Some of the Most Beautiful Restaurants in Paris: 5 Stunning Settings

(Last Updated On: September 30, 2020)
Beefbar, recently revamped by designers Humbert & Poyet, are among the most beautiful restaurants in Paris. Image: Humbert & Poyet/Francis Amiand
Image: Humbert & Poyet/Francis Amiand

Recent trends in food have tended to de-emphasize the importance of the dining room from an aesthetic point of view– or at least pretend to. Cramped, tiny tables in tapas bars, high, wobbly stools, and nibbling at the bar while balancing a glass of wine in one hand have all become emblems of authenticity and devotion to good food, while grand banquet-style halls and opulent decor are out. After all, shouldn’t the emphasis be on what you’re eating, rather than on the surroundings?

Well, maybe. But sometimes, dining in a spectacular setting can amplify the enjoyment. The most beautiful restaurants in Paris are generally not the trendiest, but that’s beside the point.

They have the capacity to transport you to other times, or to elevate your mood and mindset. From sumptuous Belle-Epoque brasseries to airy, contemporary dining rooms with a futuristic feel, these addresses offer a feast for the eyes. The food is decent at worst and excellent at best, too.

1. Le Train Bleu

Le Train Bleu is one of the most beautiful restaurants in Paris. Courtney Traub/All rights reserved
Le Train Bleu/by Courtney Traub/All rights reserved

I’m not the only one to put this 1900 dining room on the mezzanine level at Paris’ Gare de Lyon train station at the top of my list. Opened in 1901 and first called “the station buffet”, the now-iconic restaurant was designed by architect Marius Toudoire, who also conceived the train station’s exterior and famed clock tower.

Several interconnected, high-ceilinged dining rooms take up a whole level of the station, so spacious that you can hear clearly when a server drops a fork or glass across the room. It’s an uncanny portal into the heyday of upper-crust European train travel, and to a time when riding the rails denoted prestige and wealth.

le train bleu ceiling paris
Ceiling detail at Le Train Bleu, Paris. Courtney Traub/All rights reserved

Every square inch of space at Le Train Bleu is used for decor– or seemingly so. Ceilings are carved, painted, gilded and lit. Windows are opportunities for further decorative details. Enormous murals, handsome booths in wood, leather and brass, candelabras, gilded screens and service stations, and bouquets of brightly colored flowers complete the effect.

Unadulterated Belle-Epoque grandeur is what you’ll get if you come for lunch or dinner here. The food, while not spectacular, is solid and centred around French brasserie classics.

chocolate dessert Michel Rostang at Le Train Bleu, Paris
Image: Courtney Traub/All rights reserved

I especially recommend the chocolate-centric dessert from chef Michel Rostang– a pure delight. Just make sure you reserve some appetite for it (it’s rich).

Getting There & Practical Info
Le Train Bleu is one of the most beautiful restaurants in Paris, and opened in 1900. Image: Courtesy of Le Train Bleu/official Facebook page

See more on this restaurant, including opening times, current menus, history and dishes to try, in my full review.

2. Beefbar Vendome

Beefbar Vendome/Image by Humbert & Poyet/Francis Amiand

This popular and meat-centric restaurant, hosted within the walls of an 1878 Art Nouveau brasserie that was given historic status in 1985, has been given new life thanks to a complete refurbishment from agency Humbert & Poyet.

It’s really made the dining room’s spectacular glass and steel rooftop, delicately painted art nouveau panels, soft lamps, and scalloped arch structures shine as they must have originally.

But there’s more. As part of the architects’ reinterpretation of a site that had previously been occupied by historic restaurant La Fermette Marbeuf– opened in 1898– a 19th-century atrium was unveiled and refurbished. The former restaurant had walled the atrium in during World War II.

The "1900 room" at Beefbar, Paris, one of Paris' most beautiful restaurants . Raoul Dobremel/CC BY-SA 3.0
The “1900 room” at Beefbar, Paris. Raoul Dobremel/CC BY-SA 3.0

It was only rediscovered in the 1980s, and some claim the owners of La Fermette Marbeuf obscured it for fear of invasion by occupying Nazi troops.

{Related: The Pretty Parisian Building With a Dark History Nazi Collaboration}

Contemporary furnishings contrast with the lavish Art Nouveau elements in the dining room. The architects noted that they were aiming for a “game between sobriety and eccentricity”.

I personally don’t see much of either quality– just a classically beautiful dining room with some contemporary touches.

It’s certainly a place I’d love to try for lunch or dinner, despite the meat-heavy menu (I’m mostly vegetarian). Carnivores should appreciate choices like Kobe and Black Angus beef, kebabs, burgers, barbecue in various forms, and filet mignon.

Amazingly, vegetarians can find something to eat too, including pasta dishes and salads. Beefbar Paris also claims to corner the market in “luxury street food”– a term that would make the late and great Anthony Bourdain cringe like he’d devoured a lemon. But let’s face it– we’re mostly here for a ticket back to Paris circa 1868.

Getting There & Practical Info
  • Address: 5 Rue Marbeuf, 75008 (8th arrondissement)
  • Metro: Alma Marceau or Saint-Philippe-de-Roule
  • Tel: +33 (0) 1 44 31 40 00 
  • Visit the official website

3. Lapérouse

Image credit: Lapérouse/Facebook page

Fancy dinner or drinks in an old literary salon (and possibly boudoir?) Lapérouse, one of Paris’ oldest restaurants to still be in operation, also happens to be one of the most beautiful.

Facing the left bank of the Seine river at the Latin Quarter’s edge, the restaurant and bar first opened its doors in 1766, under the name “La Maison Lapérouse”.

Over centuries of operation, it attracted luminaries from Gustave Flaubert to Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac and Colette to French stage star and theatre producer Sarah Bernhardt.

Marcel Proust mentions the restaurant in his impossible-to-finish, seven-volume opus of 1913, In Search of Lost Time.

Even Orson Wells apparently pulled up a chair here, which was also famous at points for serving as a “house of ill repute”. The boudoir-style niches and red-velvet divans certainly suggest that the legend may have more than a little truth to it.

In 2019, the restaurant and colonial-style bar were fully refurbished by designer Laura Gonzales, in an effort to accentuate the establishment’s Romantic vibe (and history).

Image courtesy of Lapérouse/Instagram page
The revamped bar at Lapérouse, designed by Laura Gonzales. Image courtesy of Lapérouse/Instagram page

Lush pinks, magentas, and oranges dominate the palette in the revamped bar downstairs, while the main dining room and private “niches” are now even more a propos for a couple’s night out (or the next session of your literary salon?)

The kitchens, now helmed by chef Jean-Pierre Vigato and pastry chef Christophe Michalak, serve lunch and dinner menus centred around French classic dishes with contemporary inflections. These include whole lobster with a filet of olive oil and watercress, or truffled Croque-Monsieur sandwiches.

I haven’t eat there recently, but the restaurant appears in the Michelin Guide’s list of tables featuring “good cooking” and comfortable settings in Paris.

Getting There & Practical Info

See more on this beloved address and its history (as well as practical info) in my full review.

4. Bouillon Chartier (Grands Boulevards & Montparnasse)

Bouillon Chartier, Grands Boulevards/Courtesy of the Restaurant

Probably one of the most-visited among Paris’ historic brasseries, the Bouillon Chartier has surprisingly humble roots compared to some of the others on this list.

“Bouillon”, literally meaning “broth” in French, here refers to a traditional restaurant serving simple dishes at inexpensive prices. The concept was popularized in the mid-nineteenth century, and by the early twentieth there were hundreds of such eateries in the French capital, most catering to a modest clientele rather than to a wealthy one.

Two dining rooms opened in Paris in 1903 by Edouard Chartier and Louis Trezel would prove to have enduring appeal: one in the Grands Boulevards district on the right bank, near the Grevin Wax museum; the other in Montparnasse, on the left bank.

Both featured sprawling dining rooms with high glass ceilings, elaborate lamps, handsomely carved tables and booths, period clocks, and other details typical of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco style.

Chartier, Montparnasse/courtesy of Chartier

The Montparnasse dining room is the more sumptuous and detailed of the two. The walls at the second location, which only reopened under the Chartier name in 2019 after decades of being owned and operated by other restaurant groups, is decidedly turned toward Art-Nouveau design elements.

Delicately painted glass ceiling panels and walls, elaborate wooden carvings around the mirrors, and elegant rounded lamps with statues at their bases make the Grand Boulevards location look sober in comparison.

{Inside La Coupole, a Montparnasse Restaurant Brimming With Artistic History}

Some may prefer the cleaner lines and more barebones style at the latter branch, which was designed to resemble a bustling train station.

As for the food, it’s all about simplicity and efficiency at Chartier. Servers in traditional black-and-white maitre’d uniforms scrawl your order on paper tablecloths– all at a vitesse (speed) that can make your head spin.

Dishes such as whole seabass with lemon, escargot, roasted chicken, beef bourguignon, and simple sides like steamed carrots and potatoes dominate the unfussy menus– yielding solid meals at inexpensive prices.

And the setting? It’s arguably well worth the lack of hoopla around the food itself, assuming you care about that sort of thing. But then, you probably wouldn’t be reading this, if you didn’t…

Getting There & Practical Info
Bouillon Chartier restaurant in Paris/Michel Wal/Creative Commons 3.0
Bouillon Chartier restaurant in Paris/Michel Wal/Creative Commons 3.0
  • Address (Grands Boulevards location): 7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 75009 (9th arrondissement); Montparnasse location is at 59 bd du Montparnasse, 75006 (6th arrondissement)
  • Metro: Grands Boulevards or Notre-Dame-des-Champs (Montparnasse location)
  • Tel: +33 (0) 1 47 70 86 29 (Grands Boulevards) ; +33 (0)1 45 49 19 00 (Montparnasse)
  • Visit the official website

5. Les Jardins du Presbourg

Les Jardins du Presbourg/Groupe Beaumarly

This one won’t admittedly be to everyone’s taste. Some would (rightfully) note that the decor here easily flirts with the gaudy– even with kitsch.

But the extravagance and fantasy that informs the design at this newer restaurant from high-end brasserie and hotel group Beaumarly is precisely why I added it to the list.

{My Review of the Hotel and Brasserie Thoumieux, a Boutique Hotel for Gourmets}

There’s something almost countercultural in its bold rejection of the trendy codes of minimalism. No faux exposed brick walls, bare, glaring industrial lighting, or narrow aisles where servers bump into the legs of patrons can be found at this table at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe.

Conceived as a place for late-night cocktails and people-watching as much as for dinner before a longer night out, Les Jardins du Presbourg was recently re-imagined by architect and designer Martin Brudnizki as an “interior garden”, after the original restaurant was badly damaged by rioters in the winter of 2018.

Pastel and gold tones abound in the dining room, where wall-to-wall murals depict leafy, lavish gardens, and dramatic splashes of golden leaves decorate the ceiling above the bar. Columns dispersed throughout the restaurant glow with golden light, and carefully placed mirrors make the room appear even bigger.

The style? Loud and gawdy. It melds 1980s-style “BCBG” (bon chic bon genre/yuppie) ritziness with classical and art-nouveau elements– but that’s part of the fun and over-the-topness of it all. True, it makes you wonder if this sort of place is symbolic of our apparent return to the gilded age.

The food, while perhaps secondary to the “see and be seen” vibe, is very good, with French brasserie classics such as beef with pepper sauce appearing alongside fresh, flavorful dishes (I especially recommend the fresh yellowtail sashimi with verbena and radish.)

Even vegetarians and vegans can find something to eat here (vegan burgers, a beet & burrata starter, etc). The cocktail menu, meanwhile? It’s made up of drinks with “floral and vegetable” notes, in a nod to the garden theme.

Getting There & Practical Info
Bar at Les Jardins du Presbourg, one of the most extravagant and beautiful new restaurants in Paris . Groupe Beaumarly
Bar at Les Jardins du Presbourg/Courtesy of Groupe Beaumarly
  • Address: 3 avenue de la Grande Armée, 75116 Paris (16th arrondissement)
  • Metro: Charles de Gaulle-Étoile or Argentine
  • Tel: +33 (0) 1 45 00 24 77 
  • Visit the official website

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Some of the most beautiful restaurants in Paris, Pinterest pin image from Paris Unlocked

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