My Top 10 Favorite Places to Eat and Visit in France
One of the highlights of my program was getting to explore the many different places to eat in France. I discovered some truly amazing restaurants that I will always remember. However, what really stood out to me were the other locations I visited that were even more interesting than the famous Eiffel Tower. Being able to experience the culture and see the history I was learning about in class firsthand was an incredible privilege that I will always cherish.
Below are my top 10 places to eat and visit while in France!
Places to Eat
Le Musset - 169 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris France
Before starting our tour at the Louvre, our group split up to get something to eat. A couple of friends and I stopped by Le Musset for lunch or, as you say in French, déjeuner before we would be inside the Louvre for almost 4 hours. We saw some of our friends go into McDonald’s and knew we didn’t want that for lunch. We saw this spot by the corner, bustling with customers, and, honestly, the menu looked good. I got ‘SALADE ON NE BADINE PAS AVEC LE QUINOA’ — salad, quinoa, avocado, Roquefort cheese, cucumber, and roasted hazelnuts. It was the best salad I’ve had in my entire life. It was so filling and gave my palate a great experience, with different textures and flavors happening at once: the earthiness of the quinoa, the crunch from the cucumbers, and the hazelnuts. I didn’t leave a single quinoa grain in my bowl.
Marcella Caffè - 9 Boulevard Poissonnìere , 75002 Paris France
We had a free evening, so we all went out and got off the Montmartre station from Gare du Nord. Some people had already planned to eat at a restaurant together, but my friend and I were not impressed with their menu and decided to explore ourselves. We walked on Boulevard Poissonnìere, and there were several restaurants to choose from. We decided to go with Marcella Caffè. The menu offered Italian food, and the atmosphere felt inviting. I ordered a cocktail - frutti di bosco. I also got a creamy mushroom pasta dish. I don’t remember the exact name of the dish, but my friend and I really liked the place. It is an excellent place for a table of two or for four.
Zazza -18 Rue du Faubourg Poissonnìere, 75010 Paris France
My two professors and my three friends stopped by 59 Rivoli. It is a really interesting building as artists inhabit it. Every floor has many rooms and personal galleries where artists can sell or exhibit their work. The artists had painted the stairs leading to each floor. It is worth a visit. Afterward, we felt hungry, and it was already past 7 p.m. They all trusted me to find a place, and I chose this restaurant because we were walking past it, and nothing seemed promising, so we walked back to go there. Again, it is a restaurant on the corner - another reason it might have caught my eye. I got Floreal — fiorente, basil, and lemon soda water along with Al Tartufo — cream, black truffle, parmesan DOP aged 22 months, and extra virgin olive oil. After being on our feet for so long, we enjoyed conversing over our drinks and delish dishes.
Patisserie Traiteur El Hatmi Fathi B Tahar -155 Rue la Fayette, 75010 Paris France
This patisserie spot is right near the Gare du Nord station and on the way there from our hostel, so it was the favorite breakfast spot for me and my friends. We went there almost daily. The workers there started remembering our faces and appreciated us when they saw us. They served many choices, different pastries, sandwiches, and small desserts. The colors of the desserts made me want to order everything. My friends and I even created a sign name for the shop. We would eagerly go there every morning to get something to eat and, sometimes, something to save for later if we had a long day.
Crepes - no need for an address :), they're easily found in France
Crepes are so good in France - they’re so tasty and sometimes a great ‘pit stop’ to nourish your hunger. Many spots offer the simplest, and the cheapest crepe, which is sucre et beurre, or citron et sucre (sugar and butter or lemon and sugar). Don’t worry; you still can find crepes filled with jam, Nutella, and fruit. They’re also a lot cheaper in France than in America. You can find crepes costing 2€ to approximately 7€, which is around $2.50 to $7.50. When I returned to America, I wondered why we charge $13 for a crepe?!
Places to Visit (better than the Eiffel Tower)
Dôme des Invalides - 129 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris France
You can’t miss this building with a dome encased in gold if you’re in Paris. This was one of my favorite spots, where you could see Napoleon’s tomb. The tomb is so massive and is encased in different materials, so his body can’t escape the tomb, and he is forever stuck in there. The building also honors different war generals and other important people, but the star of the show is Napoleon’s tomb. There is also a museum of war artifacts adjacent to the dome, so that’s worth checking out if you’re interested in history.
Louvre - 2 Quai François Mitterand, 75001 Paris France
I am glad I can say I’ve visited the world’s largest museum. My tour guide said it would take approximately three days to see every item in the museum. That was mind-blowing for me - three days! Our tour guide was a local French deaf person who gave his tour in both LSF (French Sign Language) and ASL, so it was nice seeing him switch between them. And I learned some LSF on the spot. I saw the Mona Lisa (yes, it is overrated). I saw the gigantic painting Liberty Leading the People. I saw some relics from Egypt and statues from Greece and Rome. It was truly a great museum as it had almost everything from around the world. I can’t imagine being in there for three days, but I am glad I saw the things the tour guide took us to. The architecture was also nice to look at since it is different from the Louvre Castle, which is traditional French Gothic.
Sainte-Chapelle - 8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris France
Oooo, the colorful stained glass. This is the most interesting church I’ve been to. The sun shone through the windows, and the colors really glowed brightly. I can’t believe it was built in the 1240s and is such a grand building that still stands today. Of course, there are repairs and infrastructure changes to help the building stand today and for future generations. The first floor has the decals of the fleur-de-lis on the ceiling, and the second floor has the decals of the sun on the ceiling. It was said that the people who worked for the royal court would pray to the king, and then the king would pray for them to God. I just admired the detailed work in this church. The first floor was for only the non-royal people; the second was for the king, his nobles, and his family.
Le Mont-Saint-Michel - 48.63576° N, 1.51125° W
Have you ever seen a church in the sea? Well, you’ll find one in France. The church was built on top of a rocky islet surrounded by tides between the 11th and 16th centuries. It is a hike to get up to the top, but when you’re on the top, you’ll appreciate the breeze as you are on a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey. The view was stunning, and as I stood there, I wondered how old the rocks were and how the people built it so that it still stands strong today. It is UNESCO-protected and worth the time to stop by. I’m not a fan of churches, but I appreciate the architecture and the fine details. This one gets bonus points for being on the sea surrounded by ever-changing tides.
Château de Caen - 27 Avenue de la Libération, 14000 Caen France
We saw several landmarks and buildings in Caen, but this one is my favorite. It was built around 1060 - almost a thousand years before I was born! William the Conqueror was the one who began the construction of the Château de Caen. The building has seen a lot of battles and wars, and it still stands strong. When we walked up on top, I felt so powerful, being up so high and able to oversee the city beneath me. It was very windy that day, and the clouds were dark gray, the same color as the stones built in the castle. We saw lightning strike on the church next to the castle, and raindrops started to hit us. We hurried to leave the castle as a downpour was coming near. We went into a Mexican fast-food restaurant called NACHOS right near the castle, and it reminded us of an American Chipotle. Honestly, I think I liked that spot better than Chipotle - we ate dinner there and waited for the rain to settle down. We hurriedly walked all the way from the restaurant back to our hotel. That was a fun day.
Studying abroad in France was a genuinely tantalizing experience. I would go there in a heartbeat, but if you ever go to France, let me know if you stop by and see those spots and if you ever stop by to eat at any of the places I recommended!
Rose Crisman is an Advertising and Public Relations major in the College of Liberal Arts and studied abroad in France in summer 2022 on the France: History, Culture, and Deaf Studies faculty-led program.