Paris offers an array of cosy restaurants that dish up hearty meals perfectly suited to wintry days or nights. But if you’re after something on the lighter side of things (in décor as much as in food), the city’s winter garden-inspired eateries make for a lovely gastronomic respite.
The jardin d’hiver was, in the second half of the nineteenth century, the must-have home accessory for fashion-forward Parisians. Belle Époque star couple Nélie Jacquemart and Edouard André had a winter garden nestled within their glitzy urban château — it’s now a much-loved nook in the delightful Musée Jacquemart-André (above).
That century’s flashiest courtesan, the self-styled La Païva, also planted a winter garden in her Champs-Élysées mansion (above). You can tour the Hôtel de la Païva, now the Travellers Club (search online to find options), and the glitzy mansion, with its multi-coloured marble and lashings of gold, must be seen to be believed. The winter garden is one of its sweetest details, a breath of fresh air in what is otherwise a visual overload of an experience.
And that’s precisely the attraction of a winter garden restaurant: it has a breezy, uplifting ambience. So it’s not surprising that many Parisian restaurants have taken the jardin d’hiver for design inspiration. It’s not only an irresistibly pretty interior style, but its celebration of the natural world — the filtered sunlight, the botanically infused air — is in perfect sync with a menu that serves up market-fresh, flavour-packed food. Read on for a selection of Paris’s prettiest winter garden restaurants …
The winter garden-styled courtyard has been a feature of the historic InterContinental Paris Le Grand since Empress Eugenie inaugurated the hotel in 1862.
These days La Verrière is the ideal place for catching your breath and resting your feet after a marathon shopping session in the nearby department stores. Stop for a light lunch, afternoon tea, or even just a cup of coffee.
2 Rue Scribe, Paris 75002.
L’Officine du Louvre
The Hôtel Du Louvre also opened in the mid-nineteenth century (1855), although it was originally on the other side of Place du Palais Royal, above the old Grands Magasins du Louvre department store. (That entire building, most recently an antiques centre, is under renovation, soon to reopen as a contemporary art space, Fondation Cartier). The hotel was reborn in its current address just in time for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, which introduced the Eiffel Tower to the world — a monument that proved that metal could be rendered light and lacy, which only heightened the trend for glasshouses and conservatories confected with fancy iron- and glasswork. Speaking of which, the glittering roof within the Hôtel du Louvre was hidden for many years beneath a false ceiling; a recent renovation has opened the courtyard back up to its former glory, and the space is now a beautifully verdant, vibrant escape, whether you’re after a tasty treat or a zesty cocktail.
Place André Malraux, 75001; click here for more information.
The Ritz, which was designed to make its turn-of-the-twentieth-century guests feel as though they were visiting a chic friend’s grand townhouse, also has a gorgeous conservatory-style dining room. In summer, Bar Vendôme extends out onto the open-air terrace; in winter, the French-garden-style furniture is replaced by velvet armchairs for a plush, private-club feel. Book for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner.
15 Place Vendôme, 75001; click here for more information.
To stick with the hotel theme for one more listing … Golden Poppy is the star dining space of La Fantaisie, one of the most exciting Paris hotel openings of 2023. A vibrant, modern take on the greenhouse restaurant, Golden Poppy’s French-born, California-based chef has created a vegetarian and pescetarian menu that is fresh, colourful, and laced with herbs and spices for added tang and zing.
24 Rue Cadet, 75009; click here for more information.
Go for the much-photographed hanging-garden vibe, stay for a fabulous Florentine-inspired feast; the menu of antipasti, pasta and pizza changes monthly, and there’s also an afternoon tea à l’italienne, where the tiered trays of tiramisu, maritozzi and more are served on the restaurant’s top, glasshouse level.
20bis Rue du Douai, 75009; click here for more information.
One of the recent, and stunning, revivals of historic Paris restaurants, Laurent stands out for it light and airy loveliness — the large, arched windows look out onto the Jardin des Champs-Élysées, while the potted palms bring the outside in, and the wicker chairs, touches of chinoiserie, and pale pastel tones enhance the romantic winter garden feel. The menu is similarly light and French — sensory delights such as crudités served with soufflé aioli, sea scallops with truffle vinaigrette, golden caviar mousseline brioche … all capped off by the prettiest possible way to end a French meal: a dessert trolley.
41 Avenue Gabriel, 75008; click here for more information.
One for Left Bank lovers … Alcazar is located in the heart of Saint-Germain, although you can easily lose sense of time as much as place here. With its sliver of a skylight and shades of bronze and brown, it’s a sleeker, more modern interpretation of a winter garden, almost private club or nightclub in feel — and, appropriately, the balcony bar, which is draped in greenery, transforms into a dance floor on Thursday and Sunday evenings. Alternatively, get comfy in the interior terrace restaurant, and choose from classic bistro dishes (with lots of vegetarian- and pescetarian-friendly options); if you go for lunch, you can opt for la formule: 37€ for an entrée and main, or main and dessert, with a glass of wine and a coffee included.
62 Rue Mazarine, 75006; click here for more information.
It’s, well, a little wilder than the traditional winter garden-style restaurant, as the name suggests, but Jungle Palace is worth a mention here, for it will particularly appeal if you’re in Paris with kids. This is the third eatery from the Ephemera group, which creates immersive dining experiences akin to light and sound shows; Jungle Palace follows on from Under the Sea and Stellar, and the design brief here was to imagine a lost tropical palace that had been reclaimed by nature. The menu has a suitably exotic side — think tacos, fried plantain bananas, ceviche, and curry, among the variety of crowd-pleasing dishes.
12 Rue de la Fidelité, 75010; click here for more information.