This traditional French restaurant founded in 1896 is a major destination featured in most tourist guides.
With its perfectly preserved, hundred-year-old Art deco interior, sturdy wooden tables, and busy atmosphere, it seems a nearly perfect spot to experience French cuisine at low prices. The black and white picture below is Le Bouillon Chartier and team in 1949: you’ll find that today, the entryway looks nearly identical.
Such charming remnants of the Belle Époque are exactly what the crowds of tourists are queuing up for (as well as a few locals, scarcer during the summer months). But don’t worry, the queue moves fairly quickly in light of the vast interior filled with cheerful tables. When an entire meal can cost you much less than 20€ a head, “good food at reasonable prices” rings even more true in a building officially listed as a historical monument.
However, all good things aren’t perfect – a victim of its own success, despite its fast queues, you can often feel lost in the crowd flowing in and out of the restaurant. With little personalized dining experience (as the hyper-efficient waiters in white aprons often do not have the time to converse, or even smile), the service may be lacking. Of course, this also depends on your luck as some waiters are more hospitable than others! Mediocre service may be part of the “French experience,” after all.
An inexpensive and romantic dinner à la française
If you do decide to try the Chartier experience and you are an indecisive orderer, make sure you have an idea of what you want to get beforehand for an efficient dining experience. Additionally, make sure to remember the prices of your dishes, as waiters may be inaccurate in their mental calculations while writing the bill directly on your table cover.
Overall, if you are looking for an inexpensive and memorable romantic date night out under chandeliers, Le Bouillon Chartier might be a great French place, to try at least once during your stay in Paris and as long as you know what to expect. Tables side-by-side means you will invariably be sitting next to another group, in a more busy and lost-in-the-crowd type of romantic than an alone-in-candlelight atmosphere.
You can look up their English menu here (starters range from 1.80 to 6.80€, main dishes from 8.50 to 13.50€, desserts from 2.20 to 4.00€, and wines at reasonable prices). If you’ve been meaning to try escargot, this might be a great place to start.
When? Open every day for lunch and dinner from 11:30AM to 10PM.
Where: Le Bouillon Chartier, Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, Paris, France
Metro: Grands Boulevards (lines 8 and 9)