Paris that we are talking about! We love the neighborhood bistro feel to Les Papilles and that we are lunching with locals.

favorite Paris restaurant

Just a little bistro on rue Gay-Lussac in Paris’ 5th arrondissement


Les Papilles- our favorite Paris restaurant

As you enter, there is a zinc bar on the right where we have repeatedly found an elderly gentleman having his déjeuner (lunch). I’m fairly sure he eats there regularly based on his conversations with the chef.  The chef is a delight and has made his way to each table for a short visit every time we’ve eaten there.

An épicerie (specialty food shop) occupies the entire left wall. You can select a wine to take with you, confitures, foie gras, or pretty much any other gourmet item you desire. Be sure you wander down to the sous sol  (basement) as there you will find their incredible store of wines. Don’t worry about asking if you can go down there….. the WC is located there as well as more dining space so it is perfectly acceptable to be there!

favorite Paris restaurant

The épicerie runs the length of the restaurant.

Reservations are best

If you plan to go in the evening, don’t expect to just drop in. Our favorite restaurant in Paris is a popular place and it is not very big. If you try to make a same-day reservation, you could be dining at 11 p.m. Eating a large meal at that time of night just doesn’t work for us. If we’ve had a full day of sightseeing, which always involves a tremendous amount of walking, we are rarely still alert at that time of night.  Plan ahead! You don’t have to be in Paris to make the reservation. The website is now in both English and French and on the first page is the link for online reservations.

The Dining Experience at our favorite Paris restaurant

At lunch you can request a menu (une carte, s’il vous plait) and order a lovely salad or  order a “bistro meal”. We prefer to order what the chef has prepared for the day. This always involves at least three courses and is “not to be missed” in my opinion. The waiter will speak in English if you ask, so don’t hesitate if that makes you more comfortable. At the top of the page link above, you can see a description of the menu under the Coté Table tab.

favorite paris restaurant

The lunch salad at Les Papilles

We usually ask for all four courses: entrée, plat, cheese, dessert. That’s a huge meal for me but we walk almost everywhere we go in Paris ! After a lunch like this, our dinner is a sandwich from the boulangerie enjoyed in the nearest park.

The Entrée

Pace yourself.  The entrée (starter) is usually a soup, even in the summer. It will be presented in a tureen so you are free to have multiple servings. Unless you have a large appetite, a second serving is not a good idea due to the amount of food which follows! When brought to the table, our bowls had a mix of fried lardons (bacon), croutons and nuts in the bottom. The server ladled the soup aux courgettes (zucchini soup) over these crunchy bits. The soup was velvety smooth and amazing! I loved the contrast between the smoothness of the soup and the crunchy bits that garnished it.

favorite paris restaurant

Soup aux courgettes


The Plat

Next is the plat (main course). I couldn’t decide which memories to share so here are two different plats from two different visits.

favorite paris restaurant

One for each of us


favorite paris restaurant

Light and fluffy whipped potatoes laced with Comte cheese


Our plat

On a separate visit, our plat included all the veggies slowly braised in with the meat. The plat was presented in the same little copper cocotte (casserole) as above.


The Fromage Course

The cheese plate on our last visit was garnished on the left with piment d’Espelette which added a tangy bite to the cheese. A truffle mousse accompanied the cheese. The earthy taste of the mousse with the creamy lightness of the cheese was decadent.

favorite paris restaurant

Fromage et mousse de truffe (Cheese and truffle mousse)

The Finale!

Finally, as the bottle of wine was nearing its end, the dessert arrived. This particular dessert may win out over mousse au chocolat for me! The pistachio cream mousse was garnished with a mix of chopped pistachios, hazelnuts, pine nuts and a nut that I could not identify. That combination of salty crunch with the sweet creamy pistachio mousse was the perfect finish to a perfect meal.

favorite Paris restaurant

Pistachio mousse garnished with a melange of nuts

More than two hours after sitting down, we wandered out the door into the sunshine sated and happy. Our next destination was Luxembourg Gardens to walk off our amazing meal.

Finding our favorite Paris restaurant

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