Coronavirus infections might be back on the rise in France, however, Parisians aren’t despairing. And neither are restaurants, which have seen a boost in their raison d’être in providing staycationers with a little summer spirit. As for international visitors, numbers are at an all-time low as travel restrictions remain in place for most regions of the world. So, if you were planning on visiting the city, keep this list of best Paris rooftop restaurants handy for when the travel ban is lifted and you’ll want to celebrate in style.
Palace-Hotel Chic: L’Oiseau Blanc
Perched on top of the Peninsula Hotel just steps from the Arc de Triomphe, L’Oiseau Blanc is the perfect spot to celebrate a special occasion. And you don’t have to go in summer to make the most of its Eiffel Tower views because the main restaurant space is open all year around; In the warmer months, it opens onto a leafy terrace which only has four tables and a balcony nook which seats two, so book early.
The Michelin star L’Oiseau Blanc (French for ‘white bird’) is named after the plane that attempted to make the first non-stop transatlantic flight in 1927 from Etretat in Normandy, and mysteriously vanished. A replica of the plane hangs outside the restaurant and memorabilia is scattered throughout the space, which, with its curved glass wrap-around windows, has a cabin-like feel, a bit like dining up in the skies, floating between the Parisian rooftops.
Just before the Covid pandemic hit, the restaurant welcomed chef David Bizet, who spent his formative years at the George V palace-hotel in Paris, where he took over La Galerie restaurant and won a Michelin star, before moving on to business crowd go-to Taillevent.
Don’t miss the chef’s tangy tourteau crab starter with delicate vegetables folded on top like in a Japanese Kaiseki course. Follow with succulent fermented milk poached Saint Pierre white fish with clams and cucumber or the blood pigeon with creamy truffle potato purée you’ll definitely want seconds of. Desserts are worth saving space for too – the juicy poached vine peach in a homely earl grey jus or the chocolate mousse crunch with Guérande rock salt, are both divine options you won’t forget in a hurry.
L’Oiseau Blanc at the Peninsula Hotel – 19 Avenue Kléber, 75116 Paris
Exotic Escape: Perruche
A smart outfit of leafy passageways, yellow cabana striped banquettes and uplifting samba music floating between tables, Perruche “garden-restaurant,” as it’s called in the literature, is laid out on top of the Printemps department store on busy Boulevard Haussmann in the center of town.
Perruche gets top marks for setting, which includes spectacular views of Paris from the Eiffel Tower to the Madeleine, all the way to the nearby Opera Garnier, as well as the stellar service (a perfect mix of personable and efficient), the laid-back and yet chic ambiance and great food. Order the creamy and not-too-salty vitello tonnato starter followed by the octopus grilled to perfection which comes with potato aïoli. And don’t miss out on the unctuous riz au lait (rice pudding) with crunchy Piedmont hazelnuts to finish.
Perruche is part of French business magnate Laurent de Gourcuff’s Paris Society empire, a name to know for its spectacular restaurant locations scattered across the city like Coco, Girafe (see below), Loulou, Monsieur Bleu at the Palais de Tokyo and the marvelous Apicius hidden in the garden of an hôtel particulier. And the group isn’t stopping there – it’s about to reveal its next location: the only rooftop restaurant located right on the Champs Elysées, so watch this space.
Perruche at Printemps de l’Homme, 2 Rue du Havre 9ème étage, 75008 Paris
Paris Panorama and Veggie Reboot: Créatures
A top spot to rival Perruche’s views is Créatures located just next door also on the Boulevard Haussmann shopping strip, but on the Galeries Lafayette department store rooftop. Wonderfully relaxed despite the prime location, the open-plan spot has unobstructed jaw-dropping views of the Paris skyline, from the Eiffel Tower all the way to the Opera Garnier.
To go with those killer views, grungy-hippie chef Julien Sebbag serves up some of the best vegetarian fare you’ll wrap your taste buds around in Paris. The young chef also makes sure his produce is sourced as locally as possible and implements a strict zero-waste policy.
Regardless of what you order from the small seasonal sharing menu you won’t be disappointed, but if I have one recommendation, it has to be the baked focaccia bread layered with with grilled veggies and a slathering of creamy mozzarella; Fresh and moreish, it’s the food of dreams.
Already at the helm of two restaurants – Créatures and Chez Oim in Pigalle, and a home-dining experience – Sebbag, just 28 years old, is unstoppable. He’s got two new locations opening in the fall: Forest, a sleek urban haunt at the Modern Art Museum of Paris and Tortuga, a fish restaurant set up next to Créatures also on the Galeries Lafayette rooftop.
Créatures – 25 Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin, 75009 Paris
Dinner With the Grande Dame: Girafe
Tucked in the left wing of the Trocadero, which arches around the Eiffel Tower, Girafe has one of the most sensational views of the Eiffel Tower. Step out on the open-air terrace and you’ll be taken aback – no matter how many times you’ve been to Paris.
The 1930s interiors, which recall an outdoor patio with Art Deco undertones and French glamour spirit, are by French designer Joseph Dirand, but as beautiful as the interiors are, diners come for the view.
However, that’s not to say that the food isn’t worth the mention. Seafood is Girafe’s signature, with oysters plucked from the country’s best regions like Brittany to Oléron island. You’ll also find Sologne caviar, lobster, urchins, crayfish, cockles, as well as sashimi, ceviche, and whole fish grilled or roasted. Meat lovers, rest assured, there’s also beef tenderloin and farm-raised chicken.
Whether you’re looking for a place to have a dinner date, an evening with friends, with parents, or even just alone with the dame herself, Girafe is one of those fail-safe spots to keep up your sleeve.
Girafe – 1 Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, 75016 Paris
Urban Farm Charm: Perchoir Porte de Versailles
The crew that got the ball rolling when it came to optimizing Parisian rooftops in 2013, was Le Perchoir Group which opened its first spot in an under-the-radar street of the 20th district. Fast-forward to 2020 and the group now has five more locations, including the freshly opened Perchoir Porte de Versailles in the south of Paris (not to be confused with the town of Versailles, home of the sumptuous chateau).
In a dining no-man’s land, the Perchoir’s latest spot is set out on the roof of one of Paris’s biggest convention centers and nestles in the middle of what will be Europe’s biggest urban farm (all 150,000 ft of it), putting a new spin on farm-to-table freshness.
It’s a long way to travel to eat, but the garden deck setting and well-executed dishes by chef Jérémy Claudepierre are worth it. The idea is that all dishes are made using the farm’s produce. And while the fare is simple, the quality of the produce really sets it apart. Order the creamy burrata and tomatoes plucked right from the farm, sea bass with broccoli mousseline, fried shiitake mushrooms and black shallot purée. Finish with the tangy apricot melba roasted with rosemary and splashed with a peach coulis. And don’t miss out on the creative cocktails the group is known for.
Designed by Fanny Perrier (Maison Lautrec, Cheri Cheri Pigalle…), the lofty inside dining area has a mediterranean look with potted olive trees and glorious green handmade tiles. The standout feature however, is the enormous back-lit bar that runs the entire length of the space adorned with a mosaic of forest greens complemented by stained glass lanterns by Marie-Pierre Bouaziz hanging from the ceiling. Outside, wooden booths are tucked under pergolas looking out onto vegetable gardens neatly arranged in rows and summery blue skies.
Perchoir Porte de Versailles – 2 Avenue de la Porte de la Plaine, 75015 Paris
Stylish Sundowners: Café de l’Homme
On the opposite side of the Eiffel Tower tucked in the right wing of the Palais Chaillot of the Trocadero, the Café de l’Homme is chic and upscale, and chimes to a slower less see-and-be-seen pace than its rival, Girafe, just on the other side of the Trocadero.
Its terrace, open most of the year, is pinned with a huge bronze statue of Hercules taming a bison, which was cast in 1937 for Expo, and has a jaw-dropping view of the Eiffel Tower that’ll fill your entire camera frame, it’s so close.
Overhauled by designer duo Gilles and Boissier (Baccarat Hotel New York, Mandarin Oriental Marrakech, Six Senses Hotel New York, Hotel Barrière Carl Gustaf St. Barts…), the space is all 1930s Art Deco that’s softened by velvet teal banquettes.
Inside the Musée de l’Homme (Museum of Mankind), it makes for a great pitstop once you’ve had a look around the very much underrated museum, which gives great insight into the evolution of the human race.
A good choice for afternoon tea in springtime or lunch with a view that you won’t forget in a hurry, this contemporary brasserie is a failsafe choice when in the area where you can enjoy the black truffle and creamy parmesan macaroni or fleshy scallops and panais mousseline which are to die for.
Café de l’Homme – 17 Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, 75116 Paris
Sky-High Pizza: Mama Shelter West
First opened in 2008, the Mama Shelter in Paris’s 20th district was the city’s first real trendy boutique hotel. A breath of fresh air for the city, with its restaurant and bar that were destinations in their own right, and rooms with small(er) price tags, the concept was an instant success. Today, the group’s come a long way with properties in most big French cities as well as further afield in Los Angeles and more recently in Luxembourg, as well as a freshly opened second spot in the group’s home city, in western Paris.
Bigger than the east Paris property, which has a private terrace that recalls a summer motel vibe, Mama Paris West is in a tower block, meaning it has great rooftop views and actually looks out onto what will be Europe’s largest urban farm set up on the roof of the Porte de Versailles convention center across the road. And as with all Mamas, it comes with its signature cheer – think colorful parasols, table football games, lots of shelving of curated objects and books for a homely feel.
Perfect for every occasion, be it a date, business lunch, or an afternoon with friends or family, the Mama crew’s got everything just right from friendly service to decent food and a great uplifting atmosphere. And the restaurant is open year-around, welcoming diners to its indoor space with floor-to-ceiling wrap-around windows.
Friendly staff serves a menu of summer staples designed by consulting chef three-star Guy Savoy. Expect tangy ceviche to burrata, as well as the dish of the moment in Paris, vitello tonnato, and of course, mama’s stone-oven baked pizzas. Booking is mandatory, as despite its out-of-the-way location, the restaurant is full on most days, especially the terrace.
Mama Shelter West – 20 Avenue de la Porte de la Plaine, 75015 Paris
Hidden Hangout: The Shed
Set up on top of the Hotel des Grands Boulevards, slotted in among the bustle of the busy boulevard with its chains of Irish pubs and fast-food restaurants, as well as myriad theatres, the sleek hotel, designed by Dorothée Meilichzon, gives visitors a real reason to visit the area – or at least provides a proper pre- or post-theatre spot to hang out.
The hotel and bar are part of the Experimental Group, which can be credited with turning the Paris cocktail culture on its head in 2007 with the opening of one of the city’s first speakeasy bars. Since, the group’s opened several bars, hotels and restaurants in Paris and abroad in Ibiza, London, Menorca, New York, Venice and Verbier.
Back in Paris, The Shed, which opened a couple of years ago, is by no means a new spot, but it’s still very much coveted by a local crowd come to perch at a table to sample the group’s signature cocktails or lounge on one of the corner banquettes for all-night drinks and tapas.
An industrial style terrace adorned with plant life climbing up the walls, The Shed is tucked among the rooftops, and feels more like a quiet corner of London than a busy Paris boulevard.
The Shed at Hotel Grands Boulevards – 17 Boulevard Poissonnière, 75002 Paris
Arty Go-To: Georges
One of Paris’s first rooftop restaurants before they were a thing, the Georges restaurant perched on top of the 70s Centre Pompidou contemporary art centre, has some of the city’s most photogenic views of those UNESCO-listed Parisian rooftops. You can climb up to the viewing deck for a quick picture, but if you want to spend a little more time, grab a table.
Waiting staff look like models, to the detriment of service, but thankfully on the night we dined here we had a decent experience. The clientele can be a little on the brash side too, but once you settle into your corner, looking out through the restaurant’s wrap-around glass walls at the views of Paris and the Eiffel Tower, the rest is quickly forgotten.
The space itself is lofty and was designed by architects Jakob + MacFarlane (behind the lime-green Les Docks in Paris, and other notable structures around the world), with audacious curved organic silver sculptural works that dress the space perfectly.
Considering Le Georges is part of the Beaumarly Group – created by hospitality magnates father and son Gilbert and Thierry Costes – of showy restaurants where the food isn’t necessarily the main draw, the food was pretty good. The burrata with pickled aubergine to start, followed by the tasty and very tender Crying Tiger beef were delicious, as was the moelleux made with Santo Domingo cocoa.
Overall a beautiful spot that’s geared very much toward a clientele of well-heeled fashionistas from abroad, this spot is worth adding to your list for the view alone.
Le Georges – 6th floor of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Place Georges Pompidou, 75004 Paris
Miami Poolside Vibes: Molitor
The birthplace of the bikini in the mid-1940s, Molitor is an Art Deco gem that has had many lives. The lido started out as the go-to spot for the surrounding 16th district’s high society until it fell into disrepair and closed down in the 80s. The abandoned structure, with its two empty pools, became the place to party for skaters and graffiti artists until it was snapped up by Accor, the mass hotel development group, and turned into a five-star hotel with a rooftop overlooking the dazzling blue lido pool by architect and designer Jean-Philippe Nuel.
The terrace commands 360° views of the green surroundings (with a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower if you look carefully) and comes with vacation vibes thanks to the upbeat lounge music played by a resident DJ and the outdoor BBQ style kitchens.
Adorned with islets of deck chairs hidden among meadow foliage and flowers, the rooftop is the perfect spot for sunbathing. Laid out on the deck is a Grey Goose bar, which runs into the restaurant serving snack-style food (burgers, grilled prawn salads and a decent ceviche).
For a post-meal dip in the pool, keep in mind that only hotel guests, club members or guests with a specific spa booking have access.
Molitor rooftop – 6 Avenue de la Porte Molitor, 75016 Paris