In his new book I Love Paris, due out this fall, celebrity French chef Alain Ducasse shares his favorite 200 gourmet spots in the city. The almost 600-page book may be heavy, but Ducasse’s picks are light, singling out hidden treasures that offer the best produce, poisson (fish) and pastries the city has to offer.
While Ducasse is famed for his luxury gastronomic restaurant experiences and a 25-restaurant empire (including Alain Ducasse at Paris' Plaza Athenee, Benoit bistro New York and miX Las Vegas), most of the chef's favorite spots in Paris are simple, down-to-earth and often undiscovered gems for fellow foodies
"Paris is a very personal place. All of the shop owners and chefs are very different – there are no copies here, no trends," Ducasse says. "The diversity of Paris is unique. It’s like fashion shops – you don't necessarily need to dress yourself in Chanel, you can find nice clothes elsewhere. My favorite addresses are very different, often totally opposite. Paris isn't easy to understand." Voila, a sneak peek at some of Ducasse's favorite spots in the French capital:
La Cour Jardin This summer, Ducasse has invited Lawrence Aboucaya, the chef at one of his favorite Parisian spots Pousse-Pousse, to design a healthy vegan menu for the Ducasse-run restaurant in the Plaza Athenee’s outdoor courtyard. "Lawrence brings a feminine touch – she has more feeling, naturalness, a different interpretation of food than I do," Ducasse says of Aboucaya whose light menu options include an eggplant and almond soup, wild rice and spiced vegetables and a vegan strawberry-pistachio ice cream with raspberry flax crackers. The Aboucaya-inspired nourishing fare has been causing a fit frenzy among health-conscious Parisians and the jet-setters flocking to the Plaza. 25 avenue Montaigne, 8th arondissement
Voy Alimento With all of his world traveling, how does Ducasse stay in shape? He's a fan of the superfoods from Voy Alimento (pictured, below right), a small boutique and restaurant along Paris' Canal Saint Martin. "You can shop there, eat on the premises and leave armed with the day’s menu,” he says of the one-stop shop. Jean-François Hammerle and his friendly team serve up seasonal, creative fare infused with the superfoods sold at the shop. Start with a "Purple Power" drink with Peruvian purple corn then follow with the daily plate, a copious portion of an eclectic mix of vegan concoctions that change every day such as tofu with a nopal cactus sauce, sesame and raw cacao or avocado with spirulina, mango and acerola salad. The no frills find is a hit with nearby locals including French actress Vahina Giocante. 23 rue des Vinaigriers, 10th arrondissement
Frenchie Despite the more than three-month wait for a table, Gregory Marchand's two-year-old Frenchie (pictured, below left) manages to maintain its relaxed bistro feel. With just a few helpers in his tiny kitchen, Marchand (whose wife was once Ducasse's assistant in New York) uses his skillful gastronomic imagination to turn out seasonal fare that gives traditional French cuisine a modern, creative twist. Marchand kicked off the summer with a brand new Frenchie wine bar just across the street that is already packed every night with local fans and global gourmets. Guests can avoid the three-month wait thanks to the first come first serve policy in the chef's kitchen. "It's the Parisian cuisine that foreigners don't typically imagine,” Ducasse says of Marchand's creations, which include tomato salad with Basque cherries and white balsamic, a more daring roasted pig's head with beans and herbs and a memorable panna cotta. 5-6 rue du Nil, 2nd arrondissement
Citrus Etoile "My friend and French chef Gilles Epié went to work in California and brought back a beautiful Californian model from L.A. with him. Now they run Citrus Etoilé," Ducasse says of the Franco-American couple who manage the swank 8th arrondissement spot. He adds: "Gilles learned a lot about lively and light cuisine during his 10 years in Hollywood and his wife Elizabeth is a friendly American woman with a bubbling personality who offers a warm welcome to every diner." Epié earned himself a Michelin star at age 22 and has been regaling the palates of gourmets on both sides of the Atlantic since including Sophia Loren, Bill Clinton, Sharon Stone and Richard Gere. Citrus Etoile's Franco-Californian menu features warm lobster tail with coconut milk and wasabi, foie gras tempura with a port wine and a John Dory fish with lotus root and "chlorophyll" sauce. Enjoy an exit as sweet as your welcome with chocolate-cherry-pistachio millefeuille or cocoa soufflé. 6 rue Arsene Houssaye, 8th arrondissement
Le Marché Bio Raspail This market on Paris' chic Left Bank has become the weekly rendez-vous for organic gourmets. It may be the city’s most expensive organic produce, but that doesn’t stop health-conscious locals from waking up early on Sundays for fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses and local goods. Juliette Binoche, Julie Delpy and Nathalie Baye are regulars and Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger stopped by for a more low-key early Sunday morning veggie spree after hitting up the Haute Couture shows during Paris fashion week. Ducasse loves the "English muffins, home baked with a smile" plus "roast suckling pig, very good farm cheeses and citrus salad." Don’t miss the Délices du Petit Prince blueberries from Saint Exupéry during their ephemeral summer run, the friendly and biodynamic Au Coin Bio Demeter stand featuring the region’s freshest fruits and vegetables or the Italian stand next door where a real-life couple brings aged parmesan, pecorino, homemade pastas, pestos and other delicacies. 116 Boulevard Raspail, 6th arrondissement