The Surprising Place Where Parisians Are Eating Lunch

This Paris hotel is more than a trendy tourist destination.

<p>The Travel Buds</p>

The Travel Buds

Let's face it. We all want to be as cool as the French. Specifically, we all want to have that certain je ne sais quoi that comes so naturally to Parisians. So, when I learned they were all eating at the same place, I, too, had to book a table. And luckily, that table is found inside one of the city's most majestic hotels.

"With a rich culinary heritage and world-class restaurants, Paris has long been regarded as a mecca of elevated gastronomy," says Nicolas De Gols, the general manager of the ultra-swanky Le Royal Monceau — Raffles Paris. And he's right. After all, even here at Food & Wine, Paris was named one of the top food cities in the world in both the inaugural 2023 and this year's 2024 Global Tastemakers awards.

Of course, it's not just us here at F&W that are fans of Parisian food. The French culinary market is worth about $30 billion. And food makes up a little more than 20% of tourism expenditure in Paris. So sure, people come to see the Eiffel Tower, but they stay for a delicious meal. At the Le Royal Monceau, seeing the sights and dining on tasty food go hand-in-hand, as the hotel sits just a few short steps from destinations like the Arc de Triomphe and Champs Élysées, and is a quick 30-minute walk to the Eiffel Tower. However, this spot isn't just for the in-the-know traveler. During my stay, I'm told some 80% of the dining crowd at the hotel's three restaurants are Parisians coming for meetups with friends and meetings with clients. Why?

<p>sliceofpai </p>


"The hotel's distinctive portfolio of award-winning restaurants and bars offer unparalleled culinary mastery, exquisite flavors, and authentic cuisine," De Gols confidently shares. "We have created several unique culinary experiences at Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris with Parisians, local businesspeople, and others who love coming to our Parisian Palace for the restaurants."

That portfolio includes Matsuhisa Paris, the first Matsuhisa restaurant in France (and the only Nobu restaurant in the country, outside the pop-up in St. Tropez). Here, diners can expect a fusion of Peruvian-Japanese flavors, including some not-to-miss Nobu signature dishes like the albacore tuna sashimi with jalapeño peppers and that oh-so-delicious Black Cod with Miso.

Then, there's Il Carpaccio, a Michelin-starred restaurant slinging Sicilian-style dishes like rich risottos and fettuccine with black truffles. And yes, the food is divine, but the decor here really is worthy of a reservation all on its own. The doors and chandeliers are all decked out with Italian shells, giving it a seaside flair, while its colorful pastel chairs pop off in the sunlight flowing through the glass conservatory walls.

<p>The Travel Buds</p>

The Travel Buds

Then there's Le Bar Long, which sits at the heart of the hotel. "The elegant and convivial restaurant offers the best of reinvented traditional palace dishes," says De Gols. As he notes, the bar's design isn't exactly traditional. Rather than having guests come in and walk up to a bar to face the bartender, designer Philippe Starck broke free with tradition and put people face-to-face with both the bartender and other patrons, making it easy for travelers to make friends with all the Parisians who come in for a drink. (You can find this spectacular bar layout at other Raffles properties, including the Long Bar in Singapore, which still offers the original Singapore Sling on its menu.)

Related: 18 Top International Hotels for Food and Drinks, According to the Experts

But here's the thing — getting to people-watch and fawn over every outfit (because this is Paris, people are dressed to the nines even for a quick lunch), my two favorite meals are much more relaxed. Because they come first as part of La Cuisine, the hotel's award-winning daily breakfast and brunch hosted on Sundays. Here, I get my fill of housemade croissants that are so soft and flaky, they taste like I'm eating buttery air, along with the homemade skyr, which is the perfect creamy addition to the pastries. Then, my second favorite bite comes in my room, thanks to the hotel's evening room service. And it's a rather surprising bite at that, arguably my favorite lobster roll of all time. As a born-and-bred New Englander, I do not say that lightly. These come straight from Bar Long, where they can be enjoyed at the table, too. The brioche bun is stuffed to its limits with lobster, crayfish, the right amount of mayonnaise, and butter. It is the ideal mix of familiar flavors with the right dash of tang to remind me I'm on vacation.

"We wanted to distinguish Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris from other Parisian palaces that often feature French restaurants with French chefs," says De Gols. "We wanted to capture the local guests as well as the contemporary, international traveler looking for unique culinary experiences."

As for what De Gols says you can't miss on your vacation (or staycation, if you happen to be a Parisian reading this), he suggests the "famous beef carpaccio with a Caesar sauce and black truffles" at Il Carpaccio, the omakase at Matsuhisa Paris, and either ordering one of the Port wines that Gabriele Del Carlo, Le Royal Monceau's director of sommellerie, recently introduced, or asking Del Carlo for a recommendation yourself. However, after a stay here, I can confidently say that you won't be disappointed no matter what you order. And at the very least, you'll feel all the cooler for dining among the Parisians. 

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