Top 5 Best Restaurants in Le Marais
What is today considered to be the centre of Paris, was once nothing but a swampland that bordered the east side of the (back then) very small city. I am of course referring to the one and only Le Marais district that spreads across the 3rd and 4th arrondissements of Pairs. The word Marais literally means swamp when translated into English. The true development of Le Marais from swamp to urban centre can be dated back to the reign of Louis XIV.
Today Le Marais is arguably the hippest swamp in all the land. It is my absolute favorite place in Paris to meander by foot. (Read more about Discover walking tours) The narrow streets, high rise apartments and cobble stone floors work together in adding to the majestic energy of the neighborhood.
A casual stroll around Le Marais will show just how inclusive the neighborhood is when it comes to diversity. Le Marais is home to the largest Jewish community in France, many congregate around beautiful synagogues and kosher restaurants on the famous Rue des Rosiers.
The area is also one of the most notorious LGBTQ+ districts in all of Paris. The streets are alive and enticing, regardless of the season. It is therefore no surprise that some of the most fabulous restaurant concepts exist in this area as well.
I’m going to share my pick of the top five best restaurants in Le Marais. Some make the list due to the incredible cuisine, some make the list purely because of the experience of the place. They are all, nevertheless, reason enough to catch the nearest metro straight into the heart of Le Marais.
1. Les Philosophes in Le Marais
28 Rue Vieille du Temple
This wouldn’t be a very good top five list if there weren’t at least one classic French bistro on it. I adore French cuisine, but find sometimes it can be a bit heavy on the “liaison”. Finding the balance in the richness of a meal is something I know when I see it and this is what repeatedly brings me back to a little spot called Les Philosophes in Le Marias.
The exterior of the restaurant looks like something straight out of a 1920s French mobster film. There are varnished wood panels where the walls should be and vintage draping around the perimeter in this perfect tone of maroon. I love visiting Les Philosophes in the summer in particular because of their very charming outdoor seating area. Try get a table around sunset so you’re not in the direct heat for too long.
Because I like to go in the summer I usually enjoy one of their Dijon mustard salads and fresh bread as a light meal with a glass of wine. They have an excellent wine selection at Les Philosophes — another reason people gather here during warmer seasons. This is not the kind of place you should go for a quick bite. Though you can, I find you really don’t want to leave once settled.
The location of the restaurant in the heart of Le Marais makes it the ideal spot to waste your afternoon or evening away, watching the people going by and sipping on fine wine between bites. This restaurant road happens to be one of the main passing points for many of the free guided walking tours around the district.
While the summer months are my personal preference for Les Philosophes, rumor has it their French onion soup is food for the soul when the seasons start to freeze over. I have only ever visited for desert and coffee during this time and am yet to try the soup for myself. Let me know how it is, won’t you?
I can confirm that the ambiance of the restaurant is ten times more romantic with the chill in the air as all of the adjacent streets in Le Marais are lit up and bouncing gorgeous cool light off of the wooden exterior. Très magnifique!
- Price range: Under €15
2. Tamarind Thai Restaurant in Le Marais
33 Rue François Miron
It must be known that I am an absolute sucker for good, authentic Thai food. I can sniff it out in even the most unlikely of areas. Le Marais is not a Parisian district known for an abundance of Thai cuisine, you’ll find these more popular in areas such as Montmartre or near the Eiffel Tower.
But Tamarind Thai Restaurant in Le Marais is a hidden gem that I stumbled upon accidentally and is now a place I try to visit monthly if possible. It is within walking distance of the Place de la Bastille, so you could consider doing both of these destinations on the same day.
What I love most about this spot is that it is perfect whether you are in need of a place to entertain guests or just to dine alone. It is not the kind of restaurant where you feel strange for doing so. The space itself is cosy and inviting, you almost forget you are in the middle of Parisian life once inside.
In my opinion Thai food is best enjoyed solely vegetarian. While Tamarind offers a delicious meaty menu as well, their vegetarian one trumps it every time. My favorite thing on the menu is their green curry served with fragrant rice. Go with this or ask the chef to whip you up a special traditional Pad Thai — prepare to have your world spun.
If you’re feeling lazy, Tamarind prepares piping hot takeaways and also delivers; you can enjoy their meals in the comfort of your home. I always recommend making the trip to the venue itself, however, as Rue François Miron is one of the most beautiful roads in Le Marais and well worthy of a lunch or dinner out.
- Price range: Under €15
3. Le Used Book Cafe in Le Marais
111 Boulevard Beaumarchais
Le Used Book Cafe in Le Marais is what I was referring to when I mentioned that some restaurants are there for the experience, not so much the food. This is an exclusive concept store and one of the trendiest little spots in Le Marais.
The idea was to create a bohemian open library experience while enjoying breakfast or brunch from a simple menu. Patrons of the restaurant come in, order light meals and coffee and are encouraged to pick one of the hundreds of books to enjoy with their meal.
The walls are lined with a broad selection of books to make your choice from. While it’s nice to participate, it’s also equally as enjoyable to just be part of the space and observe others nestled into their own nooks with their food and literature. An eclectic array of people hang out at this cafe.
The Used Book Cafe is just a few blocks walk from the Picasso Museum which is a must while visiting Le Marais. Its a cool spot in the sense that both locals and foreigners hang out at the cafe so it is neither overly exclusive nor overly touristy. Everyone inside has a calm, friendly demeanor at all times and time seems to pass slower in the Used Book Cafe than it does out in the real world. I find it best to order a pot of tea as it gives you more time to enjoy the space.
The smoked salmon bagel is my menu item of choice and pairs well with any of the cafes tea or coffee items. Sometimes they’ll even give you a little complimentary plate of sweet treats to enjoy while you read. The cafe also offers a range of hot soups which are great in the winter.
- Price range: Under €10
4. L’Aller Retour
5 Rue Charles-François Dupuis
The only reason I wandered into this restaurant was because it was recommended to me by a friend, who, ironically enough, found it by accident herself. It is high up in the north of Le Marais, riding right on the edge of the Folie-Méricourt district.
The interior of this restaurant is enough to make anyone swoon. It is decorated like a retro Parisian apartment, complete with book lined shelves and kitsch 50s wallpaper. Old portraits line the walls and you’ll dine by candle light. It’s unfathomably cozy!
Non-meat eaters will have a difficult time at L’Aller Retour. The menu consists of many options of prime cut, imported meats. These are paired with your choice of 70 red wines. Yes, you read correctly… 70. The impressive wine range is where you’ll splurge, the rest of the menu is surprisingly reasonably priced. For the vegetarians there is a salad of the day as well as potato and grilled veggie sides.
Even if nothing on this menu tickles your fancy in terms of food, I would still recommend visiting for a night cap should you be in the area. The restaurant is open until 12:30am so wandering in late in the evening once the dining guests have finished up is perfectly suitable.
The lingering guests (read: wine connoisseurs) who are still around this late will be only too happy to engage in whimsical conversation with you while the restaurant closes shop.
- Price range: Under €20
5. L’As du Fallafel in Le Marais
32-34 Rue des Rosiers
One of the most well known restaurants in Le Marais and my personal favorite place to get my falafel fix — L’As du Fallafel. This restaurant is situated on one of the busier streets in the neighborhood; Rue des Rosiers. The Rue des Rosiers is the centre of the Jewish district and where you’ll go to find all the kosher spots in Paris.
I love walking down Rue des Rosiers when I have some time to kill. It’s filled with interesting little book shops and vintage stores. Quite easy to get lost here for hours. I also love being on this road because I know it ends in L’As du Fallafel.
Admittedly due to the overwhelming popularity that this restaurant has gained it is somewhat of a tourist trap these days; making lines longer and wait times inevitable. This is largely thanks to American pop sensation Lenny Kravitz who went and endorsed the restaurant’s falafel sandwich a few years ago. Since then, everyone wants to get their hands on a kebab or falafel shawarma while they have the chance.
There are many places in Paris where you can enjoy good Middle Eastern cuisine… but none quite as authentic as this. With or without the Kravitz name, L’As du Fallafel has been ahead of the game since the beginning and their food is consistently good visit after visit.
Like Lenny, I recommend the falafel sandwich above all else. Be sure to add hummus and eggplant. Sometimes with L’As du Fallafel it’s better to walk away and enjoy your food on foot as the chaos happening inside of the restaurant can be overwhelming.
Thankfully there is much to see on the street and finding a nearby bench to perch yourself and your sandwich on is always an option.
- Price range: Under €10
Le Marais is an area that makes me excited in general — without the addition of food and drink. So being able to share the top restaurants in Le Marais with newcomers is truly a satisfying role I am only too happy to take on.
While the above five restaurants are sure to provide a memorable experience each time, Le Marais is the kind of place where there is always something better, lesser known and more alluring just around the corner. Part of the fun of wandering this neighborhood is finding all of them. Bon Appétit!