Outdoor dining is a fixture in Parisian life. In recent months, the locals have doubled down on this French custom, reclaiming not just sidewalks but even streets for their coveted tradition of outdoor, patio dining. You gotta love the French for clinging to their art de vivre traditions! Charming outdoor spots that are to be found near some of the city’s landmarks and parks are included in this cadre of favorite outdoor dining spots. On this list, you’ll find many more suggestions, in a range that accommodates most nearly every budget. And the settings are all superb, giving you that sense of being outside the city, while still being very much within and a part of it. Paris Beaubourg, looking out over the Fontaine Stravinsky in the shadows of the Centre Pompidou feels like you are sipping your espresso on a movie set, for example…
In one sense, nearly every restaurant in Paris offers outdoor dining. As soon as the sun makes its presence again, usually in Spring, all at once, it seems, the outdoor café tables come out and Parisian sidewalks are filled with diners enjoying a leisurely lunch or dinner oblivious to the passersby.
There are, however, certain tables in the city whose courtyard terraces are famous for the outdoor dining they afford their customers. One of these, Laurent, is probably the most well-known among that certain set of businessmen and politicians who enjoy an excellent meal and prefer to enjoy it outdoors, secluded and shaded by century-old chestnut trees. And the Mandarin Oriental’s Camelia courtyard garden restaurant seating is one the city’s most delightful “secret” dining spots. Another treasure, less well-known among the travel set, is Le Pavillon at Parc Montsouris.
So, yes, this is an ‘art center’ located on the River Seine. But its rooftop café dining makes this a destination place for that reason alone. The other attraction is its proximity to what many call the most beautiful bridge in Paris, the Pont Alexandre III. This is the bridge painted with gold-leaf embellishments that connects Invalides with the Grand Palais. And from this Art Center’s rooftop cafe, you have direct views onto it.
You’ll also be pleased to know that the prices here are very reasonable with featured food fare that includes truffle pizza, a curry bowl and an ample selection of wines, beers, cocktails and coffee drinks. This is a ‘come for the art, stay for the food’ kind of place.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Now that the Right and Left Banks along the River Seine have transformed into urban recreational areas, why not take full advantage like the Parisians?
Paige’s expert tip: This is a an ‘urban,’ or contemporary, art center that lives on a barge parked along the Seine. Its location has it a stone’s throw from the exquisitely beautiful Pont Alexandre III. Why does that matter? Because the rooftop outdoor dining gives you direct views not just onto the Seine, but onto this gold gilded bridge of dreams, too.
Generally speaking, when one thinks of the Pantheon here in Paris, it brings to mind the entombed great men, and now even a few women, who grace France’s history books.
But in recent years, in the city’s unrelenting push to reclaim public spaces for pedestrians and as urban leisure zones, the ‘Place’ surrounding the Pantheon has been awarded this prestige, too. In other words, if outdoor dining is what you want, but you’d rather do a takeaway or pack-your-own, these expansive wood tables and benches surrounding the Pantheon offer an ideal dining spot.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Outdoor dining in Paris can take many forms. Get creative. Because now that food delivery is the norm, where you dine outdoors is your choice.
Paige’s expert tip: Pack your lunch, grab your take out or place your delivery order on your smartphone – whichever way you prefer to dial up your chow, this is an ideal location at which to enjoy it. It’s group friendly and the views… well, where else can you sit and gaze upon France’s Pantheon but here?
What many visitors to Paris don’t realize, is that this museum, which sits just across the street from the Grand Palais, and which is not so little at all, offers free museum entry year-round to its permanent exhibits. The other oft-unknown little tidbit about this wonderful Parisian place is that it has one of the most charming garden cafes in this part of Paris. Indeed, since it is located just off the Champs-Elysees, you can often try to think of an inviting, classy but not too Champs-Elysees-expensive place to relax in around here. Keep in mind though that while the setting is fancy the food here is not. Meals are served in a sort of lunch box or snack box style which is another reason why the prices here are so reasonable. It’s a wonderful spot to catch your breath or enjoy a light lunch or both. And since the cafe is in the inner courtyard of the museum, you are sure to be sheltered from noise, traffic and other possible urban annoyances.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: A cafe in the open air courtyard of a Paris museum, one whose name translates to “Little Palace” is a Parisian moment not to miss.
Paige’s expert tip: It’s free to go to this cafe situated inside the Petit Palais, one of Paris’ lovely museums, since entrance to the museum is also free year-round. While there though, and after you’ve fortified yourself, of course, it just might be a goo idea to take in the museum’s temporary exhibit which is always a big cultural draw.
Rated by locals as one of the prettiest terraces in Paris, this restaurant, which is an Art Deco style pavilion, features a gorgeous terrace that butts up against the length of the beautiful Parc Montsouris in the 14th arrondissement. You will mostly find locals and business people dining here for lunch, especially on days when the weather is favorable (meaning, do reserve in advance!). Sebastien Dagoneau, the chef trained under some of the city’s greats including Alain Senderens, formerly of Lucas Carton, and offers refined choices such as foie gras served with a chutney of tropical fruits and sides such as baked macaroni with foie gras. Their wine list offers good choices that go along well with the “noble ingredients” of his menu.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: When you seek an authentic dining experience in a restaurant with a beautiful terrace where the Parisians go, this choice fits the bill.
Paige’s expert tip: Not a go-to spot for many tourists, this location offers you an authentic glimpse into how the business crowd does lunch. And for this price, you will be able to afford the fine dining here, on one of the city’s prettiest terraces overlooking a gorgeous 19th century park.
The landscape artist Guillaume Le Jardinier helped create this little piece of floating paradise that stays docked along the bank of the River Seine just underneath the Pont Neuf, on Notre Dame side of the bridge. The restaurant features not just one, but two large terraces and is an ideal spot from which to admire the setting of the Parisian sun against a backdrop of all the beautiful bridges that span from that point all the way to the Eiffel Tower. Bistronomy is the best food description meaning you will find your basic bistro fare jazzed up a bit with finer products and a nouvelle cuisine touch. There’s something about dining on this barge on the River Seine that sets it apart from the others. Maybe it’s the location or maybe it’s that the owners know what they’re doing.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: This outdoor Seine-scene dining option in Paris, nestled under the Pont Neuf no less, has been done with style and a veritable urban-garden design.
Paige’s expert tip: You can privatize this boat-barge and take it and your guests for a whirl along the River Seine while you dine in the open air. Or you can simply enjoy it for lunch or dinner, no privatisation required.
Nice and new on the scene is this bistro that sports bistronomic fare. The location is embarrassingly convenient, just steps from the Louvre and the Palais-Royal, yet tucked one block behind in a little square that has just become a pedestrian-only zone. Ahhh, paradise in the heart of Paris. The man, Laurent Chainel, who opened this restaurant at the end of 2014 is a veteran of previous popular Parisian places so he knows well what pleases. On his menu, to accompany the vast array of wine choices, you will find items such as aioli mackerel, pan-fried tuna with grilled vegetables and penne and even an original burger, the “hambourgeois” made with brebis cheese and other lovely things.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: A wonderful terrace offers outdoor dining in what has now just become a pedestrian-only zone.
Paige’s expert tip: Try their cheesecake made with Speculoos, that very European flavor that is a cookie that now flavors everything from icecream to yogurt to… cheesecake. And while you do, take note that this used to be the stables of Louis-Philippe and the royal family of Orleans.
On a lovely tree-shaded corner just across the street from the side entrance to Les Archives, the national archives, sits this local’s cafe and restaurant. The fancy isn’t in the food but in the setting and there’s really nowhere else like it in Paris. You can sit out on the large covered patio, “la terrasse” which occupies nearly the whole street corner and is graced even further by a last-century – and still working – stone water fountain.
In addition to serving a light Parisian breakfast of cafe/croissant/orange juice, they do brisk lunch and dinner services mainly catering to the many loyal patrons who work in the trendy shops and Marais businesses surrounding this location. An evening glass of wine during happy hour out on the sidewalk patio is unrivaled in terms of soaking up some true Parisian atmosphere.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Here you’re seated in the heart of the shopping-district Marais at one of the perennial cafe-bistros that makes Paris so beloved by so many.
Paige’s expert tip: Now that Les Archives, the national archives of France, gardens are open to the public, make this stop your before or after relaxation point once you’ve taken in the lovely, tranquil landmark gardens. And then once you’ve rested, head down the street to the Musee Picasso, less than a 5 minute walk away.
An authentic neighborhood bistro is what you find here. In fact, it is so tucked away in the folds of this residential Marais neighborhood that unless your kids attend the Ecole Maternelle across the street, or you buy your baguette at the corner boulangerie or perhaps do your washing at the laverie across the street, you might never stumble upon this little French gem.
It’s quite a popular spot for lunch where diners flock – but of course – to the outside dining. There is relatively little traffic on this street corner which is several streets away from any thoroughfares, making it an ideal place to enjoy a meal outdoors. The menu offerings are a bit more sophisticated than you might expect, with ‘Waguy’ beef featured and a nice warm lentil salad on offer, too. Wine by the glass is available.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Sketch a children’s coloring book about what a typical French bistro in a residential neighborhood looks like in Paris, and this is what you’d find.
Paige’s expert tip: Here you can see an exemplary case of a neighborhood bistro that has requisitioned some of the street in order to accommodate its outdoor dining needs. It’s the perfect location for it, since here we’re in a very residential, Parisian little niche of a neighborhood.
Board your lunch or dinner cruise just underneath the Eiffel Tower on the banks of the Seine. Then get ready for a lovely meal while you are regaled by live music and some of the most beautiful Parisian sites of historic monuments along your cruise.
The later departure, 8:30 pm, offers several options starting from the basic Service Etoile, all the way up to the Service Premier. The difference is primarily the kind of wines served with your meal and also the placemento of your seating on the river boat. For example, the Service Premier has you seated at round tables, with a maximum seating of 2-8 people, at the front of the boat for the best views. But otherwise everything is the same, same dinner and same music and same River Seine. In other words, it’s all good.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Outdoor dining needn’t be static. This offers a way to enjoy the fresh breeze off the river Seine while dining in fine weather.
Paige’s expert tip: The difference between the dinner cruise that leaves at 8:30pm and the ones that depart at 6pm and 9pm is that these two last an hour and a half and do not have music as part of the evening’s animations, whereas the 8:30pm dinner cruise has live music that accompanies your dinner and it lasts 2 1/2 hours.
Tucked right next to the Fontaine Stravinsky under the shadows of the Centre Pompidou, you can’t feel more Parisian than this. This is a wonderful stop to rest your feet and replenish either before or after visiting the Centre Pompidou museum. It’s also an idyllic place to people watch, as the Les Halles district is always full of lively animation and people.
The menu here offers classics like croque monsieur, basic coffee drinks and light desserts. It’s not so much a fine dining destination as a slice-of-Parisian-life experience you get here. So bring your paperback book, rest your feet and stay awhile.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Feel like sending selfies home to friends and family of you sitting in a Parisian ‘movie-set-like’ setting? This is it.
Paige’s expert tip: Just outside the frame here is the famous Fontaine Stravinsky where people love to gather and watch the liveliness of the Les Halles area. And of course, just a stone’s throw away is the Centre Pompidou.