Paris is one of those cities that encourages you to splurge, whether it be on fashion, fine art, or good food. Given all the Michelin starred restaurants in Paris, Ethan and I typically splurge on one great meal on each trip to this great city. We have found that one way to save money and still sample some of the cooking of Paris’s finest chefs, is to avoid dinner time prices and go for a fabulous lunch instead. Many of the city’s best restaurants offer great gourmet prix fixe lunches for half the price of their prix fixe dinner menus. Now, none of these lunches come with a price tag that may be acceptable for budget travelers, but this can be a great way for those with a more moderate budget to enjoy a three-star meal. We’ll give you a list of some of our picks for best lunches from Michelin starred Paris restaurants, provide some tips for those who may be new to fine dining, and tell you about our own experience having lunch at L’Astrance and Le Grand Véfour.
Our List of Best Lunch Splurges in Paris France
Here is a list of 20 restaurants you might want to consider for a lunch splurge during a visit to Paris. We have only tried a few of these ourselves, but we compiled the list based on Michelin starred restaurants that offer less expensive lunch menus. By less expensive, we mean less expensive in comparison to their dinner menus but none of these meals come cheap. The list is not comprehensive but should give you a good place to at least start if you are looking for this type of lunch experience in Paris. We included one-, two-, and three-star Michelin starred restaurants across a range of prices and you can look up a complete list on the Michelin website or in their famous printed restaurant guides.
This restaurant serves modern French food made with seasonal and market fresh ingredients in a minimalist modern setting. Lunch menus are considered reasonable here at 35€.
Address: 51 Rue Jouffroy-d’Abbans, 75017 Paris
This restaurant specializes in quality seafood sourced mainly from France, Spain, and the Mediterranean. Your food comes with views of the Eiffel Tower and lunch menus start at 38€.
Address: 10 Avenue de New-York, 75116 Paris
This solid one-star French restaurant offers modern food and decor. Lunch menus start at 59€.
Address: 3 Rue Saint Philippe du Roule, 75008 Paris
This French restaurant in Paris is run by chef Alain Passard and is known as one of the best restaurants in the world. It is also well-known for its organic produce and vegetarian friendly meals. By no means cheap, you can get a 9-course lunch here for 140€.
Address: 84 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris
This highly acclaimed Paris restaurant is constantly ranked as one of the best restaurants in the world. You can sample Pascal Barbot’s “surprise menus” at lunch for 70€ (3-course) or 120€ (5-course).
Address: 4 rue Beethoven, 75116 Paris
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon – Étoile**
The newest of famous Joël Robuchon’s “atelier” Paris restaurants, it has a long counter with stools, red and black decor, and simple creative dishes that are a mix of French, Spanish, and Asian influences. It is located near the Arc de Triomphe and lunch menus range from 43€ to 83€.
Address: 133 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris
This modern French restaurant with contemporary and colorful decor is often considered one of the best value 1-starred restaurants in the city. You can enjoy their 3-course lunch menu for 37€.
Address: 54 Rue de Bourgogne, 75007 Paris
This French bistro celebrated its hundredth birthday a few years ago and is still going strong under the control of Alain Ducasse. You can grab a classic lunch at this historic and chic Parisian bistro for 38€ .
Address: 20 Rue Saint-Martin, 75004 Paris
La Cuisine* (& Il Carpaccio*)
Even if you can’t afford a suite at the posh Le Royal Monceau hotel, you can dine at the French restaurant which offers both à la carte and set menus: 58€ for a 2-course menu and 75€ for a 3-course menu. If you are looking for Italian, Le Royal Monceau currently also has the only Michelin-starred Italian restaurant in Paris, Il Carpaccio.
Address: 37 Avenue Hoche, 75008 Paris
This exquisite French restaurant can be found at the Four Seasons Hotel George V and offers a 95€ lunch menu.
Address: Hôtel George V, 31 Avenue George V, 75008 Paris
This French restaurant serves modern French food in a contemporary setting and emphasizes fresh ingredients. The daily lunch menu will set you back 55€.
Address: 11 Rue Treillhard, 75008 Paris
Le Grand Véfour**
This venerable Paris restaurant oozes history and offers a prix fixe lunch menu for 98€, which might be considered a steal compared to its 298€ dinner menu.
Address: 17 Rue de Beaujolais, 75001 Paris
This new kid on the block serves traditional Japanese food and has already earned its first Michelin star. For a newcomer, it still has high prices with a sushi lunch menu for 65€ and an omakase menu at 95€.
Address: 6 Rue de la Sourdière, 75001 Paris
This French restaurant is one of Paris’ oldest and is also one of the most luxurious. It is set serenely in a neo-classical pavilion within the gardens of the Champs-Élysées. A set lunch menu is offered for 128€.
Address: 1 Avenue Dutuit (inside Champs-Élysées gardens), 75008 Paris
Le Meurice is located in the beautiful Hôtel Le Meurice and the interior of the restaurant reminds you a bit of Château de Versailles. The restaurant, now run by Alain Ducasse, offers a prix fixe lunch menu for 130€.
Address: 228 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Pierre Gargnaire is world renown for his fusion cooking and you can come here for modern and creative French cuisine. The restaurant offers a prix fixe lunch menu for 115€.
Address: 6 Rue Balzac, 75008 Paris
Le Relais Louis XIII**
This centrally located restaurant sits among the remains of the Couvent des Grands-Augustins (a former convent that was mainly destroyed during the French Revolution), the place where Louis XIII was proclaimed King of France in 1610. The historic setting and classic French cooking might have you feeling like royalty. The restaurant offers a prix fixe lunch menu for 55€.
Address: 8 Rue des Grands Augustins, 75006 Paris
This restaurant offers up Japanese food with a French twist with young chef Hiroki Yoshitake at its helm. Might be a good spot for lunch if you are spending the morning exploring sights on Île de la Cité as it hides out a short walk from Notre Dame Cathedral and offers a set lunch menu for 48€.
Address: 12 Rue de L’Hotel Colbert, 75005 Paris
You can dine on French food in the former 19th century mansion of the Duke of Morny. At one time, this restaurant held the longest-running Parisian restaurant to have a 3-star rating until it lost a star in 2007, but it is still considered one of the best restaurants in Paris. You can have a set lunch here for 88€ or 104€ (drinks included).
Address: 15 Rue Lamennais, 75008 Paris
La Tour d’Argent*
This classy traditional French restaurants comes with a blockbuster view of the Notre Dame and is most known for its ducklings. You can have a set lunch here for 80€.
Address: 15 Quai de la Tournelle, 75005 Paris
A Few Tips on Fine Dining in Paris
- First, the Michelin guide, while well-known and well-regarded, doesn’t always get it right. It does not mean the food at a starred restaurant is better than food at a non-starred restaurant. Decor, presentation, service, venue, and a number of other factors are taken into account, not just the actual taste of the food. You can enjoy great meals all over Paris at non-Michelin starred restaurants (and generally with a much lower price tag!).
- If your budget does not allow for a Michelin starred restaurant, consider trying one their designated best-value restaurants or Bib Gourmand restaurants, which are identified in the guide and online by a red symbol depicting the head of Bibendum, the Michelin Man. These restaurants are low to moderately priced restaurants , generally frequented by locals, and considered a good value.
- Most of the Parisian restaurants that receive Michelin stars serve French cuisine and tend to be more traditional. However, there are a few Japanese restaurants, one Chinese, a couple of seafood, and one Italian restaurant on the list, but ratings tend to favor French and Japanese style cuisine. Not surprisingly, Tokyo and Paris compete for the most starred restaurants.
- If you are new to fine dining, I would suggest starting off with lunch at one of the less traditional and formal restaurants to feel more comfortable. Wherever you go, practice good manners, but also feel free to ask questions when you don’t understand something or want to know more about a dish, ingredient, or wine. One of the great things about fine dining is being able to learn more about food and unique ingredients. Staff members are often happy to answer your questions, and most speak at least some English. Rude people exist everywhere in the world but we’ve had very good experiences when dining in Paris.
- If new to fine dining, expect higher prices combined with smaller food portions (crazy I know!). In many of these restaurants, food come in a series of courses with fairly small portions. Fine dining is much more about the experience of trying out new tastes and enjoying excellent service than filling you up; however, you should not come away from a meal hungry!
- Most restaurants, particularly for lunch, only have a prix fixe or set menu, where everyone receives the same courses and there may or may not be some options. Some restaurants may also have à la carte options for lunch, but these tend not to be as great a value compared to the set menus.
- Lunch at a great restaurant can be a great way to sample some of the restaurant’s great cooking and service at a fraction of the cost; however, remember the two are not directly comparable so gauge your expectations based on past lunch reviews not dinner reviews.
- When choosing a restaurant, make sure you factor drinks, tips, and any other extras into your decision. Many menu prices include taxes and a certain level of gratuity, but most do not include wine or other drinks. Adding wine pairings can almost double a meal price in some restaurants.
- Make reservations well in advance if there is a certain restaurant you really want to try. Some of the most popular restaurants can book up months in advance. Some take bookings online or via email while others can be booked only by telephone. Most of the staff taking reservations speak some English.
- Note the dress code. Many of these restaurants require smart causal to formal attire. While women generally have it easier, men may be required to have a jacket and/or tie so check ahead to be prepared.
- If you are a woman, especially if dining with a man, you’re likely to be handed a menu with no prices. Old-fashioned and sexist perhaps, it is not considered good etiquette for ladies to view the prices of their meals in some restaurants, so you may need to confer with your partner before ordering.
- Check prices of things before you order. Too often, people feel uncomfortable asking the price or assume that something being offered is included in the fixed price. If you are unsure if that wine or cheese course is included in your meal price, ask before you get left with a larger bill than you expected.
- Enjoy yourself! You are in Paris eating a wonderful lunch, savor it and make an afternoon out of it.
Our Lunches at L’Astrance and Le Grand Véfour
L’Astrance: Modern & Creative
We chose L’Astrance in 2012 for our first three-star meal ever because of its great reputation, amazing reviews, and for having the best-value 3-star lunch in Paris! The French food offered by Pascal Barbot is modern, seasonal, and creative with some South Pacific and Asian influences. This restaurant is a bit away from the city center, hidden in a posh 16th neighborhood across the river from the Eiffel Tower. Make sure you make a reservation well in advance as it is very popular and has fairly limited seating.
We actually arrived here 15 minutes late for our reservation, but no one commented and we were seated on arrival. Other diners consisted mainly of couples, with one large table of French businessmen and one of Japanese women. We ordered the set 3-course lunch menu (a 5-course menu was also offered), and I also ordered one glass of white wine with the meal and a shot of espresso following the meal. When you order at L’Astrance, you choose the number of courses and then the actual meal is a surprise! They do ask about any allergies or food preferences, but otherwise you don’t know what you will be getting until it arrives at the table which was fun.
You get much more food than you expect from a 3-course meal with an amuse-bouche and numerous other little extras throughout the meal and it felt like a 5-course meal. Unfortunately, we didn’t take a picture of all of the food during our meal but we did capture several of the dishes. Here is our L’Astrance meal in photos (yep, I had blond hair back in 2012):
Other than being 15 minutes late and feeling a bit harried when we arrived, our dining experience here was quite excellent. The “surprise” aspect was appealing to us and we loved all the dishes with the exception of one of the dessert trio which was this sour pink grapefruit sorbet with crushed pistachios. The food here was definitely top quality and service was excellent. We were quite pleasantly surprised by the quantity of food included in the 3-course lunch menu and felt like it was just the right amount of food. We left with a big bill, but full and very happy. The only minor complaint was that at one point I felt a bit pressured to order another glass of wine after finishing my first, but I didn’t want another and did not order it. We also felt at times given the fairly small room, that it felt a bit less intimate than we would have preferred. If you are looking for modern decor and cooking, excellent service, and the chance to try a 3-star meal for 70€, you probably can’t find a better place in Paris than Astrance.
Le Grand Véfour: Classic & Historic
We chose this solid 2-star French restaurant in 2013 for our lunch splurge in Paris for a couple of reasons. First, the food by chef Guy Martin, which is a mix of traditional and modern cooking, consistently gets high praises. But it was the decor and history of Le Grand Véfour that made us really want to come here. This grand restaurant opened its doors to diners in 1784 and has survived through wars, revolution, bombings, fires, and a succession of its own personal triumphs and failures. It has played host to royalty, politicians, celebrities, and the literary crowd over the centuries. Today, you’ll still find it tucked away in the galleries of the Palais Royal.
After an evocative morning visit to the Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation, we headed to the Palais Royal and arrived on time for our 12:30 lunch reservation. We were greeted and promptly seated. The inside of the restaurant is very beautiful, with early nineteenth-century neoclassical décor of large mirrors in gilded frames, chandeliers, and painted supraportes. We were seated in a red booth and each seat bears a brass name plaque of a famous past patron who favored the seat. Our two name plaques bore the names of diners Joséphine de Beauharnais, who was the first wife of French Emperor Napoleon I, and Alexandre Balthazar Laurent Grimod de La Reynière, a Parisian lawyer who became one of the first French food critics. Not too shabby past company!
We ordered the set lunch menu which consists of an amuse-bouche and four courses: appetizer, main course, cheese course, and dessert. We had three dish choices each for the appetizer, main course, and dessert. The cheese course had a few dozen types of cheeses to choose from. Here is our meal in photos:
Overall, we had an excellent and delightful meal at Le Grand Véfour. The staff were very nice, polite, and attentive. Most were helpful despite our poor French and were happy to explain the French menu items to us in English. Some of the dishes were excellent and some were just very good. We were very full by the end of the meal and sadly could not eat all the little treats and spongecake! The service was not without imperfections, although these were minor: 1) found a couple of fruit seeds in my appetizer that must have been missed, 2) water was never refilled once after being requested, and 3) when leaving our umbrella was not returned to us until we ran back later (it has fallen down from the hangar into the recesses of the coat closet). This is a great place to sit and take in the ambiance, and we should have left a bit more time for lunch. However, we had planned to see the free fashion show at Galeries Lafayette at 3:00pm so ended up being rushed once we left the restaurant. If you are looking for a traditional and historic French restaurants in Paris for a lunch splurge, I’d definitely recommend considering a meal at Le Grand Véfour.
Would you consider a lunch splurge at a Michelin starred restaurant in Paris? Have questions, or have your own recommendations or tips for a “good value” Michelin restaurant in Paris? As always, we love hearing from you!