The First : An Overview
Words that you might want to bear in mind when thinking of the First: grand, elegant, regal, stately... this arrondissement may be small - at only 0.7 square miles - but boy does it pack a cultural punch! This area is home to some major Paris heavyweights, including the Louvre and the beautiful Jardin des Tuileries, the Orangerie (home to Monet's Waterlilies), the peaceful gardens of the Palais Royal, the Châtelet Theatre and the shopping hub that is Les Halles - once home to the vast food market that fed Paris. The First also includes the western end of the Ile de la Cité, which includes the mediaeval Sainte Chapelle with its gorgeous stained glass windows.
A Little History
Right at the heart of Paris, the First Arrondissement boasts a history that reaches back into the realms of Julius Caesar and ancient Celtic tribes. It was here the Roman city of Lutetia was founded in 52 BC following the defeat of the Parisii - the Celtic Iron Age people who had long populated the banks of the Seine. In the end the Parisii did win a victory of sorts however, when the imposed Roman name of Lutetia or Lutèce was thrown out (along with the Romans). The city reverted to the shortened name of Paris, and King Clovis named it his capital in 508 AD. If you fancy walking down a Roman road in Paris, wander down the rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter, and stay tuned for our feature on the Fifth Arrondissement, when we'll be telling you where you can still find Rome in Paris!
Food & Drink in the First
Now, on to the main event - food and drink in Paris's First Arrondissement! Whether you're looking for somewhere to eat, grab a coffee or searching for a lovely spot for a cheeky cocktail, we have a list that will keep you coming back to The First time after time to tick them all off!
A short disclaimer before we get started... as we all know, dining out is a very personal, nuanced affair, and our humble little list featured here - or indeed in any of our content - unfortunately cannot guarantee a spectacular, knock-your-socks-off, "Dear Diary" dining experience - as much as we would love it to! While we certainly aim to inspire, as always we recommend using these suggestions merely as a jumping-off point for your own Paris research. So with that out of the way - on we go!
Au Pied de Cochon
6 Rue Coquillière
First opened in 1947, this institution is open 24/7, seven days a week for bistro fare served in a setting of traditional red banquettes, mirrored walls and brass accents. We like it so much we like to end our Les Halles Gastronomy Tour there (with a glass of wine, obviously).
Seasonal, often organic and inspired by the restaurant's Normandy roots, the menu at Pharamond also benefits from an extraordinary setting. First opened in 1879, the restaurant is a historic monument full of romantic Salons (which can be privatised), chandeliers, mirrored walls and red velvet.
34 rue de Richelieu
From the guys behind another favourite in the First - Verjus - Ellsworth offers lovely food, carefully sourced, in an unpretentious setting we love.
La Régalade Saint Honoré
106 Rue Saint-Honoré
Bistronomie has its home here, and it's a term well applied - gastronomy meets relaxed bistro dining, making for a reliable choice for a great meal in the Les Halles neighbourhood.
272 rue saint-Honoré
If grilled eel is your thing, then Nodaïwa is the only place to go. In fact, it's probably the best place for this Japanese specialty on the continent - there are four of these unagi restaurants in Tokyo, but this is the only one in Europe!
6 Rue de la Vrillière
This is a local classic where Parisians enjoy relaxed, no-frills bistro fare at reasonable prices. This cosy corner-spot perpetually smells of smoking thyme - every steak comes with a burning sprig on top, filling the space with aromatic smokey goodness!
5 Rue des Prouvaires
This is a Les Halles classic, serving generous portions of the classics, and if you ever find yourself in need of steak frites at 2am any day from Monday to Friday, you'll be in luck - it's open until 5am!!! (Closed on Saturdays and Sundays - well they have to sleep some time!!)
Rue Saint Anne
Sometimes an entire street can be a foodie destination, and that's certainly the case with the rue Saint Anne, which is fit to burst with fantastic Japanese restaurants. You'll often see queues forming outside the dozens of options - this is a real hotspot for authentic Japanese fare and the buzz of rapid street-food style dining in Paris.
47 Rue de Richelieu
Once a cosy wine bar and now a lovely restaurant, this place has been open since 1987. If you're craving a beautiful glass of Andalucian sherry (who isn't?) you'll find it here, along with a fabulous wine selection and a delicious menu.
For something a little fancy...
Baltard au Louvre
9 rue Coquillière 75001 Paris
With Lunch from €22 (starter + main) or €30 with a dessert, at Baltard au Louvre you get all the expertise of Chef Ewout Vranckx (le Louis XV, le Pavillon Ledoyen, le George V, le Meurice, le Pur) for a bargain price.
Le Restaurant du Palais Royal
110 galerie de Valois for access via the gardens or 41, rue de Valois for taxis
With cuisine that matches its elegant location amongst the colonnades of the Palais Royal, this one Michelin Star restaurant is home to Chef Philip Chronopoulos (l'Arpege, Joël Robuchon).
5 rue Mondétour
When Chef François-Xavier (Le Bristol) took the helm of this stylish bistro, Pirouette was already a hit. Thankfully this chic and airy address continues to impress with a tightly curated menu and a pretty affordable price tag.
Odette l'Aubgerge Urbaine
23/25 Rue du Pont Neuf
The daily-changing menu at Odette is inspired by the freshest produce available at the market, while contemporary interiors make for a refreshing change.
121 Rue Saint-Honoré
You may leave here with a lighter wallet, but for Michelin Star French-Asian food that is pretty much universally celebrated, Yam'Tcha is unsurpassed. Reservations are pretty hard to come by though...bon courage!
La Dame de PIC
20 Rue du Louvre
Crisp white spaces, tan leather, muted lighting... a tranquil ambiance in which to put all your focus on the beautiful food by triple Michelin Star chef, Anne-Sophie Pic.
Le Garde Robe
41 rue de l'Arbre Sec
For natural wine lovers who love a boisterous atmosphere, Le Garde Robe is a cosy hangout with bottle-lined walls and a tempting array of cheese boards and oysters.
6 Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny
Oh how we love this swish address. It's a timeless classic with its ceiling fans, muted ambiance, super slick waitstaff and fantastic cocktails - and what a location! (Find it at the eastern end of the Louvre).
10 Rue du Marché Saint-Honoré
What's Paris without its zinc-topped bars and red leather banquettes? This is a local's local, with huge beer barrels acting as tables on the "terrasse", and a scattering of tables inside for hearty lunches and afternoon tipples.
Willi's Wine Bar
13, Rue des Petits Champs
Wines, lunch, dinner, conviviality, Willi's Wine Bar opened in 1980 and is still going. Instantly recognisable thanks to its sky blue facade, this place does lean slightly more to the restaurant side of things, but you can still pull up a stool at the bar and enjoy a glass.
The Ritz, Place Vendome, Paris
Arrive at opening time (or even a little before) to ensure a seat at this little drinking den in the Ritz. The cocktails may be pricey, but Colin Fields is a pillar of the international cocktail community and a lovely fella too.
7, rue Rouget de Lisle - 19 bis rue du Mont Thabor, Paris
Once safely ensconced on a red velvet banquette, sit back and unwind with wine, olives, charcuterie and Spanish hams.
5 Rue Villédo, 75001 Paris
With just a handful of tables and not much by way of food options the coffee lovers will be well-served here as all attention is on the beans and the brew!
Jardin du, 51 Galerie de Montpensier, 75001 Paris
While you stroll through the gorgeous arcades of the Palais Royal (pretending you're about to pop into Stella McCartney for a couture gown), take a break in Café Kitsune to contemplate the benefits of mulberry silk over gold lamé while enjoying a well-crafted espresso at this trend-setting café bar.
110 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris
A brilliant address to know if you find yourself in need of a great coffee after taking on the Louvre or sunning yourself in the Tuileries. Coffee is by the experts at Hexagone, who have also made our list, is joined by freshly baked treats.
For our complete map of Coffee in Paris, click here!