The Best Brasseries in Paris (and a Bit of History)

Last Updated on June 10, 2024

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Photo credit: Bofinger via official Facebook page

Nothing binds together the rich gastronomic and cultural tapestry of Parisian life like the brasserie. With a history dating back to the late 19th century, the term has roots in the French verb brasser, meaning “to brew”.

Originally, that’s precisely what these establishments did: brewed their own beer and served it to patrons onsite. This interest in beer-brewing arose in part out of France’s loss in the Franco-Prussian war, which led to an influx of Alsatians bringing their cultural influences, including beer and choucroute (sauerkraut) to the country. 

{Related: Best Things to Do in Strasbourg, France}

As time went on, and urban France grew rapidly, there came a demand for affordable dining out, and brasseries underwent a transformation. They evolved into social—often ornate, Belle Époque style—gathering spots that combined the craft of brewing with the art of gastronomy.

While brewing remained a regular feature until fairly recently, the culinary aspect became equally important– until most brasseries made fine dining their primary activity. Now, aside from a few noteworthy exceptions, most have ceased to brew beer at all.

Traditional French cuisine instead became the hallmark of these establishments, including signature dishes such as soupe à l’oignon (French onion soup), steak au poivre (pepper steak), and coq au vin (chicken cooked in wine). Fast-forward to the present day and many of the best brasseries in Paris remain faithful to their roots, serving timeless French classics amidst grandiose settings. 

But a new crop of creative brasseries has also emerged, offering modern reinterpretations of dishes within stylish, contemporary settings. In the diverse culinary landscape of the French capital, both versions have their place– so without further ado, here’s our take on some of the best among them.

La Coupole

La Coupole Paris/image by Courtney Traub/All rigfhts reserved
La Coupole Paris/image by Courtney Traub/All rights reserved

La Coupole, located in the busy Montparnasse district of Paris, has remained one of the city’s most emblematic brasseries since its establishment in 1927. Over the years, it has famously served as a meeting place for renowned artists, writers, and intellectuals, such as Pablo Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre, Josephine Baker and Ernest Hemingway.

This legendary venue’s grandeur lies in its exquisite Art Deco interiors, adorned with captivating frescoes and a glass dome. Patrons of La Coupole can expect a large menu brimming with refined takes on French classics: beef tartare, brightened with a squeeze of lime juice; abundant, ultra-fresh shellfill platters (plateaus de fruits de mer), or profiteroles drenched in warm, rich Valrhona chocolate sauce.

The prices are fairly steep– some might say too steep. But while it’s true that cheaper brasseries exist (ones that, perhaps, pander less to tourists)—this one is worth a visit for its vibrant history and stunning décor alone. My advice? Pop in for a pre-dinner cocktail or evening digestif and soak up the incredible surroundings.

Getting There & Practical Info

Bouillon Chartier 

Bouillon Chartier in Paris, one of the most beautiful brasseries in Paris
Photo credit: Boullion Chartier via official Facebook page

As we detail in this article, bouillons are a particular subset of the traditional Parisian restaurant. Generally, they look and smell like other traditional French brasseries (side note: if you walk into a brasserie and you can’t detect the scent of red wine jus in the air, you’ve come to the wrong place!), but they’re generally a whole lot cheaper, and the service is typically faster.

That’s not to say they’re any less fabulous, though, than their more expensive, more formal, counterparts. Bouillon Chartier (full review) is one of the most beautiful brasseries in the city: with sweeping high ceilings, gorgeous brass light fixtures, and thick white tablecloths, the Paris-circa-1900 interiors really are breathtaking. 

{Related: The History of the French Bouillon Restaurant}

So, too, is the noise that fills the place, as plates and cutlery clatter, people chatter happily, and waiters bark instructions into the kitchen. Frenetic energy is tangible at this brasserie, and that’s half the fun. The food is no-frills, but generous and tasty (who can say no to homemade soup for next to nothing or, indeed, a carafe of Merlot for a few Euros?) and the service is slick and professional.

Getting There & Practical Info

  • Address: 7 rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 75009 Paris (9th arrondissement)
  • Metro Station: Richelieu-Drouot
  • Opening hours: Monday – Sunday, 11:30am – midnight
  • Price range: € 
  • Visit the official website

Au Pied de Cochon

Photo credit: Au Pied de Cochon via official Facebook page

Au Pied de Cochon, aptly named “At the Pig’s Foot”, owes its unique moniker to its location near the once-bustling (and now-defunct) wholesale food and cattle market at Les Halles. Food critic Jay Rayner, in his 2016 review of the brasserie, asserted that there was “something celebratory” about its “outrageous swagger”. 

I get what he means. Maybe it’s the sheer kitschiness of the place that ticks every French cliché possible: pouting waiters; cigarette smoke filled terrace; or maybe it’s the pig-themed meringue dessert which, gauche and bright pink, is actually one of the least Parisian things I’ve ever seen.

Au Pied de Cochon is a self-confident brasserie that simultaneously lives up to tradition and celebrates uniqueness. The food itself (not very veggie-friendly, as you might have guessed) is good, hearty and rich. 

{A Delicious Crash-Course in French Restaurant Types & How to Navigate Them}

The prices are decent for the quality of the ingredients, however, and while most dishes are indeed pork-laden, there are a number of more modern plates that put vegetables or fish at the forefront.

The Basque tortilla, with peppery Xipister sauce and cheddar, for instance, is beautifully made, as is the roasted sea bass filet with green curry sauce: a fresh and welcome break from all the pork.

Oh, and if you’re craving late-night brasserie cuisine, fret not: Au Pied de Cochon keeps its doors open until five in the morning, every single day!

Getting There & Practical Info

  • Address: 6 rue Coquillière, 75001 Paris (1st arrondissement)
  • Metro Station: Les Halles
  • Opening hours: Monday – Sunday, 8am – 11am / 11:30am – 5am
  • Price range: €€ 
  • Visit the official website 

Le Grand Colbert

The elegant dining room at Le Grand Colbert restaurant in Paris- Courtesy of Le Grand Colbert
The elegant dining room at Le Grand Colbert restaurant in Paris- Courtesy of Le Grand Colbert

Another one for the history buffs, Le Grand Colbert, situated in Paris’s 2nd arrondissement, boasts a rich and diverse ownership dating back to 1637. Initially known as “Au Grand Colbert”, the establishment acquired its name during the reign of King Louis-Philippe, when it functioned solely as a shop; only in 1900 did it become a place where people could sit down and dine. 

Acquired in 1985 by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (The National Library of France) it was renovated in a gloriously Belle-Époque fashion: mirrors, mosaics, sculptures and all. Just steps away from the Palais-Royal gardens and covered galleries and nestled inside the old Galerie Vivienne passageway, it’s sublimely sophisticated. So if you’re looking for a memorable Parisian feast, you can’t really go wrong here.

{Related: The Most Beautiful Restaurants in Paris}

Despite the grandeur of its interiors and its attractive location, prices aren’t eye-watering, and the menus is classic but varied. There’s a gorgeous pike dish, laced in a rich and decadent lobster sauce, tasty starters such as sea bass tartare and lentil salad with lardons, and a hard-to-beat, 3-course fixed-price menu, available between 12pm – 6pm, seven days a week. 

Read our full review of Le Grand Colbert here.

Getting There & Practical Info

  • Address: 2 rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris (2nd arrondissement)
  • Metro Station: Bourse
  • Opening hours: Monday – Sunday, 12pm – midnight
  • Price range: €€ 
  • Visit the official website

Brasserie Rosie

Brasserie Rosie is a contemporary, innovative Parisian brassserie-- and among the best in Paris.
Photo credit: Brasserie Rosie via official Facebook page

Brasserie Rosie, opened by the masterminds behind the trendy Big Mamma restaurant group, brings a breath of fresh air to traditional French dining. Located near Bastille, the brasserie’s vibrant atmosphere is complemented by colorful booths, distressed walls, and a vibrant neon pink sign that unabashedly proclaims its modern cool.

Contemporary in its approach, the brasserie presents seasonal cocktails artfully crafted with French-made spirits, favoring these over intricate wine lists (though the wine selection remains undeniably splendid). 

The menu showcases French classics with exciting twists and flavors, such as Asian-spiced duck breast, and a dainty, diamond shaped tarte tatin adorned with edible flowers.

The energetic staff sport Rosie t-shirts and help create the lively ambience. It’s not Belle-Époque luxury, but it’s relaxed, cool and affordable: ideal if you’re looking for a slightly less formal vibe. 

Getting There & Practical Info

  • Address: 3 rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75011 Paris (11th arrondissement)
  • Metro Station: Ledru-Rollin or Bastille
  • Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 12pm – 2:30pm / 7pm – 10:30pm, Friday & Saturday: 12pm -2:30pm / 7pm – 11pm
  • Visit the official website

Brasserie Floderer

Photo credit: Brasserie Flo via official Facebook page

A self-proclaimed “cathedral of Alsatian cuisine”, Brasserie Floderer (known affectionately as Brasserie FLO since its brewery days), was founded by two enterprising Alsatians who sought refuge in Paris after the German annexation of their region in the 19th century. 

Today, it remains one of Paris’ best and most-famous brasseries, celebrated for its authentic regional fare (sauerkraut dishes reign supreme here) and décor, featuring stained glass windows and frescos depicting traditional Alsatian tales.

Friendly service and affordable prices invite visitors to linger, savoring dishes such as filet mignon (filet steak) with gnocchi à l’alsacienne. Leave some room for their Kirsch-laced sorbet, too! 

This brasserie is located in the rapidly gentrifying 10th arrondissement, not far from the Canal-St Martin and in the heart of one of the city’s historic quartiers populaires (working-class areas).

Getting There & Practical Info

  • Address: 7 cour des Petites Écuries, 75010 Paris (10th arrondissement)
  • Metro Station: Chateau d’eau
  • Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 12pm – 3pm / 6pm – midnight. Sunday – Monday: 12pm – 3pm/ 6pm – 11pm
  • Price range: €€ 
  • Visit the official website

Bofinger 

Located near Bastille, Alsace-themed Bofinger is among the best brasseries in Paris.
Photo credit: Bofinger/Simon Detraz, via official Facebook page

Bofinger, another brasserie deeply rooted in the flavors of Alsace, offers a grand dining room ideal for large groups, attentive waiters in smart attire, and a rich history spanning over 150 years. Established in 1864 by Frederic Bofinger, it was the first place in France to serve draught beer on tap. Over the years, it has welcomed an array of famous figures, including Gene Kelly and numerous French Presidents. 

But despite its illustrious reputation, Bofinger remains far from a mere tourist attraction: it excels in providing warm, professional service, and cracking plates of food.

It also caters well to families, offering a dedicated children’s menu (a rarity in France), and features an attractively priced lunch menu comprising a starter, main course and dessert.

The menu showcases regional specialties like Flammenkueche (a sort-of Alsatian-style, thin-crusted pizza topped with lardons, crème fraîche, and onions), sauerkraut, and schnitzel, alongside a selection of other classic dishes prepared with high-quality ingredients.

Getting There & Practical Info

  • Address: 5-7 rue de la Bastille, 75004 Paris (4th arrondissement)
  • Metro Station: Bastille 
  • Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 12pm – 3pm / 6:30pm – midnight, Saturday 12pm – 3:30pm / 6:30pm – midnight, Sunday 12pm – 11pm
  • Price range: €€ 
  • Visit the official website

Le Train Bleu

Le Train Bleu/image by Courtney Traub/All rights reserved
Le Train Bleu is among the most stunning brasseries in Paris. Photo credit: Courtney Traub/All rights reserved

If you’re after for a low-key French meal, void of bells and whistles, Le Train Bleu (full review) isn’t for you. In fact, it’s probably one of the most flamboyant, lavish spots to dine in the city, in spite of its location inside a train station. 

Opened in 1901 in Paris’ Gare de Lyon train station, it catered to affluent—and peckish— patrons en route to the French Riviera. It’s worth a visit simply to marvel at the exquisite décor, which can only be described as regal, with vibrant artworks, velvet carpets, and (seemingly) a gazillion dazzling chandeliers. There’s also something fun and old-world about dining in a train station.

While the food may not surpass the opulence of its surroundings (a formidable task), the dishes are meticulously prepared, showcasing classic flavors and freshness.

Bear in mind that prices here are as high as they get for brasserie fare, making it an ideal choice for special occasions only. If the full dining experience is beyond reach, treat yourself to a glass of bubbly at the bar.

Getting There & Practical Info

  • Address: Gare de Lyon, Hall 1, Place Louis Armand, 75012 Paris (12th arrondissement)
  • Metro Station: Gare de Lyon 
  • Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 11:15am – 2:30pm / 7pm – 10:30pm
  • Price range: €€€ 
  • Visit the official website

Bouillon Racine 

Bouillon Racine is famous for its art nouveau decor- and is one of Paris' most beautiful traditional brasseries.
Photo credit: Boullion Racine via official Facebook page

Siuated in Paris’ historic Latin Quarter, Bouillon Racine is a great choice for anyone seeking delicious French cuisine at affordable prices. Compared to other bustling bouillons, like the aforementioned Chartier or Bouillon Pigalle, Racine offers a more composed and relaxed atmosphere– but it also boasts eye-catching Art Nouveau decor in its dining room circa 1907.

True, its menu prices are higher than other bouillons’– with appetizers around three times more expensive than comparable menu items at cheap-n’-cheerful Chartier– but it remains a great deal. 

With chef Alexandre Belthoise at the helm (formerly of the Michelin-starred Auberge des Templiers), you’re in capable hands. The menu features seasonal dishes prepared with meticulous attention to detail.

Standout creations include the orange-infused Normandy scallops with roasted endives, and the vegetarian delight that is the comté cheese risotto with pumpkin and chestnut.

Getting There & Practical Info

  • Address: 3 rue Racine, 75006 Paris (6th arrondissement)
  • Metro Station: Odéon or Mabillon
  • Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 12pm – 11pm
  • Price range: €€
  • Visit the official website 

Le Comptoir du Relais

Photo credit: Le Comptoir du Relais via official Facebook page

It’s no surprise that a brasserie associated with Yves Camdeborde, the owner of several successful and dynamic eateries in the city, finds its place among the top 15. At Le Comptoir du Relais, Camdeborde isn’t actually the chef; the talented Bruno Doucet, whose cookery is second to none, helms the place instead. Even the Michelin guide praises the latter’s unwavering commitment to quality produce. 

This pretty brasserie, located within the Relais Saint Germain Hotel, offers a menu that celebrates the seasons. While embodying the classic elements of a traditional French brasserie, including a spacious terrace for aperitifs and people-watching, the food is presented with a modern twist.

Delight in dishes such as black pudding served atop a light potato mousseline, beef tartare with pink pickles and crispy fried onions, or a tapas-style presentation of thinly sliced artichoke and ham croque monsieur.

Complementing the gastronomic experience is an all-natural wine list, proffered by enthusiastic waiters who’ll happily let you explore until you find your perfect match. This is a brasserie with genuine flair. 

Getting There & Practical Info

  • Address: 9 carrefour de l’Odéon, 75006 Paris (6th arrondissement)
  • Metro Station: Odéon 
  • Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 12pm – 11pm
  • Price range: €€
  • Visit the official website

Brasserie Lipp

Like many of the drinking and dining establishments in affluent Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Brasserie Lipp has charmed an array of illustrious patrons throughout its storied history. Literary luminaries such as Camus, Proust, and Hemingway frequented its tables, while politicians including Georges Pompidou, Francois Mitterrand, and Emmanuel Macron have chosen it as their gathering place. 

{Related: Review of Clover Green Restaurant in Saint-Germain}

While this brasserie naturally attracts a touristy crowd, Lipp remains committed to offering an authentic experience, with cuisine and service that surpass mere catering. Initially opened by Alsatians Léonard and Pétronille Lipp, the brasserie serves a menu distinctly influenced by the Aveyron/Auvergne region, paying homage to Marcellin Cazes, hailing from Laguiole, who took over the establishment in 1918.

Among the culinary delights, sauerkraut finds a place, but the true gems are the Auvergnese and Aveyronese specialties. The jambon d’Auvergne (Auvergne ham with melon) is a delicious, light starter, while the flavorsome grilled Laguiole sausage is indulgent and rich, accompanied by a velvety butter-infused potato puree.

Remarkably, despite its glamorous reputation and prestigious Saint-Germain locale, Lipp’s fare remains reasonably priced. 

Getting There & Practical Info

  • Address: 151 boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris (6th arrondissement)
  • Metro Station: Odéon 
  • Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 9am – 00:45am
  • Price range: €€
  • Visit the official website

Chez René

Chez René, a mid-century Parisian brasserie with a rustic charm.
Photo credit: Chez René via official Facebook page

Chez René is one of the more understated brasseries in the city. There’s a deep mahogany bar with matching chairs, kitschy French posters lining the walls, and rustic-looking salt and pepper mills perched on tables. Its charm and sophistication captivate, albeit without the opulence found in other Belle Époque dining establishments.

However, this distinction holds little significance, as Chez René beckons visitors to embrace a certain Parisian nonchalance. The atmosphere doesn’t crackle; rather, a gentle, contented hum permeates the space, encouraging patrons to linger for hours over a delightful two or three-course meal.

The attentive service further enhances the experience, ensuring guests feel relaxed throughout and, although the menu may be short, the dishes that populate it are almost all flawlessly executed. 

Each plate is crafted with culinary expertise and affectionate care, from the candied garlic encrusting the rack of lamb to the delicate sprinkle of chives adorning the sea bass.

Getting There & Practical Info 

  • Address: 14 boulevard Saint-Germain, 75005 Paris (5th arrondissement)
  • Metro Station: Cardinal Lemoine  
  • Opening hours: Tue-Fri, 12pm – 2pm / 7:30pm – 10pm. Saturday: 7:30pm – 10pm
  • Price range: €€€
  • Visit the official website

Le Café du Commerce

Café du Commerce, Paris
Photo credit: Le Café du Commerce via official Facebook page

Le Café du Commerce is a charming brasserie spanning three bright and spacious floors. Originally a textile store, it was transformed into a bouillon in 1921, catering to nearby car industry workers. In 2003, Marie and Etienne Guerraud revitalized the establishment, introducing lush greenery, restoring the dining room’s Belle Époque features, and elevating the menu. 

Now you can indulge in dishes such as delicately marinated cuttlefish skewers, creamy burrata-topped gazpacho soup, and a delectable dark chocolate marquise served with homemade vanilla ice cream and Belgian waffles.

Owing to its off-the-beaten track location in the 15th arrondissement, Le Café du Commerce rivals the city’s upscale brasseries in luxury, but at half the price. Their lunchtime fixed-price (prix-fixe) menu, for instance, offers three courses for a very reasonable price. 

Getting There & Practical Info

  • Address: 51 rue du Commerce, 75015 Paris (15th arrondissement)
  • Metro Station: Commerce  
  • Opening hours: Monday – Thursday, 12pm – 2pm / 7pm – 10pm. Friday 12pm – 2pm / 7pm – 10:30pm. Saturday 12pm – 14:30pm / 7pm – 10:30pm. Sunday 12pm – 2:30pm / 7pm – 10pm. 
  • Price range: €€
  • Visit the official website 

Vaudeville

Photo credit: Vaudeville via official Facebook page

Vaudeville, a renowned brasserie established in 1918 just a few metres away from Paris’s grand Stock Exchange (Bourse), is a standout destination for seafood enthusiasts. This opulent art-deco establishment is famous for its exquisite fruits de mer (seafood platters), featuring a delightful assortment of fresh langoustines, award-winning oysters, Canadian lobster, and artfully arranged crab, all presented atop beds of ice. 

Alternatively, you can indulge in options such as moules marinière, grilled octopus, or roasted sea bass filet enveloped in Nantais-style butter.

The name Vaudeville pays homage to the adjacent Théâtre de Vaudeville. A century ago, it was primarily wealthy theatre-goers and artists who frequented this brasserie.

Today, Vaudeville, while continuing to exude its old-school charm and glamour, attracts a diverse crowd of both locals and visitors. Though not cheap, the quality of its responsibly-sourced ingredients is exceptional, and this address is well worth the splurge. 

Getting There & Practical Info

  • Address: 29 rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris, 2nd arrondissement
  • Metro Station: Bourse 
  • Opening hours: Monday: 8am — 11pm, Tuesday – Saturday: 8am — midnight, Sunday: 8am — 11pm
  • Price range: €€€
  • Visit the official website 

Au Petit Riche

Au Petit Riche restaurant in Paris
Photo credit: Au Petit Riche via official Facebook page

Established in 1854, Au Petit Riche has remained another cherished destination in Paris, and it’s easy to see why. This illustrious brasserie takes pride in its commitment to “traditional bourgeois cuisine”, featuring locally sourced, luxurious ingredients prepared with care and attention. 

Reflecting the culinary expertise of chef Pascal Logon Duval, who trained alongside renowned French chef Guy Martin, the menu includes refined dishes such as beef with potato millefeuille and candied shallots. Even the croque monsieur here reaches new heights, infused with truffle and aged cheese.

While the lunch deals are affordable, Au Petit Riche truly shines as a setting for an evening soirée or a memorable celebration. With an unmistakable authenticity, this Grands-Boulevards brasserie doesn’t cater solely to tourists, ensuring a genuinely Parisian experience.

Getting There & Practical Info

  • Address: 25 rue Le Peletier, 75009 Paris (9th arrondissement)
  • Metro Station: Le Peletier / Grands Boulevards / Richelieu-Drouot 
  • Opening hours: Tuesday — Saturday, 12pm – 2:30pm / 6:30pm — 10:30pm
  • Price range: €€
  • Visit the official website

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