Planning a romantic break in the French capital? Sophie Dening chooses eight restaurants with great wine lists...
A former butcher’s shop in a gentrified swathe of the 3rd Arrondissement, Anahi has a fashionable clientele fond of its elegant hostess and chic decor, as well as the ceviches and superb steaks that are cooked over charcoal. The beef comes from Argentina, Japan and the US, and is specified grass- or grain-fed.
Wine list: Alongside several South Americans – such as biodynamic Pinot Noir from Argentina and a Uruguayan Tannat-Syrah blend – there’s Occhipinti’s Terre Siciliane from Sicily and Spanish Palomino from Goyo García Viadero. Native bottles include Laherte Frères Champagne and Domaine Labet Pinot Noir from the Jura.
Try to snag the table in the window overlooking the historic arcade, which is perfect for a tête-à-tête in a quintessentially Paris location. Simone Tondo, previously at Roseval, took over the bistrot à vins earlier this year, preparing painstakingly simple Franco-Italian dishes based on alluring seasonal produce.
Wine list: Amiable restaurant manager Stephanie Crockford finds French and Italian bottles to go with the blackboard menu. A current rave is Lazio producer Le Coste’s Bianco, which she pairs with the côte de veau alla Milanese.
Among the many beautiful, historic restaurants and hotel dining rooms in Paris, Lapérouse is perhaps the most swoon-worthy for its fairytale petits salons, past naughtiness, and legends left behind by chef Auguste Escoffier and novelist Gustave Flaubert. If the turbot, veal chop and praline soufflé (created in 1890) don’t get you, the voluptuous murals, etched mirrors and views over the Seine should.
Wine list: We’re definitely in grand cru territory here, with desirable wines from Mas de Daumas Gassac, Château Cos d’Estournel and Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande to accompany the classical cuisine. Lovers of by-the-glass selections and multiple pudding wines can engage the sommeliers’ keen matching skills.
Picture-postcard time in one of the city’s oldest bistrots, which is now an upscale Left Bank institution that’s equally appealing for Sunday lunch, family get-togethers or date night (if it was good enough for Barack and Michelle…). The room is tightly packed and festooned with starched red gingham, while the food is gutturally French: snails, foie gras, ouefs en meurette, confit de canard, sole meunière…
Wine list: This proudly French list is focused on Bordeaux, the Southwest and the Rhône Valley, with hearty Cahors and juicy Côte-Rôtie to accompany all of those rich dishes.
Giant florals, gilded pillars and a sweeping staircase give this ‘casual’ restaurant at Le Bristol hotel an expensively pretty vibe. The service and setting are both exemplary, yet the fine brasserie menu, overseen by legendary chef Eric Fréchon, isn’t overwhelming gastronomic. It’s so unpretentious that you can follow grilled ribeye or fish soup with vanilla îles flottantes, if you fancy. There are vegetarian and gluten-free menus on offer here too.
Wine list: The bulk of Le Bristol’s 95,000 bottles are kept in a high-tech cellar at Issy-les-Moulineaux. Head sommelier Bernard Neuveu’s classy selection for 114 Faubourg features Burgundy from Domaines Etienne Sauzet, Leflaive and Roulot, plus a dozen grower Champagnes.
A wonder of old-school Montmartre, La Mascotte is staffed by professionally avuncular waiters, who patrol wood-panelled, mirrored and tiled interiors that hark back to the 19th century. The bar gets jolly with locals at the weekend, but take a table for dinner on the first floor and you can enjoy a romantic dinner à deux with tremendous platters of fruits de mer, Arcachon oysters, Breton lobster, snails, duck foie gras or ris de veau (sweetbreads).
Wine list: Second-generation owner Thierry Campion lists wines from his parents’ native Aveyron, before roaming all over the country, with bottles from the Languedoc, Alsace, Savoie and Corsica, plus Odile Toutain Calvados to finish.
La Buvette de Camille
Fun, young and a cult destination among lovers of natural wines, Camille Fourmont’s tiny and convivial no-bookings restaurant has no kitchen, few tables, and parties on the pavement in summer. So it’s one for a first date or jaded lovers in search of spontaneity. Deviously sourced charcuterie – andouille au lard, cured tuna from a one-man workshop – meet Fourmont creations such as butter beans with bergamot, or burrata dusted with dehydrated mandarin zest, served with bread from Thierry Breton of Chez Casimir.
Wine list: Nothing written down, and nothing corporate or stodgy; instead a short, always changing list of exciting and rare wines from producers such as Julien Courtois in the Sologne, or La Cave des Nomades in Banyuls. +33 (0) 9 83 56 94 11
A charming one-off with arty, quirky appeal, Pétrelle is the creative brainchild of Jean-Luc André, who has filled it with his own collection of paintings, antiques, modern finds, and a cat and dog. The lighting is conducive, the tables are well spaced, and there are always fresh flowers in season. André’s cuisine is led by whatever’s at its best in season, from morels and the first asparagus of spring to game and scallops in winter.
Wine list: Entirely French, and composed of cuvées selected by André himself, who’s keen on Côtes du Rhône classics and Bordeaux grands crus.
Sophie Dening is a contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveller and writes about Paris for Wallpaper* City Guides and Sunday Times Travel Magazine