Chez Paul, Parisian Hospitality

Inside Chez Paul - the bar

Chez Paul reminds you of old times...

If you don’t know about it, you might miss it, and what a loss that would be. There are not so many restaurants in Paris as charming as this little eatery, as straightforward and uncomplicated. From the street, Chez Paul is not such an inviting place: flanking the entrance you’ll see the typical small round tables and uncomfortable chairs, usually occupied by a few locals who sip a glass of wine and talk about the dizzy pedestrian walking by, or argue about politics. When you step inside however, you are suddenly transported in an alternative universe, the très chic Paris of the 40s, when bohemian artists spent long afternoons at the local bistrot, chatting friendly with whoever happened to enter the locale.

Chez Paul

Traditional French hospitality in the heart of Paris

That feel is still there, a colorful world crammed at small tables covered with traditional checkered cloths. A big bouquet of flowers crowns the bar, where the cheery bartender pours beer or wine, always busy, always with a smile. Then your waitress comes to take your order – and no, she doesn’t speak English, but she doesn’t need to. Our friend Martin is French, and a faithful customer, he knows the ropes, and he knows what’s good. He orders Steak au poivre flambé cognac, gratin dauphinois – a pepper steak flambé in cognac with potato gratin. Then he’s stuck with two people who are unable to eat a main dish…

It’s a late lunch, at 14:00, and my husband and I are no longer hungry, having already sampled French pastries on the way. But the menu is irresistible. We simply must try something, anything. I order a house specialty, the Foie gras de canard mi-cuit “Maison”, with a simple table wine, and my husband goes for a Petite assiette de fromages – small cheese plate. Flawless. The lunch is then crowned with Martin’s favorite, a Café Gourmand, that comes with a sampling of home-made pastries.

The restaurant gets packed while we eat and chat – and my husband and I are the only tourists in sight. That’s always a good sign in a restaurant, testifying for its authenticity. In the end, what do you want to experience in Paris, if not the city’s true spirit, so cheerfully reflected by Chez Paul’s staff, patrons and menu? Don’t miss it next time when you visit Paris. You’ll find it on Rue de Charonne at number 13, obviously, a lucky number the Friday we ate there.