On a typical Paris morning you’ll fight a scrum to get into the galleries, then scramble to find a standout lunch nearby. But what if you could experience the pleasures of art and food in the same place, at a leisurely pace?
Eating within view of gallery-worthy art is a tradition going back to Enlightenment France, and some of Paris’s most esteemed restaurants carry it on to this day. The following restaurants curate the ‘hang’ and the menu with the same critical eye.
Not even Versailles has cornicing as sumptuous as Julien. This art nouveau brasserie frames banks of mirrors and Baroque stained glass by Charles Buffet, but the pièce de résistance is the art. Between the mirrors hang four “Flower Ladies,” painted on pâte de verre glass by master glazier Louis Tréziel, and at the back of the dining room are twin pâte de verre peacocks by Armand Ségaud. The menu is suitably French—all escargot, terrine, beef tartare, and Chateaubriand.
The restaurateurs behind London’s Sketch—a fabulously arty space itself—opened this Moroccan-inspired boîte to complement successful sister spaces Andy Wahloo and Le 404 (Derrière is, per its name, in the rear). They’ve mounted vintage advertisements, mid-century painting, collectible Warhol posters, and large-format photography across the enticingly tatty dining rooms. A papier-mâché gorilla hangs from one ceiling while jolly ceramics and taxidermy adorn the lounge.
Within the neighbourhood of the Hotel Indigo Paris facing the manicured Jardin des Tuileries, Le Meurice defines French Baroque style, and then some. The landmark hired Philippe Starck to overhaul the original décor for the 21st century, and his response was characteristically over the top. In the Alain Ducasse restaurant, Starck installed a ceiling fresco and a Revolution-era canvas over the marble mantel. He also hired his daughter Ara to paint a monumental gilded canvas for the second restaurant, Le Dalí (named for its most famous client), where it’s strung across the elaborate glass dome.