Whether drunk in love or footloose and fancy free, most of us do our best to avoid the cliche of V-Day. Let’s not deny Valentine's Day can be a sweet time to tell anyone in your life just how much you love them. Love is love is love and there is no better year than 2018 to celebrate all that love stands for. So what if you turned the month of love into a bucket list adventure and traveled to the most spectacular of spots for V-Day, by heading to the city of love for the perfect meal with whomever is the most meaningful in your life? Like fine wines, beautiful shoes and impromptu adventures with your friends – if you have the means and opportunity – Paris is always a good idea.
If you are in for an elevated Valentine's Day adventure, start making those reservations at these special spots right now...
If you’re looking for one of the most extraordinary culinary experiences of your life, either on V-Day or any other, allow Chef Alain Ducasse’s obsession with the “perfect welcome” to envelope your senses at Alain Ducasse at Hotel Plaza Athénée. It’s a restaurant with a radical and personal story that began twenty-five years ago. Ducasse delivers an interpretation of haute cuisine set in a dining room that celebrates precious materials, soft curves and exquisite attention to detail. Bottom line, if you’re going to blow it out in Paris for V-Day, this is the private jet to anywhere of the restaurant world.
For a city that celebrates the high end in culinary traditions from all walks of life, Chiche is an indulgent, yet off-the-beaten-Parisian-path culinary choice where Israeli street food is in the spotlight. It’s a perfect Valentine’s Day choice where creamy hummus is accented with spicy aubergines and desserts have an indulgent yet exotic hint of sweetness. It’s also the perfect take-away food to enjoy as you amble around the most romantic city on Earth with your person or your pals. Disclaimer: This spot doesn't take reservtions but the heart-adorned wall makes it a Valentine must.
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Like entering an impossibly chic yet imminently warm French country home for an extravagant dinner party, so is Eugène Eugène – a restaurant for gathering around and enjoying a meal, magnificent for the soul, in lieu of see and be seen. Set in a hall opposite the bustling municipal market, next to a public garden and backed by a workers garden, its a gorgeous gem of a space that feels like home for this sweet holiday.
Talk about fabulous fare for your Insta feed and well, your face, Daroco is a gorgeous restaurant cloaked in Parisian chic. It occupies a beautiful space with a legendary fashion pedigree as the former Jean-Paul Gaultier boutique in the rue Vivienne. It’s simple, honest Italian fare with a side of eye candy, good-looking servers wear striped Saint James sailor’s pullovers (a Gaultier signature) and a typical crowd consists of photographers, fashion designers, web designers, advertising and PR types among others.
If you’re looking to say ‘bon voyage’ to the brasserie experience, you’re certainly stepping up the maturity game at the gorgeous Le Mandragore, set in the magnificent Hotel Particulier Montmartre. The details are divine, the menu is course-driven and the gardens, weather permitting, are an experience in and of themselves. Most of the ingredients come directly from the restaurant’s gardens (hens and beehives to start) and the chef clearly expresses ‘art de vivre’ with each plate. Inside tip: Call ahead, reservations are only taken over the phone.
Les Grands Verres, another perfectly planned restaurant/venue from Quixote Projects, brings a little “east side to the west side” flavor to this cultural hotspot. This spot focuses on gathering, togetherness and collaboration – as evidenced in the 42' long bar made of compacted earth running down the center of the restaurant. A perfect place to park your pals on V-Day, this re-imagined Mediterranean brasserie always has the freshest, seasonal ingredients and an inventive cocktail menu committed to limiting bottle and packaging waste.
Ristorante National au Hotel National des Arts et Metiers
The walls of the magnificent Ristorante National, located within the Hotel National des Arts et Metiers, look like the most fabulous haute couture decoupage project (the hotel’s name literally translates to “Arts & Crafts”). Mixing and matching doesn’t stop there, the hotel brings together the expertise of three luminaries in the Parisian restaurant scene: Julien Cohen and the duo of Jean-Pierre Lopes/Thomas Delafon together under one roof creating sweet Italian fare for you and your friends to indulge, which is nothing short of inspiring.
If intimacy and inspiration are your wishes this Valentine's Day, Odette is ready to fulfill them. Expect French elegance set on a rustic table. You’ll taste the pride the chef takes in the food, feel the warmth of a crackling fire and indulge in the freshest seasonal products locally sourced from a family whose name is synonymous with French gastronomy, Caroline & Sophie Rostang, 6th generation of restaurant owners. Inside tip: Call ahead to reserve.
For a serious dose of cool meets Hemingway’s 1920’s Parisian golden age, look no further than Carbon. With raw woods, antique lamps, plants suspended from the ceiling and a basement speakeasy, La Mina boasts sparkling cocktail creations, small plates and an intimate smoke room. For a really special experience, book the private dining room, a hidden space with a long, communal feasting table and a charcoal ceiling to settle into a night that will be in your heart for the rest of them to come.
How does a private dinner in Michelin-starred Chef Alain Ducasse’s restaurant in the Palace of Versailles sound for a V-Day-dream? In the sumptuous setting of the recently renovated Pavillon Dufour, ore – Ducasse au Château de Versailles is an elegant French café open to the public by day and an exceptional, bucket-list, beyond-your-wildest-dreams private dining experience on the grandest of scales when the sun goes down. Inside tip: Call or email to make a reservation.
For the perfect French Valentines’ Day with friends, look no further than Alcazar, a stunning restaurant inspired by the idea of a big house. Simple enough in concept – it’s a chic table with a friendly atmosphere, serving refined dishes “of the soil” in an idyllic setting that’s meant to feel like home. Home indeed if you live in a giant, perfectly tended green-house in Paris with yes, a gorgeous glass roof. Don’t miss: The balcony bar, serving hand-crafted cocktails lit by the strains of sweet live music every night except Sundays and Mondays.
From the Palace of Versailles to the streets of rue Saint Denis, the latest from Quixotic Projects, Hero, is a Korean-inspired restaurant full of cool surprises. Think electric design and inventive drinks, complementing yangnyeom (Korean fried chicken) which is at the heart of the menu. So, V-Day in Paris can also mean Korean fried chicken down a back alley, complimented by unique cocktails, surrounded by art and set to a beat of over thirty years of French and Anglo hip-hop mixed with a selection of the latest K-Pop anthems.
Is it ever a bad thing when a restaurant re-opens under the premise of “more rooftop, more conviviality, more chill?” The new Auteuil Brasserie is an Italian brewery set in the 16th district and animated for any adventure from breakfast until the end-of-the-night BBQ’s around a huge outdoor cocktail bar. Contrasting ikat patterned booths, set on raw, wide-plank wooden floors amid a curated jungle of flora is the perfect setting for beautiful mounds of burrata on hand-fired pizzas and refreshingly refined cocktails ALMOST too beautiful to drink.
You know when a restaurant is described as a “laboratory of thoughts and gastronomic creations” set under a majestic glass roof, it’s going to be real good. The Grand Restaurant / Jean-François Piège is a “modern, family and innovative cook's house through which the chef expresses all his creativity and know-how.” It’s a place to gather 25 of your closest friends for V-Day as you indulge in a culinary experience under the tutelage of a playful master. Inside tip: Email to make reservations.
Just a stone’s throw from Palais Royal, Ellsworth is the kind of incognito and inspiring bistro to get lost in with bae(s) for a Valentine brunch. Think small luxuries like timeworn woodwork, marble tables and smoky windows with gold calligraphy lettering the glass entrance. Did we mention word on the street is that Ellsworth serves the best fried chicken in town with a buttermilk dipping sauce?
If you’re thinking mythical Parisian elegance with a smoky, South American soul, look no further than the re-opening of Anahi. An importer of exceptional meat, the menu celebrates South American specialties. Here, diners do not choose a meat based on its origin, it is the diet of the animal that directs their choice. It is a new way to experience some of the best meat in the world, an exceptional heritage and your bae(s) in a beautiful setting.
Take a peek at the newest Alain Ducasse restaurant in Paris without the hefty price tag, Brasserie Champeaux is "The Brasserie of the 21st Century," located in the heart of the 1st district under the Canopée in Forum des Halles. It was conceived as a welcoming place for everyone, all day and into the night where “bespoke furniture, noble materials and haute couture detailing, have bestowed a soul to the existing industrial structure of this large open space.” Perhaps this means a V-Day picnic with pals that leads to dancing under an inky star-strewn Parisian night sky to the tunes of DJ’s who turn it up at this beat-driven brasserie when the sun goes down.
If you’re looking for a gastronomic adventure with your amies this V-Day, book a table or a few seats at the bar at Dersou, where dinner is a tasting menu paired with perfect cocktails. A meal at Dersou is like a beautiful dance to a rhythm of it’s own meal-making, you’ll choose from five, six or seven “steps” or courses complimented by cocktails. It’s a super refined, yet fun, surprise for any nonplussed, unimpressed group of gal pals.
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