Given Paris’s reputation as one of the great food cities of the world, restaurants are, rightfully, an important part of anyone’s visit. Pity the poor tourist, then, who arrives in late July or August to find much of the city—and many of its best places to eat—closed.
Before you get your culottes in a twist, get your plans in order with a click on the indispensable Paris by Mouth. The brainchild of Meg Zimbeck, an American expat who understands the friction between Yankee expectations and Parisian intransigence, it’s a thoughtful combination of reviews, links to the work of fellow critics (both French and Anglophone) and pointed, well-considered editorials.
Every summer, Zimbeck and her helpers contact about 100 of their preferred restaurants to compile a useful roundup of what’s open and what’s not, all presented in a handy neighborhood-by-neighborhood format.
While the closures are an undeniable hassle, Zimbeck says things are getting better with every passing summer. “I’m finding a lot more restaurants are staying open in August than in previous years,” she says. “When we started publishing the calendar four years ago, there were a lot of three- to four-week closures.” This summer, she reports that a growing number are going for a positively American-style one- or two-week holiday instead.
“I’m also seeing that a lot of the proprietors with both a fine dining restaurant and a wine bar—like Frenchie, Restaurant AT, and Verjus/Ellsworth (pictured)—are closing the main restaurant for three or four weeks, but keeping the wine bar running almost all summer,” she added.
It’s almost enough to make those of us who live in Paris and skip out for the summer with the rest of our confrères want to stick around. Paris with fewer Parisians and almost as much to eat as the other 11 months? What’s not to like?
Alexandra Marshall is a contributing editor and the Paris correspondent at Travel & Leisure. Food, design, architecture and fashion are her specialties, which means, living in Paris, that she is very busy. Follow her on Twitter and on Instagram.