GARE DU NORD
Travellers are spoilt for choice around the seething Gare du Nord, from oysters at the belle époque Terminus Nord to bargain Indian vegetarian diners on rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, down the eastern side of the station. A seven-minute walk from the station, Au Beaujolais looks caught in a time warp with its retro signage. It’s a genuine neighbourhood troquet (watering hole), offering simple, honest cuisine at rarely seen prices: dish of the day €9.50, two-course menu €11. Don’t expect fancy recipes but rather timeless oeuf mayo or poireaux vinaigrette to start, followed by skate smothered with capers, French-style shepherd’s pie, plus pasta and salad options for vegetarians. The exuberant owner, Ait Hand, is north African Berber, and on Thursday and Friday, the speciality is couscous.
• 167 rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, no website
The young owners of this tiny bistro, chef Thomas and sommelier Tristan, offer an unbeatable combination of creative bistronomie and innovative organic and natural wines. The two-course €19 lunch menu changes daily – four starters, two mains and two desserts – and sounds so delicious you’ll want to order everything: Jerusalem artichokes with foie gras, home-smoked tarama, wild boar stew on mushroom purée, yellow pollack with langoustine broth. There may even be the pair’s prize-winning saucisse-purée (sausage and mash). “I make the sausage once a week,” says Thomas, “along with terrines and tasty stocks of leftovers, so nothing goes to waste.”
• 136 rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, on Facebook
GARE DE LYON
Le Duc de Richelieu
Didiet Maillet has been running this bistro for 15 years, offering a choice between a hearty €15.90 two-course set menu – available in the evenings too – or more gourmet dishes à la carte. For a quick pitstop, customers can stand at the bar or sit out on the terrace for a crusty baguette sandwich or plate of charcuterie. The rich red interiors and old-fashioned banquettes reflect his traditional Lyonnais cooking: grilled andouillette sausage and authentic crispy French fries; beef and carrots braised in red wine; pike-perch quenelles in a rich Nantua sauce. The set menu changes every day and there’s a selection of salads for vegetarians.
• 5 rue Parrot, leducderichelieu.fr
You can’t miss the deep-blue facade of this organic canteen, opened a year ago. Owner Jean-Baptiste Legrand aims to offer “affordable, home-cooked, sustainable cuisine that caters for vegans, gluten intolerants and vegetarians, but also offers one meat and fish dish a day”. Diners queue up for their meal, then eat in the no-frills dining room upstairs, but it does takeaways too. There’s a daily homemade soup and tempting desserts, fruit smoothies, craft ales and organic cider on tap. Prices start at €9 for their signature bowl of rice or quinoa, topped with cooked and raw veggies, plus your choice of protein – egg, meat, fish, vegan.
• 21 rue de Lyon, lecremieux.fr
This is one of the few remaining Routiers (truckers’ pitstop) restaurants in Paris, with 1960s red-checked tableclothes, marble bar and retro fridges. A handwritten menu pays homage to timeless French dishes such as succulent lamb gigot or petit salé aux lentilles, tête de veau, mackerel poached in white wine, herrings with onion and boiled potatoes. The restaurant dates from 1920 and has been owned by the welcoming Grange family for 50 years. They open at 7am for coffee and croissants and serve sandwiches at the bar all day. There is no fixed menu, but portions are generous with starters €6 and mains €14. These kind of bistros are fast disappearing, so Chez Léon is worth a visit even you’re not catching a train from Gare Saint-Lazare.
• 5 rue de l’Isly, on Facebook
GARE DE L’EST
La Vigne Saint Laurent
This ancient bistro has been brought back to life in the year since chef Johnny Cohier took over. He comes from a family of bakers, whose Champs Elysées boulangerie supplied the French president, but his dream was to be in the kitchen running his own restaurant. The red-brick decor could do with a makeover but all his investment for now is in the cuisine and wine list. The daily changing set lunch is €14.50 for two courses, €18.50 for three, and in the evening, mains start at a reasonable €14. Expect classic French terroir cuisine – escargots, blanquette de veau, a juicy entrecôte with béarnaise sauce, thick cod chunks in a gratin of Cantal cheese.
• 2 rue Saint Laurent, on Facebook
La Ville de Provins
Pass the big restaurants opposite Gare de l’Est, turn left and walk another 50 metres to this brasserie, which is so authentic it could have been a setting for 2001 film Amélie. Owners Andréa and Pascal Vincenzi proudly state: “We want to keep the ambience and the cuisine here as it has always been, a different world from the international chains all around us, like Starbucks.” There is no set menu, but they serve breakfast (with omelettes) from 7am, and the kitchen is open through until 11pm. With a clientele of Alsace-bound travellers, this is the place to get a steaming plate of choucroute topped with sausages and pork. The friendly waiters do their best to translate the dishes chalked up on a blackboard, with mains from €12.
• 74 boulevard de Strasbourg, lavilledeprovins.com
Au Soleil d’Austerlitz
The venerable Gare d’Austerlitz is getting a facelift ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics, and eating options tend to be pizza, kebabs or McDonald’s. One notable exception is the splendid Soleil, a traditional bougnat tavern from the Aveyron region of central France. There’s a huge pavement terrace and a snug salon with a gleaming zinc bar. Young owners Boris and Estelle Puech serve breakfast from 6am, offer an ever-changing set menu, live music during the daily happy hour and a bar open till 2am. The two-course €18.90 set lunch or dinner could include poached eggs with wild mushrooms, sausage with creamy potato salad, or grilled salmon and ratatouille. There is also a €10 P’tit Train kids’ menu.
• 18 boulevard de l’Hôpital, soleilausterlitz.com
Ty Breiz Crêperie
Montparnasse is the station for trains to Brittany, so there are half-a-dozen crêperies within walking distance. Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, cosy Ty Breiz conjures up Brittany’s wild coast with maritime photos and fishing memorabilia. It is perfect station fodder, says owner Didier: “We can freshly cook our crêpes and galettes in just a couple of minutes, so no one has to wait.” Prices start at €6.50 for a classic gluten-free buckwheat galette with a fried egg, and go up to €14 for fillings such as scallops, smoked salmon or andouille sausage. It’s difficult to resist the sweet crêpes – melted dark chocolate, caramelised apple, chestnut cream – and they can always pack to go if departure time looms.
• 52 boulevard de Vaugirard, tybreizparis.fr
Le Plomb du Cantal
This Parisian institution specialises in the rustic mountain cuisine of the Auvergne region. The chalet-style dining room is always packed with a mix of travellers, office workers and theatregoers. Opened 35 years ago, the Plomb is still owned by Marinette Alric, who brought her family recipes from the Auvergne over 50 years ago: homemade sausage, stuffed cabbage and thick steaks, all served with a mountain of irresistible potatoes, either aligot (creamy mash with melted tomme fraîche cheese and garlic) or truffade (crisply sautéed with the same cheese). There is no set menu because, as the waiter says, “few people who order sausage or steak aligot can eat a starter or dessert too”. Meaty mains cost from €20, but there are also 20 salads and a dozen types of enormous omelette, from €12.
• 3 rue de la Gaité, no website
Looking for a holiday with a difference? Browse Guardian Holidays to see a range of fantastic trips
Source: Read Full Article