The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris: The Best Restaurants, Bistros, Cafés, Markets, Bakeries, and More

The book that cracks the code, from the incomparable Patricia Wells. An acclaimed authority on French cuisine, Ms. Wells has spent more than 30 years in Paris, many as former restaurant critic for The International Herald Tribune. Now her revered Food Lover’s Guide to Paris is back in a completely revised, brand-new edition.

In 457 entries―345 new to this edition, plus 112 revisited and reviewed classics―The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris offers an elegantly written go-to guide to the very best restaurants, cafés, wine bars, and bistros in Paris, as well as where to find the flakiest croissants, earthiest charcuteries, sublimest cheese, most ethereal macarons, and impeccable outdoor markets. The genius of the book is Ms. Wells’s meritocratic spirit. Whether you’re looking for a before-you-die Michelin three-star experience (Guy Savoy, perhaps, or Restaurant Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée) or wanting to sample the new bistronomy (Bistrot Paul Bert, Le Comptoir du Relais) or craving something simple and perfect (L’As du Fallafel, or Breizh Café for crêpes), Patricia Wells tells you exactly where to go and why you should go there. You no longer have to rely on the iffy “reviews” of Yelp or Trip Advisor.

Included are 40 recipes from some of her favorite chefs and purveyors and, of course, all the practical information: addresses, websites, email, hours, closest métro stop, specialties, and more.

Let’s face it. Finding the best of the fabled cuisine in Paris can be difficult for us Americans. We’re thrown off by the language, the numerous terms for eateries, and the French themselves, who love to pretend they don’t speak English.

That’s why Patricia Wells’s updated guide, now in its fourth edition, is a hit. With detailed information on 450 restaurants, Wells takes readers by the hand and demystifies the culture so well known for its luscious food and demanding gourmands. Sidebars abound: she dissects breads, foie gras, and oysters–and even gives the cultural background on why the French may drink wine in the morning (to kill worms, of course), as well as discussing the pros and cons of eating the rinds of cheeses. Also listed are the best bakeries, cafés, and specialty shops, as well as 50 recipes to try at home.

If there is a criticism to be made of this sturdy and informative book, it’s of the writing of this International Herald Tribune critic, which is sometimes riddled with stock descriptions and clichés. Yet readers are likely to forgive her this occasional foible, as Wells’s interesting details and enthusiasm are enough to send devout Italophiles, even, to Paris–where they can sink their teeth into those crusty baguettes. –Melissa Rossi

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3 comments

  1. 56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Perhaps Too Generous, March 25, 2002
    By A Customer
    Although I find her engaging, I have to admit my experience with Patricia Wells’ guide books and recipes has been less than foolproof. Although this book contains a wealth of useful details, in my experience she is far too generous with many mediocre restaurants and I have had several meals I considered downright bad based on this book. Perhaps a part of the problem is that, unlike most restaurant reviewers, Ms. Wells is well-known and well-recognized among Parisian proprietors. She loves them, they love her. As a result, I suspect the service – and in some cases the food – are often a notch or so better for her than for the average patron.

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  2. 43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Good guide for food lovers, February 26, 2001
    By 
    A Customer (USA) –

    This is the only guide that I brought with me to Paris for my 2 months stay there. Here’s what I like about this book:
    1. The food dictionary on the back! Eventhough I can speak/write/read some French that I don’t need to carry regular dictionary around, the food terms sometimes confusing and this book has an excellent section on it.
    2. The recipes are worth trying. I tried her recipes for madeleine and financiers, both turned out excellent.
    3. Ms. Wells not only give restaurant guides but also specialty shops, bakery, etc. Some of the recommendations are well secluded from mainstream tourists. A trully excellent find.
    Here’s what I don’t like about this book:
    1. Many of the restaurants featured are expensive, especially for 2 months stay in Paris. I think there’s plenty of cheap and reasonably good food that I could find. I used Ms. Well’s recommendation for weekends/special occasions.
    2. I think this book is a bit too heavy/thick to carry around.

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  3. 92 of 93 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    If you take just one book to Paris, this is the one to pack, July 22, 1999
    By A Customer
    As I consider “Food Lovers Guide to Paris” an old friend, I was really pleased to see a timely update to one of the most useful travel books I know. I highly recommend it to anyone with a good appetite who is contemplating a visit to the City of Light.
    In this fourth version of her classic, Ms Wells again does a superb job of ferreting out and reviewing top notch restaurants, cafes, bakeries, pastry shops, wine bars, candy makers, markets, and a myriad of specialty shops – anything and everything that has to do with food in the food capital of the world. Some notable names from the third edition have been dropped and some exciting new ones added.
    Some restaurants have been in all four guides, but an update was certainly necessary for those who enjoy the finest of fine cuisine: three years ago, the celebrated superstar chef Joel Robuchon retired. Today, several of his talented former assistants are now running their own kitchens in Paris, and their food can be absolutely stunning. My girlfriend and I visited two of these restaurants last autumn, (during the wild mushroom season, of course!), and were blown away by the exquisite food at both establishments.
    Those looking for dining bargains will not be disappointed, as a good many of the recommended restaurants are not only quite affordable, but also offer wonderful value for your money. Good food, simply but imaginatively prepared. Included amongst the latter are several wonderful regional restaurants, if, for instance, you would like to try some of the specialties of the Southwest or Provence.
    As there are other serious restaurant guides available, perhaps the most uniquely useful chapters in the book are those devoted to specialty shops. Whether you are looking for fresh truffles, old cookbooks, designer china, or the most specialized and esoteric of cookware, using this book you will be able to find it.
    As another reviewer pointed out that the book features a number of recipes (I think the reviewer was peeved by this), I thought I would add my two cents: every recipe I have tried from other editions of this book has been at least very good; some have been superb.
    Finally, as usual, there there are many, many explanatory notes and a very good glossary that covers a large amount of French food terminology. First time visitors to Paris will find both the notes and the glossary VERY useful.

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